Rubik's racing: Richland boy a master 'speed cuber' (with video)


Almost everywhere Luke Tycksen goes he has a Rubik's Cube in his hand.

At church, school, restaurants and even the community swimming pool, it’s not often you will see the Richland 11-year-old without a multi-colored cube.

His hands are in constant motion, spinning the cubes this way and that, eventually solving anything he holds -- be it the standard 3x3 cube with nine squares per side or the advanced 12x12 cube with 144 squares on each side.

Tycksen can solve cubes in as little as 6 seconds (unofficially). Saturday, he will put that skill to the test at the Mid-Columbia Speed Cubing Competition at Richland Church of the Nazarene.

“I would like to get some sort of world record,” he said of his future goals. “Definitely in the 3x3 -- that is pretty much the biggest event that people compete in -- to solve it in less than 5.55 seconds. That’s the record.”

Luke can solve the standard cube in anywhere from 8 to 14 seconds. He started speed cubing after seeing a street performer solve a cube one-handed outside of Pike Place Market in Seattle.

The family went home and older brother Andrew learned how to solve it first. Luke soon followed and quickly found his hobby of choice, burying himself in the activity by watching others solve cubes on YouTube.

The family researched competitions and went to one last year in Vancouver, Wash. At the time, Luke wasn’t especially fast. He was solving cubes in 25 seconds or so and didn’t place in the top five at the competition. But he has gotten better and better, eventually winning a competition in June in Astoria.

“Meeting the people and everyone was so nice and helpful, he really felt like he belonged,” said Amy, his stay-at-home mom. “They were like him and accepted him. When we saw he was passionate about this, we wanted to develop that passion more and tried to make the way to get to competitions.”

Earlier this summer, the family decided to hold a competition in the Tri-Cities to give Eastern Washington and Idaho cubers a place to go with less travel.

Luke watched videos on holding an event. The family secured the gymnasium at their Nazarene church. They invited a World Cubing delegate -- to make the times official -- and created a web page. Voilà, the first cubing competition in the area was born.

“There are even prizes,” Amy said. “(Luke) contacted the companies and solicited them for prizes. He contacted Rubik’s and they are providing medals., an online store, is providing $250 of gift cards and bags.”

It is a culmination of a lot of practice and the joy of putting on a show for people.

“We were at Bob's Burgers once and the waiter came over to watch, and he brought another guy, then two waitresses came and they wanted to film him,” said Luke’s dad, Mike, a road foreman for BNSF. “Another time we were at Delta High School for a science night. There were all these kids doing all these projects and Luke had all these high school students gathered around him because they were interested in him solving his cube.”

Luke even drew a crowd at the community swimming pool with his other brother Jack. Luke solved a cube underwater before his parents told him he had to leave the cubes in the car and just swim next time.

While Luke isn't sure what he wants to do when he grows up, or if speed cubing even will help in any meaningful application, he still enjoys the hobby.

And chances are, if you happen to run into him, you too will enjoy watching him spin his cube.


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