World champion says the Rubik’s Cube and the violin go together
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A University of Michigan student is one of the world’s greatest “speedcubers,” someone who can quickly solve a Rubik’s Cube. He is also an accomplished violinist.
Stanley Chapel says the two areas go hand in hand.
Not only does Chapel say he has the same interest in both, but the 21-year-old says the fiddle has contributed to his speedcubing success.
“Repetition, breaking things down into their smaller fundamental pieces, all these different things that we use to improve an instrument, and being able to take them into the world of cubing has definitely been a huge help in my progression,” said Chapel said. , a junior major in violin performance at the university’s School of Music, Drama and Dance.
Chapel, who grew up in Ann Arbor not far from the Michigan campus, solved her first 3×3 Rubik’s Cube when she was 14. Five weeks later, Chapel entered his first competition, solving the cube in an average of 22 seconds.
Fast forward a year to 2017 in Paris, with Chapel placing fifth in the 4×4 blindfolded and 5×5 blindfolded categories at the World Cube Association World Championship.
At the 2019 World Championship in Melbourne, Australia, the recent high school graduate won both events.
Factoring in the time it takes him to examine the cube before putting the blindfold on, Chapel can solve one in about 17 seconds.
“The deeper I get into the field of cubing technique, the more I find value in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible out there,” he said.
Chapel has certain inherent abilities: He is able to memorize and apply thousands of algorithms to solve a Rubik’s Cube and to perform one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s violin sonatas from memory.
But he also spends hours and hours perfecting his craft, including regularly doing hand stretches that help Chapel avoid the kinds of aches and pains that come with the frequent, frantic spinning of the sides of the cube.
Chapel says years of playing the violin also contributed to him having “very, very fine motor control already developed”.
Later this year, Chapel intends to defend her world titles in South Korea. Since the 2021 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chapel is the defending champion of both heading into the 2023 event in Seoul.
Once he finishes school, however, Chapel is unsure how speedcubing fits into his future plans.
“I guess it’s cool to know that no one is capable of doing that,” he said. “But, at the same time, giving me a bit of reality, it’s like, ‘How much does that actually matter?'”
“It’s not going to pay the bills when I get older,” Chapel said with a laugh.
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