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New 2015 WCA Regulations (Effective July 1, 2015)

Kit Clement

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As you probably know, there's a strong shift towards "Anything Goes" with puzzle regulations. Well, of course we don't want absolutely anything to be legal, but we would like to figure out how much our regulations should loosen up. Thus, Lucas and I (more me in the future) have begun compiling pro/con lists for different issues in our puzzle regulations. Currently, we have these lists made:


This list is the central hub for puzzle issues: https://github.com/cubing/wca-documents/issues/173

Feel free to submit any suggestions for more pros/cons by replying here or creating a GitHub account. Please remember that this is an objective discussion, and we will not consider any personal opinions. Statements about the preferences/opinions about the community as a whole may be acceptable.

Also, if you have any other potential things that could be revisited with an "Anything Goes" philosophy, feel free to suggest those here as well.
 
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#2
Well, my pro for REMOVING the overlay logos for BLD is that it would be very easy to know if, say, your target was UF edge in the M2 method, and you had to know whether M U2 M U2 or U2 M' U2 M' would be done. Normally, you would do letter pairs and check if it's the second letter or not, but having a logo would make the situation easy to determine based on where the logo center is (U face or D face). Using letter pairs/memorizing in even groups will have less of a purpose because you won't have to think about this anymore. Times can go down for M2 users using this method of logo touching.
Con: it doesn't have consistency with other events, where logos are just fine.

Geez. That was wordy. Just had to get the point across.
 
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#3
I think the point about stickerless cubes having no need to be screened for sticker quality is important, but I see little reason for legalizing them, nor do I see much importance in banning them. I think letting competitors use them is fine. I highly doubt that any significant advantage comes from the visible plastic, and more advantage might just come from the feel of the cube (if it is better for someone than a snickered alternative). So maybe taking a laissez-faire approach is best here, I doubt it will destroy the integrity of the WCA.
 
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#4
Although I've never owned a pillowed puzzle, I see no harm nor gain by legalizing them. I think that most would agree that for 5x5 on down (and maybe 6x6 as well) that there is no pillowed puzzle of high enough quality that any speedcuber would really want to use it, so any advantage that could be gained by using them would be minimized. But since the WCA has to assume that an amazing pillowed 3x3 might come out, I would say that pillowed puzzles should stay illegal. Just my two cents.
 
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#5
One missing pro of stickerless cubes is that they are made with a different kind of plastic. Crazybadcuber mentioned this in a few of his videos, and it is one of the reasons that force cubes turn so well. Besides, nobody even uses that whole color trick anyway. It seems a bit like using it would slow solves down, anyway.

Of course, if someone spent hours solving the stickerless cube, they could just subconsciously start using the "cheats"
 
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#6
Good thing this is brought up well before the end of the year so there is lot's of preparation time.

Pro and con lists are a nice overview. Although I certainly don't agree with some of the points. I guess in order to make a decision the main issue will be how important certain pro's and con's are (unless more pro's and con's will come up). Ex: Do you value community support more, or consistency with other regs, or the amount of conservativeness...etc?

Stickerless cubes: I think this issue comes down to the following: very popular amongst cubers, but features a theoretical (though certainly insiginificant) advantage besides not needing stickers. Allowing them would go against the more conservative trend of the last 2-3 years, but would be in line with original liberal ideas about regulations from 2003-2010ish. The bullet point about the regulations being conservative could use a small correction.

Tile thickness: important to note is that the "or generally available thickness" rule was in effect from 2003-2014. This never caused any problems. The rule also was used for cubic puzzles (although after a closer look by Lucas, the regulations actually said it was only for non-cubic puzzles). Thus the change of 2014 was being non-conservative, while on the pro-list you state "WCA regulations have always been conservative" which is not entirely true.
The sentence "Manufacturers, especially mf8 and Meffert's, often make puzzles with extremely thick tiles. " sounds a bit manipulative. At least not very neutral and objective.
Banning puzzles people have been using for a long time is very pointless unless somehow there is an epiphany about the great unfair advantages they provide (which they clearly don't). No examples exist of cubers trying to use and take advantage of tiles thicker than the standard Meffert's tiles, nor are clear indications that very thick tiles would provide a significant advantage.

I think this part "It is known that certain competitors perform better with tiles as opposed to no tiles, especially with Megaminx." is also a bit suggestive. It suggests that those certain competitors perform better because of the "being-able-to-see-adjacent-side" thing and thus gain an unfair advantages because of the tiles. In reality it is just puzzle preference, like GuHong over Zhan Chi. Personally I am convinced I am slower on stickered megaminxes because they feel different (smaller and worse grip) and can't resemble the exact colour scheme I am used to (which is very important).

Pillowed cubes:
Note: on a small cube, parts of more sides are also visible (take a look at a 2 cm keychain for example). I think this one comes down to the following: it seems the 7x7 pillowed cube is generally accepted and will probably not be banned. After all the 7x7 pillowed was the first on the market (also the patent thing). The question is whether to make the regs consistent and allow pillowed cubes for all events or keep it an exception for 7x7. The 'fear' of spherical 'cubes' does not hold much ground I think: just the shape itself makes it highly unsuitable for speedcubing.
 
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#7
Stickerless cubes: To show the other side of the argument, the reason for disallowing makes sense, and it could infact make a great difference with lookahead, especially to the slower cubers. While yes, many cubers love the stickerless cubes (I do), the risk of someone taking advantage of it is there, however small (I know I totally would). And yes, there are arguments that this difference is so small to the point of being almost insignificant, but I would beg to differ, because my F2L lookahead would be much better in the "hard to find the pieces" situations, because I would be able to see the needed edges and corners without even turning the cube. A split second (possibly quite a few of them) of difference is still difference. Now, this isn't something that would be a big deal because anyone could get a stickerless cube if they're to the point of being able to use that advantage. As the thread states, it'd still be "fair" in that sense, but many cubers would be somewhat self-pressured into getting stickerless cubes in order to have that slight advantage, therefore it'd be "unfair" for those who don't want to use (or don't even have) stickerless cubes. I'm indifferent about the final decision, but I think this regulation should stay. If they get rid of it, I won't have a problem (and I'd take advantage of it), but that's my take on the issue.

Tile-thickness: I have no experience with this, and have no idea how it affects cubing. If I had to guess, I'd think that overly raised tiles would make it actually slightly harder to use, despite the slight "advantage". It's the kind of thing that looks like it regulates itself naturally, and so regulation is unnecessary (unless someone somehow proves that a major advantage is to be had with certain tile thicknesses). But I don't use tiled puzzles, so I don't know much about it.

Pillowed puzzles: This is interesting. The argument is about the ability to grip the cube and what pieces are visible. I personally think that when it comes to visibility, the pillowing actually makes it just as hard as it makes it easy. The front pieces become more visible, but the back pieces become less visible. So as for the visibility argument, I don't think that should even count as part of the reasoning here. And when it comes to the grip, there is a slight advantage, and a slight disadvantage as well. For bigger cubes, it helps with holding the cube, and is a very useful thing for such situations, but as the cubes start to get smaller (6x6-below) or the pillowing becomes more extreme, it becomes slightly more difficult to wield and manipulate the sides and layers. But even then, the pillowing allows for easier finger-tricks with the inner layers (if that's even a thing that is realistically usable, and I think it isn't until you get to 4x4, with which you can already do finger-tricks easily without the pillowing. Most people just do a mutli-slice, then a turn back.). And in the end, grip depends on the cuber and their style. Whatever cube they use, they can figure out a way to make it work just the same as they would normally do. So what do I think they should do with this regulation? Take it out, it doesn't make much of a difference from my perspective. It has just as many advantages as disadvantages.
 
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Kit Clement

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Thanks for your comments, Erik.

Allowing them would go against the more conservative trend of the last 2-3 years, but would be in line with original liberal ideas about regulations from 2003-2010ish.
I would argue that we weren't either conservative or liberal in that timeframe, as the majority of puzzles at that time gave us no reason to be conservative. The biggest issue I could see us being liberal with back then was tile thickness, as I recall Meffert's 4x4s were quite popular in 2009.

The sentence "Manufacturers, especially mf8 and Meffert's, often make puzzles with extremely thick tiles. " sounds a bit manipulative.
Fair point. I was writing this with no bias in mind, but this is clearly written poorly. I've changed the list of pros/cons.

I think this part "It is known that certain competitors perform better with tiles as opposed to no tiles, especially with Megaminx." is also a bit suggestive. It suggests that those certain competitors perform better because of the "being-able-to-see-adjacent-side" thing and thus gain an unfair advantages because of the tiles. In reality it is just puzzle preference, like GuHong over Zhan Chi. Personally I am convinced I am slower on stickered megaminxes because they feel different (smaller and worse grip) and can't resemble the exact colour scheme I am used to (which is very important).
I've clarified this as well. I meant to imply that the performance increase was due to the grip and NOT the extra visual information, but again, this could have been clearer.


Pillowed cubes:
Note: on a small cube, parts of more sides are also visible (take a look at a 2 cm keychain for example). I think this one comes down to the following: it seems the 7x7 pillowed cube is generally accepted and will probably not be banned. After all the 7x7 pillowed was the first on the market (also the patent thing). The question is whether to make the regs consistent and allow pillowed cubes for all events or keep it an exception for 7x7. The 'fear' of spherical 'cubes' does not hold much ground I think: just the shape itself makes it highly unsuitable for speedcubing.
That's exactly how I see it as well - pillowed 7x7s will always be allowed, it's just a matter now of being consistent. I don't fear spherical cubes either for the reasons you specified, but opening the door to non-cubic puzzles could introduce different shapes and thus different grips, and it was the simplest example I could think of.

I personally think that when it comes to visibility, the pillowing actually makes it just as hard as it makes it easy. The front pieces become more visible, but the back pieces become less visible. So as for the visibility argument, I don't think that should even count as part of the reasoning here.
When looking directly at one side of the puzzle, the other four adjacent sides become more visible. It's definitely an argument.

To everyone else: Please remember that we are discussing puzzle regulations, not regulations about the solved state or anything else. Please keep posts relevant, non-opinionated, and on topic.
 
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LNZ

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#9
I actually own a pillowed V-Cube 6b. It is very good and way better than the flat (cubic) V-Cube 6 that I own.

Just one thing. I've done no modding to my cubic V-Cube 6 at all.

So if pillowed 6x6 cubes were ever made competition legal, the V-Cube 6b would be a good thing to use.
 
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#10
When looking directly at one side of the puzzle, the other four adjacent sides become more visible. It's definitely an argument.
While it does reduce the amount of cube rotation needed to see the forward pieces, it increases the rotation needed to see the pieces further back. So looking directly at one face of the cube, it reduces the cube rotation to see the forward pieces to absolute zero, but it also it doubles the cube rotation needed to see the pieces in the back. It equalizes itself perfectly, and therefore gives just as much advantage as disadvantage. What I am saying isn't that you can't see more from one position, but that you can see more, while seeing less at the same time. Therefore, that part of the argument is irrelevant from a technical standpoint.
 

Kit Clement

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While it does reduce the amount of cube rotation needed to see the forward pieces, it increases the rotation needed to see the pieces further back. So looking directly at one face of the cube, it reduces the cube rotation to see the forward pieces to absolute zero, but it also it doubles the cube rotation needed to see the pieces in the back. It equalizes itself perfectly, and therefore gives just as much advantage as disadvantage. What I am saying isn't that you can't see more from one position, but that you can see more, while seeing less at the same time. Therefore, that part of the argument is irrelevant from a technical standpoint.
I realize this. It still changes the visibility of pieces from a cubic puzzle, and you cannot say that this trade off is perfectly equal, that's subjective.
 
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#12
2015 Puzzle Regulations

One missing pro of stickerless cubes is that they are made with a different kind of plastic.
Could you please provide some proof? As far as I'm aware there is nothing but word of mouth passed down by CBC.

Crazybadcuber mentioned this in a few of his videos, and it is one of the reasons that force cubes turn so well.
The placebo effect + new cube which barely gets used because of recognition issues could also be considered a reasonable explanation.


I personally don't think this needs to be added to the pro list.
 
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#13
I realize this. It still changes the visibility of pieces from a cubic puzzle, and you cannot say that this trade off is perfectly equal, that's subjective.
Understood that this can be subjective from the standpoint of which cubies are important to see during a solve (depending on the solving method. Sometimes the front cubies are important and the back cubies ignored.), but I was simply making the point that the pillowing technically doesn't add more than it takes from the point of viewing perspective. That subjectiveness is dependent on the cuber and his/her method, and not the cube itself. Perhaps someone else might think otherwise, but that's what I'm seeing.

Perhaps if someone switched to performing Fridrich with solved cross on the back, that would make a difference with pillowed cubes. They'd be able to see more of the front (which would be the LL), and completely ignore the back pieces. In such a case, pillowing would give a slight advantage, but that's because the cuber decided to take advantage of it. Perhaps there is something to this pillowed cube regulation?
 
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#15
I think there are some changes needed for the Reasons for Disallowing (under Stickerless cubes). Seeing things like "This is a weak argument against current stickerless puzzles, but any good proposal should make it clear that this should not be permitted to an unreasonable extent. " makes me doubt the objectivity of the writer of this document. The argument of sticking with the idea of a Rubik's cube, as it originally was made, is also completely missing.

In my opinion the whole plan of these pros/cons lists is a little silly. I hope you don't want to make any kind of "The community wants"-argument as I don't really see a lot of diversity here (speedsolving.com) when it comes to this specific issue. In my opinion this whole problem comes down to the question, Is it necessary to compromise the integrity of speedcubing by deviating from the original idea of the Rubiks cube to make the sport/ regulations more beginner-friendly.

I don't think so, but I understand that this is an increasingly more important issue as the community grows, and that others prefer simplifying. Personally I do like the wording that says that colours must not be visible from the inside of the puzzle. I think this wording is sufficient when it comes to simplicity.
 
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#16
In my opinion this whole problem comes down to the question, Is it necessary to compromise the integrity of speedcubing by deviating from the original idea of the Rubiks cube to make the sport/ regulations more beginner-friendly.
By way of analogy, does it "compromise the integrity" of bicycle racing to allow use of modern bicycles? Should we restrict bicycle racers to using direct-drive bicycles with wheels of two different diameters merely because that's how the first bicycles were made?

In any sport, the equipment used evolves over time, as well it should, and if the controlling authority of a sport is holding back progress without due cause, they are not doing their duty, and they are hurting their sport. I dare say that the advantage a modern bicycle has over an early model is orders of magnitude greater than any advantage one speedcube could possibly have over another, be it pillowed, tiled, stickerless, transparent, glow-in-the-dark, or otherwise.
 
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#17
I would argue that we weren't either conservative or liberal in that timeframe, as the majority of puzzles at that time gave us no reason to be conservative. The biggest issue I could see us being liberal with back then was tile thickness, as I recall Meffert's 4x4s were quite popular in 2009.
Just for arguments sake (don't take it too seriously): the meaning of liberal in this case would be: not many restrictions. This was the case. Not many variants were illegal and certainly no variants everyone would like to use or variants cubers have been using in comps already. Then transparent cubes showed up. Not many people owned them, nor did people favor them a lot. If I recall correctly Ron decided they were not OK. After than nothing much happened until 2014.

I've clarified this as well. I meant to imply that the performance increase was due to the grip and NOT the extra visual information, but again, this could have been clearer.
Ok, thanks for the clarification :) I sincerely thought you ment it the other way.
 

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#18
By way of analogy, does it "compromise the integrity" of bicycle racing to allow use of modern bicycles? Should we restrict bicycle racers to using direct-drive bicycles with wheels of two different diameters merely because that's how the first bicycles were made?

In any sport, the equipment used evolves over time, as well it should, and if the controlling authority of a sport is holding back progress without due cause, they are not doing their duty, and they are hurting their sport. I dare say that the advantage a modern bicycle has over an early model is orders of magnitude greater than any advantage one speedcube could possibly have over another, be it pillowed, tiled, stickerless, transparent, glow-in-the-dark, or otherwise.
Because I see this argument a lot, I figure I should respond to it again. I shall do thus with an analogy.

In chess it is ok to use a fancy new board with pieces comprising a completely new design. But it isn't ok to have a new board which suggests the next move to do.

What is the difference here? The qualitative difference between the original game and the new technology.

So the question for us to answer is: What constitutes a qualitative difference to the puzzle we all know as the Rubik's Cube? Where do we draw the line in allowing for technological advances? Surely you wouldn't accept a self-solving cube. But this is no different to your bicycle analogy.


I would like to give an example of a popular sport out there which hasn't had any "technological" advancements in terms of playable hardware in probably over 100 years. In fact, I am talking about the most popular sport in the world: football. If they can manage with some oldschool posts and a simple round ball full of air, why can't we just stick with the original Rubik's Cube design? Why do we have to allow technological advances? The last thing we want to do is end up looking like modern archery, which is the most shameful modern "sport" in existence.
 
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#19
I would like to give an example of a popular sport out there which hasn't had any "technological" advancements in terms of playable hardware in probably over 100 years. In fact, I am talking about the most popular sport in the world: football. If they can manage with some oldschool posts and a simple round ball full of air, why can't we just stick with the original Rubik's Cube design? Why do we have to allow technological advances? The last thing we want to do is end up looking like modern archery, which is the most shameful modern "sport" in existence.
Ok, I have to answer this because I play football myself.

It is true that football is very conservative game BUT

http://www.soccerballworld.com/images/HISTORY%20WORLD%20CUP%20BALLS%203.jpg

You can clearly see some development has clearly happened. And if you have played football yourself you know that also the performance of the ball has changed quite a bit and not just the looks of it.

Also these 2 shoes are clearly very different by design:
http://therightwinger.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/warrior-superheat-red-yellow.jpg
AND
http://www.frontrowgrunt.co.za/wp-content/uploads/football_boot.jpg

Also new goal line technology in this world cup....


Obviously technological advancement leads to new hardware in every single sport. However obviously we shouldn't allow chessboard that suggests next move or a cube that suggests next move or does moves by itself, but I think stickerless and pillowed cubes and tiles instead of stickers are more comparable to adding better tires to a bicycle (which IMO should be allowed) than adding a motor to a bicycle (which for obvious reasons shouln't be allowed).
 
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#20
I see that what we're really debating, and what we really need to debate, is whether or not these changes give unfair advantages to a cuber. We know that they give potential advantages, but are they "unfair"?

Do stickerless puzzless give an "unfair" advantage?
Do tiled puzzless give an "unfair" advantage?
Do pillowed puzzless give an "unfair" advantage?

Well, that depends on the definition of unfair. We have facts and statistics (and a plethora of opinions) about the performance of each of these changes in cubing technology.

Let's take a look at it from this stand point. Is it fair to allow people to bring Moyu cubes and Zhanchi cubes to competitions? Does that give them an unfair advantage over the people that use the original Rubik's cubes?

We tend to be in agreement that, no, it isn't any unfair advantage, because while the technology and performance of the cube changes, it is readily available to everyone, and it doesn't change how the puzzle must be solved. It is an advantage, and a great one at that, but it doesn't give any more information to the cuber using it about how the cuber needs to solve it.

But what of these other advancements? Well, the difference is that they do give more information to the cuber. Stickerless cubes show the colors of sides that are normally unseen. Tiled puzzles and pillowed puzzles make more pieces and colors visible from certain angles. They make the information more readily available. While it isn't telling them what moves they should perform like an electronic chess board with a hints button, it is giving them more information faster in order for them to make a decision faster. But what is being argued isn't whether or not the information is more available, but whether or not that information gives such a great advantage as to make a big difference in recognition and performance.

Does it? And if it does, is that unfair?

Now, what of the other advantages? Stickerless cubes have little advantage in terms of actual performance, and if there is any, then it's advantage falls in the same category as Moyus, Zhanchis, and Guhongs vs The Original Rubik's cube. That difference, as we already have adopted, is irrelevant. But tiled and pillowed puzzles, because of their shapes, give a slight but greatly measurable advantage in the form of grip and puzzle performance. Many cubers testify to this, as opposed to the very few, if any, cubers that testify to the advantage of seeing more pieces quicker. So, the bigger advantage from these puzzles seems to be the grip and performance of them. Where do these advantages fall? Are they simply technological/performance advances and fair game for all cubers, or are they giving an unfair advantage that others wouldn't be able to compete with using other puzzles? Should it matter that other cubers use other puzzles given that the new advances are available to them as well?

Should the regulations limit these advances in order to maintain a fair playing ground? Or should they allow the advances, leaving each cuber to make their own decisions about which puzzle type works best for them? (which could also be considered a fair playing ground)

These are the questions that need to be answered and are hard to answer because each one has their own preferences, and tends to argue their side based on those. But what we need to ultimately decide is what kind of playing ground do we feel can be considered "fair"? Once we answer these questions, a decision can more easily be made, and it will most likely be (and probably should be) based on the feelings of those who participate in the competitions, and less on the technicalities of the advantages to be had with the different kinds of puzzle.

So what is "fair"?
 
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