Cherry Hill teen a speed demon with a Rubik’s Cube

Dana Yi is the current world record holder for the fastest Rubik’s Cube solve for a female. Yi competes regularly in cubing competitions around the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Rubik’s Cube has bamboozled millions of people around the globe since the 1970s.

The Rubik’s Cube, a three-dimensional puzzle where the player must twist and turn rows of squares to get six solid colors to fill each side of the cube, has bamboozled so many people that computer algorithms were created to help find the fastest ways to solve the puzzle.

For Cherry Hill High School East senior Dana Yi, however, solving a Rubik’s cube is as routine as tying her shoes. Yi is known as a speedcuber, a title given to people who are able to solve a Rubik’s Cube in a matter of seconds.

Yi isn’t just an ordinary speedcuber, however. She’s the fastest female speedcuber in the world. Yi holds the world record for fastest single Rubik’s Cube solve for a female at 6.44 seconds. In the World Cube Association’s overall rankings, Yi has the 74th fastest recorded time in the world.

Yi began solving the Rubik’s Cube nearly a decade ago at the age of 8 and was immediately intrigued.

“I found a cube in my basement one day,” she said. “I went out and bought another and thought, I should learn how to do this. I just started from there.”

A few years after first picking up a cube, Yi attended her first competition in Princeton in fall 2010. Though her average solve time was only 36.38 seconds, Yi knew cubing was something she wanted to get involved in.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I only averaged about 30 seconds, but it was a lot of fun.”

Yi describes solving the Rubik’s Cube as simple once the player learns the methods on how to solve. In competition, a set number of pre-mixed cubes are given to the players to solve. Yi said becoming a speedcuber mostly involves repetition and memorization.

“There’s specified steps to each solve,” Yi said. “There’s the cross where you build up from the bottom to the top. You’re looking at the very first piece and then you just build up.”

Rubik’s Cube competitions go beyond the traditional 3×3 cube. There are cubes as small as 2×2 and as large as 7×7. There are also irregularly shaped puzzles such as the pyraminx, a triangle shaped Rubik’s puzzle and the megaminx, a 12-sided version of the puzzle. Yi competes in nearly every event. The only category she doesn’t compete in is one where participants must complete a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.

After taking a break from competition earlier during her teenage years, Yi began competing regularly again in fall 2015. It was then Yi recorded her first sub-10 second time in the Rubik’s Cube category. Early last year, Yi broke the record for fastest Rubik’s Cube solve for a female. She continued to better her times, recording her first time less than seven seconds last summer. Last month, Yi set her new record time of 6.44 seconds in a competition in New York City.

Yi also holds the female world record for fastest average time, which takes the average of five attempts after tossing out the best and worst time. Yi’s record time of 7.91 seconds was set in Ledgewood in February.

Yi doesn’t enjoy cubing just for the competition. She has made a number of friends in the cubing community, some of whom live in other countries and travel to the U.S. for competitions. Yi said the camaraderie was a big reason she decided to return to competition a couple years ago.

“I came back partially because of the community,” she said. “Some of my best friends are from cubing. The competition is friendly. It’s a lot of fun.”

After graduating high school in June, Yi will attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she plans to study computer engineering or finance. As far as her cubing career is concerned, don’t expect Yi to give up her title as the world’s fastest female anytime soon. She plans to compete in the world championships in Paris, France, for the first time this summer and wants to continue cubing through college.

For anyone aspiring to become a speedcuber, Yi encourages people to buy a Rubik’s Cube and go online to learn how to quickly solve the puzzle.

“There’s a lot of videos on YouTube now,” Yi said. “It’s pretty easy if you follow a tutorial. It’s not as hard as you think it is.”