September 22, 2018
School & Youth
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  • More than 100 people competed in a December event hosted by the SPHS speedcubing club. “Having a club with dozens of other likeminded people is what made all of the Severna Park competitions possible,” said Spencer Gretz, speedcubing club vice president.
    Photo by Jimmy Burton
    More than 100 people competed in a December event hosted by the SPHS speedcubing club. “Having a club with dozens of other likeminded people is what made all of the Severna Park competitions possible,” said Spencer Gretz, speedcubing club vice president.

SPHS Hosts Speedcubing Competition

Jimmy Burton
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January 10, 2018

Contest Draws More Than 100 Competitors

On December 16, a total of 114 competitors representing six different nationalities gathered for one common hobby: Rubik’s Cubes. The Severna Park High School speedcubing club began planning in September for the competition.

“Planning the competition takes a lot of work,” said the club’s president, Amod Mathur. “First, we have to go through booking the school cafeteria with the business manager. Then, with the help of a WCA (World Cube Association) delegate, we set up a website where competitors can sign up. We have to create a list of events, a schedule and we have to essentially plan the entire day months in advance.”

Attendees had the opportunity to compete in three-by-three, a regular Rubik’s Cube; two-by-two, a cube with two pieces on each face instead of three; four-by-four, a cube with four pieces on each side instead of three; square one, a puzzle that is similar to a three-by-three but with slimmer edge pieces and wider corners, allowing the shape to change from the normal cube; Pyraminx, a puzzle shaped like a pyramid with four sides; or Megaminx, a 12-sided puzzle.

For each event in which they registered, competitors completed five solves. Their fastest and slowest solves were omitted and their middle three solves were averaged.

For three-by-three and two-by-two, the top competitors advanced to the next round in order to earn a spot on the podium. Competitors were also asked to help scramble, judge and run. Scramblers had to jumble each puzzle for competitors to solve, judges helped time the solves and record their times, and runners ran the puzzles from scramblers to judges.

To prepare for the competition, participants practiced learning new algorithms and practiced timing their solves in order to get faster. “I practiced the different algorithms that I use, along with learning new ones to get faster,” said speedcubing club member Lucas Tolley. “The intuitive part is hard to get better at, so I still have a long ways to go.”

Mathur agreed that practice is the only method of improving. “I’ll typically be learning algorithms and experimenting with different steps during my practice sessions to be at my best potential for a competition,” said Mathur.

Overall, the competition was regarded as a success. “The competition went great. We stayed on schedule for most of the day and made sure everyone had fun,” said Mathur.

Such competitions give speedcubers an opportunity to meet new friends and practice partners. “Competitions are what enable this entire community, and it’s a service I love being able to provide,” said Spencer Gretz, vice president of the Severna Park High School club. “I have never been a competitive speedcuber. I’ve never made it to finals or semifinals, but that’s fine. My role in the community isn’t being fast, it’s being an organizer.”

Even between the serious challengers, the competition is still friendly. “A great thing about these competitions is that despite the close competition between competitors, everyone is still super friendly. There’s no hostility between the top-ranked solvers,” said Mathur.

A raffle to benefit the SPHS Key Club was held during the competition. “This time, we held a raffle with popular cubing products in which our goal was to be charitable,” said Mathur. “With how fast the cubing community is growing, a raffle was a perfect way for us to gather funds for the donation. We raised almost $300 and will be donating all of it to the Key Club's initiative to help underprivileged children during the holiday season.”

Three following winners emerged from each event.


1. Sean Belke

2. Amod Mathur

3. Jonathan Tilahun


1. Will Callan

2. Luigi Soriano

3. Michael Kaiser


1. Andrew Park

2. Ray Bai

3. Sean Belke


1. Ray Bai

2. Roy Lee

3. Luigi Soriano


1. Jonathan Tilahun

2. Michael Kaiser

3. Devin Kennedy

Square One

1. Tommy Szeliga

2. Luigi Soriano

3. Will Callan

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