Image: iStock/ilkercekic

The Rubik’s Cube has been a puzzling pop-culture staple for decades. On Thursday, the oft-enigmatic puzzle officially becomes a quadragenarian. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, a global virtual competition is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Simply solving the cubed puzzle is too low of a bar for some. Instead, the challenge becomes how fast one is able to solve a Rubik’s Cube. For these “speedcubers,” Rubik’s competitions are won and lost by mere milliseconds. In fact, the world record for the fastest Rubik’s cube solve is 3.47 seconds. This was set by Yusheng Du who broke Feliks Zemdegs’ previous record by just 0.75 seconds, per Rubik’s.

Although it is important to note that Zemdegs still holds the record for the fastest Rubik’s cube puzzle solve using only one hand with a time of 6.88 seconds. For proficient ambipedal puzzlers, there’s also competition among individuals who choose to solve a Rubik’s Cube using only their feet.

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For the past two years, speedcubers were allowed to compete in-person, however, similar to other marquee events, the competition has too shifted online due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, participants will compete using Rubik’s Connected Cube, a digital twist on the classic cube for the smartphone era.

The Rubik’s Connected Cube pairs with a smartphone and the ConnectedApp to allow casual puzzlers and speedcubers alike to track their gameplay and compete with other cubers around the globe. The Connected Cube will play a central role in Saturday’s global competition. The finals competition, featuring the Connected Cube, will involve both national and local speedcubers who have digitally qualified as well 2019 champions.

“The very exciting element is that this Connected Cube will encourage cubers to interact with others from around the world, starting with the first ever digital speedcubing competition, in the form of the Red Bull Rubik’s Cube World Cup. And we mustn’t forget that you will also be challenged to improve your aptitude in science, technology, engineering and maths,” said Christoph Bettin, the Rubik’s Brand CEO, in a press release.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many people around the US have used the increased downtime at home to adopt new hobbies and interests. At the same time, the classic puzzle has seen a resurgence of sorts, according to Rubik’s Brand. As the company points out, a number of its “ambassadors” have broadcasted puzzle-play to Rubik’s social media channels with ample audience engagement.

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“We soon learned at the start of the lockdown that solving interest was at an all-time high by those choosing to occupy their time with learning a new skill. Very quickly, the term #CubeAtHome was seen by over 27 million people on the TikTok channel,” Bettin said.

Needless to say, 40 years after its inception, the Rubik’s Cube still maintains a classic following while reimagining gameplay for a new generation of puzzlers.

“What’s very exciting is we are becoming a lifestyle brand with geeks, hipsters, kids, and retro-fans to name a few. Rubik’s offers something for everyone,” Bettin said.