40 years of puzzling amuse­ment

Speed­sters have new chal­lenge with Ru­bik’s Cube

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - PETER GLENN

While many may as­so­ciate Ru­bik’s Cube with Sony Walk­mans, neon shirts, leg warm­ers and rugby pants, the puz­zle that swept Canada in the early 1980s never re­ally went away and has, in fact, en­joyed a resur­gence of late.

For Air­drie’s Josh Derk­sen, 22, an in­ter­est in the puz­zle went well beyond try­ing sim­ply to solve it, to solv­ing it at dizzy­ing speeds.

“I bought my first Ru­bik’s Cube in 2007 and dis­cov­ered shortly af­ter­wards that there was a com­mu­nity of speed cu­bers on the In­ter­net and their skills and tech­niques were free to learn from,” said Derk­sen as the mak­ers of Ru­bik’s Cube pre­pare to cel­e­brate its 40th an­niver­sary.

It didn’t hap­pen overnight, but in about a week, Derk­sen had that first cube solved (one colour per side). Over the course of a year and with lots of prac­tice, he be­came a speed cuber.

“After seven years of prac­tice, I am now able to solve the cube in roughly 17 seconds,” says Derk­sen, a self-de­scribed puz­zle fan from an early age. His per­sonal best is about 10 seconds.

While he’s re­luc­tant to share his se­crets, Derk­sen does al­low that the key to solv­ing the cube is to think in terms of lay­ers, not sides. He’s en­thu­si­as­tic about new Ru­bik’s Cubes that mimic some of the ways speed cu­bers have mod­i­fied their puz­zles over the years to make them faster.

The Ru­bik’s Speed Cube, for ex- am­ple, fea­tures a spher­i­cal core to min­i­mize fric­tion and a tweaked mech­a­nism that al­lows the faster move­ment speed cu­bers crave.

Ru­bik’s Cube has also done away with the coloured stick­ers on its reg­u­lar puz­zle, so no more cheat­ing by rear­rang­ing them to seem as if the puz­zle is solved. New per­ma­nent tiles, they claim, make for a bet­ter gaming ex­peri- ence as well as an end to chipped, faded and peel­ing stick­ers.

“I have both of the new Ru­bik’s Cubes and they are vast im­prove­ments to the old de­signs,” he says.

And in his ob­ses­sion with the puz­zle in­vented by Hun­gar­ian Erno Ru­bik in 1974 and that has 21 pieces and 43 quin­til­lion com­bi­na­tions, Derk­sen has company.

“In Al­berta there are a small num­ber of ded­i­cated cu­bers that gather in Ed­mon­ton and we are look­ing to ex­pand the group to Cal­gary as well with my­self head­ing up that group.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to the groups Face­book page: Cal­gary Cub­ing Club.

Gavin Young/Cal­gary Her­ald

Speed cuber Josh Derk­sen can solve the Ru­bik Cube in 17 seconds. He won’t share his se­crets, but says the key to solv­ing it is to think in terms of lay­ers, not sides.

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