A Rather Twisty Competition

February 25, 2017

I walked through the double doors of a rather small multipurpose building on an unusually tranquil Saturday morning, greeted by the adroit movements of people solving their Rubik’s cubes, working tirelessly to achieve their personal best times. The event took place at the Moose Family Center Lodge, in Sunnyvale CA. Around me were various moose related items, such as numerous pictures of mooses, as well as moose cut outs scattered across the dull, white walls. The building also included a large stage located towards the back of the hall. The distinctive clicking sound of puzzles twisting and turning around me was sure to capture my interest. There were at least 50 people at the venue, either practicing their puzzles or competing. I began practicing the 3x3 Rubik’s Cube, my specialty, in preparation for the massive competition, even though I had spent countless hours practicing beforehand. A typical speed cubing competition consists of 5 different solves, each with an inspection period of 15 seconds in order to plan the moves you will execute to solve the puzzle. There are breaks in between each solve, where you move away from the table so the cube can be scrambled again. As my name was about to be called, the butterflies in my stomach soon turned into pigeons flying around. My mind flooded with thoughts, such as “Will I get a good time?” and “I hope my puzzle does not shatter as I am solving it.”

Before I knew it, my name was called and my parents wished me good luck. I slowly walked towards a table with my name on it. In front of me was a finger timer, which activates upon the competitor placing both his palms on either side of the timer. Additionally, there was a scrambled puzzle placed in a miniature cardboard box, so that competitors did not get to inspect their puzzles beforehand. I sat down, and an adult sitting beside me began describing the rules of the competition. He explained that he would take the scrambled cube out of the cardboard box, after which I would be given 15 seconds to inspect the cube. After my inspection time would be up, I would place both my palms on either side of the timer, waiting for a green light to show. This green light would activate the timer upon the release of both my palms. Once this occurred, I would proceed to solve my Rubik’s Cube. Following the explanation of the rules, I began competing. I began solving the puzzle; however, I was stopped as I forgot to activate the timer. I stood up and walked away from the table with tears welling up in my eyes, disappointed that I had made such a careless mistake. My parents encouraged me and told me not to lose hope, and mentioned that they were sure I would perform much better in the upcoming 4 solves. This really helped boost my confidence levels and off I was, ready to tackle the next solve!

I walked back to the rectangular wooden table, sat down, and began carefully inspecting the puzzle. Once my allotted inspection time was complete, I activated the timer and began to ferociously solve the cube, anticipating an excellent time. As I neared completion of the puzzle, however, my hands and fingers trembled and my body crippled with anxiety, as I was scared that I would flip a corner or otherwise screw up the puzzle. I prayed that my puzzle would not shatter into a million pieces before my eyes. I soon made the last move to solve the Rubik’s Cube, threw the puzzle on the table, and briskly slapped the timer, stopping it. My heart was pounding so hard that it felt like it was ready to jump out of my body at any time. I quickly glanced at the timer in front of me, which displayed a time of 59 seconds, just a second short of a minute. I was glad that I was able to successfully solve the Rubik’s cube without making any careless mistakes and was especially happy that I actually activated the timer! Although I did not meet my goal of 50 seconds, I remained confident as I had three more chances to redeem myself and achieve the personal best time I had been aiming for. I solved the Rubik’s Cube 3 final times, each solve with a time of 57 seconds, 1 minute and 9 seconds, and 56 seconds.

The competition, unfortunately, was over, and I was not able to achieve my goal of 50 seconds. I knew that I tried my hardest, and the experience of the competition is what really mattered to me. As I walked out of the double doors of the building, however, I felt a sense of pride and immense gratification, knowing I had accomplished something extraordinary that not many can undertake in a single lifetime.

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