Hip to be Square: Tyrone Junior Excels in Rubik’s Cube Speed Solving Competitions


Asher Christine

Junior Zac Jamison

Clearly junior Zac Jamison didn’t grow up in the 1980s, but he has turned an icon of the decade into his passion. The Rubik’s Cube and handheld puzzles like it are enjoying a major resurgence in popularity, fueled by how-to and fan videos on YouTube.  The challenge today is no longer just solving it, but being able to solve it the fastest.

And Zac Jamison is fast.

So fast that he has begun entering competitive tournaments that attract hundreds of the fastest speed solvers in the world.  In just a few short months, Jamison has become a ranked player in the world of competitive speed solving.

His hobby started about nine months ago when he discovered a Rubik’s cube that had been sitting in his bedroom and decided to solve it.

“My aunt got it for me for Christmas a few years ago, but I never really got into it until I saw a video on the world record holder on YouTube,” said Jamison, “After seeing that I decided I wanted to learn how to be that fast.”

On YouTube, Jamison is known as PuzzlingCubes (click the link to see his YouTube channel, and check out one of his tutorials in this story).  He currently has 350+ subscribers, and 1,700+ Instagram followers for possessing a talent few can match: solving really fast.

“I honestly have no idea [why I like it so much], it is just something that clicks with me. I enjoy practicing and sharing my knowledge about it with others that also enjoy it on YouTube,” said Jamison.

In spring of 2016, Jamison went to his first major speed solving competition, the Slow N Steady Spring Event in College Park, Maryland. He placed 145th out of 271 competitors in 3x3x3, 75th out of 85 in 4x4x4, 90th out of 208 in 2x2x2, and 101st out of 173 in pyraminx. To see his results from the competition, click here

Jamison says that he doesn’t have a lot of time to practice since school started, but over the summer he would practice for anywhere from three to five hours a day.

“Setting goals along with learning how to accomplish those goals have allowed me to be where I am today,” said Jamison, “anybody can do it as long as they have the drive to do so.”

“He’s dedicated at what he does, and it has paid off,” said Tyrone High School junior Nick Greene, who has also been into the hobby for about eight months. “Zac’s 2x2x2 skills are some of the best in the world,” said Greene.

While most people are familiar with the Rubik’s Cube, in the competitive solving scene there are many other puzzles of different shares and sizes. Jamison competes in several different events, including the 2x2x2 cube, the 3x3x3 cube,  4x4x4 cube, 5x5x5 cube, 6x6x6 cube and 7x7x7 cube along with a few other puzzles like the Skewb, Square-1, Pyraminx, and Megaminx.

Jamison averages about 15 seconds on 3x3x3 cube and only 2.5 seconds on a 2x2x2 cube, which is his best event.

Jamison solves a traditional Rubik’s Cube

The current world record for the 3x3x3 is 4.90 seconds, held by Lucas Etter, who was 14 years old when he set the record last November. Jamsion got to watch Etter solve in person at a competition last spring. Jamison’s personal best time is 10.51 seconds. 

Of course, Jamison would not have got this far without the support of his family. His mom is particularly impressed by his skills.

“I’m in awe of Zac’s talent.  I have no idea where he gets it.  When I was a kid I remember peeling the stickers off my cube and putting them back on the right way.  Zac tries to explain the algorithms and things he looks for as he solves these cubes, and I’m lost.  I think he’s amazing and inspiring.  He’s a great example of how hard work and persistence can pay off.  I can’t express how proud I am of him.  He’s an incredible kid,” said Zac’s mom Renee Jamison.

Jamison hopes to average under 10 seconds on 3×3, and under 2.2 on 2×2 by the end of the school year.

His next competition on October 29 in Severna Park, Maryland. His goal is to make the finals for 2x2x2 and round two for the 3x3x3.

For anyone who would like to get involved in speed solving, Jamison recommends starting by watching tutorials online and practice. 

Lots and lots of practice.