Our current competition blindfolds allow peeking. I've been thinking about better blindfolds, both to prevent cheating (i.e. fight cheaters) and to authenticate real blindcubers (i.e. make it clearer that we don't cheat). I present my thoughts below and welcome discussion about this. I have started a WCA thread and a speedsolving.com thread.
Below you see me with my eyes closed. At least that's what it looks like. In reality, my eyes are practically wide open. They're only almost closed. There's a tiny gap, allowing me to look down and see my hands and the cube perfectly. This is why "closing your eyes" is never proof of not being able to see. I encourage you to try it yourself. Close your eyes, then open them just a tiny bit so you can look down and see your hands and the cube. Then take a photograph or look into a mirror or ask someone else in order to find out what you look like with fake closed eyes.
Regular blindfolds we've been using at competitions so far are also not safe. They're never perfectly close to the skin, there are always gaps that allow you to look down and peek. I'd like to suggest a few alternatives. First I had the following idea, placing the chin on a table with the throat touching the table's side. As you can see, there's no way of seeing the cube this way. At least not directly. With mirrors, cameras, or an assistant in the audience giving instructions, it's still possible to cheat. That's why the eyes should still be closed in addition.
While the table idea is very safe, it might also be a bit unpractical for competitions. Instead, a board could be installed higher than the regular table, and then the chin is placed on that board. It would be even better if the board had a half circle cut away from the edge so the board would go around the throat a bit. But I do realize this might also be somewhat unpractical or laborious to build. So I came up with the idea that the cuber himself could be wearing a shield. Below you can see a simple prototype made from two sheets of paper. For inspection/memorization I tilt my head down, and then for solving I simply tilt the head straight up and can't see the cube anymore. Again, eyes should be closed in addition.
Another idea is to use a towel thick enough so that one can't look through it. It's firmly tied around my neck. Before solving, I just pull the towel over my head. The key point is the same as with the above methods: The blindfold should start at the throat.
The towel is comfortable, easy to use, and people already own towels anyway. On the other hand, there's a hygiene issue. I don't really want to put a towel directly on my mouth and nose that someone else just had on his for a while. And if people are allowed to use their own towels, they could be prepared for cheating (just like there are trick blindfolds you can buy at magic shops).
Last modified: January 01 2008, 00:11:08