Get cubing: La Grande boy holds tournament to meet fellow cubers


LA GRANDE — Ellery Johnson has been cubing for less than a year, and he’s already reached some impressive personal bests.

“(The 3×3 cube) usually takes about 20 or 25 seconds, but I’ve done it in 16,” Johnson said.

The 12-year-old La Grande resident wants to know who else in the area does cubing, so he’s decided to hold a friendly competition.

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The free Rubik’s Cube tournament is open to ages 9 through 17, and will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. April 29 in the conference room of the Cook Memorial Library.

“He wanted to have it open to all ages,” said Johnson’s mom, Calandra. “As he says, ‘The science is the same’ for all ages. I had to tell him that some people will think it’s unfair if a 30-year-old man comes in and beats a bunch of kids.”

Johnson said there are 7-year-old cubers who can solve the puzzles faster than he can, and he doesn’t think age gives anyone an advantage.

What does lend an advantage, however, is practice and research.

Johnson first became interested in the activity after watching a video of a “CubeTuber,” someone who makes YouTube videos about cubing. About a month later, his parents gave him his first Rubik’s cube and book with tips for certain techniques and permeations.

“It really helped to just watch other people do it and to find other techniques online,” Johnson said.

Johnson will not compete in the upcoming La Grande tournament.

“I don’t want to win my own competition,” he said. “I just want to find out if there are any other cubers out there.”

Johnson raised the money to provide the Rubik’s Cubes,d he has recruited his friends to help scramble puzzles and time the solutions.

Domino’s has donated pizza, and there will be prizes available.

The homeschooler said anyone is welcome to attend the tournament, even if they’re only there to spectate.

Johnson said he will be on hand to give advice to anyone who wants it.

Although he doesn’t want to compete in the tournament, he is planning to travel to Portland in May for his first competition.

In the meantime, Johnson keeps practicing his own personal bests on each of his cubes. He hopes to one day beat the record for the 3×3 cube, which is currently 4.73 seconds.

He’s completed an octagonal puzzle in about eight minutes. Johnson has completed a cube that is one color on all sides but is solved by matching the rows and columns that have different dimensions in about 2.5 minutes.

His collection also includes triangular puzzles with rows that can be turned 180 degrees or 360 degrees and a 6×6 cube that Johnson said “takes a really long time.”

That collection keeps growing.

“I’m constantly wanting more,” he said. “I have a 1×1 that I got as a gag gift, and I have a 2x3x3.”

Johnson said he loves the challenge of constantly improving.

“Even someone who can solve it in a few seconds can get done and there’s something they did wrong,” he said.

WATCH Ellery Johnson solve a Rubik’s cube in less than 20 seconds:

Watch him work in slow motion:

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