Sharing a passion for puzzle solving
Photo by Jamie Plain
In 2022, Taylor Latham began sharing his love and passion for speedcubing with others, creating the Owensboro Speedcubing Club. Speedcubing is the art of solving Rubik’s cubes and similar puzzles in the fastest time possible and has been around for decades.
Before Latham formed the club in Owensboro, he showed his twin Nolan Latham and friends Adam Thompson and Benjamin Payne how to solve a cube when they had an idea. The four began planning to host a local competition, preceded by a workshop one week prior.
“The purpose of this event was strictly to prepare competitors for the competition,” Taylor said. “After meeting who would be the first member, Cole Howard, I knew we had to start a club. Following the competition, we began hosting meets at various churches. We solved cubes, tried new ones, raced each other, and built mosaics.”
The club began with five members, with as few as three at some meets, making finishing their elaborate mosaics challenging. However, since last fall, they’ve boasted a squad of 10 at each meet.
Speedcubing in the area grew even more when College View Middle School reached out to Taylor about creating a club at the school.
“Between Owensboro Speedcubing, the CVMS Cubing Club, and other friends I’ve met, I have interacted with around 50 cubers in the Owensboro area,” he said. “Owensboro Speedcubing is showing no signs of slowing down.”
Taylor attended his first World Cubing Association (WCA) competition 11 months after receiving his first Rubik’s cube. It was there, engaging with competitors and competing in the events, that he knew it was time to organize a competition in Owensboro.
“I learned the ropes of competition hosting by organizing two local competitions and attending two more in Kentucky. Finally, in April, I hosted ‘The Legacy Begins 2023’ early this year—Owensboro Speedcubing’s first WCA competition.”
WCA competitions are sanctioned with rules and regulations to keep puzzle-solving fair and standardized. The WCA considers it an event when contestants solve different puzzles or solve them in a particular way. A WCA delegate must be present to host a contest.
There are presently 17 official events in the WCA. The Owensboro event saw cubers compete in the 3×3, 2×2, Skewb, Pyraminx, and Square-1 events. There were 63 competitors and around 100 people altogether. Roughly 20 competitors helped create the Mario mosaic, formed from 896 3×3 cubes. Delegates from California flew in to officiate the event.
The Owensboro Speedcubing Club creates a mosaic every time they meet. Some designs include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Link, George Washington, and the Grinch.
“I really like doing the mosaics – the Mario was my favorite,” said Shepherd Ekbundit of the Owensboro club. “I want to get faster, learn the more advanced stuff, and grow the club.
Shepherd’s best time on the traditional 3×3 cube is 12.2 seconds. Taylor said speedcubing is a community-centered hobby with cubers from all walks of life.
“The mosaics can take around two hours to build when everyone is focused,” Latham said. “Not only do we create mosaics for ourselves, but also for businesses like Wedding Orthodontics and GRAMPS Coffee and Donuts. We always love the chance to engage with the community.”
Latham added that endless online tutorials and cheap hardware make speedcubing a very accessible hobby. The Owensboro club member’s times range from 12 seconds to 3 minutes.
“My favorite part is the excitement and comradery cubers form with one another,” he said. “They love to qualify for the next round at a competition, sure, but their favorite part is beating their own times and supporting you in beating yours.”
Another club member, Beau May, said he enjoys hanging out with the other cubers and building mosaics, joking around while making detailed pictures from the cubes. He has some lofty goals for himself and the club.
“I hope to average below 20 seconds on 3×3 sometime in the future. My current average is about 30,” Beau said. “I also want to help the club expand so that most of the cubers in Owensboro can come and improve here. And I hope the club can help teach other people how to solve the cube as well.”
Beau first heard of the club from his dad, who saw it in an article.
“After my first meeting, I was hooked,” he said. “I wanted to go because it was the only place I could meet other cubers in Owensboro. They help me improve, and they are fun to hang out with.”
Students at College View—Bryson Brown and Michael Swift—created the club at the school after realizing several students shared the same passion.
“Me and my friend Michael decided to start the club because we realized that a lot of other kids loved cubing and would love to come to our club,” Bryson said. “We talked to the principal at CVMS, and he thought it was a great idea, so we set it up, and people started coming.”
Michael said the camaraderie is what makes the club so great.
“I love how you can just work on what you want, and there’s always somebody who knows what you’re trying to work on that will help you,” Michael said. “We hope to get a lot of cubes for a mural and try to expand who shows up at the club.”
To learn more about the clubs or to express interest in joining, search Owensboro Speedcubing on Facebook. With meetings on the first Saturday of every month at 12 p.m.,Taylor said he would be thrilled to have more individuals join. The club does not require any fees or long-term commitment.
“I have been very blessed with all of the people I have met through this hobby,” Taylor said. “Speedcubing will always be a part of my life.”