Here’s a rough timeline of my main events throughout the years:
3×3 -> Pyraminx -> Skewb -> Megaminx -> 3×3 OH -> 5×5 -> 6×6 -> 7×7
You can see how I gradually went from doing short events to specializing in long events, but what exactly are they?
I’m not aware if there’s any official definition for whether an event is long, short or something completely else, but for the purpose of this blog, they’re as follows:
Short - 2×2, Skewb, Pyraminx, Clock; and to some extent 3×3, Square-1 and 3×3 OH.
Long - 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, 7×7, Megaminx
Others - all the blindfolded events and FMC. These are completely different from the “speedsolving events” and I won’t be talking about them.
Short events on the other hand have completely different methods, which are easy to learn, but just very different. To solve a pyraminx as a complete beginner, you only need to keep doing the same thing over and over till it’s solved.
In my experience with long events, as long as you aren’t very fast at them (sub 1/2/3 on 5/6/7 or sub 1 on megaminx), you can reduce your time by a LOT in not a lot of time. I went from averaging over 2 minutes on megaminx to under a minute in around 2 months of consistent practice, and 1:20 to 1:05 on 5×5 in a few weeks of dedicated practice. Even after those points, improvement is still faster than on short events, and it’s more visible. You notice that you’ve become faster even after just doing 100 solves.
Improving on long events mainly consists of just doing a lot of solves, and analyzing them to know where you can reduce time. There isn’t really a lot to learn after a point.
In short events on the other hand, improving is a much slower process. You usually learn a beginner’s method to solve a puzzle, get familiar with it, then practice till you’re decently fast, then switch to a different, faster method and practice using that. There are a lot of algorithms that you have to learn in almost every short event if you want to get fast, which reduces the intuitiveness required, and in my opinion makes it less fun.
Your turning speed plays a much bigger role in short events than long ones, for obvious reasons. In long events, even if you turn slower, you can compensate by using that time to look ahead, whereas there’s no such thing in shorter events since there isn’t a lot to look ahead.
This might not sound as big of a differentiator, but one of the reasons I picked skewb as my first main event was because it was going to be held at 3 competitions near me in the course of 4 months. In that same time period, an event like 7×7 would have been held only once, or not at all.
The fact that many more competitions hold short events than do long events leads to there being a lot more chances for you to improve your times (along with the fact that short events usually have more rounds) and that could be used as motivation to practice.
How do you decide which one to focus on
This is kind of obvious, but just practice different events and figure out which one you like the most. This is exactly how I started out with big cubes, practiced 5×5 for some time to figure out if I like solving it, and it’s been my main event ever since. Keep in mind though that it takes a lot of solves to get comfortable with any event.
Hargun Singh Tikku
Hargun Singh Tikku from Delhi is ranked in the top 3 in the country for Megaminx, and top 5 for 5×5. He started cubing at the age of 13 and has been speed-solving puzzles for over 5 years now. He loves to learn mathematics, read, and competitively program. He has participated in 28 competitions and won a total of 35 podiums with 12 gold medals.