It IS a decades-old puzzle that has many people scratching their heads in confusion.
But for one Scots “speedcuber”, it is a skill he can accomplish in just seconds – with just one hand.
Breandan Vallance, from Beith near Paisley, is one of the favourites to win the Rubik’s Cube World Championship, which kicks off next Friday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mr Vallance, 23, who has a personal best of 8.32 seconds, is thought to be a serious contender for the title, which he won in 2009 when the championship was held in Germany. Two other British competitors, Robert Yau and Daniel Sheppard, both from Guildford, Surrey, are taking part in the contest in Brazil. Mr Yau holds the fifth fastest average score in the world.
Mr Vallance said: “One of my favourite things about speedcubing is the chance to represent the UK all over the world, and I’m particularly excited for Sao Paulo. The atmosphere at the Rubik’s Cube World Championship is always great – it’s competitive but such a friendly place to be.
“Being the only Scottish entrant, I’ll be proud to represent my country.”
Competitors solve the Rubik’s Cube five times. The fastest and slowest attempts are removed and an average time is taken, with the world record currently standing at 5.25 seconds, held by an American.
In 2009, Mr Vallance, then a teenager, won the Rubik’s Cube World Championship in Dusseldorf with an average time of 10.74 seconds and achieved a new best average time of 8.32 at the 2013 Edinburgh Open, placing himself comfortably among the world’s best.
Chrisi Trussell, from cube manufacturer Rubik’s Brand, said: “The Rubik’s Cube World Championship is a fantastic event which attracts the world’s speedcubing elite. It’s exciting to have such a strong representation from the UK at the 2015 Rubik’s Cube World Championship – we wish all of our UK contenders the best of luck.”
He added: “As if solving the Rubik’s Cube wasn’t hard enough, both Breandan and Robert compete with one hand and Robert is also involved in the blindfolded and feet-only categories.”
The Rubik’s cube was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a young professor of architecture in Budapest, Hungary. It was launched internationally in 1980 and an estimated 400 million cubes have been sold since then. Its universal popularity soared in 1981, when 12-year-old British schoolboy Patrick Bossert published a book called You Can Do The Cube, selling some 1.5 million copies.
A new, “improved” version of the cube was launched in 2013, featuring a faster mechanism and stronger, more durable tiles.
The Rubik’s Cube World Championship was first held in Budapest in 1982 and was won by American Minh Thai with a time of 22.95 seconds.
In each of the six Rubik’s Cube World Championships since then, the winning time has been faster than the one that preceded it.