How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Sean Patrick Villanueva, 11, can do it at an average speed of 6.78 seconds. This incredible feat landed him a second-place finish at the 3x3x3 Cube category at the 2019 World Cube Association (WCA) World Championship, making him the youngest competitor to ever podium at the world stage.
Sean, a sixth-grade student at the Ateneo Grade School, made history by besting 800 other participants from 52 countries, many of whom were older and had more experience. First place went to Philip Weyer of Germany, who is 21 years old but finished just a tiny fraction ahead of Sean with a 6.74-second average.
The 3x3x3 Cube was the championship’s main event, which happened last July 11 to 14 in Melbourne, Australia. Sean was joined by five other Pinoy speedcubers, including Leo Borromeo, Brenton Angelo Wong, Inigo Miguel Palisoc, John Paul Custodio, and Perry Gonzales.
Sean’s achievement was even more impressive because he’s only been speedcubing for a little over two years. In an interview with his mom, Cez Tolentino-Villanueva over Facebook Messenger, Cez tells SmartParenting.com.ph that her son first showed interest in the sport in March 2017. “He saw a school bus mate with a Rubik’s cube and then asked us to buy him one. He [then] started watching video tutorials on YouTube to learn how to solve the cube,” she explains.
Sean has been competing since 2017, but the WCA World Championship was his first international competition. Cez, who accompanied him in Melbourne, shares he only joined for the experience. “His only goal was to make the finals. He didn’t expect to podium. That was just a bonus,” she says, admitting she got teary-eyed when she found out that her son won second place.
Cez shares with Smart Parenting that Sean’s passion for speedcubing led to positive changes, which is why she decided to support his interests. “Speedcubing helped him to be more analytic and strategic. It also allowed him to be more confident and build friendships,” she says.
Speedcubing is a sport that involves solving a puzzle cube in the quickest time possible, making use of various algorithms and methods. It has become popular in recent years as more and more kids (and grown-ups) got hooked into solving the puzzle, competing with others and trying to achieve the fastest record.
The World Cube Association (WCA), formed in 2004, is the organization that governs all official speedcubing competitions. For a competition to be official, it must be approved by the WCA and follow the WCA regulations. In the Philippines, interested speedcubers may join the Philippine Cubers Association, the first speedcubing organization in the country.
Experts have said that a puzzle cube is a wonderful toy to give kids because it helps develop their problem solving, critical thinking, and spatial awareness skills. Watch how speedcubing works below featuring Leo Borromeo, who is a friend of Sean and competed in Melbourne as well: