Kenneth Arnold: One Second Away From A World Record

I started the timer. The scramble on the Rubik’s cube was perfect, so I knew it would be a good solve. I maneuvered the layers so the white side was complete, and then I quickly followed with an algorithm to complete the yellow side. I didn’t know it just yet, but I was about to be one second away from a world record. 

I got my first Rubik’s cube right around 2012— a traditional Rubik’s Cube from the store. However, it wasn’t until 2015 when I learned how to solve one. I had challenged my sister to solve the Rubik’s cube by the end of the day. To my surprise, she was able to pull it off. She told me that she used and took notes on a fairly easy way to solve the cube, called the “beginner’s method.” So I started out using the method, and I learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube relatively easily, but it took awhile for me to memorize the algorithms and the process of solving the cube. After a few weeks of periodic practice, I was finally comfortable solving the cube completely by memorization; however, my solves were all slow.

Naturally, I wanted to go faster. I learned new ways to turn the cube using different parts of my fingers (called “finger tricks”), and I started solving the cube with a method called the “Fridrich method.” Using the Fridrich method, also known as CFOP, I was able to solve the cube in under 40 seconds, which previously took a couple minutes with the beginner’s method. At this time the record for the 3x3x3 (describes the number of layers) Rubik’s Cube was by Feliks Zemdegs with a time of 4.73 seconds. I started practicing 2x2x2 as well and averaged under 10 seconds.

After a year, my skills slowly rose, and I was able to improve my times greatly. One large factor that helped me to improve was getting my first speedcube in 2016. It was 6th grade, and I found out about a new speedcube that was supposed to be amazing. It was called the Gan 356 Air. Before this, all I used for a year was a ShengShou 3x3x3 that always had pieces of the cube flying out.

When I first bought my Gan 356 Air, I remember it seemed like an eternity waiting for it to come in the mail. When it finally came, I opened up the package, turned the cube, and it felt like heaven. It was fast, buttery smooth, and never popped—it was just like turning air.

Shortly after receiving it, I began developing my Rubik’s cube collection. I found out about a website called “thecubicle.us” (now “thecubicle.com”), and I started buying all my cubes from there; previously, I bought from “amazon.com.”

I set my two personal bests and near world record solve in 2019. I got 8 seconds for 3x3x3 and 1.05 seconds for 2x2x2. The current 2x2x2 world record is 0.49 seconds by Maciej Czapiewski, which means I am currently only 0.56 seconds away from the world record. As for 3x3x3, the current world record is 3.47 seconds by Yushend Du, meaning I’m only 5 seconds from the world record of solving the traditional Rubik’s cube. 

Even though I’m only 5 seconds away from the world record, that doesn’t mean that I can easily beat the world record. After 20 seconds, it becomes difficult to increase your speed and become a faster solver; plus, it’s a slow process. Feliks Zemdegs took many years and hundreds of hours to reach his current level.

Even though I may not beat a world record, that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop solving. The cubing community is friendly, welcoming, and a joy to be in; solving is always good fun too. However, one of my favorite parts of cubing is teaching others. Solving a Rubik’s cube is easier than most would think. And maybe, if you try, you might find a new passion.

 Fun Facts:

In 1974 the Rubik’s Cube was created by Erno Rubik. Appearing in television advertisements and newspapers, it quickly became one of the best-selling toys with over 200 million sales from 1980 to 1983. The Rubik’s Cube has six sides, each with its own color: white, yellow, blue, green, red, and orange. It started out as a fun and challenging puzzle but has since developed into a community. 

In 1982, the first world record was achieved by Minh Thai with a time of 22.95 seconds. However, after this world record, the popularity of speed solving Rubik’s cubes decreased dramatically. It was another 20 years before there was another record, and it was when the WCA (World Cube Association) was created and held a competition. Over the years, the records have gotten faster and faster and more events have been made; basically, Rubik’s cubes were becoming popular again.