Meghan Pottle | Staff Writer
September 24, 2014
A lot can happen in 37 seconds.
Sophomore Sreeram Venkatarao is ranked 5th in the nation for quickness while solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.
According to Sreeram, his strategy is to look at the Rubik’s Cube and memorize it, then blindfold himself and solve it.
Sreeram said he discovered at a young age that he had a pretty good memory.
“When I was six years old, I had a placemat that listed all the presidents in order and I would always eat at that placemat,” Sreeram said. “One day I could just name all of the presidents in order because I had seen it a bunch of times.”
Although the fate of his competition is determined in less than a minute, according to Sreeram, he has stuck to the same six colors and 54 squares with repetition since he was eight years old, when he first started solving Rubik’s Cubes. He said he practices solving the cube about 20 times a day.
There are many different events at a Rubik’s Cube competition including a 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, and 5×5. Sreeram typically competes at competitions that have a 3×3 blind solving.
Usually, every two out of three solves a competitor will think they’ve solved the Rubik’s Cube correctly, but when they take the blindfold off, the colors on the cube don’t match up. This scenario is called a Did Not Finish or DNF and according to Sreeram, it happens quite often.
If a competitor is one move off from solving the Rubik’s Cube, then the officials will add two seconds onto their time.
According to Sreeram’s father, Sreepadraj Venkatarao, their family has had to travel hundreds of miles for competitions at prestigious universities such as Harvard and Yale.
“I’ve gotten to visit a lot of good universities,” Sreeram said. “Which is good exposure for me to see what success actually is in real life.”
Sreeram memorizes the Rubik’s Cube in a few seconds by encoding the cube into a series of letters and a series of images. There are two kinds of pieces that he has to solve: 8 corners and 12 edges.
“When I’m trying to solve the corners, I’ll come up with an image in my head and it will stem from the letters that I form when I’m memorizing them.” Sreeram said. “Let’s say the letters say CPDB. Then I’ll think to myself ‘CP,’ I’d probably think ‘cup’ because CP are two letters in ‘cup.’ Then, I’ll think to myself ‘DB.’ In APUSH we do DBQs, so I will imagine myself getting a DBQ back and it will be in the cup.”
When Sreeram is solving the edges, he will come up with an image and try to sound it out. According to Sreeram, the stranger it sounds the more likely it is to stick in your head.
Sreeram said he has gotten many opportunities as a result of his unique talent. When he was in 8th grade, he said he met the First Lady of Pennsylvania and performed for her, along with an audience of 500 people.
In fact, Assistant Principal Dave Hyatt asked Sreeram to perform at the Mason City School’s board meeting in September.
“We were so amazed with it that we really wanted to welcome him in and have him be part of our community.” Hyatt said. “The great thing about him is that he’s obviously very intelligent, very gifted, and very skilled in a lot of different areas.”
Now, Sreeram hopes to start up a Rubik’s Cube club at MHS.
According to Sreepadraj, his son’s rare skill is a source of pride for their family.
“If you want to do something big, you have to work hard and keep at it,” Sreepadraj said. “I think it was Thomas Edison who said, ‘Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.’”