Story Time with Uncle Tyson

Cube stories from around the world

My Golden Time with Rubik’s Cube

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Author: Dan Knights
Originally written in July, 2010.

On The Cube.
Despite dramatic changes in the cubing community between 1977 and 2010, the relationship between cuber and cube has never changed. Every cuber has a “golden time” with the cube. Erno Rubik himself expressed this sentiment about his own life. This golden time begins when the cuber first begins to solve the cube, and continues for weeks, months, or years as the secrets of the cube unfold. My golden time with the cube began when I first purchased my own cube. I had already developed a Java applet to display and solve a 3D virtual cube, and I had used the book, “Conquer That Cube” by Czes Kosniowsky to program the solution into the applet, but I had never solved a cube myself. While we were coding the applet, my friend Matt Wilder and I came across Jessica Fridrich’s web page describing her method, and I was dumbfounded that she could average 17 seconds. It blew my mind. I couldn’t imagine being able to turn the cube that fast without pausing. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I decided to learn the solution for myself. Matt was solving the cube in about a minute, and I was determined to get faster than him. One day I purchased a cube from the local toy store, took “Conquer That Cube” out from the library again, and started timing myself that very night.

On Friends.
In the spring of 1999, it seemed I was nearly alone in the world as a new speedcuber. The prominent speedcubers online at the time were Jessica Fridrich and Lars Petrus. Fortunately I had some local competition: Matt Wilder and I pushed each other down into the 30-second range using standard layer-by-layer approaches (mine was cross, first-layer corners, middle-layer edges, orient top edges, position top edges, position top corners, orient top corners). Then we decided to learn Fridrich’s F2L from her website. This got us down to mid-20’s. In the summer of 1999, about 3 months into my speedcubing career, I emailed Jessica to thank her for her inspiration and for sharing her algorithms. After a few emails exchanged we determined that on my weekend rock-climbing trips to the Shawangunks I was only a few hours’ drive from her home town, Binghamton, NY, and to my surprise she invited me to visit her and Mirek Goljan. I was so star-struck at the time that I printed and saved all of our email correspondences. In preparation for the visit, I finished learning the 21 last-layer permutations. When I got to her house, she had been out of cubing for so long that at first she couldn’t find a speed-cube. Eventually she tracked one down, and the three of us began racing. Within minutes she was averaging 17 seconds, and Mirek was close behind her. They said they were impressed with my reported 26-second averages, although under pressure I was hardly able to clear 30 seconds during our visit. This visit was pivotal for my progress as a speedcuber because I saw, in person, what became known as “finger-tricks” or “triggers”: Jessica and Mirek were able to flick the layers of the cube with amazing speed and precision. They performed three or four turns in a single fluid movement. They also strongly encouraged me to learn the 57 last-layer orientations. Following their advice, and mimicking their finger-tricks, within another two months my average was down to 18 seconds.

I also learned from Mirek and Jessica the standard protocol for taking home averages: record 12 times, drop the highest and lowest, and average the middle 10. Back then we were timing ourselves using the seconds display of a digital clock. Matt Wilder and I decided that rather than having to guess after each solve whether to round up or round down to the nearest second, we would always round down, and then add 0.5 seconds to the final average.

As impressed as I was by Jessica’s speedcubing prowess, I was equally taken aback by Mirek Goljan’s ability to intuit lengthy and specialized cube algorithms, many of which can be seen on Jessica Fridrich’s web page. For example, Mirek attempted to find, by hand, all algorithms of length 13 and 15 for transposition of two edges and two corners. I am afraid that this merciless sport of “mental cube wrestling” is all but dead in the age of personal computers. Not surprisingly, Mirek was exceptionally skilled at “fewest-moves” solving. He won the 2003 world championship for fewest moves with 29 turns. He remains in the top 15 now, in 2010.

On Blindfold Solving.
In the summer of 1999, before my meeting with Jessica Fridrich and Mirek Goljan, I read on Georges Helm’s web site that John Conway (the mathematician), used to solve the cube behind his back with four or five looks. Somehow I got it into my head that I could solve the cube in one look. In other words, blindfolded. I was naïve, and my first attempt was a brutal standard ad-hoc solve. This meant that I solved the entire cube using my normal solution method, and tracked every last piece through all of the 75 or so turns. It took hours of study and preparation. I had the cube on my desk at my summer job, and I was able to study it without making any noise (and thus without exposing my delinquency), because I didn’t have to turn it. When I was finally ready for the solve, I sat in my car during lunch and closed my eyes. With my heart pounding and racing, I carefully executed the precise and lengthy set of turns that I had determined would solve the cube. When I opened my eyes, I was alone in my car with a perfectly solved cube! This was one of the highest moments in my life. I felt dizzy from the mental exertion and the heat of the car in the summer, exhausted from the tension, and elated by my success. I had successfully climbed a high and technical mountain, and to my knowledge at the time it was the first ascent. I haven’t heard evidence to the contrary, although I find it likely that, given the immense popularity of the cube in the 1980’s, it must have been done before by someone. Soon after my first attempt I realized the benefit of solving the cube using only “minimally destructive” algorithms, and was able to solve blindfolded in 10-20 minutes. I would never have believed that 10 years later people would be averaging under a minute.

On Stiff Cubes.
In 1999 the only cubes for sale in the USA were made by OddzOn, and they were terrible for speedcubing: stiff, rough turning, paper stickers with plastic film that came off within days. As a consequence, I had to use relatively forceful movements to turn the cube. My handling of the cube required lots of turning “with the wrist”. Turning with the wrist means letting go of the cube before and after each turn to reposition the hand. This is considerably slower than the “proper” technique of flicking the sides of the cube with the fingers. Years later, when I went to the 2005 world championship, I was impressed by how smooth and loose the new speedcubes were. I immediately purchased some, and over the next year I painstakingly re-trained myself to use more finger-tricks and fewer wrist-turns. The new techniques paid off, and I was able to get my home average down from 16 seconds to sub-14 seconds. But despite my best efforts, one can still see in my cube handling the remnants of my early training with stiff cubes. In a minor way, I was doubly cursed by these OddzOn cubes: for some strange reason, they used the Japanese color scheme (green opposite yellow), and I’ve been stuck using it ever since. This means that I’m always the odd man out at cube parties, and I’m hindered when solving a stranger’s cube in public.

On Perpetuity.
Over the years, Rubik’s cube has spawned thousands of variations of “twisty” puzzles, but none rivals the original. The cube is the perfect puzzle: it’s hard enough that no one can solve it using only intuition; it’s easy enough that anyone can solve it with enough study or instruction; it fits perfectly in the hand, and its physical manipulation is natural and obvious; it requires no setting up, no cleaning up, and no batteries; it’s small and portable; it’s durable; it’s colorful and attractive; and every time you solve it the solution is unique. For 30 years, the cube has held its ground against electronic gadgets, life-like video games, and 24-hour entertainment. Rubik’s cube is an anchor for the largely unmoored entertainment industry. People loved it in the 1980’s. People love it now. People will love it in 100 years. Erno Rubik’s name will likely live as long as lives humanity.

– Dan Knights

Written by macky

December 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Life Lessons^3

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Author: Evan Gates
Written as a college entrance essay in 2004 or 2005.

The following began on the night of October 19th 2003. I was at my grandmother’s house for my cousin’s 17th birthday. The atmosphere was cheery, and the room was loud, as it often is when the whole family is together. Getting distracted from the event at hand, I decided to take part in a little sibling rivalry. My brother and I took turns on my grandmother’s stationary bike, watching the RPM, seeing who could go faster. The bike had moving handlebars which could be used in place of the pedals, which of course led to a hands only competition. My brother pushed and pulled his way to 73 RPM; then it was my turn. I hopped on and started up. As my arms pumped like pistons, the RPM meter rose. The speed shot up to 20, 30, 40, 50 RPM and continued to rise up past 60, 70, 80 RPM. At 93 RPM, disaster struck. Due to the torque of my upper body as I fought with the handles, my bare right foot slipped, and fell into the path of the pedal. The pedal struck my heel and violently jammed my toes into the foot peg.

A trip to the emergency room revealed a broken foot and broken hopes of playing football any more that season. To the untrained observer, this event may seem to be an act of stupidity followed by the deserved punishment. But Winston Churchill said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” And perhaps Dale Carnegie put it better in his well known quotation “When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” In actuality, this event started me on my most intriguing journey to date.

A day or two later, while surfing the web and chatting with friends, I came across a video of someone not only solving the Rubik’s cube, but doing so in under 20 seconds. I have a profound interest in mathematics and computer science, so the idea of the world’s greatest puzzle intrigued me, and I followed up by getting a Rubik’s cube of my own. Sadly, I followed the path of most first time cubists, and got fed up with the cube after a couple of days. After a quick search on Google, I found a few simple and a few not-so-simple solutions to the Rubik’s cube online. I added the sites to my favorites, and then went to sleep for the night. The next day was a school football game. Because I was confined to the bench for the rest of the season, I brought my cube along for the twelve hour journey. During this time I began to understand the basics of the Rubik’s cube. I became highly proficient at following the directions on how to solve the cube. After a day or two more, I was solving the cube without the aid of an instruction sheet, taking about three minutes to do so. The addiction had begun.

From that day until the present I have been on a never ending quest for speed, learning more algorithms (sets of moves which produce a desired effect on the Rubik’s cube) and different solutions, working my way up. I have attended several official Rubik’s cube competitions, including the 2004 US national championships, in which I placed 15th out of the 47 cubists who attended. Currently my personal best time is 17.63 seconds.

Now as if one time and life consuming hobby isn’t enough fun, try combining it with another. This was the basic theory behind my 2004 science project. I’m fanatical about the Rubik’s cube, passionate about programming, and fervent about robotics. So what type of diabolical scheme can you come up with that combines all three? That’s right, the world’s fastest Rubik’s cube solving robot. My inspiration came from another video I had recently seen. Originally, I was planning on building a robot with the same basic design as in the video, but I wasn’t content with the speed, or lack thereof, at which this design solved the Rubik’s cube, and I didn’t want to be able to beat my own robot. So I went about designing something radically different and ended up with an 18 inch Plexiglas cube that looks like something out of Star Trek. The robot controlled my life for about two months, over the course of which I wrote the code for it, built it, and tuned it into a lean mean cube solving machine. It can now beat the current world record holder and averages only 11.46 seconds per solve. The robot took me to the California State Science Fair and led me to create my own website (www.deepcube.net). It is also unofficially the fastest cube solving robot in the world, as there has not yet been an official event for robots.

In the end, I was able to turn a negative experience into a positive one. I set a goal for myself, pursued it, and enjoyed the journey as well as the destination. Although I have not become the fastest in the world, my robot has, and I can solve the Rubik’s cube more quickly than I ever thought possible. Although Churchill and Carnegie provide timeless words of wisdom, perhaps the most memorable are the immortal words of my mother who has repeated time and time again, “Always wear shoes while using gym equipment.”

Written by macky

December 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

My perception of the cubing community over the last 10 years

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Author: Chris Hardwick
Originally posted on this Speedsolving thread on June 24, 2010.

Yahoo! Speedcubing Group’s 10th anniversary

Hi everyone,

Stefan Pochmann brought it to our attention recently that the Yahoo! Speed Solving Rubik’s Cube Group recently turned 10 years old. I created this group on June 19th, 2000 while sitting in my living room over Summer vacation between my sophomore and junior years of high school. At the time cubers were mostly communicating via e-mail, and I wanted a place where we could all talk about cubing more easily, rather than through e-mails in small groups.

The speedsolving.com forum has certainly become The place to hang out for cubers and cubing discussion, and I myself spend lots of time here nearly every day as well! So many thanks to Patrick for creating this forum, as I think it is an integral part of the level of communication cubers now enjoy today.

At the suggestion of Stefan I wrote up something about my thoughts on the speedcubing community from then to now, and I wanted to post it where others can read it. If you also have something to share about how the speedcubing community has progressed over the last 10 years, then I invite you to please feel free to make your own comments in this thread, or post your own write-up here as well.

———————————————————-

My perception of the cubing community over the last 10 years

Now that it is the 10 year anniversary of the creation of the Yahoo! Speedsolving Rubik’s Cube group, it’s incredible to think about how much cubing has changed from then to now. I consider myself a second generation cuber, seeing as how I started during the dark ages of cubing, after the Rubik’s cube craze died, and before the revival. I can’t imagine the change as experienced by the first generation cubers, who started in the 80’s when the cube first came out. Even from my perspective it is absolutely amazing what people have accomplished in cubing in the last 10 years.

Seeing as how it was 10 years ago, here is a brief history of the starting of the Speedsolving Rubik’s cube group as I remember it:

I began cubing mid-June of 1998, which was the summer between middle school and high school for me. I learned to cube from Mark Jeays’ website, which was the clearest and easiest to understand solution for me at the time. I have since e-mailed Mark thanking him for introducing me to the world of cubing, and speedcubing. I learned both of Mark’s solutions and used them for about one month. At this stage I was simply fascinated by the fact that I could even solve the cube at all. After a month of cubing and idly searching the web for sites related to cubing I found Jessica Fridrich’s site, which showed her method for how to average, yes average 17 seconds when solving the cube. This was so mind numbingly, incomprehensibly fast at the time that I was spellbound and simply had to learn how to solve a cube that quickly.

The first truly big milestone that brought cubers together was the CD game Rubik’s Games. The game was released Jan. 1st 1999, and I got a copy right around this time. It was through Rubik’s Games that I met Ron van Bruchem, Ton Dennenbroek, Jaap Scherphuis, Dan Knights, and Matt Wilder. Later, some other big names to cubing started joining in, and a list of avid Rubik’s Games players would include many recognizable speedcubers.

For about a year and a half, cubers mostly communicated occasionally through e-mail in the states. Dan Knights was a huge inspiration to us all, and was considered the fastest modern speedcuber of the second generation. He was the first well known person of the second generation to average 17 seconds. Ron van Bruchem quickly caught up and surpassed Dan in his at home averages, but Dan was the Rock Star, and the person to beat for quite some time. There were stories of the fast guys from the first generation, with some big names being Marc Waterman, Guiseppe Romeo, Jessica Fridrich, Anthony Snyder. All of these people claimed averages around 17 seconds, or just under in the high 16’s. At the time, these were the fastest averages anyone had ever heard of. Anthony Snyder claimed faster averages, but it was later discovered that he practiced using 13 move scrambles, which would lend him a slight advantage over others using longer scrambles. I don’t say this to invalidate his times, he was still a very fast speedcuber, but even at the time we did not quite consider his times comparable to the others because of that slight advantage from his scrambles. There was not really a set standard at this time, although some people were using 25 turns for the scramble length, and this was definitely catching on as the most popular.

In June of 2000 I started the Yahoo! Speed Solving Rubik’s Cube Club, they were not yet called groups, to try to gather cubers together. Keep in mind that most of the active cubers at that time already knew each other via Rubik’s Games or via e-mail. My intention was only to gather us all together into one place where we could all communicate with each other effectively. Of course, I had already heard of the original Cube Lovers mailing list, and my intention was not really to copy this or revive it, just to gather all of the currently active cubers together.

Cubing pretty much took off year after year after this point. In 2003 there was the second World Championships, which really jump started it all. Every year around Christmas and New Years our community would expand by quite a lot, presumably because people were receiving either the CD of Rubik’s Games, or a Rubik’s cube, or similar Rubik’s puzzles. A lot of the influx cubers would drop off after 6 months or so, but many of them stayed on and became what we would consider today to be big name, or very well known cubers. Eventually the cubing scene started to look like a smaller version of what it is today, with lots of competitions and communication online. The only difference is that the averages were not as fast as they are today and the size and scope of competitions was a good bit smaller than it is today.

Back to the year 2000 and 2001, here is a glimpse of what the cubing world was like through my eyes. Basically there was cubing on the internet, and there was the view of cubing in the real world. Cubing on the internet pretty much is what it sounds. We were the community of speedcubers communicating over the Yahoo Group or via e-mail about our shared hobby. We called ourselves speed cubists at the time (no joke!), and we were discovering what it took to average 17 seconds. We knew that some of the first generation cubers had already done it, but this was still the holy grail of cubing for us. Slowly but surely the averages dropped down to 16 seconds (madness!), then 15 seconds (almost unbelievable!), and they hovered around the low 15’s for quite some time. This was the era of Ron van Bruchem, Dan Knights, and Jess Bonde. These were the big names of the time. At the time we thought that sub-15 averages would be possible, but it seemed almost impossibly fast. We knew Jessica’s theoretical prediction of 10-12 second averages, but this was viewed almost as a dream that would only come true if a person’s career was to live, breath, eat, drink, and sleep cubing. Of course, today we know that these averages, and faster, are possible with just determination and practice, but at the time we thought it was just impossibly fast.

The perception of cubists and cubing at the time, in popular culture from my experience, was that it was an extremely nerdy hobby. We were considered people who just never let the craze go. In fact, during the years 1998-2000 not a single one of my friends knew I was a speedcuber. Not only that, but in those three years I only mentioned to them once, in passing, that I could even solve a cube at all. Keep in mind that I was in high school, and at the time it would have definitely had a negative effect on my social life to even hint at the fact that not only could I solve a Rubik’s Cube, but that I did it over and over every day. I can’t vouch for the European reaction, or the European community, but this is how I experienced my first years of cubing in the states. I don’t want to make it out to sound all bad. The community of speed cubers was extremely friendly, and there was a sort of solidarity of us sticking it out with each other. I think that the public’s reaction toward us, and the way we sort of stuck it out with each other, is partly a reason why us second generation cubers have such a friendly and tight knit community with each other.

Again, I don’t want to make the cubing scene out to sound so horrible, in fact it was amazingly fun and, for me, a life changing experience. Speedcubing is part of my identity, and it really has changed my life so much so for the better. The community of speedcubers was, and is, full of so many great people that it makes it such a wonderful group of people to be a part of. Again, I don’t want my portrayal of the public’s reaction to cubing to sound like we walked uphill in the snow both ways everyday, blah blah blah, but that is how I experienced it, and how I remember it, in those early years.

Ok, now onto the light hearted stuff. Here are some little things that more modern cubers might find funny or interesting about us cubists in the years 2000-2002.

– We did not use the Stackmat at the time, and for the most part we didn’t even know of the existence of Sport Stacking. I started out timing myself with a stopwatch, up until Ron wrote his timing program on speedcubing.com.

– Dan Knights and Matt Wilder pioneered the use of the average 10 of 12 times method. Jessica Fridrich had done something similar during her years, and Dan pioneered us making it the standard method for calculating our average times.

– We only timed our solves, and did our averages, out to the hundredth of a second about half the time. The other half the time we only timed our solves accurate to the second. To calculate the average solve time accurately we averaged those times using the usual 10 of 12 method, and then added 0.5 to the average time to account for the fact that we did not time to the tenths or hundredths of a second.

– We actually had a debate about where to solve the cross and F2L. At the time, some of us, myself included, actually did F2L on top. Dan Knights started the trend of solving cross on bottom, and many of us had to actively relearn F2L on bottom to do this. Lars Vandenbergh and others pioneered cross on left.

– The Unofficial world records page was the premier competition scene for us. The holder of the fastest average time on the UWR page was the premier Rock Star status cuber of the time, just like the WR holders are today.

– Blindfold cubing was not so much a timed event during this period, moreso an achievement event. The people doing 3x3x3 blindfolded were working on their times, but they were in the 2 or 3 minute range at this point. Really, at this time people were going for larger cubes, or large relays mixes of various cubes. Stefan Pochmann, Richard Carr, and Dror Vomberg were the blindfold cubing giants at this time.

– The Eastsheen 5x5x5 cubes came out shortly before the 2003 World Championship, and for the time, they were so smooth turning and fast that they were almost banned simply for that reason. There was also a big debate about their legality, but in the end they were allowed during the competition. This was our first issue related to the knock-off cube debate we had experienced at the time.

– Sub-20 averages were considered elite for the time, and sub-17 was super-elite. It was comparable to sub-13 and sub-10 today, respectively.

This was the early cubing world as I experienced it. If I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. The cubing community is filled with so many amazing people, and I can’t imagine not having the speedcuber friends that I do, because of this hobby of mine. I really don’t see myself getting tired of cubing. My hope is that I will still be cubing in another ten years, and still attending competitions and meeting new people.

Happy cubing everyone!
Chris Hardwick

Cube Mile

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Author: Ian Winokur
Originally posted on this Yahoo! group post on May 20, 2008.

Hi folks,

Just wanted to share a recent cube story with you.

I teach at Deerfield Academy (an independent boarding high school in Massachusetts). One of my calculus students is the fastest distance runner at the school. I am a casual runner at best but I decided Anthony and I should have a race. About two months ago I told him that my mile time was about 8 minutes and I asked what his was. He replied “about 4:30.” I decided this would be a really boring race unless we somehow handicapped it. Enter the Rubik’s Cube.

I told him that we should solve a Rubik’s Cube first and then run the mile, fastest total time wins. He said “but I don’t know how to solve the cube.” I told him that he’d better learn soon! We set the race for May 13th. I started training for the mile (with some help from the track coach here) and Anthony started learning the cube (with some help from me and from a student here who can solve it in about 50 seconds).

I got my mile time down to about 6:20 in 7 weeks (my fastest mile ever was 6:04 but that was 8 years ago when I was in grad school) and he got his cube time down to about 90 seconds on average. Word spread quickly about our race and the students were pretty excited about it. When the Dean of Students heard about the race, he decided that the entire school should be there so 15 minutes before the end of the weekly all-school meeting last week, he had all of the students and faculty head down to the track to cheer us on.

I was expecting to cube in the low 20s and mile in about 6:15 for a total of roughly 6:40. Anthony was expecting to cube in 1:30 and mile in 4:20 for a total of 5:50. On paper this was not going to be a close race. I was just hoping he would have a bad cube so I wouldn’t get blown away.

For the record, our cubes were scrambled in exactly the same way. The students lined both sides of the first straight-away and really got into the race. They cheered when Anthony (aka Skinny) took off his outer shirt to reveal his running jersey and they cheered when I took off my sweater to reveal a Rubik’s Cube shirt. I also loved their enthusiasm when I finished my cube. Their reaction was even better when Skinny finished his cube and took off like a rocket. When Skinny finished his cube he tossed it to a friend and then started his run. I assumed that this was planned but I later found out that his friend wasn’t expecting the cube and got clocked in the chin. Alas, this wasn’t caught on tape.

Here was the breakdown from the actual race:

My cube: 19 seconds (about average for me but pretty good given the
conditions)

My mile: 5:54 (a new personal best by 10 seconds!)
Skinny’s cube: 1:45 (about 15 seconds slower than his average…nerves
got to him a bit).

Skinny’s mile: ?? (I don’t want to ruin what turned into a good race
but he was expecting to run a 4:20 or so)

Two different cameras caught the action. In the first clip, the race is unedited. In the second clip, I cut out most of the mile and just showed some highlights. I think they’re both fun to watch so check out each of them if you have time. Watch the first one first.

Ian Winokur

Written by macky

December 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Anecdote

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Asian lucky draw champion

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Author: Feliks Zemdegs

After performing quite badly throughout the Asian Championship 2010, Jihan Khalilurrahman was feeling quite tired, and not very happy. After posting a video of a sub 10 average of 5 on youtube 1 week prior to the competition, great things were expected from him, but he didn’t make the final, and achieved a 14, and a 15 as his 2 averages.  After the winning ceremony, a special “lucky draw”, was to occur, with 2 random drawings of  US $500. The first prize was announced, and it was awarded to Asia Konvittayayotin.

Before the draw, he and I joked around, saying the only thing he could win was the lucky draw. But, the second winner was announced, and we began packing up. However, they did not come forward to accept their prize. Another person was called, and the same thing happened again. The third and final time, a name was pulled out, and it was announced that it was an Indonesian. We started to get a bit excited, and then it was announced. “Muhammad Jihan Khalilurrahman”. The Indonesian table went pretty crazy, and Jihan and I simply marvelled at the coincidence.

But yeah, it was pretty epic.

Written by macky

December 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

WCA’s scrambling orientation

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Author: Tyson Mao
Originally posted on this Speedsolving.com thread

I would be lying if I said the WCA regulations were completely written by me with no reference to anything else. The truth is, when I sat down to write the regulations for the US National Championships in 2004, I had already borrowed from many things in the past. Even though nothing was written until June of 2004, Caltech had held two tournaments by that time already, and we had already started to do things with certain procedures.

Things like the StackMat and the +2 penalty were simply borrowed from the 2003 World Championships. I started cubing in July of 2003, and so I was very disappointed to find out about the 2003 Toronto tournament in the San Francisco Chronicle, but clearly having been introduced to cubing only a few weeks before the actual event, there was no way for me to immerse myself deeply enough in the culture of speed cubing to have known about this competition. One procedure that I had borrowed when utilizing Caltech competition was which orientation to scramble the cube when preparing for a solve. I had heard in 2003 that competitors would say which color they used to solve the cross, and one would scramble with that color on top. This made sense for the a few reasons. At least for cross solvers, they would all be given the same initial state of forming their cross. It also seemed to make sense to allow people to see the cube relatively to their method, as opposed to an absolute random state.

After some conversations with some cubers, we started to debate whether or not this was a good idea. Giving the competitor of a choice was simply another thing that could be manipulated. Furthermore, it was discussed that since you really cannot predict how someone will view a cube, even though several people may use the same method, if everyone receives the same scramble without prior knowledge, no one can really complain about anything unfair. After all, the scrambling team has no idea what method a cuber uses, and cubers can simply solve different crosses, or use Petrus. I then had some conversations with people who attended WC 2003 and gained some insight as to why the Toronto championships asked for the solver’s cross color. Ian Winokur informed me that he heard the scrambles purposefully made the cross hard. The organizer didn’t want people to get ‘easy cross’ cases. This, of course, is completely asinine. It assumes that competitors solve with crosses, which is true unless you’re Lars Petrus. Mostly though, once this information got out, competitors would simply say that they solved with the lavender cross, or some other color in hopes of getting a random distribution of starting pieces, as opposed to one that is deemed not easy by the organizer. This was, of course, reinforced when I first spoke with the Toronto organizer, and he provided me with “certified” scrambles. None of this makes sense, because of the reasons I mentioned above. And really, many top cubers have expanded to utilize opposite color cross and color neutral cross methods. And we also have Lars Petrus, who is by definition, awesome.

So, it came time to decide how the WCA should scramble its cubes. White seemed like a logical choice for the top. White, after all, is not a color. And pretty much every cube has white, though some cubes substitute white for black. But almost every cube has white, and it’s a very neutral color, since it’s not a color. As is black, both white and black aren’t really colors. So it made sense to put something neutral on top. What color, then would we put in front? Blue was out of the question, because Japanese color scheme cubes have blue opposite to white. So we were left with red, orange, or green. Of those three colors, my own personal favorite color is green. I prefer green to red or orange, and hence, I made my blindfold color scheme to utilize white on top and green in front. Conveniently, being in the position that I was, this became the official WCA color scheme. Since the color in front was pretty much arbitrary, no one really complained. Only a few people, perhaps only one other person out there, really knew the story to this, and I remember him making the comment, “Tyson’s own personal color scheme.” It’s true… the WCA color scheme is my own personal color scheme. It’s how I solve my cubes blindfolded, and it’s how I displayed my cubes on my desk and on my bookshelf in college. And now, it’s how the world scrambles its cubes.

Written by macky

November 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm

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Welcome to Story Time with Uncle Tyson

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Gather ’round, kids. Uncle Tyson’s gonna tell you all about it….

Written by macky

August 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm

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