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Halifax speedcubing event attracts young and old

Eighty participants competed in six categories at the event

4 min read
Seungmin Lee solving a 3x3 cube at Speedcubing Halifax Fall
caption Seungmin Lee has been playing Rubik's Cube for seven years. Lee, pictured on Nov. 25, 2023, said it's part of his life now.

Seungmin Lee, a 17-year-old from New Brunswick, won the main category at the Halifax Fall 2023 speedcubing competition on Saturday.

“There are so many age groups and so many diverse people doing the same hobby,” said Lee. “I find it’s a really cool way to connect with the diverse types of people.”

The event, presented by Speedcubing Canada, took place at the Scotiabank Auditorium at Dalhousie University. Eighty participants took part in the competition, competing to solve different combinations of a Rubik’s Cube the fastest.

Seungmin Lee solved a 3×3 cube in 7.47 seconds in the second round and won first place with the fastest average of 10.19 seconds in the final.

The competition was divided into six categories, representing the complexity of the cube and additional challenges: 4×4, 3×3, 2×2, 3×3 blindfolded, 3×3 one-handed and a pyramid-shaped cube called a Pyraminx. For blindfolded and one-handed events, the winner was determined after a single round based on the shortest completion time. The rest of the categories were decided after two rounds and a final.

The 3×3 cube is often considered the highlight of speedcubing. The top three finishers in this division received medals, while the finalists in the remaining categories received certificates.

Lee also won first place in the 3×3 at a Halifax competition in May. He has had the experience of competing in a number of regional competitions in the Maritimes and considers his strength to be 3×3.

Speedcubing competitions have no age limit for participants, although minors largely dominate the majority of these events.

Sixty-nine competitors were teenagers or children at Saturday’s event and three competitors were over the age of 30, according to data shared by Speedcubing Canada. The median age was 12.

Tarandeep Mittal, an industrial engineer and one of the organizers of Halifax Fall 2023, coordinated the course while competing in several categories. “The kids usually do way better (in speedcubing) than us (adults),” he said.

It’s never too late

Peter Douthwright, 63, said he was participating in his 42nd or, perhaps 43rd, speedcubing competition. “I’ve always competed with kids,” Douthwright said. “Always.”

He said he doesn’t feel nervous or challenged when surrounded by younger players. “Basically I’m competing against myself and that’s the way I look at it,” Douthwright said. “If my best was 36 (seconds), then I try to get it under 36.”

He signed up for four categories at Saturday’s event but didn’t make it to the next round in any of them. However, he brought the latest version of the Rubik’s Cube, which attracted young people to talk to him.

A first-time father brought his son along to compete. Christopher Gray said he didn’t realize there was such a large speedcubing community until he dug out his years-old cube from the garage and tried to find ways online to solve it.

father and son competing together at speedcubing event
caption Christopher Gray and Colton Gray competed in the 3×3 cube but didn’t make to the next round.

“I thought it would be awkward when I signed up because I know it’s mostly kids sitting around,” said Gray. “But coming and doing it, it’s really laid-back and easy, just a good time.”

The younger Gray, who became interested while watching his father play the cube, said he ranked low in the competition, but competing with his father made him less nervous.

Douthwright is retiring soon and he plans to attend the 2025 world championship for speedcubing in the U.S. He said young people may have a bigger advantage in speedcubing only because they have more after-school time to practice, while adults’ schedules often don’t allow for that.

“Some people also say that older people’s joints are not as flexible as younger people’s and that it slows us down in playing the cube, but I never use that as an excuse,” Douthwright said.

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About the author

Yuan Wang

Yuan Wang comes from China. She has an interest in international news and non-fiction. She also has a background in documentary production.

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