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Feeling the need to gather Cubing Speed

By Sheree Hoddinett

For Charlie Eggins having fast hands, nimble fingers and being able to think quickly are his official tools of trade. This eager and enthusiastic 13-year-old is a Speedcuber and has the ability to solve combination puzzles like the 3x3x3 and 4x4x4 (Rubik’s Cube) fast and even blindfolded. It’s a skill he has grown over the last three years, taking part in national competitions including the upcoming Queensland Open being held in Morayfield.

If you haven’t heard of Speedcubing before, here’s a quick rundown. It involves solving a variety of combination puzzles, like the Rubik’s Cube 3x3x3 as quickly as possible. While it might sound easy, it’s definitely a skill-based activity and one that Charlie relishes taking on. Speedcubing is a big thing for the Eggins family, with Charlie’s dad, Geoff, and his siblings also getting in on the puzzle solving action.

“So, my dad learnt from a Smartcube that teaches you how to solve it and then he taught me how to do it,” Charlie says on beginning his Speedcubing journey. “I also found videos on Youtube and just kept practising. For me, I really like learning new things, like algorithms and that kind of thing that tests me.”

Charlie’s mum, Hayley, prides herself on being the odd one out in their family, but admits she still gets to have some fun in the Speedcubing madness that takes over their house.

“I’m the only one in my family that doesn’t cube,” Hayley says. “My husband and all three kids know how to solve it, but I say not yet. It’s not that I can’t do it, I just say not yet for me. We have a growth mindset in this family, and we like to give things a go. Instead, I walk around the house and mess them up for everyone – someone has to do it!”

Preparing for an upcoming tournament (like the Queensland Open), means Charlie will spend hours practising and Speedcubing becomes a big focus for him. He even hopes to nab some Oceanic Records in: 4x4 blind single solve - 1 minute and 37.55 seconds and 4x4 blind mean of 3 solves - 2 minutes and 31.89 seconds.

“I learnt a new event, 4x4 blind (which is solving while blindfolded), and I’ve been doing about 15 solves a day, every day for the past month,” Charlie says. “I hope to continue doing that all the way up to the competition. I want to get as good as I can at that. Basically, I just want to get as fast as I can, mostly in the blind events as they’re quite a challenge. I’m hoping to get the Oceanic record for 3x3 and 4x4 both blindfolded, but we’ll see. For me, I just like every time I break a PB, it feels so good.”

When it comes to taking part in Speedcubing competitions, Charlie believes being young is an advantage because “you have more time to practise, and your fingers are more nimble”. But what actually goes through his mind when he’s in the midst of solving?

“For blindfolded, there’s just a lot of words, that’s my memorisation,” Charlie says. “For normal cubing, it depends on the event and how I’m practising. Sometimes I practice and try to be really efficient, doing it in as little moves as possible and trying to work out new things. So, when I’m doing that, that’s what I’m thinking about. Other times I’m just brainlessly solving, just doing it without even thinking.”

Even though it’s a big part of his life, it’s not all about Speedcubing for Charlie, who also likes video games, plays touch football, and ensures he completes his homework and does well at school. He has a bright future ahead of him and is already thinking of the potential path he might follow.

“One of the things I’ve been thinking about the most lately is I like engineering,” he says. “Engineering is cool, it’s different, and I think I’d be pretty good at it. I also like maths and I like the idea of designing things.”

Hayley is extremely proud of Charlie’s achievements and is more than happy to support him through competitions.

“I love seeing his commitment to it and the way he is just so persistent in his practising,” she says. “The Cubers at the comp all encourage each other as well, as much as they are competing against each other, they just celebrate each other’s solves and encourage each other. It’s so amazing to see the friendships and how much they want to build each other up and celebrate records and PB’s. I love that Charlie has that community around him. It’s really supportive.”

Speedcubing Australia President, Kerrie Jarman, has been involved in the cubing community for five years. Initially her involvement started with her son, but now Kerrie is behind organising Speedcubing competitions around the country.

“I enjoy being part of this incredibly welcoming community and organising competitions where Cubers can meet up and have their times officially recognised,” Kerrie says. “Speedcubing is an inclusive, welcoming community, made up of many neurodiverse individuals from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. They all share a particular skill and interest which is often not shared with people they know at school or at home. These in-person, community-based competitions are vital for mental health. A great opportunity to meet new friends and form valuable new friendships.”

The Queensland Open is described as a fun and friendly competition weekend for those interested in solving the Rubik's cube and other twisty puzzles. The competition is open for all ages, with most Cubers aged 10-25. 

“Beginners are warmly welcomed, and we cater for anyone who can solve the cube, even if they are not all that fast,” Kerrie says. “This event will bring speedcubers from the Moreton Bay Region, wider Queensland and from all over the country together to compete and discuss their common interest.”

Speedcubers will get a chance to set a time in nine separate events and have their ranking officially recognised by the World Cube Association. The Queensland Open 2022 is on July 23 and 24 at the Morayfield Sport and Events Centre (298 Morayfield Road, Morayfield). Members of the public are welcome to check out the competition and learn about Speedcubing. They can attend free of charge.

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