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Scrambled to solved in 7 seconds

Harris Chan picks up the scrambled Rubik’s Cube, twisting it around in his long, nimble fingers.

Harris Chan picks up the scrambled Rubik’s Cube, twisting it around in his long, nimble fingers.

The inspection takes just a few seconds. He puts his palms flat on the table then begins. It takes him 10.03 seconds — and about 40 moves — to solve it.

Not bad for a 16 year old from Thornhill, who also happens to be colour blind.

“At first, it’s just really addictive. But now I’m trying to get better and better times,” he said.

In January, Chan set a North American record at the Toronto Open for speed cubing with a 7.33 second feat. He was a quarter of a second off the world record.

But while practising at home, Chan has nailed it in as little as 6.28 seconds — something he hopes to repeat at a Toronto competition on Saturday.

At cubing contests, Chan is revered as a celebrity. When it’s his turn to solve, the crowd falls silent, said Dave Campbell, co-founder of Canadian Cubing, which organizes the events.

“There’s that world record factor. And when Harris goes up, you never know when it’s going to be the one,” Campbell said.

Chan first became interested in the Rubik’s Cube after watching Campbell doing a demonstration on TV in 2005. He bought a cube at a toy store and solved it in three days.

With practice, about an hour a day, he whittled his time down to a few minutes. He was soon a part of the fervent online cubing community.

With 43 quintillion possible permutations — that’s 43,252,003,274,489, 856,000 — it’s impossible to simply memorize individual solutions. So, cubers have built web forums where they post videos and share tips and algorithms.