This 21-year-old holds 10 Guinness World Records for speedcubing
Daryl intends to pass on his love for the Rubik's cube through coaching.
When 8-year-old Daryl Tan received his first Rubik’s cube, it seemed like just another ordinary toy. Little did he know, this cube would mark the beginning of an interest that would eventually bring him 11 Guinness World Records.
His journey began when his parents bought him a Rubik’s cube when he was in Primary 3. Initially, Daryl struggled with solving the cube and decided to cast it aside.
However, Daryl’s interest was reignited in Primary 6 when he was impressed by his classmate’s ability to solve a Rubik’s cube in under 50 seconds.
After looking up tutorials on YouTube, he eventually managed to solve a Rubik’s cube in under 30 seconds.
Then, when he chanced upon a Rubik’s cube competition held annually at the National University of Singapore in 2014, he decided to participate in it to find out how he would fare.
“I had no expectations going into the competition and although I was nervous, I still managed to beat my personal best in the competition,” he says.
There were no entry requirements for the competitions, which meant that beginners like Daryl could gain valuable competitive experience and meet other like-minded competitors.
Other speedcubers also introduced him to more speedcubing competitions. Thus, Daryl made it a point to sign up for these competitions frequently through the World Cube Association’s website.
As COVID-19 restrictions put a halt to these competitions, he turned his attention to chasing Guinness World Records.
“It all started when I was pursuing my first Guinness World Record where I had to juggle two balls on one hand and solve the Rubik’s cube with another hand,” says Daryl.
Rather than paying $11,000 for a judiciary to witness his Guinness World record attempt in person, Daryl opted to submit his video evidence directly to Guinness.
Upon breaking the record in March 2020, Daryl was curious and looked up the various Rubik’s cube records that had been set previously. Realising that he could break many of them Daryl took the leap of faith to apply for another 10 different records.
He holds the record for the fastest 100m while solving a rotating puzzle cube (13.63s), fastest time to solve two rotating puzzle cubes simultaneously whilst suspended upside down (56.61s), fastest time to solve a 4x4x4 rotating puzzle cube upside down (37.25s), fastest time to solve a rotating puzzle cube one-handed whilst suspended upside down (17.12s), fastest time to solve a cube while juggling (17.16s) and the fastest time to solve five Rubik’s cubes with one hand (17m 22s).
Daryl has also broken a few underwater records, which include the most rotating puzzle tetrahedrons solved underwater (15), most rotating puzzle cubes solved one-handed underwater (8), as well as the most 2x2x2 (25) and 3x3x3 (16) rotating puzzle cubes solved underwater.
As a track and field athlete, his experience came in handy when he broke the record for the fastest 100m sprint while solving a Rubik’s cube last December.
However, some records demanded extra training from Daryl, such as the record for solving the most rotating puzzle cubes underwater.
Daryl’s obsession peaked from 2015 to 2017 when he held plenty of national records. In order to defend his records, Daryl had to invest extra effort into preparing for his competitions in 2018.
However, the additional pressure eventually got to him. Daryl was hit with a slew of undesirable results during his competitions, which also saw plenty of his records snatched away by other speedcubers.
“I was very disappointed in myself and thought that it’s time for me to ‘retire’. Despite practising more than I ever did before, the results were still unfavourable,” shares Daryl.
Thankfully, local cube distributor Cubewerkz reached out to Daryl to encourage him to stay in speedcubing. They offered to sponsor him with the latest performance-boosting Rubik’s cubes and support him in his journey.
“I reminded myself that I picked up Rubik’s cube in the first place because I genuinely loved it and I did not do it just for the records,” adds Daryl.
When Daryl returned to the competitive scene, he made it a point to not focus on results and instead just enjoy the process. Ironically, this new mindset helped him break more national records.
However, despite all his successes with speedcubing, Daryl does not see his hobby turning into a viable career due to the lack of profit-making avenues.
Rather than pursuing a competitive career, Daryl decided to take up a position as a Rubik’s cube coach at Cubewerkz to put his experience to good use.
Now, Daryl frequently conducts his classes on Sundays. His students are mostly primary school kids and even some working adults.
Despite the various challenges, it has been a very fruitful journey for Daryl, who has learned many life lessons from his experiences.
One of his major takeaways would be how he learned to keep calm even in pressure-cooker situations.
“When faced with the pressure of the finals where hundreds of people are looking at you, my slow turning technique helps me perform at my best.”
More importantly, Daryl emphasises that one should not be pressured into getting good at a particular hobby.
“I learned that I need not take everything so seriously, which goes for a lot of things in my life as well.
“If someone were to pick up Rubik’s cubing, I would say that you don’t have to take it too seriously or be super fast, but as long as you enjoy it, then no one cares,” he chimes.