A Look Into Speedsolving and Rubik’s Cubes with Andy Mrose

Rubik’s Cubes, overlayed with their simple contrasting colors, are just waiting to be fiddled with. However, the significant time, skill, effort, and expertise that goes into mastering and solving Rubik’s Cubes of every shape and size is largely unknown. In order to find out more about Rubik’s Cubes, competitions for solving them, and the Rubik’s Cube community in general, HC NYU had the chance to talk to Andy Mrose, a passionate solver and YouTube star.

HC NYU: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

AM: I was born in Bronxville, New York, and I was raised in Yonkers, New York. Now, I go to NYU, and I study Media, Culture and Communication at Steinhardt, and I am currently abroad in Prague.


HC NYU: What inspired you to start playing with the Rubik’s Cube?

AM: This was a hobby that I picked up in 7th grade, so I was 12 or 13 years old. Originally, my dad bought a Rubik’s Cube when I was around the age of 7. It was just something that was kept around the house, and it always frustrated me because I always wanted to solve it. I searched up a tutorial on YouTube one day and said I’m going to learn how to do this. I learned how to do half of a Rubik’s cube after a day, and then it took me another week to memorize the steps and do it on my own. Another factor that contributed to me being so into it was the fact that my parents refused to buy me videogames. So, I didn’t have any other fun games to put my time towards, and this is something that I just kept up over the years, and I realized that there is a whole community of people that speed solve. So, over the years I just learned a bunch of techniques and methods, algorithms, just to speed things up, and bring my time down to where it is at right now.

HC NYU: Have you ever gotten into competitions?

AM: I’ve been to three competitions, one in 2012, one in 2016, and one in January of this year. Each time, I went with a friend that I have who also solves Rubik’s Cubes. Now, the main reason to go isn’t to win because it is already decided who will win based on who can maintain their speed. I just go to be around other people that share the hobby, to talk to new people, and to just have fun, really. It’s a full-day event and it’s just a fun experience.


HC NYU: Where is the next one?

AM: I usually don’t travel too far for competitions, they are usually within an hour of travel from me. The last one was in Poughkeepsie, so it wasn’t too far.


HC NYU: What inspired you to start making YouTube videos of you solving the Rubik’s Cube?

AM: The community of Rubik’s Cube solvers is kind of small, and a lot of people post YouTube videos of their solving tutorials. I saw a lot of people doing it, so I started to do it myself by uploading simple videos. In the summer of 2012, I made a video for an online contest, and I ended up winning that contest so I got a free cube. That video ended up getting over 1,000 views in less than a week, which is more than I have ever gotten. Then, a couple weeks later, that video picked up and went viral amongst the YouTube community. As time went on, I saw the potential to make money off of YouTube and that’s when I started to make more videos. I make more comedy-based videos that only people in the Rubik’s Cube community understand the jokes of, and I’ve had a couple more videos that have been successful for me.


HC NYU: How many videos do you have today?

AM: I think I have about 30 or 40, but only about 10 of them are ones I would consider good.


HC NYU: How do you plan on getting more views/subscribers?

AM:  I’m in contact with one of the biggest cube distribution companies, thecubicle.us, but I don’t think he knows about my channel yet. If they are able to provide some sort of sponsorship deals, then I could take the video production side of my channel into a bit more consideration and focus on that more. But until then, I am just planning on keeping it casual and making videos for fun because that is what drives it in the very end.


HC NYU: How long did it take you to master the Rubik’s cube?

AM: I would say it took me a full year to bring my time down to about 30 seconds, which is relatively easy if you stick to it. When I was in 9th grade, one of the bigger hurdles that a lot of Rubik’s Cube users deal with is getting under 20 seconds. That I was able to overcome in 9th grade, and then the next hurdle is below 15 seconds, and that I was able to overcome in 11th grade. Since then, I haven’t been able to reduce my times too much; I guess I am reaching my limit. The next one would be below 10 seconds, but right now I am sitting at about 13.5 seconds average.


HC NYU: What’s the fastest time you have ever completed a cube in?

AM: The fastest I have ever done is 7.57 seconds, but there have of course been faster and the world record right now (which needs to be done at an official competition) is 4.57.


HC NYU: How many hours do you practice a week?

AM: Right now I don’t practice to get faster, it is mainly something that I do while watching videos on YouTube, usually videos that are more podcast style where I don’t have to watch the video. So, I just solve the cube to calm my mind.


HC NYU: Which cubes do you use?

AM: There are a bunch of different cubes. There are 2x2 and 7x7, which are the standard ones used in competition. 3x3 is the one of the most popular categories, but recently I have been getting into 7x7. And of course there are a lot of shapes of puzzles but usually the cubes are the most popular and the ones that I like to do the most. These are all relatively simple once you learn the methods, and the methods are not too different or difficult to learn.


HC NYU: How many cubes do you own?

AM: There is a bunch of different models, the same way that there are different models of, let’s say, phones. I have about 10 different types of 3x3’s alone, and total amount of cubes I have is 40. This is still relatively small for a collection, as some people have collections of over 400. My most recent purchase is a cube that was 50 dollars, and the reason why it was so expensive is because it was produced by one of the past world record holders, modified with magnets inside the cube to help the cuber turn more accurately. It definitely helps when trying to cut corners.


HC NYU: Do you have any role models?

AM: Feliks Zendegs, an Australian cuber. He’s maybe 2-3 years older than me. He’s a person that broke a lot of records when I first started solving the cube, so he’s someone that me and a lot of other Rubik’s Cube solvers look up to. He’s also sponsored by the Rubik’s manufactured company.


HC NYU: Are you currently mentoring anybody for the Rubik’s Cube?

AM: I have taught two people while I’ve been in Prague, and they both picked it up very well. I will be able to teach more people if they want, and I am always open to sharing the love of Rubik’s Cubes that I have. Of course, I teach them much more easy and beginner’s methods from what I use, but they are able to memorize everything that they need to relatively quickly and they are both pretty good at it for beginners.


Image Courtesy of Andy Mrose