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Q&A with sophomore Hillary Yang, Rubik’s cubing, developing niche interests

What is cubing?

(Cubing is) a lot of different puzzles, and you just solve them. There’s something called the World Cube Association, or the WCA, and there are 17 events (you can compete in).

How long have you been cubing? How did you get interested in cubing? 

I think I’ve been cubing for three or four years now. I was just on vacation, and I happened to have a cube with me and some free time, and I just learned how to solve it. 

How did you learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube? 

YouTube. I’d say most people learn off of a YouTube video because it’s very accessible that way. It’s basically a method called CFOP, which stands for cross, first two layers (F2L), orientation of the last layer (OLL) and permutation of the last layer (PLL). Each of those is basically just one of the four steps in solving the cube. 

Sophomore Hillary Yang poses with the Pyraminx. Yang said her average time for the Pyraminx is 2.8 seconds, while her best is 1.8 seconds, the second best in the nation for females. (Abigail Lee)

What have you accomplished in cubing? 

I think I’ve been to about 10 competitions, but in terms of results my best event is probably Pyraminx. My average is 2.8 seconds; my best is 1.8, and I think that’s second in the United States for females.

Why did you start competing in cubing competitions?

I think a lot of people just solve cubes for fun, like as a party trick or something, and I think I did that for a while. Once I got faster, I thought it would be great to attend a competition and see how much I’d really progressed and meet some new people. 

What are cubing competitions like? 

You go on the WCA website to register, and then you go (to the event venue). They have a set schedule of the events they’re going to run. When it’s your turn, you go up there and put your puzzle into a sort of cup thing and it also has your scorecard in it and you basically just go up and complete your (puzzles). 

What do you like about cubing?

My favorite part is definitely the cubers. Cubing is such a niche hobby, like, there’s definitely not that many people who do it, so definitely just going to a competition and seeing all these people who can solve cubes like me is really cool.

What is your favorite memory of cubing? 

I actually went to a competition in China one time because I had a cubing teacher who was based in China. I went there on a vacation and did a cubing competition, and it was really cool to see all the younger Chinese kids who were into cubing and they were all really fast. 

What would you say is the hardest part of cubing? 

Learning algorithms is definitely pretty difficult, because there’s maybe 60 or so (that you need to learn) to complete a full OLL and PLL, so probably algorithms. 

What goals do you have for your future in cubing? 

I want to get a 2.5 average in Pyraminx, maybe beat out the fastest female at some point. I haven’t been practicing too consistently lately, but I just want to watch more YouTube videos to see how the faster people do it and just practice (more).

What would you say to someone who wants to start cubing? 

There’s definitely a learning curve, like, it’s really pretty difficult to get started, I’d say. You have to persevere through the initial difficulty, but I think past that it’s a really rewarding hobby, and meeting new cubers is always great. 

 

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