The World Championship, Budapest 1982

My adventures with Rubik's cube started in 1981 when I totally fell in love with the cube. Even though the cube originator was from Hungary - a neighboring country, it was easier to get the cube in Japan rather than in Czechoslovakia. I got my first cube (out of approximately 18 which have been destroyed by myself during my cube career) in the summer of 1981. In April 1982, I won the Czech Championship in Rubik's cube organized by Czech magazine Mlady Svet. Out of three attempts to solve the cube, the best time determined the rank. My time was 23.55 sec. If you are interested about the details of my system for solving the cube, click here.

The same year on June 5, The First World Championship in Rubik's Cube was held in Budapest in the Vigado Concert Hall. Total 19 speed cubists attended the event. The following countries were represented at the championship:

Austria Josef Trajber 25y Computer Programmer
Belgium Luc van Laethem 25y Student
Bulgaria Svilen Tenev 18y Student
Canada Duc Trinh 14y Student
Czechoslovakia J. Fridrich 17y Student
Finland Jari Sandqvist 21y Advertising Representative
France Jerome Jean-Charles 26y Journalist
Great Britain Julian Chilvers 15y Student
Holland Guus Razoux Schultz 17y Student
Hungary Zoltan Labas 26y Student
Italy Guiseppe Romeo 16y Student
Japan Ken'ichi Ueno 18y Student
Peru Eduardo Valdivia Chacon 21y Student
Poland Piotr Serbenski 17y Student
Portugal Manuel Galrinho 24y Teacher
Sweden Lars Petrus 21y Student
United States Minh Thai 16y Student
West Germany Roland Brinkmann 17y Student
Yugoslavia Jozsef Borsos 16 Student

The cubes were randomly shuffled by a computer, and were brought on stage in a sealed suitcase. The cube was placed on a small pad with with a photo sensitive diode at the bottom. The time started counting when the cube was picked up, and stopped after the cube has been placed back on the table. Before the timer started counting the time, each contestant was allowed to lift the cube and look at it for 15 seconds. Then the cube was returned to the pad. If the cube broke into pieces during twisting the competitor was given another chance. However, two break ups resulted in disqualification in that particular round (which happened to the champion of Finland). The best time out of three attempts determined the winners. The first three contestants were

1. Mihn Thai, USA 22.95
2. Razoux Shultz, Netherland 24.32
3. Zoltan Labas, Hungary 24.49

I ended up in the exact middle with a baaad time 29.11. In my opinion, the championship had several severe flaws that mixed up the results and caused me to believe that not the best one won (I think that the Italian guy was the fastest among us - judging from practising behind the curtain). First, as any speed cubist knows, the cube is manufactured in two different colorings: white - yellow, red - orange, and green - blue, and the other coloring is: white - blue, red - orange, and green - yellow. Speed cubing requires a lot fast decisions for which one naturally uses colors. Being used to one coloring and given a cube with the other coloring makes the times longer. I was fortunate that the coloring of the cubes did match the one I was used to. But it probably did not match for others. Second, the cubes were really hard to turn and were not prepared for serious speed cubing. The organisors should have prepared well greased cubes and not a bunch of tools for excersizing finger musles! You can say: well, everybody was given the same (bad) cube - so what's the big deal? The big deal is that some guys used systems which use smaller number of moves, yet one needs to spend little more time thinking, while others used systems with very little delays between stages, but with a slightly larger number of moves. All in all, the best guys from both camps would be approximately equally fast. A hard-to-turn cube gave advantage to the first group. A lot better solution would be to let the competitors use their own cubes. It would not be that hard to label the cubes ...

It is also hard to accept Minh's time as the official world record knowing almost a dozen of other guys who can solve the cube consistently in a shorter time. It is a similar argument as claiming that world records in track and fields can be counted only at Olympic games. The fastest time I am aware of which has been achieved at an official championship was achieved by Shotaro "Macky" Mackisumi. He is probably one of the fastest cubers in the world.

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