Nine-year-old Dhanayush Raninga has no interest in PlayStation, television or even cricket like his classmates. Instead, he spends all his time with a 3-D puzzle invented over 30 years ago.
“In 2009, we picked up a Rubik’s Cube at a mall,” reminisces his mother Preeti. “My husband could solve only one side. But Dhanayush was curious and took it up, searching for solutions online.”
Having already won two categories, the 3x3x3 and the Pyraminx this year, today, he will compete with other cube enthusiasts from across the country in the one-handed and blindfolded category at Technovanza 2011, a techno-management fest hosted by Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute.
If he succeeds in decoding the puzzle blindfolded in 10 minutes, he will be the youngest in the world to do so. Presently, the record is held by a 10-year-old from China. “He has been practising for month, so he should succeed,” says Preeti.
The idea of solving a colour-based game blindfolded may flummox many, but enthusiasts swear by techniques such as memorising algorithms that make sight seem superfluous.
“I like solving the Pyraminx (a variant of the cuboid puzzle designed in the shape of a tetrahedron) the most. It improves my memory and helps me concentrate on studies,” adds Dhanayush.
His adroitness at the puzzle game has also made him a champ in the eyes of his classmates. “Their mothers call and ask me to send him to tutor their children,” says the beaming mother.
Turning to the Internet for techniques, Dhanayush weaves a story in his head, around the placement of each square piece in the cube and gives meaning to their colours. “One piece is a squirrel, the other a bird. The edges are pizzas or burgers,” he explains. “I unscramble the cube by building a story around the directions from my house to the school.”
Ask how many hours he practices and his mother says, “As long as he’s awake, besides the two hours he goes swimming, he spends time cubing.”