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
National

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for…

By Kate KellandLONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored…

National

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as…

By Irene KlotzNEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars…

Local

NYPD: Man found hanging in Brooklyn subway station

A man was found hanging inside a Brooklyn subway station on Saturday morning, police said. The man, who still had not been identified on Sunday,…

Local

Only church destroyed in 9/11 set to rebuild

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to start the…

Television

9 things we learned about 'Hannibal' Season 3…

There’s plenty of fall television to be excited about, but the crowd inside the Paley Center for Media on Saturday night only wanted one thing:…

Going Out

Watch home cooks try to impress Tom Colicchio…

Is what you’re making for dinner tonight good enough to serve “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio? That’s the standard that some of the city’s best…

Television

‘Homeland’ recap: Season 4, Episode 4 ‘Iron in…

Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later: Lots of crazy stuff went down on the "Iron in the Fire" ep of "Homeland"!

Movies

Box office: Brad Pitt kills Nazis, also Nicholas…

This weekend, Brad Pitt's second WWII movie, "Fury," rolled into the lead, while the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Best of Me," got little love.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

NFL

Jets trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin: Report

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Jets have sent a conditional draft pick to the Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…

Wellbeing

Health News: 5K for lung cancer, free yoga,…

Get some fresh air to benefit lung cancer research On Friday, the first-ever Brooklyn Free to Breathe Run/Walk will take place Oct. 26 at Cadman Plaza…

Education

Can these two college students come up with…

Two Atlanta college students say they have an idea for a simple test that would quickly diagnosis the Ebola virus - and it all started…

Education

Chances are, the average college student isn't taking…

As a bachelor’s degree becomes more expensive than ever, one new report is criticizing colleges for the content of those pricey educations. The American Council…