Wetten, dass..? vom 5. November

On November 19-20, 2005, Jasmine Lee, Dan Harris and I visited the Hungarian Championship 2005 in Budapest. This is a little report, further below you'll find some pictures (mostly mine, some of others (thanks!)) and also some links.

It was a lot of fun for all of us, and I'm very thankful for the organizers to run an awesome competition and also organize our travel so that everything went very smoothly. I didn't really know what to expect, after all I had never heard of Hungarian speedcubers before. When we arrived at the competition, we were quite positively surprised. There were a lot of competitors and spectators and everything looked very good, they had stackmats with displays, nice cube tables, large showcases with a sweet puzzle collection and even a big video screen. It was a very well-organized competition.

Saturday during the competition, Jasmine, Dan and I were just watching and talking with people. Looking at the results now I see Mitko Prodanov already had an 18.97 from a preliminary round, but I guess that was unofficial, I think Kolos Kántor officially broke the Hungarian record with a 22.65 solve when we were there. We spent the evening with some of the Hungarian cubers, they showed us the city a bit. Too bad it was freezing cold outside, brrr... I think during dinner (well, at Burger King) Dan solved a cube blindfolded, he had just begun with it and was already faster than me.

Sunday the competition continued and there were quite a few media people, some of them interviewed us (both the Hungarians and us visitors) for newspapers and even TV. Before one TV interview, Tibor Pataky (one of the organizers) told me I shouldn't be surprised if they call me "Zorro", they gave me that nickname for blindsolving. There was also a very friendly woman who interviewed Dan and recorded an 11.23 (or similar) solve of him which she let us watch again later and even sent us on DVD (together with several other scenes from the competition). Kolos tried to "replay" his record for a photo, trying to stop the timer as close to it as possible and got exactly 22.65 with his first attempt I think.

Finally we reached the final 3x3 round. Mitko now proved to be the best, setting the new official Hungarian record of 18.61 and winning with a 24.57 average. Next few places went to Milán Baticz, Kolos, and Olivér Nagy. It was actually no big surprise, these guys were the ones we had talked with most and they were like a top cubing gang there. After the finals we had a demo hour. The Hungarian gang and us visitors did some demonstrations like relays (two versions, see picture comments), onehanded, blindfolded (Dan almost beat me, was faster but sadly made a mistake) and teamblindfolded solving, and some normal 3x3 races. There were also 4x4 (again the gang dominated) and 2x2 and divisions for cubers of different ages/speeds. After it was all over, Janos Kovács from Rubik's Studio invited us to visit it. Veeery cool, he showed us a bit about the work they do there (i.e. architecture, mostly large special buildings) and we got to see a nice collection of Rubik-style puzzles as well.

In the late evening, Dan, Jasmine and I did more cubing in the hotel room, including hands-inside-pillow-cube-outside and other stuff. Dan was a bit tired (I think he fell to sleep after I showed him and Jasmine how understanding permutation parity and commutators are the only things you need to solve 4x4 intuitively, maybe it was too boring) but Jasmine and I continued to cube a lot until laaate in the night. Well, how often do we have the chance?

I slept long on Monday, my plane was in the evening so I walked around in the city a bit. Bought some more cubes and met one of the reporters from the comptition, he said we're in all newspapers. Even the taxi driver (same as from arrival) had seen it on TV. Now that's good publicity marketing!

Thanks again to everybody, especially the competitors and organizers who made this trip a really great one, I had lots of fun!

Some links (thanks to Olivér for the articles):

You can translate the articles with this translator, though admittedly it's not very good

thumbnail Breakfast at the airport.
thumbnail Guess which seat was mine.
thumbnail Meeting Jasmine and Dan at the other airport, our taxi driver holding their sign. Looks like our names are as unusual for the Hungarians as theirs are for us. He was a very friendly guy and even though he didn't understand English and we didn't understand Hungarian, we had no troubles. The championship organizers had organized the taxi and hotel and everything perfectly. He was watching us speedcube a bit, and later when he brought me back to the airport he let me know he had seen the championship on TV and newspapers.
thumbnail When we arrived, comptition was already running.
thumbnail The competition area with the competition at the back, some collection showcases at the front and the spectator seats in the middle.
thumbnail Another overview.
thumbnail One showcase (including lovely Supernova Megaminx)
thumbnail Yet another (including lovely Domino)
thumbnail Another (including special Budapest picture cube from Rubik's Studio).
thumbnail Some cubing on the front timer (I think only unofficial "amateur division" was done here).
thumbnail Side view on the spectator area. You can see the professional camera and commentator on the left and some shops in the back. Since the competition took place in the middle of a shopping mall, there were lots of spectators (many more on later pictures during the final round).
thumbnail Kolos after his 22.65 record.
thumbnail More competition, here some older competitors. There were some who had been top speedcuber in the early 80s.
thumbnail View from behind the scenes. The closed area with the computers, that's where the organizers kept track of the times etc. You could even watch the video from here, e.g. while eating in this area.
thumbnail Mitko Prodanov, fastest Hungarian cuber.
thumbnail Dinner at our restaurant with Kolos, Olivér, Dan and Jasmine. Obviously we had lots of fun
thumbnail Walking around in the city, this is a monument showing several Hungarian kings. My camera sucks especially in darkness, you can see better pictures in Dan's picture gallery.
thumbnail The subway system was very nice old-style, Kolos said it's the second oldest in Europe.
thumbnail Nice bridge over the river that separates Buda and Pest. Yes, actually they used to be separate cities, though they're now somewhat fused and called Budapest. If you're interested to learn about the city history, have a look at the the Wikipedia article
thumbnail A castle on a hill on the other side of the river. We walked there afterwards. Again, Dan has more and better pictures of this.
thumbnail Entrance of the shopping mall (by now it's early Sunday).
thumbnail Inside the entrance. Also look at the floor.
thumbnail More cubes on the floor.
thumbnail More posters and cubes in the air.
thumbnail Competition again.
thumbnail A younger competitor at 2x2.
thumbnail A younger competitor at 4x4.
thumbnail More competition.
thumbnail Look at that crowd.
thumbnail I guess the white competition shirts we got were quite large for some kids. Oh, and can you see Dan?
thumbnail Another look at the crowd.
thumbnail Yet another, more from a competitor's view.
thumbnail From further away.
thumbnail More competition.
thumbnail Kolos telling Mitko something excited. On the far right is Viktor Kövesdi, who had incidentally met Dan and Jasmine in a restaurant in London and invited them to come. Good idea they were playing with their cubes so he noticed them. Lesson: always cube, good things might happen to you.
thumbnail These must be the finals, the top gang occupying all four timers.
thumbnail Milán's best time in the finals. He's also good at 4x4 which he won there.
thumbnail Mitko after his 18.61 official Hungarian record.
thumbnail Still...
thumbnail Yeah, breathe again...
thumbnail Calming down...
thumbnail Mitko after his last solve, now it was clear he had won and got the well-deserved applause.
thumbnail Kolos with his last solve in the finals, getting the second-fastest single time after Mitko.
thumbnail Some youngsters.
thumbnail The girl beating the boys badly. I think they started at the same time and the girl looked faster, though I'm a bit confused looking at the final results where the appears to have been slower...
thumbnail Now it's demo hour, Kolos and Olivér showing team blindsolving. Dan and I were a little faster, but that's no surprise since we had more experience with it. Not sure Kolos and Olivér even had codes, the commentator held the microphone towards them but of course I didn't understand a single word.
thumbnail Spectators during demo hour.
thumbnail The gang doing a relay. They splitted solving into four steps, Kolos doing the first step for each cube and Olivér finished them all.
thumbnail During the relay.
thumbnail Kolos grabbing the next cube after giving the previous to Milan.
thumbnail Dan, Jasmine and I did some relays with slightly different sets of cubes to give everybody about equal chances. Jasmine won and Dan finished a bit after me so I could take this picture. He had this nice idea to let us solve in separate directions, i.e. I started with 5x5 and finished 2x2 while he did it the opposite way, resulting in a strong catch up impression.
thumbnail Some one-handed solving.
thumbnail The 4x4 round, after the demo hour.
thumbnail Only few people left, it was already evening now.
thumbnail WHAT?!? Only now did I realize the cube tables were actually only 3x3x2s...
thumbnail Almost done.
thumbnail We've been told about publicity posters on the back of buses so when I saw one on the way to the Rubik's Studio, I just had to take a picture. Wasn't easy...
thumbnail Early prototype of Evan Gates' cube solver robot? Nah, old Russian art item.
thumbnail One of several lovely Magic prototypes. The rings are actually not printed on the same paper as the silver, they're a separate layer. Geez, I was so freaking slow with it cause I was so worried I might break it.
thumbnail It also had a different pattern so I couldn't use my normal method but had to solve it step by step with little changes.
thumbnail The Hungarian Guinness Book talking about some "Sotaro Makiszumi" and later about "Sotari". Well, at least they got "Caltech" right.
thumbnail Group picture of the gang and us visitors. Olivér, Milán, me, Kolos, Dan, Jasmine, Mitko. This and the following pictures I got from other people, thanks a lot guys!
thumbnail Kolos, Jasmine, Dan and I racing 4x4.
thumbnail Racing onehanded.
thumbnail Normal 3x3 race I think. We did several and in one of them, Jasmine was very happy to beat both Dan and me. Way to go, Jasmine!
thumbnail Me forcing Jasmine to try my 4x4 centers method... nah, she liked it. This is during dinner at the hotel restaurant.
thumbnail Stupid me. There were three moving stairs, two of which didn't work. Kolos used one of those and competitive as I am I used the other one and we raced. Gosh, I had my puzzle suitcase in my backpack and the stairs were like 40 meters long. I was half-dead when I arrived upstairs (much later than all others). Stupid me.
thumbnail Kolos showing me something during another dinner.
thumbnail Dan cubing and Jasmine... maybe she was playing Scrabble, I know Dan is into it and I think Jasmine, too.
thumbnail No idea why we looked that strange.
thumbnail Olivér on a better picture with the bus poster.

Stefan Pochmann
Last modified: March 20 2007, 21:29:47