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U of I student heads to Rubik's Cube championships

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:16 p.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN – A 25-year-old doctoral student at the University of Illinois is getting ready to head to Las Vegas for the Rubik's Cube World Championship.

Ilkyoo Choi, who's working on his PhD in mathematics, will represent Korea in the competition that begins Friday.

Choi began fiddling with the puzzle while he was a high school student in South Korea, according to The (Champaign) News-Gazette. He practiced five hours a day for 10 days straight before he was able to solve it.

Now his personal record for solving the puzzle is 12.4 seconds, but he typically averages 14.65 seconds. He even managed to solve the cube while ziplining in Peru last year.

Choi said quickly solving the popular toy puzzle that was invented in the 1970s by a Hungarian professor involves memorizing different algorithms.

"Us cubers know if you invest your time, this complicated object becomes a step-by-step process," he said.

He used to take the cube apart and sand it down or lubricate it with oil to make it faster to move the pieces. But today there are special "speed cubes" used for competitions.

Choi co-founder of the school's Rubik's Cube Club and has organized competitions in central Illinois.

He's hoping to recruit more members when the school year begins.

The Rubik's Cube World Championships is held once every two years. Nearly 600 competitors representing more than three dozen countries are expected to attend.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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