Cambridge Rubik’s Cube speed demons heading to world championship

Speed Rubik's Cuber Tim Reynolds, 22. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Speed Rubik’s Cuber Tim Reynolds, 22, says it’s all muscle memory.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

When it comes to Tim Reynolds’ and Patricia Li’s favorite toy, speed is key.

The two recent MIT graduates, who met in a college Rubik’s Cube club, are gearing up to compete in this weekend’s 2013 Rubik’s Cube World Championship in Las Vegas.

“You’re not really thinking. It’s all muscle memory,” said Li, 21, whose fastest speed cubing average is around 11 seconds. “I first learned when I was in eighth grade. I didn’t really get into solving it for speed until a summer program, and a lot of my classmates were really fast. At the time it was totally beyond me that they could do it in 15 or 20 seconds. I thought it was just incredible.”

Li decided to challenge herself, and went online to research solving methods.

“There are a series of formulaic steps,” she said. “But I don’t know how to get from fast to world-class fast. It involves practice and ironing out all the little hiccups.”

Patricia Li, 21. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Patricia Li, 21, is working at becoming “world-class fast” at solving the cube. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Reynolds, 22, a software engineer at Google in Cambridge, takes his cubing seriously. Not only is he a member of the World Cube Association board, he’s also on the organizing team for the championships. His best average is 11.84 seconds, and he holds the North American record for solving the Rubik’s Cube in the fewest number of moves: 24 turns.

“You have to be able to look ahead at what the next thing you want to solve is,” said Reynolds. “And you have to turn it fast if you want to win; about three times faster than I can. I’m not improving very much anymore.”

“I don’t think I really have a chance to win at all. There is a group of maybe 20 to 30 people who are at that level. … I know that I’ll be able to pull out an 11- or 12-second average, but it will probably take a 7- or 8-second average to win,” said Reynolds. “I’m basically just going to have a good time.”

About 570 competitors are expected to travel from 40 countries for this weekend’s championship. It is the first time since 2005 that the biannual championship will take place in the U.S.

The current world record for speed solving the cube stands at 5.55 seconds. In addition to the traditional 3×3 cube event, the contest will feature blindfolded competitions and rounds where competitors use their feet.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Paint Nite: Get drunk and make a painting…

At Paint Nite, New Yorkers can drink and make a painting at a New York City bar.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

National

Donut capers stymie police in Oregon

For more than a month, mysterious vandals have been smearing pastries on cars, depositing donuts in lawns and leaving cakes strewn about the streets.

International

U.S., European airlines halt flights to Israel due…

U.S. and European airlines halted flights to Tel Aviv in an effort to ensure passenger safety as turmoil in Israel and the region has intensified.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.