With Rubik's Cubes, it's 'always a challenge to get faster'

The canadianCUBING Atlantic Open was held in Halifax and more than 50 people between ages 11 and 57 registered to compete.

The canadianCUBING Atlantic Open drew more than 50 competitors in Halifax

Saturday marked Matthew Orlando's first cubing competition. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Matthew Orlando competed for the first time at a Rubik's Cube competition in Halifax Saturday.

The 16-year-old from Lower Sackville, N.S., has only been cubing for a year. A friend showed him how to do it and he's been hooked ever since. 

"It's just something to do with my hands. I like to fidget with things, so a cube in my hands is natural. And sitting in my house, it's a great way to pass time," Orlando said.

Big age range of competitors

Orlando was one of more than 50 competitors at the canadianCUBING Atlantic Open. There was a big age range represented at the open: the youngest competitor was 11 and the oldest was 57.

The goal is to solve a Rubik's Cube in the fastest time possible. There were 16 different competitions, ranging from a 2x2x2 cube with eight pieces all the way to a megaminx cube. The latter is shaped like a dodecahedron and it has 12 sides and 50 movable pieces.

This year marks the third year for the open in Halifax.

This is an example of a 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube. (David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Caroline Guinard, one of the organizers, said more people signed up for the 2017 event than expected.

She's cubed for six years and she said the draw of the hobby is the satisfaction that comes from solving the puzzle and getting faster at it.

"It's also something people find pretty impressive, not everyone can do. I think that's one of the main appeals," said Guinard.

National records broken

Emily Wang, a first-year law student in Halifax, broke four national records Saturday.

Two of the records were for single times, while the other two were for what is known as the "mean of three," which is where competitors are given three attempts and the average of those three times becomes their time.

"I broke both single and the mean of three for both 6x6 and 7x7," said Wang, 22.

Wang started cubing in Grade 8 when a friend brought a Rubik's Cube to class. Since then, she's competed at tournaments, including national competitions in the U.S.

"It's always a challenge to get faster. That's the biggest thing for me. It's always different," she said.

Cross-Canada competitors

Competitors from across Canada flew to Halifax to participate.

Louis Cormier, who is the world record holder for having the fastest average time to solve a megaminx, travelled to Halifax from Ottawa.

The 20-year-old solved a pyraminx cube in just over 3.5 seconds on Saturday. He said his sister introduced him to cubing during March Break eight years ago.

Emily Wang broke four national records at the Halifax competition on Saturday. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"I got back to school, showed my friends and then it became a competition amongst us to become the fastest," Cormier said.

"Eventually we realized we could go to Toronto and participate in these competitions and do pretty well, so that's exactly what we did in November 2010 and from there it just kept going further and further."

Outside Canada, Cormier has travelled to Boston, Las Vegas, Denmark and Thailand for Rubik's Cube tournaments.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.