Practice And Strategy Lead To Success For NOVA Rubik’s Cube Team

NOVA Rubik's Cube
Let the NOVA team educate (and entertain) your kids for a few days.


By Laurie O’Brien

ramblin jacks logoDid you know that the official world record for solving a Rubik’s cube is 5.55 seconds?  It was set in 2013 and is held by Mats Valk of the Netherlands.  Vin Somasundaram, a student at NOVA Middle School isn’t quite that fast, but his three cube average of 24.8 seconds was fast enough to win the middle school division of the 2013 Seattle Regional You CAN Do the Rubik’s Cube Competition.

Vin and seven teammates also secured the middle school team competition by completing 25 cubes in 3 minutes and 26.93 seconds.  Their 8 person team was just over 41 seconds faster than the second place team.  Vin’s individual time was more than 6 seconds faster than his closest competitor.

Vin and his teammates came together after he and his father, who served as the team’s coach, heard about the competition from a friend.  The seventh grader talked about forming a team a team at the school, and before he knew it, groups of students were learning how to solve the three dimensional puzzle.  He narrowed the field by having try outs.  “A lot of people wanted to get in, so I picked the people with the faster times,” he said.

NOVA Rubik's CubeMatthew Hovancsek added, “We got together every Friday for about two months, and then the week before the competition, we met every day at lunch. We got two or three timings in every day at lunch.”

Some of the boys already knew different strategies for solving the cube, and they taught each other.  Zad Bouzarjomehri shared their number one tip: “The fastest method for doing well is to get the first two layers done.”

In addition to a lot of practice, one of the keys to the team’s success was a last minute idea they implemented.  “The very last day at lunch we came up with a great strategy that Vin’s dad suggested,” said Jonah Shin. “It saved us like 30 seconds.”

“We’re all pretty fast, but there are four faster people,” explained Vin.  The idea was to have the faster people solve the first two layers – the hardest part – of the puzzle then move on to a new cube.  While the four faster people solved the first two layers, the remaining four would solve full cubes.  As soon as they completed one full puzzle, the “slower” group would begin following the faster people and finish the remaining layers.  The 8 person team had to solve a total of 25 puzzles, so when the fast people got to the end of their pile, they would start working their way back.

Team members admitted this strategy was risky because when they tried it at their final practice, their results were mixed, with some of their runs going significantly over their usual average time.  On the day of the competition, however, the risk paid off big when they finished in under three and half minutes, their fastest time ever.  Not bad for a team that was taking over 5 minutes to solve 25 puzzles when they first started practicing.

nova school olympiaWhile Vin’s average time of less than 25 seconds per cube helped the team a lot, all members had  averages below a minute and a half per cube.   Over their two month practice period, they all knocked a considerable amount of time off their averages.  “I know that I personally have improved by about 30 seconds,” said Everett Werner.

Seven members of the NOVA team will be back at the school next year, and they’ve already filled the open spot with Ranjan, a fellow student who acted as the assistant coach,  cheerleader, and videographer this year.  By the time May rolls around, odds are they’ll be close to that 3 minute mark.

The 2013 NOVA Rubik’s Cube Club included Vin Somasundaram (7th), Matthew Hovancsek (7th), Kai Bentley (7th), Behzad Bouzarjomehri (7th), Jonah Shin (7th), Joshua Shin (8th), Everett Werner (7th), and Sanjeev Ling-am-Nattamai (7th). Team Coach: Somasundaram Subbiah.

If you’d like to learn some Rubik’s cube strategies, check here or follow this link

For information about the You CAN do the Cube competition, visit this site.

To see a video of the NOVA team in action, click here.

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