The year was 2020, the month was February. Here in Mumbai, India, we would have a competition every month or two. The cubing community was growing with each competition. Then the pandemic struck and everything shut down. Here is the story of how everything got back to normal.
Start of Lockdown
During the start of the lockdown, I continued to practice for hours each day. I thought everything would be back to normal by the end of 2020 and we would be back to having frequent competitions too. When I realized how wrong I was, I quickly started to lose motivation to practice. Throughout the rest of the 2-year lockdown. I would practice on and off but nowhere near what I usually would. I would often improve a few seconds in a particular cube but then would stop practicing and lose those gained seconds too.
A lot of different organizers tried to organize several competitions but they were all canceled due to the government or WCA restrictions or a rise in cases. Finally, after my 12th-grade boards, a lot of competitions were announced all over India. In June I was lucky enough to attend 3 of these on 3 consecutive weekends. That’s when I started practicing properly once again.
Cubing Returns Pune 2022
The first competition was Cubing Returns in Pune. It just had 6 events so I started practicing seriously. My main event for this competition was 3x3 in which I was aiming for a sub-8 average. For 4x4 my goal was a sub-35 average. I ended up coming 3rd in 3BLD and OH and 2nd in 4x4. As for 3x3 I failed a sub-8 average in the first round and came 2nd in the finals, losing out on a first place by only 0.04 seconds. Mainly, I just wanted to treat this competition as a warm-up one for the next 2 big competitions in the coming weekends.
DSL Cube Open 2022
The second competition was the DSL cube open in Hyderabad. During the lockdown I had gotten much faster at my main event Megaminx, averaging about 35-36 seconds but since I stopped practicing I was back to my usual 39 averages. This 2-day competition had 10 events and was in a mall. I knew this competition was going to be extremely tiring due to all the inter-state travel. Also, I had to stay fully focused for the entirety of these events despite all the noise in the mall. My goals were as before to improve as many of my PRs as possible while I continued to try to achieve that sub-8 3x3 goal. However, I was most focused on breaking my long overdue Megaminx NR. After the long 2 day battle, I secured 8 podiums and 1st in SOR. I failed a sub-8 average in 2 rounds due to major nerves. I broke the Megaminx NR single and average with a 32 and 36 respectively which was way better than what I expected. The irony was that I missed out on 3x3 first place by 0.04 seconds AGAIN!
Phoenix Cube Challenge 2022
Next, I had my home competition - Phoenix Cube Challenge in Mumbai. After 2 competitions, I was expecting to be confident for this one but that never happened. This was going to be my last competition in Mumbai before going off to college. I hadn’t been performing well at all in 3x3 in the past 2 competitions. I had heard that everyone had gotten much faster at all events, especially 3x3. This time my main goal was to win 3x3 and SOR. Although a few of my events went well, I scraped through to get 5 podiums which were lesser than expected of me. However, I finally won the 3x3 finals which were in a head-to-head format in front of the entire mall. The main reason for this was that I had gotten used to competing the past few weekends and managed to control my nerves. On the other hand, most of the Mumbai cubers hadn’t. I won SOR too which was really satisfying.
Within the span of 3 weeks, I went from temporarily quitting cubing to coming back in full form. After the 3 competitions, I am now quite motivated to practice and achieve the goals that I haven’t. It was a really nice feeling meeting all these new cubers that finally got a chance to compete. The entire community had somehow grown even more and the competitions were much more competitive than before the lockdown. This was shocking to me but I am happy to see newer and younger people on the podiums now. I had gotten a final chance to meet all the Mumbai cubers and I proved my competitiveness at the same time.
Controlling my nerves during the short events especially was extremely difficult for me. All in all, the results were not what I wanted but way better than I had expected them to be. This competition was like a sentimental goodbye to the Mumbai cubers from me.
Nikhil Soares is the current Megaminx (Single and Average both) and 2x2 (Single) National record holder from Mumbai. He started cubing at the age of 10 and has been cubing for the past 7 years now. Other than cubing he loves to play drums and video games. He became the Megaminx Asian Champion in 2018 at the age of 13. He has also broken 2 Guinness World Records. He has participated in 56 competitions and won a total of 173 podiums with 58 gold medals and 21 National Records. He also has a World Ranking of 30 in 2x2 Single, 17 in Megaminx Single, and 25 in Megaminx Average.
Good results Nikhil! All the best for your studies in US.