Ask 20-year-old Krishna Sai how he mastered the Rubik’s cube and he brushes if off like it’s no big deal. The Chennai-based cuber broke a world record in June by solving 2,474 cubes using one hand in 24 hours, beating a record set by Hyderabad-based Krishnam Raju Gadiraju back in 2014.
Krishna now patiently waits for Guinness World Records to recognise his feat. Talking to TNM, he recounts the intense do-or-die 24 hours that was to define his place in history and all else that led up to it.
The making of the cuber
“I was in Class 8 when I picked up the Rubik’s cube. A few of my friends were very good at it and I learnt how to solve it from one of them. After this, there was a lull where I never solved the cube. Then in 2014, I got back to and this time it was for real,” Krishna recalls.
Soon enough, Krishna says that he got obsessed with solving cubes and attempted to de-scramble colours as quickly as possible. At this point, he averaged at 30-40 seconds per puzzle, a humble start compared to the record 10 seconds per cube he touched this year.
“I watched YouTube tutorials by some of the biggest speedcubing legends like Michal Pleskowicz and Antoine Cantin. It wasn’t about allocating a few hours for practice, I used to play with the cube all the time actually,” he says.
Soon Krishna started registering for competitions and mingling with the cubing community in the state. However, little did he know that his cubing style was soon set for a revolutionary change – thanks to his discovery of one-handed cube solving.
At one of the competitions he participated, he witnessed a player solving the cube with one hand, a method that he soon decided to adopt.
“Solving with a single hand was a completely different ball game. It was thrilling. You don’t get to use a secondary hand to aid you in solving problems. All the algorithms have to be solved with a single hand,” he says.
Soon enough he picked up cubing with one hand and figured out that the left hand worked best for him.
“I figured that the viewing angle was better when I solved with my left hand. I had a good view of where the colours lay and I could solve the puzzle easily,” he explains.
He even brought down his average to 25-30 seconds from his previous best of 40 seconds with constant practice.
Game, Set, Go
When Krishna finally decided to apply for the Guinness World Records, he knew how to go about it. Krishna says that he had exactly 3 months to prepare.
The earlier record-holder Krishnam Raju had solved 2,174 cubes in a 24-hour span. When Krishna applied for the challenge, he knew he could cross the 2,100 mark in 22.5 hours, leaving him with 2.5 hours to set a new score.
“In competitions I was averaging at 15 seconds and once when I was solving at home, I hit a 10 second average – that has been my best record yet. When I knew this, I was positive that I could break it,” he says.
However, breaking the record was not all that he had set his mind on. Krishna wanted to stretch the score as much as possible to make it last at least a year without being beaten.
“There are so many cubers in India itself with immense potential. I wanted to not just break the record but also solve as many cubes as possible to make a record that would be difficult to break,” he adds.
To achieve this, Krishna had a plan.
“It was more about maintaining a consistent average than speed for me. I didn’t want the average to drop,” Krishna says.
Although he only solved cubes for a maximum of 10 hours a day, he decided to take fewer breaks and solve as many cubes as possible in the first 4 hours. A good head start, he felt, would give him an advantage and a boost of confidence for the hours to follow.
“On the day of the challenge, I only took 2-5 minute breaks for the first few hours. I ended up solving 600 odd cubes in 4 and a half hours,” he recounts.
The Big day
Krishna says that in the lead up to the big day, one main challenge he faced was the lack of a partner who could scramble cubes professionally for him to solve.
“The cubes have to be scrambled professionally. And they have to be scrambled with at least 40 moves if done by an amateur,” Krishna explains.
However, on June 23, the day of the challenge, Krishna was equipped with all things necessary for the smooth execution of the new record.
In Phoenix Market City, where he performed the record, two professional delegates stood on either side of his table to judge his moves and scramble cubes. Over 2,600 puzzles from the World Cube Association randomised scramble generator – which ensures each cube is scrambled uniquely – were used to hand out newly scrambled cubes as he finished each puzzle.
A video camera recorded the entire 24 hours of the challenge, which Krishna will now send to Guinness World Records for approval.
“Until the last 2.5 hours before which I broke the record, I only took hot pack breaks to relax my fingers and restroom breaks. I was averaging at 140 cubes per hour during this time,” he says.
On cubing life and busting myths
Contrary to popular belief, Krishna says that people who solve the Rubik’s cube fast aren’t naturally good at math.
“It is only those who naturally figure out the solution who might be good at it,” he says.
For those who master the art of solving it, Krishna says, the cube is a big lesson in patience and focus.
“As cubers solve the same puzzle over and over again, they eventually master the art of solving and also pick up pace with each cube. And this is what happens more than having a brain for math,” Krishna adds.
Focus too is a key component, both before and while solving the cube.
“I didn’t really move from my place till I hit the record. Once I did, it was time to celebrate and I went to get a pizza,” he laughs.
Krishna says that he is happy to have set a new world record. However, he does not plan on doing it again until a platform is provided and cubers in the country are supported by brands and companies.
“There is zero support from corporates or the government. I had to shell out money to do the Guinness World Records event this time. I would totally do it again if I were given a platform in the future and the costs are taken care. India has immense cubing talent. It is time somebody recognised it,” he says.
Watch Krishna Sai solve the Rubik's cube here