Twists & Turns
HSE Student Travels the World For Rubik’s Cube Competitions
When Fishers residents Brad and Karen Garrett complied with their son Luke’s request for a Rubik Cube, they had no idea what they had just set into motion. That appeal made at the beginning of Thanksgiving break when he was nine years old has opened up a whole world of travel for the Garrett family plus the opportunity for Luke to interact with people of all nationalities. Now 13 years old, he holds world rankings with the World Cube Association (WCA) in three speedcubing events and is sponsored by an online company, TheCubicle.
“Luke said to his Mom, ‘Do you think we could go to the store tonight to see if they have a cube? I would like to try to solve one.’ We bought him his first Rubik’s Cube and he would not go to bed that night until he had solved it,” Brad recalls. “He watched YouTube videos for hours until he figured it out. Once it was solved, he would scramble it, start the timer and wouldn’t stop until it was solved.
“Each time he finished he would get progressively faster learning new algorithms to reduce the number of moves to solve,” Brad adds. “From the time he decided he wanted to learn how to solve a cube, it has been his goal to be one of the top competitive cubers in the world. As parents, we had no idea that competitive cubing even existed.”
First developed as a three-dimensional puzzle in 1974 by Hungarian, Ernő Rubrik, the Rubik’s Cube continues to be one of the world’s most popular puzzles. The colorful square has six faces and an internal turning mechanism which scrambles and unscrambles individual panels. The goal is to return each face to just one color. Luke uses a version called a speed cube which is tensioned, magnetized, lubricated and modified with rounded corners. Unlike many children his age, Luke didn’t lose interest in the hobby, but instead, challenged himself to keep decreasing the time it took to solve a cube.
“After months of practice Luke told us he was ready to enter his first competition,” Brad says. “This is very out of Luke’s comfort zone so we were thrilled. He entered his first competition on June 25, 2017, in Ann Arbor, MI. He competed in two events, the 3×3 and 2×2 cubes. With 96 competitors he made the 3×3 finals finishing 16th with an average time of 13.46 seconds. When we left that day, we knew that cubing was his passion and that we would be back.”
Since that first experience, Luke has gone on to participate in competitions of all sizes throughout the United States, traveling across the Midwest as well as Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming. He has earned more than 70 first, second, or third-place finishes in 3×3, 2×2 and 3×3 One-hand and even takes part in events where the cube is solved with feet. A highlight was Luke’s top 16 finish among over 600 competitors for the first round of 3×3 and making the semi-finals in three different events at the July 2018 USA Nationals in Salt Lake City.
“We were pleased when he began to be sponsored by an online cube store, TheCubicle in April of 2019,” Karen says. “Sponsorship includes cubes, gear and recognition on the Team Cubicle website as well as a custom-made USA white jacket to wear to competitions, but the best part is that they monitor social media for Luke’s protection.”
In July of 2019, the Garrett family traveled with Luke to Australia where he participated in two international events, Warm-up Sidney and Melbourne’s Rubik’s Presents WCA World Championship. Against more than 900 other competitors from 48 countries, Luke finished seventh in 3×3 with feet, 25th in 3×3 and 30th in 3×3 one-handed. Luke and his team of two other Americans finished in the top four in a relay, Rubik’s National Cup.
“Competing is very fun and I don’t see it getting old anytime soon,” Luke says. “The best thing about competitions is improving my personal bests, having fun cubing and competing with my friends. I hope to continue to meet lots of new people going forward.”
When he’s not traveling the world for cubing competitions, Luke attends Fall Creek Junior High and participates on the Academic team.
In just over two years of competing, Luke’s skill level has advanced rapidly. Currently out of 100,000 competitors registered in the WCA database, he has accrued impressive rankings. Worldwide, he is rated 27th in 3×3, 25th in 3×3 one-handed and 32nd in 3×3 with feet.
At Nationals this year, Luke improved his 3×3 world ranking average to 15th (4th in US) with a 6.54 average and his single to 4.95 seconds. He also finished fifth overall in 3×3 and fifth in feet.
“There are no words and we could not be happier that Luke has found his passion,” Brad says.