Lim Hung picked up his first Rubik’s Cube in April 2016 and managed to solve it within two weeks after getting some tips on YouTube. That marked the start of the 11-year-old’s interest and achievements in the world of speedcubing.
Today, he is ranked first in Asia for speedcubing (the 3x3x3 cube) with feet, with an average time of 24.86 seconds.
In fact, he achieved that just last week at the Medan Farewell 2019 speedcubing competition in Indonesia. His new record also means he is now ranked second in the world, according to the World Cube Association.
“I still can’t believe that I made it! I didn’t expect much because I would then get nervous. I just went to the competition and tried my best,” shares Lim, a private school student.
His mother, who has been very supportive of him all this while, couldn’t be more proud.
“I’m very happy for him as he’s been practising very hard to achieve this dream. I am glad to see that his dedication has finally paid off,” says Joyce Peh.
Lim took part in his first local competition – the INTI International University Open – in October 2016 but did not win anything.
That did not deter him one bit and he continued to practise diligently. In fact, he even started to cube with his feet.
A year later, he entered the New Zealand Nationals 2017, his first overseas competition. There, he got his first podium, or win, obtaining third place for completing the 3x3x3 cube in the shortest time with feet.
“Cubing with the feet is tiring if you’re not used to it. I started to do that in 2017. At first, I just did it for fun, but over time, I got faster. Then in New Zealand, I podiumed third place and that’s when I got more motivated to do it,” says Lim when we meet up recently.
A year later, he took part in the Tangkak Perkasa 2018 competition and won his first local award, earning his first national record for the 3x3x3 with feet at 26.77s in the single-solve category. (Single-solve is the best time achieved in one attempt.)
Then at the 2018 WCA (World Cube Association) Asian Championship in Taiwan, Lim received his first continental award, getting the gold medal in the Asia category and the Overall category for the 3x3x3 with feet.
On Sept 28 last year, Lim was officially listed in the Malaysia Book Of Records for achieving the Fastest Rubik’s Cube Solved With Feet at 29.352s.
At the Please Be Quiet Thailand 2019 competition in May, he broke his own single- and average-solve national records at 20.21s and 26.79s respectively, both with feet. (An average-solve score involves getting the best times from a few solves and averaging it out.)
So what fascinates him about the Rubik’s Cube and what drives him to compete?
“Rubik’s Cube itself probably teaches me how to be patient in life. Competitions are good to socialise and have fun and it’s a way of competing in a healthy way,” says the articulate and confident Lim, who turns 12 in November.
Although his favourite is the 3x3x3, Lim also competes in 13 other types of competitions using different types of cubes – from the 2x2x2 to the 7x7x7 – as well as the Pyraminx (a tetrahedron-shaped cube), Skewb (a cube where one turns exactly half the cube around the corners), Megaminx (a dodecahedron-shaped puzzle similar to the Rubik’s Cube) and Rubik’s clock (a two-sided puzzle, each side presenting nine clocks). He also cubes with one hand and one foot respectively.
“In one cube, there are 43 quintillion possibilities, which is 43 continued by 18 zeroes. Just imagine that if you have 43 quintillion dollars, you can spend one trillion a day for the next 118,000 years,” Lim rattles off, without batting an eyelid.
To date, Lim has taken part in 27 competitions locally and abroad. He is accompanied to all the competitions by his mother, a full-time homemaker whose husband is in the property business.
Practice makes perfect
Lim practises from half an hour to three hours a day, depending on his homework and whether he has other activities on. An avid swimmer, Lim, whose favourite subjects are Math and Science, is also into computer games.
Peh, 43, lets Lim handle his own schedule.
“I pretty much leave it to him, on one condition – that he finishes his homework first. But he is OK, he can manage his own time. Solving the cube requires memorising a lot of steps. But he manages to do it and I’m happy for him,” says Peh.
Later this month (July 11-14), Lim will take part in the WCA World Championship 2019 in Melbourne, where he hopes to be named world champion.
“That’s my next target, I guess. But I don’t want to give myself too much pressure or else I’ll mess it up during the competition. I will just try my best. At the same time, I’ll spend a bit more time to explore my interests in other events.
“Hopefully, I can be an all-rounded cuber in future,” says the former student of Beaconhouse Sri Inai International School, Petaling Jaya.
“There is a difference between doing good at home and doing good at a competition because at home, there’s no pressure, it’s just you and the cube and the timer.
“But in competitions, it takes hard work because it takes you a long time to get over your nerves.”
So how does he calm his nerves? “Breathe. I just breathe,” says Lim, matter-of-factly.
To see more videos of Lim Hung’s Speedcubing, check out his YouTube channel.