January 15, 2006 11:25 AM PST

Record falls as best Rubik's 'cubers' meet in S.F.

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April 27, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO--Think of the things you could do in 11 seconds. Maybe you could walk to the fridge to get a soda. You could change CDs, or possibly put on a T-shirt. But when you think about it, it's a pretty short period of time.

Don't tell that to Leyan Lo. On Saturday, at the International Rubik's Cube competition held at the Exploratorium here, Lo took just 11.13 seconds to set the world record for solving of one of the iconic red, white, blue, green and yellow cubes.

Photos: Gamers gather

Lo's record came at the very beginning of a long day in which dozens of "cubers" squared off in bids to become the best at one or more of a series of different categories of Rubik's Cube competitions. Among them were the standard 3x3x3, the 3x3x3 blindfolded, the 3x3x3 one-handed and the 4x4x4 (The numbers refer to the number of rows and columns the cube has).

And by day's end, Lo had established himself as perhaps the most accomplished of all the competitors, having finished second in the 3x3x3, first in the 3x3x3 blindfolded and 3x3x3 one-handed, and second in the 4x4x4.

But it was his world record that had everyone on hand buzzing all day, even if Lo himself tried to play it down.

"It was a lucky solve," he said. "It was kind of cool. You get good cases and bad cases all the time."

He explained that the solution he'd chosen--based on algorithms he'd memorized for solving the cube as it was presented to him--ended up not requiring a final step that normally would have added two or three seconds to his time.

But others, even competition veterans, were clearly impressed by what they saw Saturday.

"It's great," said Tyson Mao, a student at Caltech and the organizer of the event. "I mean, it's great that people have opportunities to push the limits of Rubik's Cube solving. The world record has dropped so much recently because people have been putting in so much time."

Renewed popularity
Indeed, for a puzzle that is now 25 years old, it has gone through some serious peaks and valleys. After years in the 1980s as a worldwide phenomenon, Rubik's Cube dropped off the puzzle map in the '90s. But thanks to a growing number of competitions around the world and clubs like the one at Caltech, it is going through a major resurgence.

Click here to Play

Video: A puzzle gone wild
Rubik's Cube competition brings the quickest solvers in the world to San Francisco

Part of the credit, naturally, goes to the Internet, and to its ability to spread the gospel of top-rank cube solving. The mecca for the Rubik's Cube community, said many on hand Saturday, is SpeedCubing.com.

And to see Saturday's competitors, some just little children and others in their thirties and forties, it's easy to see that one reason the cube is back is that it is appealing across all generations.

"It's addictive. I'm very addicted," said 15-year-old Shotaro "Macky" Makisumi, considered by many the best cuber in the world today. "It's something you can improve yourself on. There's a time to show (how you're doing), and it's almost a competition against yourself instead of others. It's a chance to perfect something."

Shotaro certainly did his best Saturday to cement himself in the Rubik's Cube community as the best, or at least one of the best.

CONTINUED: Hooked at an early age…
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14 comments

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Did my
time machine finally work to send me back to the 80's?
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
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Pretty cool thing...
The 80's with the Internet and streaming video. That's a pretty cool thing. :)
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Wow! That is fast!
Only way I could solve it that quickly is to pull it apart and put it back together again. I still have my cube lying around somewhere too - and Donkey Kong.
Posted by DoohanOK (51 comments )
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Record holder
The funny part is I just saw the record holder Tyson on Beauty and the Geek. He seems like a funny guy.
Posted by tmccann11 (1 comment )
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Re: Record holder
OMG!!! I can't believe Tyson is on THAT show. I'm cringing at the moment *sigh*; but, I'll have to check the tele next week. Yikes!
Posted by netblazergrl (1 comment )
Link Flag
Are Cnet's articles proofread?
There's two mistakes in this article alone...

Still, she said, she's only be "cubing" for a year, and is already hooked on the pastime for much the same reason as Shotaro.

Lo took just 11.13 seconds to set the world record for solving of one of the iconic red, white, blue, green, yellow and red cubes.
Posted by (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's a reoccuring problem...
Bryon I had mentioned this many months ago (see the link below:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/5208-1002-0.html?forumID=1&#38;threadID=10682&#38;messageID=78338&#38;start=-1" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/5208-1002-0.html?forumID=1&#38;threadID=10682&#38;messageID=78338&#38;start=-1</a>). This confirms my initial thoughts.
Posted by dotNetDeveloperSeanHogg (7 comments )
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Spelling
But then again i'm guilt of spelling words incorrectly (Reoccurring).
Posted by dotNetDeveloperSeanHogg (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
just think ...
if they establish a new category for a Nobel Prize in Rubic's cubeology. the US will surely outperform the rest of the free world. if not, then at least we have a lock on hype and spin doctors.
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
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Open to more than US
I'm sure the event attracted a few from outside the US.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Not a U.S. Invention
The rubic's cube was invented by a polish mathematician who wanted to teach his children about sets. It is perhaps the hardest puzzle invented to date and was a huge hit when introduced in the 80's. Since then, variations have appeared such as the 4x4x4 (4 rows, columns, deep). This last christmas I encounted a 5x5x5 (5 rows, columns, deep) and snatched it up as it was the only one I've ever seen. All the cubes follow the same principles to solve them so I knew I would be able to solve it before purchasing it. I was more interested in the colorful patterns I could generate given all those rows. My current collection includes a standard cube, a round 3x3x3 illustrated as the earth, a 4x4x4 and my new prize the 5x5x5. As for those competitions, those cubes are no doubt well lubricated. I've heard that petrolium jelly is commonly used. How long did it take me to solve my first cube? 4 months and I didn't cheat. Today, 180 seconds or less. If you have ever solved every puzzle you've been given, then the cube is truely something you should try.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
go rubik!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/chevrolet_s10_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/chevrolet_s10_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by 208774626618253979477959487856 (176 comments )
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