Hello and good day to all the readers out there. My name is Rahul Dutta, I am a speedcuber and I live in Bengaluru with my parents. I am 15 years old. Square-1 is my main event and I average around 15 seconds. I also average around 10 seconds in a 3x3 event. Apart from cubing, I love to play cricket.
In this blog, I will be discussing my cubing journey, how CSUL has kept me motivated and why cubing is a perfect hobby, and a great learning experience for me. The journey so far has been very satisfying.

We all know that due to the situation in the past two years, official WCA (World Cube Association) competitions could not be held, but the magnificent cubing community expanded many folds. The cubing community has had everything that it wanted even during the pandemic, starting from new and better cubes to online competitions but most importantly, it has got many new cubers. Over the past two years, even though I have not been able to make it to an official competition, I still feel much motivated to cubing and all that it has to offer.

## How It All Started

I started my cubing journey somewhere in June or July of 2019 when I was a student in 8th Grade. From that day till today, I have always loved the concept of the Rubik’s cube and its working. I will surely recommend anyone and everyone who has a Rubik’s cube lying around to try and put in the effort to solve it. I can assure you that the result will be mighty satisfying.

Cubelelo cube bundle of 2x2 and 3x3

In my school van, I had a friend who could solve the cube in about 30-35 seconds, which was very impressive and amused me. I think this was the point when I started thinking about cubing seriously. He was an inspiration who also motivated me to solve the cube. I eventually decided to take this up as a challenge and convinced my dad to get me a 2x2 and 3x3 and that was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I learned to solve the 2x2 first with the beginner’s method and it seemed quite fun. Next up was the 3x3, it definitely offered a vastly different challenge as compared to the 2x2, but I loved this new challenge. Eventually, after about 10 days or so, I could solve a 3x3 without any help from a guide and could do it in 60-90 seconds, and the satisfaction of being able to confidently solve the cube was phenomenal.

## What Motivated Me To Improve In Cubing?

The concept and working of a cube have always amused and intrigued me. My school van friend I mentioned earlier, used to average around 30-35 seconds and after learning the beginner's method, I started averaging about a minute and a half in the first few days. Now as my interest levels and confidence grew, I wanted to focus on improving my understanding, my timing, and also my skill level. This is what triggered the planning - daily practice sessions, working on finger tricks, learning new and efficient algorithms, etc. Had to do this by planning my day better and ensuring that my school studies did not suffer one bit. This phase of learning and practice became my new routine and I kept getting better over time and today my average is just below 10 seconds.

My practice sessions

In my quest of getting better, the new inspiration is to get into the sub 8-second club - one step at a time. The focus is now shifting towards the efficiency of my solves, mindset change to get to the next level by improving upon my Personal Best (PB) averages. Speaking of PBs, a personal best is a good motivation for me to improve my timing and skill. I feel cubing has taught me that learning and improving is a continuous process. The key, however, is to be patient and composed, and eventually, you will cross every milestone you set for yourself - The best part about cubing (and Golf) is that you are competing with yourself on a daily basis.

I cannot forget to mention the constant support and encouragement that I received from my parents all along the way of this incredible journey. Without them, it would have been impossible to reach where I stand today as a cuber. They were the ones who bought me any and every cube that I wanted to get. It’s incredible how they did not even care about the price of the cube for which I had a craving. They also provided me with the emotional support required to progress in cubing. After learning to solve the cube, I also taught my father to do the same and that too was a very interesting process. This was special as I could generate cubing interest in my dad, who is also my inspiration and he very enthusiastically picked up the process of solving 3x3 and 2x2.

## How Do I Manage Time For Cubing With Other Activities?

To be very honest, I have not found a perfect balance between cubing and activities like studies, playing, etc. However, I tend to do what I prioritize depending on the time of the year. For example, about two weeks before an exam, I tend to concentrate more on my studies and less on cubing. This causes about a 5-10 seconds loss on big cubes like 6x6 or 7x7, but I try to cover up the loss after the exam by giving in more time to cubing compared to studies.

To give a general number, however, I could say that I give about an hour to cubing a day which I reckon is more than enough to not lose pace on any particular event as such and also to learn new algorithms, etc. Further, it leaves a decent amount of time for studying and other activities. For someone like me who averages 10 seconds on 3x3 or about 16 seconds on square-1, it is particularly important to practice every day and for that 1 hour is neither too short of a time nor too long.

## How Has Cubelelo Speedcubing Unlocked Competitions Been An Integral Part Of My Cubing Career?

For those readers who are not aware, Cubelelo Speedcubing Unlocked (CSUL) is an online series of competitions hosted and organized by Cubelelo for both WCA competitors as well non-WCA competitors (I.e., those who have never been to an official offline competition) every month. With the one goal of helping cubers stay in touch with cubing and beat lockdown curbs, it has certainly been one of the most successful online speedcubing competitions, having had more than 12000 individual cubers participate from across the world. It is the only online competition to have had more than 20 editions and they are still going for more and more. I appreciate everyone from Team Cubelelo for organizing such a blast of competition month after month and to everyone new to cubing out there, I recommend you to take part in one of these competitions as it is absolutely free.

2nd rank in Live battle of 3x3x3 in CSUL

I first took part in a CSUL competition back in August of 2020, more than a year after I had started cubing. At that point in time, I used to average around 13-14 seconds on 3x3. For a new challenge, I performed very well in the first competition, particularly in 3x3 and 5x5. I secured the 18th position for 5x5 with an average of around 1:50 min which I thought was extremely pleasing, more so because it was my first ever competition related to Rubik’s Cubes. For 3x3 I did better than my running average & got to a mid-12-second average which was quite good for me at that time. Moving further I got 6th place in 7x7 about 5 months later which made me really happy. That to me was fascinating and has only improved from thereon. I have managed to cut off nearly 30 seconds in 7x7 now and average around 3:30 minutes today. These little achievements and improvements provide us with the little push that we need as a cuber to improve further with cubing and I am sure that there are many cubers with similar stories.

In short, whatever I am in big cubes today is certainly all because of CSUL, and would really like to thank Cubelelo for this initiative. Without such competitions, it would certainly not be possible for me to feel the constant push to improve and moreover even practice them. But the more interesting story is regarding square-1. I enjoy the event a lot and CSUL has helped me go from around 1 and a half minutes in square-1 to around 16 seconds, which ranks as a strong number today in Indian WCA rankings.

3rd rank in Square-1 of CSUL

I was never really into square-1 that much until April of 2021 when I had taken part in the event for the second time in CSUL competitions averaging say around 35 seconds. Something very unexpected had happened in that competition. Out of nowhere, I had secured 4th place in square-1, just one position short of the podium. That was all the boost I needed to practice the event wholeheartedly and seriously improve it. The next time that I took part in square-1 in a CSUL competition, I got a high 15-second average which got me first ever podium in a CSUL competition with third place. The fact that I had come 4th in the previous competition encouraged me to practice increasingly in that event, learn new and better algorithms and eventually, it all paid off. I encourage all the cubers reading this blog to never ever lose hope and always look at your goals and take pride in what you have achieved as a cuber. You can achieve anything in cubing as long as you have the will to do the same.

Mosaic of Indian Flag made by me using different cubes

Cubing today is an everyday activity and a hobby for me. The thrill of new cubes and the thirst for improvement keep me engaged and wanting to break my PBs, and trust me, every cuber feels the same. I am sure all my fellow cubers reading this article will agree with me. Though my experience is very less as I have recently attended my very first WCA competition - Cubing Returns Ghaziabad 2022, I would take the opportunity to suggest to my cubing friends that you should fancy your chances and take part in any and every competition you can, be it online or offline - you have nothing to lose.

Let the result be whatever it is, the real motivation in cubing and other competitive events comes from participation and the rich experience it provides. The cubing community is certainly the cleanest community and one of the very few that love new player participation. I am excited to see the growth of cubing over the past few years in India as well, but in truth, it's just the beginning, we have many more cubers to come.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Happy Cubing!

-Rahul Dutta

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