Students pursue Rubik’s cube competitions

Shrija Shandilya | The Chronicle

Mason High School (MHS) students have elevated a childhood toy into a competitive, record-breaking activity. 

MHS senior Sujan Feist, currently holds the state record in the 2x2x2 Rubik’s cube with a time of 1.23 seconds and won the 2023 CubingUSA Great Lakes Championship. Feist said he got his start through his determination for the first cube he solved when he was younger.

“I remember I sat at a table for 7 hours straight not doing anything else,” Feist said. “I watched a video on how to do it and eventually I solved it and I’ve been getting better since.”

Feist said he is motivated by constantly looking for different ways to solve cubes, and that awards are a secondary bonus to his enjoyment of the hobby. He said that because he views it as a fun activity, he is able to get better times and feel less pressure.

“It’s almost addictive because you always want to find a different way to solve [a cube] after solving it once,” Feist said. “It’s a hobby to me and awards just kind of come with it.”

Rather than compete to seek titles or recognition, Feist said that he instead goes to competitions to beat his own records.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it work, it’s fun to me every time I pick up the cube,” Feist said. “I don’t look at cubing like trying to beat someone else, I look at it as trying to better myself from what I am right now.”

The process for Feist of setting a state record involved taking an average time of multiple solves. He said this was a standout moment in his cubing journey and that the long process taught him persistence.

“I think I’ve failed out of the state record five times,” Feist said. “It was the final round and people were commenting on it and I ended up getting a personal best and state record through the five sets of solves.”

Senior Daud Malik started cubing after seeing other students solve cubes in middle school. He said he enjoys the activity because of the involvement of problem-solving skills, which he also uses in his other activities.

“Every single piece you play is like a new problem to solve,” Malik said. “The satisfactory feeling of solving a problem is the reason I continue.” 

Malik said he enjoys the competitive nature of cubing, as well as the variety of cubes.

“If you have better times you have more opportunities to compete and move on,” Malik said. “I’m also motivated by the opportunity to try different puzzles.”

The cubing community has also allowed Malik to grow closer to individuals who share similar interests. He said a large part of why he enjoys cubing is because of the niche community it has provided.

“Competing makes me feel like I’m more involved in the community,” Malik said. “Since it’s this small community, it’s funny that you see these people grow up over time.”

Senior Neel Godbole, who has also competed in national cubing competitions, got his start in the activity after seeing kids younger than him solving cubes at his job.

“A seven year old kid took the cube out of my hand and solved it in a matter of a minute or two,” Godbole said. “I thought there’s no way a second grader can solve this and I can’t.”

Since then, Godbole began cubing and said that despite being in a competitive environment, he still prioritizes improving his own time.

“Even in a competitive environment I always want to beat myself,” Godbole said. “There’s obviously satisfaction in making it to the second round of competition but there’s an even greater satisfaction in beating your previous record.”

Godbole said that cubing has helped in developing confidence with quickly learning and applying new skills.

“It’s helped me get better at learning a different alternative to something I already knew,” Godbole said. “It boosts my confidence to know that I can take two different approaches to the same problem.”

There is a wide variety of combinations and methods to solve cubes. Godbole said that the majority of the work associated with cubing is memorizing different combinations of solving. While he does put in work to memorize combinations, he also said he tries to see it as more of a relaxed hobby rather than a strenuous activity.

“Instead of practicing religiously I like to just solve a cube if I see that it’s unsolved,” Godbole said. “It’s nothing too serious at the moment.”