"Guy's cousin" wins 2011 Rubik's Cube World Championship in huge upset victory
October 16, 2011
(Bangkok) - This past weekend the most talented Rubik's cube solvers across the globe gathered together for the 2011 World Rubik's Cube Championship. This is the 6th World Championship since the puzzle was first released in the 1980's in the US. Over 400 competitors converged on the Baiyoke Sky Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand to attend the prestigious tournament. Over 39 different countries were represented, making this "...one of the largest and most successful international competitions in history" according to World Cube Association (WCA) board member Ron van Bruchem. Competition was tough, and spread across 19 different official events ranging from solving a Rubik's cube as quickly as possible, to solving one-handed, blindfolded, and only using their feet! The most prestigious title is to be declared the World Champion in the main event - solving a Rubik's cube in the shortest time out of all the competitors.
The winner of the main event this year, with a new world record average of 2.32 seconds, is a relatively unknown cuber, known by most competitors as "some guy's cousin", and those close to him refer to him as "this guy I know". The 2009 World Champion Breandan Vallance, who lost his World Champion title to the newcomer, had this to say about the surprise upset victory:
"Nobody really knows where he came from. One of the spectators said that his cousin could solve the cube in 'like 2 seconds every time, no joke!'. He ran home to tell his cousin, who signed up for the competition. I'm still in shock really. I don't know what to think right now."
WCA board member Tyson Mao had this to say about the newcomer: "This was a huge surprise! Our new World Champion really is the cousin of one of the spectators. His name is Jatukamramthep Wattanapanit, and he's sort of a rags to riches story actually. His cousin came into the Baiyoke Sky Hotel Venue after seeing posters around town about the World Competition. His cousin ran home to get Jatukamramthep, and bring him to the competition as a day-of sign up. Until now, Jatukamramthep was not known in the community, and now he's famous!"
When asked who might win the championships, many competitors mentioned the name of Australian competitor Feliks Zemdegs. Zemdegs, the previous world Record holder and likely winner of the competition, came in 2nd place to Wattanapanit and had this to say:
"Yeah it was a huge surprise to everyone. I mean, this guy shows up and yells 'Hey Rubik's cubes! My cousin can solve one with one hand and without looking'. He then runs home and brings his cousin, and his cousin really is that good. I'm just in shock really. Normally when people say their cousin is fast, they're just making it up or outright lying or something. I don't think anyone really knows what to think."
Incidentally, Wattanapanit did also win the World Champion title for both the Rubik's cube one-handed event, and the Rubik's cube blindfolded event. Both victories were made even more of an upset because he competed both one handed and blindfolded in both events, which was not a requirement by the WCA.
After the award ceremony Wattanapanit could be seen signing autographs for both novice and expert cubers alike. When asked how it feels to be the new Rubik's cube World Champion Wattanapanit had this to say:
"It's pretty cool I guess. My family is always trying to show me off, and they tell me about all the times that they see someone solving a Rubik's cube and they tell them about me. I don't know why everyone is so much slower than I am, I figured everybody could solve a Rubik's cube in 2 seconds one-handed behind their back and blindfolded. I mean, I don't want to be mean to these other cubers, they're really nice and some of them are ok I guess. Feliks is sort of fast, and I think if he keeps at it he'll be just as fast as me. I don't really want to say I'm better, but I'm pretty good at cubing, yeah. It's nice to know that I'm World Champion. Maybe now people will finally believe my family members when they tell other cubers about me."
Wattanapanit has no plans to continue practicing for the 2013 World competition. After his victory he's going to move on to playing competitive Starcraft II. He sure left a mark on the Rubik's cube community, though. The top competitors now have their work cut out for them to improve to Wattanapanit's new world class level of Rubik's cube solving. At least they don't solve it like I did when I was young. I just peeled the stickers off.
Hardwick (2011) Staff Writer - The Washington Post