I usually don’t publicly talk about my nerdy hobbies, but as this is the last article of my 31 articles in 31 days to start off 2022, I figured we could get personal.
The Rubik’s cube and I go back to a date I can barely remember. Every kid growing up was bound to have one of these 3×3 cubes in their house, and probably scrabbled for eternity. I had really gained much interest in the cube when I was kid. I messed with it a bit but I figured it wasn’t supposed to be solved, it was a time suck toy.
Around 8th grade, my best friend David had invited me to a beach house vacation with a couple of his other friends. All of us were about the same age, but there was an older kid, Brian, who that weekend was going to change my life. Not only did he introduce me to techno, but he also showed me the way of the cube. He was solving it under a minute, and watching him all week do it made me want to be able to at least gain some form of ability to solve it. He showed me all these complex turnings and explanations but by the end of the trip, all I could do was the first layer, the second layer, and the cross. He had practically taught me CFOP, but I wasn’t able to acquire all the steps from him to finish it.
Still, the four last corners kept eating at me. I must have just started high school when I finally solved it because I remember bringing the cube everywhere with me, including school. When I did finally figure out PLL, it was because I had spent months figuring it out myself. I was in a Mexican restaurant, that’s actually still in business, when I solved my first 3×3 cube. I was with my father and sister, I remember it as clear as day. From there, I just kept trying to get faster and faster. Never once did I think to look it up on the internet how to do it.
I was probably around 14 years old, and I was constantly getting sub 40s. I was showing it off every chance I could but my time of glory was about to end soon. My least favorite teacher had seen me messing with the cube at lunch and said, if I could solve it in under a minute he’d give me extra credit or something. I knew there was a lot on line because I remember thinking I could finally impress him, plus get a few extra points in a class I was doing terrible in.
He scrabbled the cube, passed it to me and began the count. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the orientation of the Last Layer to resolve for me. I had hit a case I hadn’t seen time was up. As he walked away, I solved the cube but by then the damage was done. I stopped bringing the cube to school.
That could have been the end of my cubing career and it was for a very long time. Even to this day, I don’t know how to solve that certain case that comes up to haunt me. Not because I couldn’t figure it out but because I have like this mental block preventing me. To be honest, get really dull in the mind anytime I try to learn algorithms. They just bore me and I rather figure the cubes out myself.
My return to cubing
Then in 2017, when I moved to China, the cube appeared in my life again. I had been in one of the HQB buildings when I stumbled upon all these Chinese brand cubes. I started doing research and found that the Chinese were leading the speedcubing community. That blew my mind because when I was a teen, I didn’t even know there was competitive cubing and I thought the Rubik’s brand was the highest quality — Little did I know.
My girlfriend, now wife, knew I wanted one and she ended up buying me a GAN356 Air SM. See, cubes now had magnets, special plastic grooves, and plastic texture control. This was my first time experiencing such things. At the first turn of the cube, all my muscle memory returned and I was solving the cube again at a minute or less. It was fantastic.
In 2017, the world record for a 3×3 was 6.85 seconds, I wasn’t ever going to get that fast. So I went for the next best thing, a 2×2. Something about the smaller size seemed more approachable. I know I said I hated learning algos, but on a 2×2 they are just too much fun to master all parts of the cube. It’s a low barrier of entry. I was around sub 25 when I got bored with 2×2, and now I don’t even have one to practice with.
By the time I left China because of covid, I had probably 10 different types of cubes. Most of them are in a storage unit in my hometown while the rest I donated to a local Cube shop in Shenzhen. Yeah, they have literal stores full of cubes over there. There’s a YT video out there about it but here’s a screenshot of the store:
This last Christmas, the bug was biting again and I had been looking at odd number cubes. I had never solved a 5×5 or a 7×7, and with their price tags, really there was no reason for me to not own one, but hate buying myself something I want. So instead, I asked my mom to buy me one for Christmas, instead, she bought me five new cubes feeding into my everlasting addiction.
They must have had a sale, because she gifted me way more cubes than I had expected. The original request was the 5×5, but as I opened the box, a new collection was formed.
What I currently own
In 2020, I had moved to San Francisco for work and left behind a life in a storage unit. So, what I currently own is really what I currently own in San Francisco.
The YJ YUFU 7X7 V2 M is absolutely amazing, so much so I haven’t touched it other than doing patterns on it. I need to learn the 5×5 first. As for the 5×5, it’s a DianSheng Magnetic 5×5. It’s nearly the same size as the 3×3 which is nice, and the turning is easy. I was able to solve the entire thing for the first time but couldn’t figure out the damn 5×5 parity. A parity is when a piece gets turned around the wrong way due to how centers work on odd layer cubes. It’s an annoyance but exactly why I wanted one. I’m going to learn the parity algo on my own, just one of these days.
The megamix, is an ugly puzzle, imo. I hate the way they look but damn it, I love the way they turn. I would have never touched one hadn’t been for my mom buying me two. The one on the YUXIN LITTLE MAGIC MEGAMINX V3 M is the better buy. I figured out how to solve it up to the last layer, again this is where I’m figuring out my own algos, the closest I got was the top star but the corners were wrong. I might learn the MEGAMINX from a tutorial because it’s been eating at me the most. The way it turns, I can’t figure out how to host a spot to move anything around. Once I do figure out the end solution, I think I might say the MEGAMINX is my favorite puzzle.
If you think a 3×3 is too difficult, maybe a X-MAN BELL MAGNETIC PYRAMINX V2 is up your alley. It’s a interesting 4 sided cube, looks like a pyramid and it turns from the corners. I had never picked up one of these but it took me maybe 20 minutes to solve first try. It’s apparently great for kids too. I like this one because it’s almost like a quick distraction with a satisfying completion state.
At that Cube store in China, I ended up trading in my old 3×3 for a GAN 356 X Magnetic 3×3 V2. I think sticker less cubes are more aesthetically pleasing, but that’s just my opinion. It’s a good 3×3 but there’s more advanced and faster ones out there now. Also, I mentioned a 2×2 before, that was the GAN 251 M, which is just fantastic but pricy for the size. If I had $26 to spend, I’d totally buy another one.
Want to start cubing? Where to buy?
So in North America, you’re going to want to stay away from Amazon and just buy from a shop that dedicates itself to cubing. Here are the only places I trust
My favorite YouTubers
Obviously with every scene or hobby, there’s a community behind it and YouTubers informing the scene on news, new cubes and all things great about the cube.
I think that’s enough for the last article. I hope it either got you interested or at least informed in a scene outside of our Vaporwave. Until the next one — Cheers, KITE0080