Twists and turns of speedcubing

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For some, a Rubik’s cube is a puzzle that can never be solved, but for speedcuber Jayden McNeill, it’s simply a question of how quickly it can be done.

The Canberra native is currently ranked in the top 25 in the world, and second in Australia, for solving the 3x3x3 cube with a personal best time of 4.97 seconds. Jayden is also the current Square-1 World Champion after winning the event at the 2017 World Rubik’s Cube Championships in France.

He is currently preparing to take on the world’s best with warm-up events in Canberra and Sydney before heading to Melbourne for the World Cube Association (WCA) Speedcubing World Championships on 11-14 July.

Every two years, speedcubers from around the world gather for an extended weekend of puzzle solving and intense competition with World Championship titles to be contested in 18 WCA disciplines.

Jayden has opted to compete in about half of the disciplines on offer, as he will also be commentating at the event, with a particular focus on the 3x3x3.

“I need something in the seven second range for the finals. I’m good enough to get seven seconds … but getting first, that’s a tall order,” he said.

Jayden first learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube eight years ago and has been competing for seven years. At 21 years of age, he is “less of a competitor”, moving more towards coaching and now commentary, as he said speedcubing tends to be a younger person’s sport.

“Most of the good people are in their teens but obviously there are some people my age who do really well.”

So what makes a good speedcuber? According to Jayden, there is no secret when it comes to solving cubes, rather it’s “whoever works the hardest and puts the most time into it”. To improve his times, he suggested he would need to commit “at least two hours a day of really trying”.

And, while muscle memory and dexterity play a role, “it’s really just colours and patterns”.

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