By Sanjay Pinto


“Our whole life is solving puzzles”. Sporting a white T-Shirt with this quip of Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, 9 year old Chitresh Paul was among the youngest speed cubers at the IVWS Cube Open, 2023 in Kolkata, under the auspices of the World Cube Association (WCA) this weekend. 61 participants from Kolkata and other cities across India, mesmerised the audience with their rapid fire moves at the Indus Valley World School.

Quite incredibly, the entire competition – right from scouting for sponsors to getting the word out to handling registrations, logistics and conducting the contest was ‘of, by and for’ school students. The amazingly seamless exercise had only school students donning the roles of judges, scramblers and volunteers. All the events divided into solving different categories of cubes like 3x3x3, 2x2x2, 4x4x4, Pyraminx, with blindfolded and One-handed feats thrown in, left the spectators, predominantly parents, spell bound.

This tournament was helmed by an ‘awesome threesome’ high school students and speed cubers – Sushant Shah, Sayak Moulic and Ayush Patnaik under the supervision of World Cube Association Delegate Spondon Nath from Guwahati.

12 year old Vidan Pinto and 15 year old Samyak Jain from Chennai and 13 year old Hridaan Kamdar from Mumbai were among the few outstation participants.

Aarya Biswas romped home as the winner of the 3x3x3 competition with an average speed of 8.71 seconds and a single best of 7.36 seconds. Ribin Abraham and Hitesh Kumar Bhuwalka notched up averages of 9.91 seconds and 10.13 seconds to collar the second and third positions. The blindfolded contest was won by Sayak Moulic with an impressive 1 minute and 57 seconds.

A slew of records was set. There was a triumphant roar when Ayush Patnaik accomplished a feat of solving the Pyraminx in 2.25 seconds, catapulting him to the All India 37th rank. Aarya Biswas managed a 2x2x2 solve in 1.87 seconds tying him with the National Rank of 9 and Asian Rank of 76. Hitesh Kumar Bhuwalka clocked 34.79 seconds in the 4x4x4 event placing him at No.31 nationally.

Buoyed by his debut entry into the league of speed cubers, young Vidan Pinto, who literally wore his credo: “Eat, Sleep, Cube, Repeat” on his chest, plans to make a pitch to his PSBB School to start a Speed Cube Chapter and host contests in the near future. Vidan, like many speed cubers, is self-taught, and has memorised close to 200 algorithms in the last few months to solve cubes.

Kalpaja Kamdar, a parent who accompanied her son Hridaan from Mumbai revealed how this mind game is a perfect recipe for “digital detox”, breaking free from gadget addiction.

QiYi MoFangGe, Speed Cube India and Indus Valley World School were the sponsors.

Despite the high level of concentration, skill and physical dexterity that this sport calls for, it is quite inexplicably yet to be popularised. Many Sports Desks in media houses sadly and unfairly do not consider it a ‘sport’ and pass the buck to features teams for coverage as an ‘offbeat’ event! The closely knit speed cubing fraternity is praying for States like Tamil Nadu which recently conducted the World Chess Open, to rally behind the Rubik’s cube as well. God willing, like the Napier Bridge Chess Squares, the cube may also make its mark on a Chennai landmark. Is the State’s dynamic Sports Minister Udayanidhi Stalin listening? 

(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Columnist, Author of 4 Books & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)



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