For many, being a 16-year-old is mostly about sulking over grade 10 examinations. But for Kabyanil Talukdar, a teenager from Guwahati, Assam, who attends school by day and breaks world records in cubing by night, being 16 is all about being the fastest Rubik’s Cube solver.
Talukdar holds the world record for solving the Rubik’s Cube while blindfolded (24.86 seconds), at The World Rubik’s Cube Championship, Sao Paulo, in July this year. This feat has also made him the subject of a recently created documentary, #RedBullPremieres — Cubism, in which he talks about the art of cubing and what it takes to solve one.
While solving a Rubik’s Cube might seem like a lot of fun, especially while waiting for your turn at the doctor’s, there are 519 quintillion combinations and hundreds of algorithms one could use. “You cannot solve it by randomly twisting it. You need to learn around 25 algorithms and apply it on the cube,” says Talukdar, during a telephonic conversation. Well, that must require great mathematical skills then. “Not exactly, but it does help if you’re good at it,” he adds.
Talukdar grew fascinated by the cube on a train journey while he was returning from a chess championship in 2012. When he couldn’t solve it, he started watching online videos to understand the nuances and master the art. And before he knew it, he was participating in championships and even represented India in the Asian Rubik’s Cube Championship in Japan, in 2014, where he won two gold medals for the country.
As if solving the cube wasn’t hard enough, Talukdar solves it blindfolded. In fact, that’s what he specialises in. So, how does he manage this seemingly impossible task? All you need to do is memorise colours, recall combinations and apply algorithm to the cube. While Talukdar makes it sound real easy, solving a Rubik’s Cube requires a lot of attention. “You need to be a 100 per cent accurate. If you make one mistake, you’ll never manage to solve it,” he adds.
When he’s busy attending competitions, his friends and teachers help him out with class notes. “I just study around five to six hours a day and spend around two hours practising the cube,” he says.
For a grade 10 student preparing for an important exam, attaining this balance may seem like a tightrope walk. But not for him. “The best part is that cubing helps me concentrate, be patient and find solutions faster,” says Talukdar, a student of Assam Jatiya Bidyalaya, Guwahati. Solving the cube, however, has become a hobby for him, and he can spend all his time turning and twisting the coloured blocks. When asked about his future plans, pat comes the reply: “I want to study arts and then get into the field of computer science.”
Know The Rubik’s Cube
* The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, in 1974. It was originally called the Magic Cube and is a 3D combination puzzle.
* Since 2003, The World Cube Association, an international governing body, has been organising competitions worldwide, and maintains the official world records.
* Collin Burns, USA, tops the charts by having solved the cube in 5.25 seconds at Doylestown Spring 2015.
* There are different variations of Rubik’s Cube with up to 17 layers: the 2×2×2 (Pocket/Mini Cube), the standard 3×3×3 cube, the 4×4×4 (Rubik’s Revenge/Master Cube), the 5×5×5 (Professor’s Cube), the 6×6×6 (V-Cube 6), and 7×7×7 (V-Cube 7).
* The most popular method of solving the cube is the Fridrich method, developed by Czech speedcuber, Jessica Fridrich. The method works on a layer-by-layer system, first solving a cross on the bottom, continuing to solve the first two layers (F2L), orienting the last layer (OLL), and finally permuting the last layer (PLL).
Watch Talukdar solve the Rubik’s Cube blindfolded in under 25 seconds