Cube kid thinks out­side the square

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - PAULA HULBURT

A 13-year old Ru­bik’s Cube whizz kid has set him­self a chal­lenge: to be­come the fastest in the world at solv­ing the iconic 3D puzzle.

Sam Rae from Blen­heim taught him­self how to solve any con­fig­u­ra­tion of the cube in just a few days. He now hopes to break his best time of just 21 sec­onds to one day join the elite ranks of global record-hold­ers.

The Bo­hally In­ter­me­di­ate stu­dent was busy putting in the prac­tice as he pre­pared for his next com­pe­ti­tion in Welling­ton.

The Ru­bik’s Cube was in­vented in 1974 by Hun­gar­ian sculp­tor and pro­fes­sor of ar­chi­tec­ture ErnQ Ru­bik. The colour­ful cube has gone through many mu­ta­tions since and comes in many shapes and sizes.

Sam, who uses a series of al­go­rithms to solve the chal- lenge, be­came hooked af­ter he bought his first one last year.

Since then he has taken up a pa­per round to pay for his puzzle habit which can see him train up to three hours at a time.

‘‘I searched-up how to solve it up on You Tube and it’s just gone from there.

‘‘I do it most days to keep my speed up and I taught my sis­ter Gemma how to do it too,’’ he said.

While the cube craze has yet to catch on at school, Sam said pupils and even a teacher had brought in their own cubes for him to solve.

He has even created his own unique cube by blend­ing two to­gether.

‘‘I have about 20 cubes and each has a dif­fer­ent feel to it. When I’m try­ing to solve one I kind of do it on auto pi­lot as I’ve mem­o­rised all the al­go­rithms - so I kind of look ahead in my mind and see what I need to do next.

‘‘I would like to break the record one day if I could as it would be a real achieve­ment,’’ he said.

Sam was so com­mit­ted to the game he even set his mother, Melissa Rae, the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a Ru­bik’s Cube cake for his 13th birth­day.

‘‘Sam’s al­ways had a re­ally good mem­ory,’’ said Rae, who runs her own cake busi­ness from home, Sweet Creations.

‘‘When he was two-years-old he used to watch Word World on TV and would then spell out the words us­ing his wooden puzzle.

‘‘He re­ally en­joys the Ru­bik’s and can’t walk past one that’s not fin­ished,’’ she said.

The world record to solve a stan­dard 3x3x3 Ru­bik’s Cube is 4.22 sec­onds which was set by Felix Zemdegs at the Cube for Cam­bo­dia 2018 com­pe­ti­tion.

PHOTO: PAULA HULBURT/STUFF

Ru­bik’s Cube whizz Sam Rae, 13, taught him­self how to solve the puzzle by mem­o­ris­ing al­go­rithms.

When it came time to choos­ing a cake for his 13th birth­day, it was no sur­prise when Sam Rae opted for a Ru­bik’s Cube de­sign.

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