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The world’s best Rubik’s speedcubers are in Australia to solve this tricky puzzle faster than ever before

Donna Coutts, July 4, 2019 7:15PM Kids News

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Jack Cai is gearing up to break a world Rubik’s cube record. media_cameraJack Cai is gearing up to break a world Rubik’s cube record.

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The best Rubik’s speedcubers are warming up their fingers and concentrating their minds for the World Rubik’s Cube Championships, on in Melbourne, Victoria, July 11-14.

Australian stars set to shine include Jack Cai, 20, from Melbourne and Feliks Zemdegs, 23, from Sydney, NSW, who both hold current world records, as well as Jayden McNeill, 21, from Canberra, ACT.

Speedcubing is a competition to solve Rubik’s cubes as quickly as possible.

The most popular Rubik’s cube has 9 (3×3) squares on each of its six sides. Other forms of Rubik’s cubes include 2×2, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6 and 7×7, as well as a few different shapes, such as the pyramid-shaped Pyraminx.

Speedcubing events include races to solve all the different types of Rubik’s puzzles, plus different categories for how the solving is done, for instance, solving several cubes, or doing it blindfolded, with one hand or with your feet.

Until November, Feliks Zemdegs was the world record holder for the fastest single solve of a 3×3 cube. China’s Yusheng Du broke Felik’s record with a time of 3.47 seconds. Feliks still holds the world record (5.69 seconds) for the fastest average* time of solving five cubes.

Feliks is the only speedcuber to ever win the world championships twice.

Supplied Editorial FOR CHILL: Guinness World Records Science & Stuff (Feliks Zendag is in the book for the fastest t media_cameraFeliks Zemdegs holds the world record (5.69 seconds) for the fastest average time of solving five cubes. Picture: Guinness World Records

Jayden is considered by most cubing experts to be a superstar, too, and second only to Feliks in Australia and Oceania*, making him one to watch at these and future competitions.

Kids News checked in with Jack Cai ahead of the world championships. Jack is the current world record holder for solving a 3×3 cube blindfolded with a time of 16.22 seconds, which he achieved at an event in Brisbane, Queensland in April this year. He also has 14 other records and has been the winner of five national championships!

Kids News: When did you start cubing?
Jack: I first picked up the Rubik’s cube around 6 years ago, I don’t think I could even solve one side.

How did you learn to solve it?
I learnt to solve it with a tutorial on YouTube as suggested by one of my high school friends (which was how I was introduced to it).

How much do you practice?
I think I just cubed a lot whenever I had spare time back in high school so it varied a lot but maybe 1-3 hours. This year, I think I’ve done a similar amount per day but with the Rubik’s Cube World Championship coming up, a bit more than usual as of lately.

Jack Cai in action at a competition. Note the headphones to help him concentrate and that he is solving the cube while wearing a blindfold. Picture: supplied media_cameraJack Cai in action at a competition. Note the headphones to help him concentrate and that he is solving the cube while wearing a blindfold. Picture: supplied

Why do you like doing this?
I think I like it because it involves a mix of a variety of skills (such as memorisation and spatial* awareness). But I think I especially like it because of the community which is quite friendly and welcoming (and also quite global). Both of these on top of breaking personal bests and records in competition makes me feel happy and fulfilled.

What advice do you have for kids who’d like to be Rubik’s champs?
Many hours of consistent*, deliberate* practice.

VIDEO: Watch Jack’s world record blindfold solve in Brisbane in April

Jack Cai's world record

FAST FACT
Rubik’s cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, which means it is turning 45 this year. It went on sale around the world in 1980 and there was a global craze. It is widely considered to be the world’s best-selling toy.

SUNTAS: Hobart Open 2019, speed cube championships. At Friends School media_cameraGeorge Pelham times Jody Jones, 14, left, and Paddy Eldershaw, 12, on the 3×3 cube at the Hobart Open 2019 Speed Cube Championships in Tasmania in March. Picture: Mathew Farrell

GLOSSARY

  • average: add several times or scores together and then divide by the number of times or scores you added
  • Oceania: a region including Australia and many Pacific Islands including Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia
  • spatial: in space
  • consistent: even
  • deliberate: with purpose

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where and when are the world championships?
  2. What is the most popular size of Rubik’s cube?
  3. How did Jack learn to solve a Rubik’s cube?
  4. What advice does Jack have for keen cubers?
  5. How long has the Rubik’s cube been around?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. List the skills
Wow! What an impressive skill set to have. Jack Cai has spent many hours practising to become a world record holder. What skills do you think Jack would have needed to develop to become this good at cubing?

Make a list of skills and personality traits that would help in becoming a speedcuber and why they would be important.

For example — memory — to remember where all the colours are.

Have you ever used a Rubik’s cube? Which of these skills do you have? Which would you need to improve to become as fast as Jack Cai?

If you have a Rubik’s cube in your classroom or at home you may like to have a go and see how fast you can solve it.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative thinking

2. Extension
The next World Cubing Association championship is in Melbourne next week.

Write an advertisement to encourage people to attend this event as a spectator.

Highlight the sensational skills that they might witness and who they might see. Be sure to include the dates and times and location of this event.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, The Arts — Visual Arts

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever solved a Rubik’s cube? How did you do it? Are you fast?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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