40 years of puzzling amusement
Speedsters have new challenge with Rubik’s Cube
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.
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.