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Speedcubing: An overview

What is the purpose of speedcubing?

First and foremost, people are drawn to solving a magic cube simply for the fun of it. But, being able to solve a puzzle cube has other benefits too.
  • No more boredom during long car or train rides.
  • Improved concentration. Combination puzzles are used with ADHD and ADD patients.
  • Memory and retention are positively influenced.
  • Independent puzzle-solving is motivating and increases self-confidence.
  • Improved motor skills. In medicine, for example, it is used as a therapeutic tool with stroke patients or after hand surgery.
  • Solving a magic cube can divert attention away from negative thoughts or situations.

What disciplines does speedcubing have?

Speedcubing competitions are held regularly all over the world. They are organised by the World Cube Association (WCA), and participants can compete in the following 18 events:

2x2x2 Cube, 3x3x3 Cube, 4x4x4 Cube and 5x5x5 Cube

In this event, the goal is to solve a 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 or 5x5 cube as fast as possible. The format of these tournaments is “average of 5”, meaning each participant has 5 tries. For the score, the best and the worst of the five attempts are dropped and an average is calculated from the remaining three.
In addition, there could also be combination rounds (cutoff phase) where a first round is held in the format “best of 2” followed by “average of 5”. As the name suggests, for “best of 2” the better of two attempts counts. Under special circumstances, the WCA board can decide to change the format to “best of x”, whereby x could mean 1, 2 or 3.

3x3x3 blindfolded, 4x4x4 blindfolded, 5x5x5 blindfolded and 3x3x3 multi-blind

In blindfold cubing, the participant memorises the unsolved cube and then solves it blindfolded without taking another look at the cube. The total solving time consists of the time spent to memorise the pattern and the time it takes to solve the cube. The tournament format for these categories is “best of x” (x can be 1, 2 or 2). In the multiple blindfold event, a maximum of 60 minutes is given to solve as many 3x3 cubes as possible while being blindfolded. The score here is also calculated as “best of x”. These disciplines do not have average scoring.

3x3x3 fewest moves, 6x6x6 cube and 7x7x7 cube

In these three categories score is kept based on “best of x” and “mean of 3”. In the fewest moves event, a 3x3 cube needs to be solved in as few moves as possible. In the categories 6x6 and 7x7 cube, the respective cube needs to be solved in the shortest time possible.

3x3x3 one-handed

For one-handed solving of the 3x3 cube, the same formats apply as with the regular 3x3x3 speedcubing. That means “average of 5” and in the combined rounds “best of 2” or “best of x”, followed by “average of 5”. As soon as a participant has begun to solve the cube with one hand, he is only allowed to turn the cube with that hand.

3x3x3 with feet

In this category, a 3x3 speed cube was solved as quickly as possible with the feet. Participants were allowed three attempts until 31.12.2017, after which they had five tries. The score was kept in the format “average of 5” and, as is the case with the 3x3x3 cube format, in the combination round as “best of 2” or “best of x”. However, as of 01.01.2020, this event officially no longer exists.

Clock

The magic clock is also an official competition category. The clock event has the tournament format “average of 5” and combined rounds with “best of 2” and “average of 5”.

Megaminx, Pyraminx, Skewb and Square-1

Megaminx, Pyraminx, Skewb and Square-1 have the same tournament formats as the 3x3x3 cube event. Here you can find more information about Megaminx, Pyraminx, Skewb and Square-1.
More detailed information on speedcubing competition rules can be found here.

Who can participate in a speedcubing competition and how do you register?

In general, anyone can participate in a tournament. However, you should be able to solve a speed cube in under 10 minutes which is the maximum time allowed in competitions. You have to abide by the WCA rules and must not be suspended by the WCA board. In addition, before each tournament eligibility requirements are being communicated which need to be met.
You can access tournament dates for the entire world directly on the World Cube Association website and also register for the next event.