I spent a draw-dropping Sunday afternoon at the Exploratorium witnessing much of the San Francisco Open 2009 Rubik's Cube Competition. It was pure, addictive nerd fascination to watch these pros spin the faces of the cubes into place without seeming to even think about it. At a certain point physical dexterity becomes just as important as mental ability. I saw some insane stuff. I little boy who looked to be about 4 or 5 solved his cube in under 3 minutes. Players rapidly aligned the faces of 4x4x4 & 5x5x5 cubes & solved cubes using just one hand. Most incredibly, several people took up the challenge of solving the cube blindfolded. Probably less than 1 out of 3 trials resulted in a successful solve, but I saw one girl study the cube for about 30 seconds, don a blindfold, & successfully solve it within 2 minutes! In the final round, I watched Lucas Garron solve a cube in exactly 10 seconds.
This is definitely a young man's game. The majority of the contestants were teenage boys. In the final rounds, the competitors were all guys, & none looked to be above college age. They got punchier as the competition came to a close. At the end of the final round, Michael Gottlieb played a trick on us by using a specially scrambled cube to make it look like he solved it in less than 4 seconds.