New 3×3 World Record

It seems that there’s a new sheriff in town. I awoke this morning to a youtube stream full of buzz about Mats Valk’s 5.55-second solve yesterday at the 2013 Zonhoven Open. For those keeping score, that’s a new world record — topping Feliks Zemdegs’ 5.66 solve from the 2011 Melbourne Winter Open.

The Solve

Unlike Feliks’ solve, there’s a pretty decent video of Mats’ that he posted on his youtube channel just after the Open:

Pretty remarkable solve. Very clean and precise and almost robotic. Virtually no pauses other than for a split-second as he absorbs the OLL skip. Unremarkable was the reaction in room. At least they eventually clapped....

OLL Skip

Already the forums are awash with comments claiming that the OLL skip makes this a second-class record. Feliks had a full solve at just 0.11 seconds longer, after all. “Lucky solve,” some dismiss with the back of the hand. Perhaps it was luck. Or perhaps he forced an OLL skip. No matter. If you believe that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” then there’s no reason at all to denigrate this record. He prepared like mad, moved in competition at a pace that only a few cubers in the world can, and, when presented with an opportunity to exploit (or create) an OLL skip, did so masterfully. To the haters, I say, “Hogwash!”


Mats had already reconstructed his solve in his video comments, so it was easy to pop it into the applet to get this animated reconstruction. For us lowly non-color-neutral solvers, I thought it would helpful to adapt his blue cross on bottom solve into this white cross on bottom reconstruction by adding an x’ at the beginning of the scramble. Then, since the applet doesn’t play well with tablets, phones, and some browsers, I thought it would help to record the animation and combine it with a slo-mo, zoomed version of the solve. (To do that, I did grab the video off of Mats’ youtube channel without permission. All in the name of academia....) Here’s the quick video:

(music: Bud Powell’s “Buster Rides Again” performed by Medeski Martin & Wood on their live acoustic album Tonic) [note: the video appears to have problems showing embedded in Chrome on a PC — but shows in Youtube or in other browers. If you have that trouble, open it in youtube and please let me know. I’m working on it.]

Here’s the annotated move breakdown, with blue-to-white cross adjustments [bracketed in green]:

SCRAMBLE: [x’] D2 U’ R2 U F2 D2 U’ R2 U’ B’ L2 R’ B’ D2 U B2 L’ D’ R2

F R D L F // CROSS (blue on bottom) [white on bottom]
U R U’ R’ U y’ R’ U R // F2L-1 (red/white) [red/green]
y U2 R’ U’ R // F2L-2 (orange/white) [orange/green]
y2 U R U’ R’ y U R U’ R’ // F2L-3 (red/yellow) [red/blue]
y’ U’ R U R’ U R U’ R’ // F2L-4 (orange/yellow) [orange/blue]
// OLL skip
R2 U’ R’ U’ R U R U R U’ R // Ua PLL
U2 // AUF

Of course, only after I had put this together did I realize that Mats’ solve already had been analyzed, measured, and commented in this thread. At least it appears that the above remains the only yellow-on-top reconstruction so far....

Congratulations, Mats!


6 thoughts on “New 3×3 World Record

  1. Richard July 23, 2013 / 6:02 am

    Thanks for this… this is great.. it’s by far the best examination of Matt’s record I’ve seen.
    You need to tell people (beginners/intermediates) how to orient the cube for the scramble and the solve really… so if you hold the cube yellow front and blue on top then run the scramble (D2 U’ R2 U F2 D2 U’ R2 U’ B’ L2 R’ B’ D2 U B2 L’ D’ R2) it gets you what’s in this reconstruction. Then he starts the solve (in this transformed version) with the red face forwards and the yellow face on top, and starts by running (F R D L F) to solve the cross. Which is a lovely elegant cross solve in itself and I suspect why he elected to go blue cross.

    What I like about this is that when he gets to the PLL, it’s a standard 2 look case (three edges , but instead of rotating the top at the start of the PLL and then running it as we all know it, he runs the case upside down and then adjust the up face. Classy.

    I love that he does whole cube rotations to make the fingertricks for slot insertion easier. I thought only beginners did that.. I feel guilty when I do it 🙂 Yet here he is doing it, in the world record! He does seem to cleverly combine it so that his preferred working slot (back right, is next in line though).

    Running through this gives me a great appreciation of the skill and hard work in getting to world record speeds. But best of all it let’s me know that he’s not a God, he’s just better than me 🙂

    Congratulations Mats, and thanks for this, whoever wrote it.

  2. Skt November 5, 2013 / 11:44 am

    Mats isn’t colour neutral, he’s a blue/green cross solver

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