The history of speedcubing

Speedcubing started at the precise time the Rubik's cube was invented. If you do not know it yet, speedcubing is the sport that consists in solving the Rubik's cube as fast as possible. Many different methods have been used by champions over time in the (very recent!) cubing history. But let's start with the year 1974, at the time Rubik's cube was invented.

The beginning of speedcubing

The very first speedcuber is probably Erno Rubik, the inventor of the cube. He was the first to find out and apply a method to solve the Rubik's cube in a reasonable time. This method could be applied to any solve. In the beginning of the 1980s, the Rubik's cube started selling really well. The Rubik's cube world expanded, which lead to the organization of the first world championships of Rubik's cube. It happened in June 1982, in Budapest,Hungary; as that is the country Erno Rubik is from.

speedcubing minh thai world champion

In the end of the 1980s, the Rubik's cube craze slowed down. However, since the year 2000 and the apparition of the Internet, the Rubik's cube popularity has continued to steadily increase. This new generation did not know this puzzle and became interested in it. As a result of technological advances, the internet has allowed people that were passionate about Rubik's cube to know each other, share tips and new solving methods. This lead to an improvement in the solving methods and evolution in the algorithms that were used.

The improving power of new computers also helped the speedcubers to find new algorithms. With all of this combined, it led to new world records. Nowadays, the Rubik's cube 3x3 can now be solved under 5 secondes. The first one to achieve this was Lucas Etter, a young American; proving that the Rubik's cube is now a global phenomenon.

The first Rubik's cube 3x3x3 World Championships

The winner of the first World championships of Rubik's cube is Minh Thai. He solved the Rubik's cube in 22.95 seconds thanks to a method called "corners first". This method consists in solving the corners of the Rubik's cube 3x3 first, and then the edges. During the event, all the solves needed to be done on brand new 3x3 Rubik's cubes. No lubricants were allowed. Have you ever tried to solve a brand new Rubik's cube with no lubricant ? It's awful.

Most of the times were quite bad compared to the competitors best average, because of the hard turns on the faces. Since then, this rule has been changed and every speed cubers can now bring his own cube in a competition. Of course, he does not do the scramble himself, but a member of the organization team does it. This organizer ensures that all Rubik's cubes are mixed the same for any given round.

Speedcubing rules

The World Cube Association

When we think about the Rubik's cube speedcubing, talking about sport could be a bit overstated. Who would believe Rubik's cube speedsolving is a sport ? Though, every speed solver needs to solve the Rubik's cube as fast as possible during a competition. He fights against time and tries to be as good as (or even better!) he was during practice.

He will have to be at his peak of concentration at the precise time the timer starts. He can also hope for some luck with could help him beat a new record. He is the only one to fight against the time and no outside help is allowed.

organisation competitions speedcubing

Nevertheless, rules are very strict. They are established by the non-profit organization: The World Cube Association. It is in charge of defining the rules but also organizing competitions all over the world and validating world records.

The competition system is similar to the one in track and field: A record can be beaten during a world championship but also during a small competition. The World record is the best time ever made, independently of any championship.

Championships and records

In opposition to these records, the WCA organizes world championships every two years. During this speedcubing competition, the best speedcubers from the world compete against each other. We often talk about the world record of Rubik's cube 3x3, but the world champion title is by far harder to obtain.

speedcubing competition resister stressThe competitions organized by the WCA happen on two to four rounds. Most of the time, it's three rounds. The first round, the semi finals and the final. At every round, the best averages of the Rubik's cube solves go to the next round. Actually, it is not exactly the average of the five solves but the average of three; the best and the worst times being taken out of the average.

Every solve is important and can improve the average. So the competitor needs to be focused and very consistent. One record is not enough, as the average is taken into account.

A solve in a speedcubing competition

The competitor has 15 seconds to look at the Rubik's cube before starting the solve. It allows him to inspect the state of the cube and decide how he will start the solve. At best, he will be able to plan the first few moves of the solve. He will know which case should happen and therefore solve it faster. But it is impossible to plan the entire solve. The blindfolded Rubik's cube solves are based on different methods that are not used for speedcubing.

speedcubing regles timerThe solves are timed with a tactile timer. Every competitor put his hands flat on the timer before starting the solve. Once he is ready, he lifts his hands which will make the timer start. He then takes the Rubik's cube and starts the solve. Once he is finished, he put his hands back on the timer, flat. This will touch the tactile cells, which will stop the timer. The timer is precise up to a hundred of a second.

Every solve is watched by a judge, whom checks all the rules are followed and no cheating happened.

The fastest method to solve the Rubik's cube

methode la plus rapide resolution speedcubingAs of today, the mostly used method among the Rubik's cube champions is Fridrich method. This speeedcubing method is named after its inventor, Jessica Fridrich. She was one of the competitors at the first Rubik's cube world championships in 1982. Her method was the first method based on a layer by layer approach. Prior to this, all the speedsolving methods were based on a corner first then edges approach.

One of the main characteristics of the Fridrich method is that the first two layers can be solved without learning any algorithms. It is fully instinctive. It still requires an understanding of how a Rubik's cube works and a bit of intuition. The other main characteristic is that the last layer can be solved with only two algorithms, being about 10 moves each. In terms of number of moves and speed, this is very efficient.

This method is used very widely in the speedcubing community. It requires time to be fully mastered though. All the algorithms contained in this method are short and can be performed very quickly. It is also very easy to find out which algorithm to apply depending on the case. All this combined makes the solve with this method faster than with any other method. Some other methods likes Petrus and Roux are much more intuitive, but did not prove to be as fast.

The speedcubing world champions

It is interesting to analyze the evolution of world record with time. Since the beginning of modern speedcubing, the world record times have improved a lot. The improvement has been caused on the one hand by the improvement of the speed cubes and on the other hand by the improvement of algorithms and methods. The new Rubik's cubes are much more adapted to speedcubing. And they allow much better times.

World champions of Rubik's cube

Here are the Rubik's cube World champions and their respective times.

  • 2003 - Dan Knight (USA) wins with an average of 20.00 seconds

Dan knight rubik cube

  • 2005 - Jean Pons (France) wins with an average of 15.10 seconds

Jean Pons

  • 2007 - Yu Nakajima (Japan) wins with an average of 12.46 seconds

Yu Nakajima rubik cube

  • 2009 - Brendan Vallance (United Kingdom) wins with an average of 10.74 seconds

Brendan Vallance rubik cube

  • 2011 - Michal Pleskowicz (Poland) wins with an average of 8.75 seconds

Michal Pleskowicz rubik cube

  • 2013 - Feliks Zemdegs (Australia) wins with an average of 8.18 seconds

Feliks Zemdegs rubik cube

  • 2015 - Feliks Zemdegs (Australia) wins with an average of 7.56 seconds

Feliks Zemdegs rubiks cube

The last speedcubing 3x3 world champion is today a 20-year old Australian, Feliks Zemdegs. He strongly contributed in improving the records in the last years. He accumulated a lot of titles and trophies. But he is not the only and Rubik's cube recently became a worldwide sport, as shown by the nationalities of all the winners.

Speedcubing world champions now solve the Rubik's cubes with about fifty moves. With an average of 7 moves per second. Impressive, isn't it ? To get closer to this level, you will need to improve your dexterity, but also vision into space.

Speedcubing : What 3x3 cube to buy ?

For a long time, the speedcubing champions have used the authentic Rubik's cube sold by the official company : Winning Moves. They are the cubes that can be bought into a usual shop. If this is the type of cube that you are after, it can also be bought cheaper on Amazon.

The center screws can not be tighten so they should not be preferred for speedcubing. They are most of the time hard to turn. There is now many different brands and different cubes. For speedcubing, the chinese Dayan should be preferred, or the Moyu Aolong v2. Please have a look at our top 5 for more information.

Top 5 of the best Rubik's Cubes

For the best times, choose the best Rubik's cube

Buy the best Rubik's cubes

*More information on competitions, records and much more on the official website of the World Cube Association.