Speed Cubing

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C.J. York records a 3 by 3 cube solve recorded by a head mount.

Meleah York, Staff Writer

My twelve-year-old brother has an addiction. For over a year, he’s had this obsession with Rubik’s cubes, in all shapes and sizes, solving cubes as fast as he can and watching videos on the different algorithms and methods to improve his speeds. He does it everywhere. At the dinner table, he’s solving a cube. In the car. At a restaurant. The list goes on. Normally, some of us think of this obsession as cringy or annoying (I know I do), but even though the thought of touching a cube makes me bored out of my mind, there’s this entire community connected to the speed cubing world that’s pretty fascinating.

The uprising of this classic puzzle is gaining many people who are math-y or competitive, and while I still can’t get that incessant clicking out of my head, the kids at the cubing competitions that my brother goes to are pretty chill, but very in the zone. They don’t pay attention to you; they’re engulfed by the cubes and their speeds. Probably the creepiest thing is seeing a full-grown married man drag his wife and kids to see him compete in a speed cubing competition. It should definitely be more of a hobby than a profession.

I always have to be forced to attend my brother’s cube competitions and I usually spend the whole time sitting and looking at my phone. I’m not a math or puzzle person, so the environment was foreign; plus, it was full of kids from elementary to high school that actually had legit dreams of becoming a “professional cuber,” including my brother. That’s like saying that you’re going to do everything you can to be the next big Youtuber. It doesn’t happen. Reality’s going to hit those poor kids like a brick one of these days.

I might sound cynical and that’s okay, because reality is just that, but in all honesty, this past competition that my brother competed in was pretty impressive. The world record holder for speed cubing, Anthony Brooks, was there, and instead of acting like a celebrity, he sat with older kids like my brother, as well as younger kids aspiring to be like him someday, and gave them tips on solving and talked to them as a person. I thought that was really cool of him, to be the best at something but to be humble and help others to achieve their goals someday. My brother placed fifth in some category I didn’t bother to remember, but I’m incredibly proud of him for his effort.

Cubes and speed cubing are definitely not my cup of tea. I rag on my brother all the time for getting easily distracted by this cubing world and for having unrealistic goals. But cubing is how he’s going to solve his problems in life, maybe not algorithms on a piece of plastic, but problem-solving is a good skill to have. Someday he’ll go to high school and realize that you can’t always have the fun jobs, but I know that he can solve his way through other aspirations.