Cubing with Kyeongmin Choi


Tyler Truong

FINGERS FLYING: “When I was really practicing for 2×2 I would usually do at least 200 solves per day, which equates to about 80 minutes,” Choi said.

Shreya Aithal, Staff Writer

Glancing all around the Rubik’s Cube, junior Kyeongmin Choi takes a deep breath, setting down the 2×2. He knows how he’s going to solve it. Three… two… one… and he’s off, taking only a stellar 1.08 seconds to demolish the cube. Success washes over him in a slow smile. Choi has set another Korean record.

With five Korean records and five Californian records under his belt, Choi is a competitive Rubik’s Cuber who began his speedcubing journey in the fifth grade after immigrating to the United States from Korea in 2016.

“I learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube first when I was 7,” Choi said. “My mom got me a Rubik’s Cube, so I started practicing because I got into it and thought it was pretty fun.”

Speedcubing involves timed events where participants solve various styles of cubes such as a 2×2, 3×3 or even up to a 7×7. Competitors vie to get records in the events or averages amongst all rounds, and are ranked globally by the World Cube Association.

Since his start in speedcubing, Choi has attended the U.S. Nationals in 2018 and 2019 and the North American Championships, where he placed first in the fewest moves event and third in the megaminx event.

The fewest moves event, one of Choi’s main competitive events, involves intentional moves made under a time limit. Drastically different from solving for speed, Choi began working on the event to better his skills, slowly developing a liking for it. Choi also participates regularly in the megaminx event, for which he is currently ranked 10th in the world.

“These events need more intuitive thinking and efficiency,” Choi said. “Fewest moves and megaminx incorporate the thinking aspect of speedcubing the most, which is why I like them so much.”

As a 2×2 speedcuber as well, Choi has not only spent time on understanding the details of cubing but also the importance of experience, solving the 2×2 cube over 40,000 times to fully understand the cube.

“When I was really practicing for 2×2 I would usually do at least 200 solves per day, which equates to about 80 minutes,” Choi said.

Putting in time and preparing for competitions has exposed Choi to intricacies of the sport, such as the importance of caring for his hands before a round, as well as staying in a competitive zone amidst all the distractions. Like any other athlete, Choi has also faced frustrations, and takes intentional steps to stay calm.

“I really do get stressed out when the results don’t turn out great,” Choi said. “Before every solve, I try to take a couple deep breaths, and try to remind myself that I can do great things.”

Since his speedcubing career began, Choi has looked up to Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park for their world-class speedcubing skills, and has attempted to learn from them to improve his own rankings and ability in the sport.

“They were both featured on the Netflix documentary ‘The Speedcubers,’ and they’re both world record holders,” Choi said. “Max lives in the SoCal area, so I get to see him a lot at competitions.”

Now that competitions have returned to being entirely in-person, attendance often means travel and multiple-day commitments to the sport. Choi describes balancing school and cubing as a challenge, finding that he has less time to practice cubing due to the demands of junior year. He uses his skills in efficiency and time management to find time for cubing and competition preparation.

“I’m really confident that I will continue to do this because I feel like I’m pretty good at it and also because I have a really big passion for the hobby itself,” Choi said. “It really gives you a sense of fulfillment.”

Choi hopes to achieve his first official world record, first place in the fewest moves event, and to reach the podium in the megaminx event in the upcoming World Championships in Seoul in 2023.

Choi plans to create a cubing club at Northwood, and encourages people interested in the sport to try it. Exploring strategy and pushing mental capacity, speedcubing can appeal to a variety of people and provide a number of opportunities to explore your interests.

“Speedcubing is a great way to get a new hobby,” Choi said. “I couldn’t imagine myself not cubing in my spare time.”