Rubik's Games World Championships 2003

August 23rd: Qualifying Day
The next day we got up early and Bethany, who travelled up from Raleigh with us, gave me, Andy Savoy, Frank Morris, and Dan Harris a ride to the Science Center. There we saw The Galaxy Room where we would be competing. They already had the cube podiums set up and were working on the timers and all the details when we got there about an hour early. Frank, Dan, Andy and I all proceeded to resticker our cubes with the provided stickers.

Very soon people started arriving and the room got crowded with people who were practicing and with people meeting each other and those restickering their cubes. There I got to meet Hana Bizek for the first time and see some of her very cool cube art, her website is here. I also got to meet lots of the other "big names" in cubing. Probably the most memorable meeting that morning was I finally got to meet Dan Knights and Jessica Fridrich, both of whom were the main influences on me to decide to learn how to speedcube back in 1998. I got to race both of them in an informal race and I can now say that I beat Dan Knights in a cube race.... once :) Most of the time I came in a comfortable 3rd place :)

Soon after that the qualifying round began for the 5x5x5 cube. I did not compete in the 5x5x5 event, which I sort of regret now since I think it would have been fun to be up on stage another time. I spent most of my time during this event talking with people I knew in the "ready room" as well as watching some of my friends do the 5x5x5. After the 5x5x5 round the 4x4x4 round started. I also hadn't planned on competiting in the 4x4x4 round either, but Ron van Bruchem came up to me during the event and asked if I was competing this event. I said no, and he proceeded to convince me to compete, which I am very glad of now! I hadn't practiced the 4x4x4 much in the few weeks leading to the championships since I hadn't planned on competing that event, however despite that I was very happy with my performance and I came in 4th place overall. Right after the 4x4x4 event, the 3x3x3 qualifying round started. My fastest time in the qualifying round was 21.95 seconds, fast enough to continue on to the semi-finals. The qualifying round ran too long that day and we had to leave and come back the next day. I don't remember much of the rest of that day, but I do remember practicing in my room and spending time around the hotel as usual to try and meet people.

Getting some practice in before the qualifying round started. Behind me are Gene Means and David Allen and at the timer with me are Jason Hildebrand and Michiel van der Blonk

Me and my Mom talking before the round started - Michiel cubing behind us

August 24th: Finals Day - One Handed competition - Reception
Today was the big day. Me and Andy got up early and got a ride again from Bethany. We got to the Science Center and walked down to the Imperial Oil Auditorium. This was the first time I had seen the auditorium, and I was impressed at how large it was. This was now Andy's big chance, for he was bumped to today for his qualifying round. I was very nervous yet excited as Andy got on stage. Andy wanted to get a good time, sub-60, while on stage and I was trying to encourage him as much as I could before he went up. When he went up his first time was 1:27, which for him was not bad but also not great at the level he was at. I was hoping that he wouldn't get nervous or try too hard and end up going too fast for his next solve. Then his next time was 52 seconds! This was a very good time for him, and I was glad he had met his goal for his times on stage. His best time was 49.33 seconds up to that point, and he had been improving remarkably fast. I was hoping that he would break his best time his next time around, but his last time came out at 56 seconds. This was still a very good time for him however and I was happy that he had done well for having only been cubing for two months :) Andy seemed happy with his time after he came off stage and he ended up coming in 56th overall at the end of the day. Soon it was time for the semi-final round. My times were 22.21 seconds, 21.09 seconds, 22.23 seconds. This was slower than my performance I get during my practice, but then again during my practice I'm not on stage in a big auditorium with a large audience :) I was happy with my performance and I came in 15th overall. Below are some pictures of me solving,

A view from in the audience

Me on the big screen

After the semi-final round they started doing the non-category events. This was where all of us who had practiced the more unique Rubik puzzles got to compete. I was particularly excited about competing in the Rubik's Cube one handed event, which I had been practicing very seriously for a year before the championships. Once the one handed event began we were given 2 tries to solve the cube. My first time was 44.98 seconds, which beat the previous world record of 53.29 seconds held by Duncan Dicks of the United Kingdom. I got very nervous on my second solve and messed up my solution near the end. My last time was 1 minute 0.45 seconds. It turns out that I won the one-handed competition with Michael Atkinson coming in second, and Grant Tregay in 3rd place. Below are some pictures of me doing the cube one handed.

Me solving the cube one handed. Photo courtesy of Seven Towns

My first solve, the new record

Me solving on the big screen

After the one handed event came the final round for the 3x3x3 speed solve. This was absolutely amazing to watch! I was rooting for all of my friends, and I had no clue who would walk away with the prize, since all the guys up there were incredibly fast! It turns out that Dan Knights had the strongest nerves of all, in addition to absolutely amazing cube solving skills, and came out as the winner of the 3x3x3 speed solve event and new world champion.

After the 3x3x3 event came the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 finals. All of the times achieved on stage were very fast, but Masuyuki Akimoto ended up having the fastest hands and strongest nerves and won both events. After all the events were done came the award ceremony, after which we all made our way back to the hotel for the dinner reception.

The dinner reception.

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