Joey Rubas Cube: Student takes love for classic puzzle to competitive levels


Photo provided by Joey Rubas

Joey Rubas at a competition, CubingUSA Nationals 2019

Prem Chandrasekar, Managing Editor

 13.72 seconds. 

That’s how long it took sophomore Joey Rubas to solve a 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube at CubingUSA Nationals 2019, which ran from Aug 1-4. The Rubik’s Cube has stumped millions, but not Rubas, who has made it part of his life.

Rubas’ interest in cubing was sparked in elementary school when he found a cube in his bedroom.

“I just picked a cube off my dresser that was scrambled for a year and a half and went on YouTube to figure it out,” Rubas said. 

However, it wasn’t until 7th grade when Rubas’ interest in cubing started to develop after he began competing.

“The first competition was really fun,” Rubas said. “It was in this tiny little room with 100 competitors. It was a great introduction and I met tons of really cool people.”

In Rubik’s cube competitions, competitors solve five randomly generated cube scrambles. Their best and worst times of the five are eliminated and the middle three are averaged.

Since then, Rubas has competed in nine tournaments, including two national ones in Salt Lake City and Baltimore.

While Rubas didn’t make it past the first round in either of the national tournaments, it was a great experience for him nonetheless. 

“I was just having a good time the whole time,” Rubas said. “It was just a lot of hanging out with cool people that I knew before that and cool people that I met, and watching the finals and a great time.”

Joey’s sister senior Grace Rubas agrees.

“I think it’s really, really cool,” Grace said. “I think I don’t know anybody else who does anything like it.” 

 Practicing for Rubik’s cube competitions is unlike any other activity or sport.

“You just have to sit down and do multiple solves,” Joey Rubas said. Over time, you will honestly feel like there is a serious decrease in your solve time.”

This means that Rubas is constantly scrambling and solving multiple times a day. To help, Rubas uses a computer program that gives out scrambles, which Rubas solves and moves onto the next scramble.

This has led Rubas into trying different and faster ways of trying to solve a scramble. 

“I use a method called CFOP (Cross, First 2 layers, Orientation of the last layer, Permutation of the last layer) to solve a scramble,” Joey said. “The first step is [that] intuitively you’re gonna build a cross or a plus symbol on the bottom. Then, you assemble the remaining pieces of the first two layers. Then you have the first two layers formed. Then, you’re just going to memorize a couple of sequences to solve the cube.”

Rubas’ accomplishment in cubing can be attributed mainly to cubers posting their records on YouTube.

“You see people on YouTube all the time-solving scrambles,” said Rubas. “The world record is under five seconds. That seems super amazing and super out of reach when you first start, and it’s a motivation factor. It’s something you want to work towards.”

This motivation has affected Rubas in not only cubing but in other aspects of his life, too.

“It’s taught me the skills to practice and get better at something and have dedication in something,” Joey said. “I’ve been able to apply this to lots of extracurriculars, and just about anything I’m struggling with.”

Another one of Rubas’s ventures was with his new website he made during the summer. Called ScheduleShare, the website allows students who attend both Naperville North and Naperville Central to put in their schedule and see if anyone else that they know are in one of their classes.

“Every year, there’s this stressful period of time between when the schedules come out and school starts where everyone discusses on social media what classes they have,” Rubas said. “You have to go and check your schedule and every other person’s schedule to see if they are in your class, and it’s always just been such a pain. It never ends up working out. So I decided it would be a good idea to try and come up with a better way to do that, and ScheduleShare came to be and became a great success.”

The motivation stemming from cubing not only helped Rubas, but it also inspires others, such as sophomore Cameron Rozek, to apply his motivation to their own lives.

“[He has] devoted himself for [so many] hours into cubing that he inspired me to really focus on some things and get a lot done,” Rozek said. “Just seeing how much he’s able to do has shown me what you can do once you set your mind to it.”

Rozek has been cubing with Rubas since they first met, and they even competed together in a tournament.

While Rubas is only a sophomore, he hopes to continue competing throughout high school and in college.

“It’s certainly something I’d love to continue and for the rest of my high school career and into college and see where it takes me,” Joey said.