In 5 and a half weeks, I will be heading to the US Nationals 2016 competition in Portland, OR. More information can be found at cubingusa.com/usnationals2016 and worldcubeassociation.org/competitions/USNationals2016. I’m competing in all of the events except for 3×3 to 5×5 blindfolded and multi-blind. Some of my goals include making the semi-finals in 3x3x3 (top 64) and in 2x2x2 (top 50). Hopefully I will also be able to make the cutoff in a few other events, but other than that I am just hoping to meet other people and have fun at my first multi-day competition. (I have been to 8 competitions before, and you can check my results here.) For those interested, here are my expectations/goals. I might post an update to this in mid-July when it is 1-2 weeks before I leave.
Rubik’s Cube event (standard 3x3x3 cube): I’m hoping for a solid 11-12 second average. If I could do better that would be great, but if I miss it by a little bit then oh well. There are four rounds in this event. The second is one for which I will very likely qualify. 150 competitors of about 600 will be allowed. Last year, the qualifying time happened to be 15.22 seconds. The semi-final may be less easy. 64 people will qualify, and last year the time needed for top 64 was 12.40 seconds. From that round, 16 move on to the fourth and final round. Last time, the winner was Drew Brads, with an average of 8.33 seconds, in a nail-biter with German competitor Cornelius Dieckmann (8.34 seconds). Although foreign competitors can compete and earn prizes, they cannot be recognized as the US Champion.
2x2x2 Cube: Relative to other competitors, I am generally slightly better in 2x2x2 than 3x3x3. However, only 100 will advance to round 2 and only 50 to the semi-finals. My hopes are still high that I can make both of these rounds. Last year’s winner was Lucas Etter (the current world record holder in 3x3x3 with a single time of 4.90 seconds).
4x4x4 and 5x5x5 Cubes: In both of these events, a “soft cutoff” must be met in at least one of the first two solves in order to solve the remaining three. These are 70 and 120 seconds respectively, both of which I have about a 50% chance of making. There are also “hard cutoffs”, which are basically time limits that, if exceed in any solve, whether or not the competitor achieved the aforementioned soft cutoff, the solve will be stopped and the solve will be disqualified. This only affects one solve and does not disqualify a competitor from other solves in other events. The hard cutoffs are 4 and 5 minutes respectively. Last year’s winners were Kevin Costello III in 4x4x4 and Kevin Hays in 5x5x5.
6x6x6 and 7x7x7 Cubes: These events also have cutoffs. All cutoff times can be found under the “Events” tab of the CubingUSA Nationals page. It is unlikely that I will make either of the soft cutoffs. In these events, there are only three solves and only one try at the soft cutoff. It is likely I will only get a single time in both events. Kevin Hays won both events last year.
One-handed: Cutoffs work in a similar manner to the 4x4x4 event. Competitors may only use one hand to solve the cube, adding more of a challenge. I am exceedingly likely to make the 60 second soft cutoff and believe I can get an average around 45 seconds. Keaton Ellis, former* world record holder for 3x3x3 single at 5.09 seconds, won this event in 2015.
Pyraminx, Skewb: Pyraminx is, well, a pyramid cube. Skewb is kinda like a pyraminx except for the fact that it is a cube. It shares many aspects of a pyraminx though. I should easily make the cutoffs in these events. Drew Brads won both last year, each giving him a $200 cash prize.
Rubik’s Clock, Square-1, Megaminx, Fewest Moves: I consider these my “meh” events and I don’t really care what happens with them. It would be kinda nice to do well, but a great 3x3x3 and 2x2x2 performance would be much better than getting a super lucky Rubik’s Clock solve. Evin Liu, Michael Young, Andy Denney, and Michael Young (again) all won in 2015 respectively.