I'm a journalist who spent three years trying to solve a Rubik's Cube in under 20 seconds. Eleven years ago, I learned to solve the puzzle thanks to Toby Mao, who taught Will Smith for "The Pursuit of Happyness." I documented my quest in "Cracking The Cube: Going Slow to Go Fast and Other Unexpected Turns in the World of Competitive Rubik's Cube Solving," which was recently featured in the New York Post. The book touches on everything from my journey into speedcubing to the story of Erno Rubik, the reclusive Hungarian who invented the puzzle, and whom I had the pleasure to interview in person. Today I'm back in the Post's office to talk more about my love of The Cube and answer your questions.

Proof: http://imgur.com/8eZ4WEg

Update: Thanks for all your questions! I had a great time answering them! I'll get to any I didn't answer later! "CRACKING THE CUBE" is available everywhere books are sold--and I'll be doing more events in the future! Check out my website at www.ianscheffler.com if you want to learn more. I'm also active on twitter at @ian_scheffler, Instagram at @ian_scheffler and @thegentlemancuber, Facebook at @ianschefflerauthor and on YouTube!

Comments: 176 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

Anorak_31421 karma

Did you read guides on how to get faster (such as the Fridrich method), or if you figure it out all by yourselves? And since the world record is around 5 seconds, do you think you'll keep trying to go faster to reach that?

thegentlemancuber30 karma

So I've interviewed hundreds of people in the process of writing this book, and can more or less count on two hands the number of people who figured it out on their own. (Obviously Rubik, the inventor, had to!) So that's really hard, and you need some pretty high level spatial and mathematical skills.

I learned initially from a person, Toby Mao, a former world record holder, and then got faster by a mix of internet stuff (like youtube--check out badmephisto's videos on YouTube) and meeting cubers at competitions and asking for advice!

As far as the world record goes, there's no way I'll ever beat that. It's down to 4.74 seconds, which was set by Mats Valk, a really awesome cuber from Holland, just the other weekend.

but I do hope to keep getting faster--my goals next year are to get a sub-11 second single and sub-15 second average in competition!

CashCop3 karma

So did Toby Mao teach you Fridrich or does he do some other method? Also, how many OLL algs did you need to get sub 20 (assuming you did Fridrich). I only do two look OLL and know all the PLL algs and I was able to achieve sub 20 by simply optimizing my F2L fairly quickly (1 year from when I solved my first cube ever). Thanks for the ama :)

captaintobs6 karma

I taught him beginner layer by layer method. 4 look last layer.

thegentlemancuber3 karma

Haha, hey Toby!

Fads6817 karma

How long after the cube was invented did people figure out that you could solve a cube with math?

thegentlemancuber24 karma

So, solving a Cube is kind of like doing math, only what Margaret Wertheim, a really excellent journalist, has called "embodied mathematics." (You know, sort of like how when you throw a baseball, you're embodying principles of geometry, etc.)

As far as high-level math treating the Cube, once it got out into the world, in the early 80s, mathematicians fell in love with it; there's an early book called "Rubik's Cubic Compendium" which I think was published by Oxford University Press and deals with the math of it.

To be clear, you don't HAVE to know lots of math to solve it, but you certainly can use math to solve it.

ChraneD3 karma

Can you give an example of the math that can be used to solve a cube? IMO this is one of the biggest misconceptions about cubing. Most cubers, if not all of them, have never used or needed math to solve a cube.

frud3 karma

Google "Rubik commutators" and several relevant sites come up. Commutators come from group theory, and sets of permutations (like those in Rubik's cubes) form groups, so commutators are a reasonably simple way to put a cube into a desired permutation. Learn the principles behind Rubiks cube commutators and you will be able to solve any permutation puzzle the first time you pick it up.

ChraneD1 karma

Yeah I know commutators. No math required to execute them.

FiveDozenWhales2 karma

? A commutator is a mathematical entity - if you are executing a commutator you are, by definition, using math.

ethanrdale3 karma

yes but plenty of people learn so solve the cube using commutators but have no idea that they are a mathematical entity. As far as they are concerned it is just a set of moves of the form A B A' B'.

thegentlemancuber1 karma

Exactly--hence the term "embodied mathematics"; you're doing math but you don't even realize it! (Or maybe you don't.)

Mohd050810 karma

When did you get interested with rubik cubes? and nice suit!

thegentlemancuber22 karma

Thanks! (My gf is really into waistcoats and turned me on to them.) I got into Rubik's Cubes at summer camp in 2005; I happened to sit next to Toby Mao, a teenager from the SF Bay Area who happened to be one of the fastest "cubers" on the planet. (I didn't know that; I just knew he could solve the Cube under the table without hardly looking at it. [Actually, it kind of looked like he was diddling himself, but don't tell him I said that!])

Toby taught me to solve the Cube and years later I got back into it!

nekozuki2 karma

I like your girlfriend's style! Now I must find a similar suite with waistcoat for my guy.

Thanks for this AMA--I've been planning to get our child a speed cube for Christmas and this definitely helps. I want to learn, too.

thegentlemancuber1 karma

If you have any questions about how to get into it--what a good speedcube is, how to learn a speedsolving method--please let me know! The book has an appendix in the back which is kind of a guide to the guides; it recommends X, Y, and Z, where X, Y, and Z are steps to follow if you want to solve the puzzle, get fast, or get really fast!

And I will pass the compliment along :)

thelastmanticore9 karma

what's your opinion on cross on left?

thegentlemancuber5 karma

I have a lot of respect for folks like Philip Espinoza who do cross on left and are super fast, but it's not something I do. (And at this point, i wouldn't try, since i'm so used to cross on bottom.) So, in short, I think it's neat! One of the cool things about cubing is how many ways there are to approach the same situation, and I think this is a great example.

gimmick2438 karma

What's your main speed cube?

thegentlemancuber7 karma

At the moment, I use a Gans 356 S, but I'm thinking of switching to the Valk 3. I tried out some magnetic speedcubes recently and really liked them!

MR_DUCT2 karma

I just switched from the Gans 356s to the Valk 3. Its amazing I would recommend it for a main.

thegentlemancuber4 karma

I have one! It's almost too fast for me, though. It supercharges my TPS and then I lose my lookahead. :(

rhandyrhoads1 karma

Have you tried the Gans Air? I used to main an S V2 and although I didn't like the Gans out of the box and don't like the way it feels when it dries up, the feeling with lube and proper setup is great.

thegentlemancuber1 karma

Haven't yet! But hope to soon.

OpTOMetrist17 karma

Be honest, how many cubes have you smashed?

thegentlemancuber17 karma


None (on purpose.)

But, funny story, I was on Good Day New York recently, with Greg Kelly and Rosanna Sciotto, and Greg threw one of my cubes over his shoulder and it exploded.

Inside, I was like -________________-

But I kept smiling at the camera!

OpTOMetrist18 karma

You should've really milked it and made him feel really shitty about breaking your favourite cube in the whole world.

thegentlemancuber9 karma

He's a nice guy though! And I think he was genuinely frustrated ...

MarcusXXIII3 karma

You got some footage of that? Nice niche AMA btw :)

thegentlemancuber5 karma

I'll try to put some up soon! And thanks!

Peach28107 karma

I read your book and I would like to know whether you started going to competitions because you had the idea to write the book or vice versa.

So when did you decide to write the book? Was that before you attended US Nationals 2012 or did you have the idea there?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

So, I knew i wanted to write a book, or rather to write something that was long and ambitious, but didn't really have a subject--so I suppose that came first. But it also went hand in hand with going to competitions--Toby Mao, the veteran cuber who taught me to solve the puzzle years ago, basically challenged me before my first comp, in 2012, saying "How can you write about this if you don't do it?"

At the same time, I wasn't sure this would turn into a book--I didn't have a publisher or anything at the time, and figured maybe I'd write an article about this--but the more and more I went to competitions and realized there was so much to it, and it hadn't been written about with much depth, the more I thought it could be done!

Chtorrr6 karma

What first got you interested in Rubik's cubes?

thegentlemancuber11 karma

So there were sort of three moments:

1) In the 90s, I encountered one at a science museum gift shop, and learned I didn't know how to do it. (I didn't know it was a puzzle! I just started twisting it and realized only later that i couldn't put it back together.)

2) i went to a summer camp in 2005 where I learned to solve it, thanks to Toby Mao, a cuber (and former world record holder) who taught Will Smith for the Pursuit of Happyness

3) I found out, in 2012, that Toby and his older brother, Tyson, were instrumental in creating the World Cube Association, which is like the FIFA of Rubik's Cubes--only less corrupt, because they have less $$$--and no one had written a book about it, so here we are!

solojer1235 karma

-What are your thoughts on patent holders vs actual manufactures. Are they just trolls?
-what brand model do you prefer?
-what's your current 3x3 pb? -do you enjoy solving other cubes? 2x2, 4x4, etc? -What's you wca id?

thegentlemancuber6 karma

1) This is a really complicated issue. I try to walk a fine line in the book between explaining that without the titans of Rubik's Cube history like Tom Kremer, the founder of Seven Towns, none of us would be talking about Rubik's Cube today, and to make clear that you don't have to have a speedcube to enjoy the puzzle. But it's also true that speedcubes and the progression in puzzle design are an integral part of the world of speedcubing.

So I think my hope is that both parties can collaborate--if cubing is going to keep growing, they'll have to!

2) I like a lot of different cubes and brands, but QiYi Mofange (which makes the Valk 3, and sponsors Mats Valk) and Gans puzzle are doing great work right now. (And I'd also like to point out that, for beginners, the new Rubik's brand speedcube is a great option!)

My current main is the Gans 356 S, which is a bit old, BUT i've spent a long time breaking the cube in and lubing it, etc., so it works for me.

3) My 3x3 pbs are 11.94 lucky at home, 13.xx nl at home, and 16.xx single in competition. (My best average at home is 16.5 and in comp is 18.4)

I do enjoy solving other cubes, but don't enjoy the other cubic puzzles as much as the classic 3x3, because you're always basically turning them into 3x3s. What I really want to get into is BLD and Megaminx!

My WCA ID is 2012SCHE03

el0133 karma

Why do you suggest the Rubik's speedcube for beginners? From what I've heard it's not that great. Also, it's really expensive compared to cubes like the Qiyi Thunderclap (under $6 on cubezz.com). If a beginner is willing to spend that much money on a cube, why not just get a Valk?

thegentlemancuber4 karma

Well, if you're at Target and want to get a cube for your niece or nephew, it's perfectly appropriate. Also, when you start out, hardware will have a much smaller impact on your times than getting more move efficient.

But if you want to get into speedcubing, and you know what speedcubing is (and I mean the general "you" here), speedcubes clearly make the most sense, both for price and performance; but, again, most folks who pick up the cube for the first time probably don't even know what sub-10 is! (Or if they do, they're a long way from getting there.)

Also, to be clear, I'm not trying to pick favorites. (I'm trying NOT to.) Any speedcube will be good for beginners, regardless of the brand, since there's so much learning to do before things like corner cutting technology really start to matter. Personally, I think it's much better to turn slowly when you start out, so you can develop your lookahead!

mattreyu4 karma

do you have a favorite non-standard (3x3) cube?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

I like the 7x7 because the math of the permutations is so cool--I think it has about the same number of permutations (or the same order of magnitude) as there are thought to be atoms in the observable universe, like 1081 or something.

FrightenedTomato5 karma

10160 as a matter of fact. If each atom in the universe was used to represent a permutation of the 7x7, we would have 1080 combinations (approx). This means that if each atom in the universe was a universe in and of itself, we would have enough atoms to represent the permutations of a 7x7.

(1080)2 = 10160

What do you think of puzzles like the square-1, curvy copter, etc?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

Hahahahahaha, well, never mind. But I guess it's the same point!

I haven't gotten very into the puzzles you mention but I think they're neat! One of the beautiful things about puzzles is there is never a limit on how many you can create and enjoy.

Bibliotheclaire3 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this AMA! I heard about this book a few weeks ago from an interview you did on NPR. Fascinating topic!

I have a few middle school students who are OBSESSED with solving Rubik's cubes. They have the traditional type, as well as ones with crazy shapes, even a panda!

Do you have any suggestions of literature for budding Cube enthusiasts?

Have a great day! :)

thegentlemancuber3 karma

Haha, I just got one of the Panda cubes for my gf! (It's a lot of fun, and way easier to solve than the cube!)

I would say there's a couple of options--if you want to learn about the history of the puzzle, and the world of speedcubing, I'd recommend my book, since I think that's literally the only option. (And glad your heard the NPR segment! Shoutout to Kai Ryssdal for being awesome.)

If your students want to learn more and get into solving fast, I'd recommend joining the forums at speedsolving.com, or the cubing subreddit, or any other online group devoted to cubing; there's always lots to learn from fellow cubers.

The best way to learn is probably youtube; that's what most top cubers recommend. (The videos produced by BadMephisto are especially good, since they teach you a method that is a good base for getting faster.)

There is an old book called "Rubik's Cubic Compendium," which is fun for enthusiasts (it has an essay by Mr. Rubik, the inventor!) but most books about the cube are old guides to solving it, which have mostly been superseded.

They should also check out competitions! They happen all the time, all over the world, and anyone can spectate--or compete!--and they're listed at the website of the World Cube Association. (worldcubeassociation.org)

Bibliotheclaire2 karma

Thank-you for the thorough answer! Best of luck with your book!

thegentlemancuber3 karma

Thank you!

ivsamhth53 karma

If you had to go back in time and choose some other competition/hobby besides cubing to get into, what would you choose and why?

thegentlemancuber6 karma

So I actually have a lot of hobbies--I used to swim competitively, for instance, and have considered doing that at an adult level (like with masters swimming). So I wouldn't say cubing is my ONLY competition/hobby.

But I would have LOVED to do the spelling bee growing up--only my school never did one! :(

YTCuber3 karma

How many official solves do you have done?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

Good question! I just checked my WCA page, and I guess it's 70 for 3x3 and 25 for 2x2 (my 2x2 times are abysmal; I haven't taken the time to learn a legit method yet and just solve it using CFOP as if it were a 3x3 but only the corners.) I've also failed at OH--never finished a solve, b/c I don't know LL algs with one hand. But I'm getting into FMC!

dozensofish1 karma

Just so you know, the Ortega method for 2x2 is super easy to learn, and fast. It only requires learning three new algorithms, one of which is R2 B2 R2.

thegentlemancuber1 karma

So I've heard! Thanks for the reminder. Now that I have time to focus on other events, I'll definitely pick Ortega up :)

BuxJ903 karma

Have you always been interested in puzzles? Are there other puzzles that have helped craft your cube skills?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

So, I have always liked puzzles, but I've never been obsessed to such a degree with any other puzzle. I think the cube is fairly unique, because most puzzles you play with as a kid (or that i played with as a kid) are two-dimensional, jigsaws and the like. (Although my mom did love her some three-dimensional jigsaws.)

I would say I'm now super-interested in puzzles of all kinds. I particularly love the work of Oskar van Deventer, a puzzle designer in Holland, and Kagen Sound, who designs these insane wooden puzzles that cost as much as sports cars. (One of them is basically a functional pipe organ the size of a desk, which is ALSO a desk, and you have to play the right sequence of notes by opening and closing the drawers, which activates the pipes, to open hidden compartments, which reveal still FURTHER puzzles.)

captaintobs3 karma

What's your funniest / weirdest story you experienced in the cubing community?

thegentlemancuber6 karma

That's a tough one! My favorite is probably when I first went to a competition, at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, for US Nationals in 2012, and 2 things happened that made me think cubing was a thing to look into:

a) the sound: when you twist a Rubik's Cube, it makes a small noise, like a clicking sound. Imagine that multiplied by several hundred times in a small, enclose space: it sounded like a hurricane had entered the building!

b) my first experience with lube: i was in the hall of the Riviera that night, when a cuber, who was probably 12, asked me if I wanted him to lube my cube. I didn't know this was a thing. Then he said it would really improve my performance. I was laughing so hard inside but didn't say anything, handed over my cube, and now I lube my cube myself!

SquaggleWaggle3 karma

What do you think is the largest accomplishment in the cubing world?

thegentlemancuber4 karma

Well, I'd have to say this last weekend is up there--there are some records that are just so hard to break. So Kaijun Lin breaking all the BLD records (except multi-BLD) is pretty exceptional. Not to mention Mats Valk using his own method--VLS--to get a 4.74!

But for me, personally, the biggest accomplishment implies something more: it's not just a record, maybe, but a result, or something personal overcome.

So, here's a couple of contenders for me:

  • Yu Da-Hyung becoming the first female world record holder (she broke the Megaminx WR, for the first time in 2014)

  • Feliks Zemdegs getting that insane 7x7 single WR at the World Championship in Sao Paulo in 2015. Basically Kevin Hays got the WR, left the stage, said to Feliks I hope you don't break the WR, Feliks goes on stage, breaks the record, all the while Kevin is tearing his hair out, and Feliks was just so nonchalant about it--he told me he didn't expect the solve to be nearly that fast. (Which is always how fast solves feel!)

  • Basically Feliks's whole career, which is just nuts, and includes everything from the first sub-10 average to his 6.88-second OH WR.

  • The way so many cubers have given so much to make this hobby so lively and thriving; from taking cubes to competitors abroad, who might not have the money for the equipment, to the Gutierrez Cuba brothers in Peru busking with their puzzles at traffic intersections to make money and get to Brazil for worlds. Really, as Natan Riggenbach, the former WCA board member, once put it, we're all in this together, and our only enemies are time itself and the cube; it's amazing that we've managed to build a community that is at once so competitive and so supportive, which is my favorite accomplishment :)

Stewy_3 karma

Not to mention Mats Valk using his own method--VLS--to get a 4.74!

a tad pedantic but it's a subset, not a method :P

thegentlemancuber1 karma

True! Thanks for the correction

Enigmagico2 karma

I live in São Paulo. Can you imagine how salty I was to learn that effing worlds took place in my city a few months before I started cubing? Hopefully I can attend some big event sometime soon, but my work schedule is cray and unpredictable at times :(

thegentlemancuber1 karma

Alas! That was a fun comp. But yeah! Fortunately, as I'm sure you know, there are many competitions these days, and lots of organizers in Brazil.

erduenoeg2 karma

What's your favorite non-WCA puzzle?

Do you think the popularity of speedsolving is increasing?, if so, what could be the cause?

What do you think is next for speedsolving as a competitive event as World Records get amazingly low?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

My favorite non-WCA puzzle? That's a hard one! Once I figure a puzzle out, I get less interested in it, but I also really enjoy many puzzles for aesthetic reasons.

I think my favorite non-WCA puzzle is the Lotus Table, designed by Kagen Sound. (http://www.kagenschaefer.com/Lotus4.html) It's a literal table, but also a puzzle! (Although it's very hard to come by--there's only about two dozen in the whole word!)

I think speedcubing is DEFINITELY increasing in popularity--it's almost impossible to register for a competition these days, since the reg list fills up so quickly!

Part of that has to do with the internet, which has made cubing so much more accessible and widespread, and part of it has to do with the undying nature of what makes Rubik's Cube interesting--which I think is becoming only more unique of a hobby in our digital age.

There are, to be frank, probably a lot of reasons cubing is getting more popular--people get excited to read about fast times, and YouTube videos of cubers, and it's actually REALLY FUN to do.

My mom is a teacher and has been seeing lots of kids solving it, even kids who don't compete; one of them recently turned to her, a 4x4 in hand, and said, enraptured, "I just LOVE it."

So, there's that. The combination of color, tactility, and combinations--it's never the same puzzle, so that keeps it interesting.

I think the question of what comes next for speedcubing is something we're all asking ourselves. Will it go pro, like chess, and have a ranking system, and big money prizes? Or will it stay sort of underground/community based?

It's sort of at the same place surfing was a couple of decades ago, where there were dedicated enthusiasts around the world, but before it had gotten really mainstream; we'll have to see what happens!

erduenoeg1 karma

Thank you so much for your answers!

thegentlemancuber1 karma

My pleasure! Thanks for your questions!

yo_elvr_galarga2 karma

What do you think of people that say that learning a method to solve the cube is cheating and that you must figure it out by yourself in order to "count"?

aznanimedude7 karma

Tell them theyre not allowed to use any of the formulas for their physics exam, instead they have to read the question, create the real world situation, and reenact it to solve the problem. Otherwise it doesn't count

thegentlemancuber1 karma

Excellent analogy!

thegentlemancuber1 karma

I don't think that's fair at all--I've interviewed hundreds of people for the book and hardly any of them figured it out! (I mean, if Feliks Zemdegs learned from YouTube initially, I think it's fair to say that it's not cheating to learn from YouTube!)

AmAznBP2 karma

What do you think cubing will look like in 5-10 years?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

It's hard to say. For one, I hope it will still be around! But I think it's unavoidable that it will be more professional. The more people who get involved, the more money there will be, in the speedcube market and for competition purses. So it could wind up like chess, with a ranking system, but I hope that it keeps its communal vibe!

connortryan2 karma

Hi Ian! Should I, a cube newcomer, read up on strategy before attempting to solve the puzzle or should I stumble in fresh and suffer the consequences?

OneSoggyBiscuit5 karma

Not Ian, but there is no better feeling for a cuber than figuring out a puzzle on your own.

thegentlemancuber3 karma

I have to agree. You should give it a try; I regret not trying harder as a kid to figure it out on my own, because that sense of solving a puzzle is super unique and really worth experiencing.

(Still, I don't regret at all learning from Toby! Had a great time falling sidways into the world of cubing.)

When I got a pyraminx (someone gifted one to me a couple of years ago) I was determined to solve it on my own, which is obviously a lot easier, since it has millions of permutations, not quintillions.

bigbee972 karma

If you had to describe solving the cube as a pastry, which pastry would it be?

thegentlemancuber6 karma

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. I WONDER who this could be? :P

I'd say it's like solving a layer cake, if you're doing CFOP, since you're building the cube one layer at a time, from bottom to top!

CubeDudesRyan1 karma

I'm about a quarter of the way through the book, and enjoying it so far. You tell the stories well, especially in how you describe other people. My question is, what do you think of the Youtube scene for cubing reviews, like JRCuber, the Cubeologist, RedKB, et al.?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

Good question! I've met quite a few of them, but it didn't wind up being a big part of the book; I'm all about spreading the word about cubing, and really enjoy many of the videos. (Also, glad you're enjoying the book!) I was more focused on learning to solve fast, and my understanding is that a lot of the YouTube scene is about the personalities of the reviewers, which is great, but I was over here in the corner devouring slow solve videos from Collin and Feliks.

OneSoggyBiscuit1 karma

A lot of cubers like to do a lot of the various WCA events, is there any other event that you excel at?

And what do you think of some of the cubing legends like Feliks Zemdegs and Marcin Maskow Kowalczyk?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

Man, those guys are amazing! I think it's really incredible what Feliks and Maskow have accomplished! (Especially Feliks--and he's stayed so humble, which I think is just as cool as his times!)

I don't excel at any other events aside from writing about cubing, sadly. But I do want to get decent at BLD!

c3l31 karma

What kind of music do you like?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

I played a lot of classical music growing up. So I like that a lot. (To be more specific: I played clarinet for about a decade, so I have a lot of familiarity with orchestral works and chamber music and solo clarinet pieces; Sabine Meyer is my favorite clarinetist.)

But I listen to lots of things. I have some family in the American south that turned me on to bluegrass, and I really like French hip hop. (Grand Corps Malade, the spoken word artist, is a BIG favorite of mine!)

Thatcraftingfox1 karma

Hi Ian! I'm in the process of reading your book right now, and I'm really enjoying it. What inspired you to write this book?

thegentlemancuber1 karma

So I've always wanted to write, and I kind of accidentally fell into cubing. I wanted to learn more about cubing--and the articles I read were fairly topical. (A lot of cubers complained that they focused on feet solving too much, to show how "quirky" [read: "weird"] cubing was.)

In short, I wanted to read a book about cubing--I had all these questions, about where it came from, and how the Cube was invented, and who Mr. Rubik was--and so I had to make one myself!

IceBlue021 karma

If you could tell one thing to yourself from when you started cubing, what would it be?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

That's a great question! It would probably be to relax. People get WAY to stressed in competition. I would count myself among that group. I wanted so badly to get faster--to go sub-20--that I tensed up and that made it harder. But that's kind of the beauty of cubing. It's very Taoist, wu wei, do without doing, that whole thing--the harder you try, you're only hurting yourself.

Strummed_Out1 karma

Do you have a favourite colour to solve?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

You mean to start with? I solve on white, only because that's how I learned and i figure the benefit of going color neutral is minimal compared to learning more LL algs/practicing my cross to F2L transition.

If you mean color of plastic, I'm pretty neutral--although I think colored cubes like the halloween edition the cubicle did, with black and orange plastic!

TheNotUptightMe1 karma

When you try timing yourself solving the cube, do you first get to study the layout of the colors before starting the time, or does the studying happen only once the time ticks? And how does that work when they time the official record at 4+ seconds? If you get to study it before, how long does that take?

thegentlemancuber1 karma

Yep! According to WCA regulations, you get up to 15 seconds to inspect the puzzle. (Except for blindfold solving, where inspection is part of the overall time.)

And are you referring to Mats Valk's 4.74 second record?

WoGeddy1 karma

Can you still take them apart like you could back when they first came out?

thegentlemancuber3 karma

Yep! They won't let you solve it that way in competition, but it's a great way to learn about the mechanics of the puzzle.

Fusion_power1 karma

Meet another self-solver. I learned to solve it first by what I later learned was called a "two cycle" paired with a rotation for corners. It was inefficient, taking 3 days to solve it the first time.

Do you collect books on cube solving? If so, do you have the one by Singmaster?

thegentlemancuber2 karma

Congrats! Nice to meet you!

I do collect books on cubing, and do have a copy (well, printed out from the internet) of Singmaster's Notes. i actually met him at his home in London, although that sadly didn't make it into the book. But I did get a copy of Rubik's Cubic Compendium from him!

itsmeludo1 karma

How could you overcome your obsession and find time to write a book?

MyrddinWyllt2 karma

one hand cubing while one hand typing

thegentlemancuber3 karma

hahaha, i wish. i actually wore a hole in my space bar from hitting so much while writing/typing and using it to start and stop my timer.

thegentlemancuber2 karma

It was really hard! All the time I spent cubing was time I wasn't writing, and all the time I spent writing was time I wasn't cubing.

It was really a challenge to find the time to practice and write the book, since the narrative goal is to go sub-20, and I couldn't finish the book until I did that, but it took me longer than I expected to go sub-20!

So the short answer is I just spent a lot of time cubing and sleeping, and slightly less sleeping!