Some of the world’s fastest ‘speedcubers’ to compete at the University of Leicester
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Communities, Environment
University of Leicester to host UK Open 2012 Rubik’s Cube-solving championship
For most of us, solving a Rubik’s Cube would take minutes or even hours.
But for the ‘speedcubers’ coming from around the world to compete in the UK Open 2012 speedcubing championship this weekend, the iconic 3-D puzzle can be solved in a matter of seconds.
Some can even do it while blindfolded.
The championship will be held at the University of Leicester on Saturday November 3 and Sunday November 4, and will include around 100 contestants from 9 countries.
The participants – including potential world record setters – will compete in a number of different events, including one-handed speedcubing and the particularly exciting blindfolded speedcubing event.
Speedcubing is the process of solving a Rubik’s Cube in as fast a time as possible. The cube has 43 quintillion possible combinations, which contestants must solve in around 50 moves in a matter of seconds in order to beat their opponent.
Entrants have a set amount of time to study a ‘scrambled’ cube - for a 3x3x3 cube, this would be 15 seconds – before the clock starts and they must solve the cube as speedily as they can.
Contestants must use their mathematical and cognitive skills as well as their dexterity in order to get a winning time – which is frequently under ten seconds for a 3x3x3 cube.
The current world record for a 3x3x3 cube is 5.66, set by 16-year-old Australian speedcubing champion Feliks Zemdegs.
Current UK number one Breandan Vallance will be defending his title at the contest after completing the 3x3 cube with a 9.48 seconds average and a fastest time of 8.13 last year.
Among the other leading speedcubers set to compete at the event are Alexander Lau and Simon Crawford, the previous world record holder for Square One – a variation of the Rubik’s Cube with unevenly-shaped segments.
The event was co-organised by second year Mathematics student Laurence Livsey, who also set up the University of Leicester’s first Speedcubing Society this year.
Laurence succeeded in getting backing from international speedcubing authority the World Cube Association (WCA), meaning that all winning scores – including any new world records set – will be logged on the WCA website.
The event is being sponsored by Rubik’s Cube brand owner Seven Towns, and senior staff at the toy designing company will attend the event. The University’s Department of Mathematics has also sponsored the competition.
Laurence, 19, from Manchester, said: “I first learned to solve a cube about four years ago after I got one for Christmas, but it was in January this year that I began learning more advanced methods and started competitively speedcubing. I started getting faster and faster, before you know it you can average around 20 seconds.
“You can make a start to the Rubik’s Cube intuitively, but then you get to a point where you can’t go forward without breaking what you have already done. You can learn sequences of moves, called algorithms, which affect the cube whilst maintaining what you have already done – and you can learn anything from two or three up to hundreds of these sequences depending on your method.
“Practice does make perfect, like most other things. A lot of people hit 20 seconds and struggle to get faster – that’s when you need to start practicing harder and optimising your techniques. My girlfriend hates it, so I am limiting myself to one hour per day!”
Dr Frank Neumann, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics in the University’s Department of Mathematics, said: "We are always excited when our students take the initiative and organise events to show how much fun and enjoyment one can have with maths. At the end, maths is all about playing around. And Rubik's cube and its relatives are fantastic toys to playfully understand abstract mathematical concepts like groups.
“Groups describe for example the symmetries of geometrical objects, the moves or permutations which leave them invariant. The classical 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube allows for a vast number of possible moves and you can compose them by doing them one after each other and you can study the laws of compositions of moves. If cubes in every possible position were piled on top of each other they would stretch to the sun and back more than 8 million times."
The competition will be held from 9am to 7pm on Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4, with a prize ceremony at the end of the weekend. The event will be held in the O2 Academy, University of Leicester Student’s Union on University Road, Leicester.
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