Story Time with Uncle Tyson

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Posts Tagged ‘scrambles

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.

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Written by macky

November 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Posted in WCA

Tagged with , , ,