Rubik’s cube competitions take hold in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Competitions in which participants race to solve Rubik’s cubes with their eyes closed or even with their feet have become popular in Utah nearly four decades after the puzzle was first introduced in the U.S.

Eric Pesci, 12, and his sister, Claire Pesci, 10, were two of more than 100 participants at last month’s Megacomp. The annual state speedcubing competition attracts those who can solve Rubik’s cubes and other puzzles in a matter of seconds, KSL-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2oRRTt6).

Eric Pesci came in first place in an event involving a 2×2 cube. He has earned a name for himself in Utah, his mother said, as “the 2×2 guy.”

Cubing competitions have attracted a growing number of Utah residents over the years, including Megacomp organizer and Salt Lake City high school student Calvin Nielsen. The teen was ranked ninth in the U.S. out of competitors in Skewb, a puzzle similar to a Rubik’s cube.

“If you have enough time and I guess enough determination to do something, you can learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube,” Nielsen said. “Speed-solving requires sticking to it.”

Erno Rubik, a Hungarian professor of architecture, invented the Rubik’s cube in 1974. The puzzle gained popularity in the 1980s.

The World Cubing Association formed in 2004 and has gone on to host numerous speedcubing competitions that require participants to solve various kinds of puzzles, including cubes from two to seven pieces across and brainteasers called Pyraminx and Megaminx. Contestants solve the puzzles blindfolded, with one hand and with their feet.

“You don’t really need to be a genius,” Eric Pesci said. “You just need to be persevering and a hard worker and not afraid to fail.”

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