How Does a Puzzle Cube Competition Work? | The Cube Shop

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How Does a Puzzle Cube Competition Work?

Puzzle cubes have become quite the craze among the most dexterous of puzzle lovers. But only the best of the best aspire to solve these tricky polygonal puzzles in the quickest time possible.

This hobby is called Speedcubing, the practice of solving puzzle cubes in as little time as possible. If you’re not familiar, think of it as a speedrun but for a puzzle cube.

Like any high-skill and highly competitive hobby, there are many groups, events, and of course: competitions. In this article, we’ll go over how Speedcubing competitions work, how you can enter them, and how they began.

Speedcubing: A Brief History

The first puzzle cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian Professor of Architecture Ernӧ Rubik. Back in 1981, the very first speedcubing competition was hosted by the Guiness Book of World Record in Munich. 

Ever since then, puzzle cubes and speedcubing have become a worldwide phenomenon. Twenty years after the first speedcubing competition, a second one was held in 2003, taking place in Toronto.

With the need of organization emerging for such a global craze, Ron van Bruchem and Tyson Mao founded the World Cube Association, or WCA. This group organizes, hosts, and referees every speedcubing competition.

Aside from the world championships, of which there have been a total of 10, there are smaller, regional competitions occurring constantly. The most recent speedcubing World Championship took place in 2018 and was held in Melbourne, Australia.

The next North America-based speedcubing competition is set to take place in Hershey, Pennsylvania on August 20th. The next world championship will be held in December of 2021 in the city of Almere, Netherlands.

Speedcubing is showing no signs of slowing down, with new manufacturers and speedcubers entering the craze. New world records are constantly being set by speedy solvers, with the current world record of 3.47 seconds being held by Yusheng Du.

Gaining Entry

The best way to get yourself into a speedcubing competition is to develop a rapport with the World Cube Association (WCA). The WCA is the most prominent governing body when it comes to all things speedcubing.

Their purpose is to organize all events, and ensure fair competition. The WCA expects sportsmanlike conduct within the ranks of their competitors, and an overall friendly atmosphere.

To enter a competition as a competitor, you need to first go to the WCA website to begin the registration process. From there, you will need to:

  • Create a WCID: With an email, you can create an account with the WCA. You will need to enter your personal information such as your name, date of birth, gender, and country of residence. Additionally, you will need to distinguish whether or not you have ever competed in a WCA competition.
  • Find a Competition: After creating your WCID, you can now choose which competition you wish to attend. There is a menu through which you can select your home country and find upcoming competitions to attend. 
  • Register: From here, you fill out a digital form that details your category and number of guests in your group. There are many categories you can choose from, including 3x3, 2x2, 4x4, 16x16, and so on.
  • Pay: Lastly, you will need to pay a small registration fee to officially become a competitor in the speedcubing competition of your choice.

  • Registering yourself to compete in a speedcubing tournament is very quick and easy. You can go it alone, or bring a group to either watch or compete with you.

    Rules and Regulations

    To ensure that everyone has a fair chance at these competitions, the WCA has a number of rules, regulations, and procedures to follow. Upon entering the competition, you will be assigned a group and wait for your group to be called.

    The group you’re placed in depends on the category of competition you registered for. So if you’re competing in 3x3, for example, you will be grouped with other 3x3 competitors. 

    Once your group has been called, it’s time to compete! You will be assigned a judge who has a scorecard for you. There are a total of five rounds per competition. Depending on the competition, these rounds may be eliminatory, meaning that slowest competitors are dropped until there is one left.

    At the solving area, you will be sat in front of a Slackmat timer. These devices are digital timers that start tracking time once both of your hands have left the two platforms on either side of it.

    Here is how the process works from here:

  • Starting the Solve: Before your first out of five attempts begins, the judge will ensure that the timer is set to zero and ready to go. At the scrambling table, the judges will scramble the puzzle cubes that will be used. These will then be delivered to the competitors in some sort of covering. Once everything is ready, you have one minute to start your solve attempt. Once you confirm to the judge that you are ready, they will lift the covering over the cube and you may begin your attempt.
  • Inspection Phase: After the cover is lifted, the competitors are allowed a maximum of 15 seconds to inspect their puzzle cube. You may pick up the cube and inspect all faces, but you may not apply any moves to the cube.
  • Solving: After the inspection phase, you place your hands palms down on the Slackmat timer. Once the green light appears on the timer, you are allowed to start solving the cube. Once the puzzle is solved, you put your hands back onto the slackmat to stop the timer. 
  • Judging: After you finish, the judge will inspect the cube to see if it is solved properly. If it is correct, your time recorded on the slackmat will be logged into your scoresheet.

  • The competitor with the best overall score will win! Speedcube competitions are a rush, and a lot of fun. If you think you have what it takes to compete with the quickest hands in the puzzle cube scene, these events are for you!

    Sources All About Speed Cube Competitions (May 05, 2021) WCA Regulations (May 05, 2021) WCA Guideline (May 05, 2021)

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