World-Class Competition

Portrait of Johannes Neudörfer, His Son, and Their Rubik's Cube, after Nicolas Neufchâtel

What with all the hype about those badminton, horse-dancing, and bikini-ball contests in London, you might have missed last week’s really big sports event, the Rubik’s Cube U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas:

“LAS VEGAS — The clatter of 200 Rubik’s Cubes twisting in unison filled the ballroom at the Riviera hotel and casino here on Saturday as Riley Woo, 15, stepped to the stage.

Shick shick shick shick shick.

He took 1 minute 46 seconds to study a jumbled cube, then pulled a blindfold over his eyes and started to twist.

Shick shick shick shick shick.

Forty-eight seconds later, Riley lifted his blindfold and smiled. He had solved the puzzle, in a total of just over 2 minutes 34 seconds; not bad. Across the table, his father stopped filming and give him a thumbs-up.”

“In the 38 years since the Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik invented his cube, it has alternately been regarded as an object of fun, art, mathematics, nostalgia and frustration. Some credit its enduring fame to its universality — it requires no instructions or cultural context — and some to its complexity. What other child’s toy could so befuddle an M.I.T. grad student?”

(more) “Rubik’s Cube Twists Back Into Limelight,” Douglas Quenqua, New York Times

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Image (“Portrait of Johannes Neudörfer, His Son, and Their Rubik’s Cube, after Nicolas Neufchâtel”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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