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Interview with Alexander Lau

April 17, 2013 : Interview with Speedsolving.com member Alexander Lau : Currently (at the time of this interview) is the fastest official Roux solver in the world, and current ranked 3rd in the world for 3x3x3 Average (7.78 seconds). He is also ranked 5th in the world for 3x3x3 One-Handed single (10.41 seconds).

Location:

London

Occupation:
Student

What is your favorite event, why?
My favourite event is multi-blind because it’s time consuming- you feel at the end of it that you have really achieved something even if you don’t do as well as you hoped. Whilst events like 3×3, you sorta feel like you’ve done nothing. Five solves is nothing. It’s very impressive to do and it does feel to me like chilling out- where everyone’s gone out for lunch and we just sit there and take our time to memorise the cubes and solve. It’s much less stressful for me than 3×3 because I know I can take my time, and also nobody is paying attention to me.

What made you become interested in solving puzzles?
I was interested in the maths of it to start with. I saw my first 3×3 at the science museum in London and at first I tried to solve it mathematically, and tried to understand how the pieces moved. Of course that failed as I had few pieces remaining and I had to learn the solution book solution. About a year later, my English teacher was talking to us about this guy in Sixth Form who could solve it in fifteen seconds. He keep going on and on, and so eventually I decided to get mine out- that day I told myself “I will be twice as fast one day”. To this day I don’t know if it was me being competitive that drove me or whether it was just my pet peeve of people bragging and going on about achievements.

What, in your opinion, is your biggest “cubing” accomplishment?
My biggest cubing accomplishment has to be my 7.78 official average at Edinburgh. Everyone was expecting me to do it and I was frantically trying to calm myself down and practise actually inspecting within 15 seconds. Mollerz helped me a lot before the round and I, being really petty like I am, actually told people to stop videoing me as it was one of the reasons why I got the 10 second DNF. That DNF was because I threw the cube and lots of centre caps fell out. But I managed to calm myself down after, and it’s easy to look back now and tell myself it wasn’t that big a deal.

What made you choose Roux as your primary 3×3 solving method?
I chose Roux because I really didn’t like the idea of solving last layer. Not only was I bad at understanding unintuitive stuff like OLL/PLL but also I wanted to go with a freer method that made more sense to my mind. Roux made a lot of sense to me, reducing the cube to the [M,U] group. Also, waffle’s LSE looked really cool and I wanted to be able to use that in solves too. I did try lots of other methods before really grinding down Roux, I had tried Petrus, Waterman, even Heise. I reckon practising these methods helped me understand the blockbuilding more for Roux. I didn’t get worried that Roux could never be as fast as CFOP- I just couldn’t see why so.

What are your other hobbies?
I do music a lot. I play the piano, working on a diploma now. I play the cello as well and I compose a bit too. I’m a member of a couple orchestras. I also do programming, but that probably links in to my other hobby, if you call it a hobby. Maths. I like to research random abstract maths and understand how maths works. My favourite area has to be complex analysis, because there’s not too much known about it and I can try to work out why things are how they are and such. I don’t do maths as much as I used to but when I think of a difficult problem, I spend a good bit of time doing research and trying to solve it.

What is/are your pet peeve(s)?
I hate tootsie rolls, and I also hate it when people don’t listen to me. I’m a bit strange in the way that I like to criticise people for the sake of just showing a different point of view, and when people take offence to this and just stop listening to me it really frustrates me. That’s not to say I’m good at taking criticism either but I try to consider different points of view just because I find it interesting. Other than that I don’t really have any material peeves.

What will the future of cubing be like and how would you like cubing to progress?
The future of cubing is good. Lots of new methods are being created- of course only about one or two right now I think are actually viable but whatever. People still have the drive to further efficiency and find new ways to solve and this is good to see. I myself have done work on improving the Roux method, some tricks I use in solves now and some I just can’t because I am too lazy to learn the algs. Cubing’s changed a lot for me as time went on, as I sorta started cubing when I was starting to grow up. I don’t really have that drive I had when I was younger, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new came round and surpassed me. I am still going though and will until low 6s. Then I will go for sub-6 and carry on. I don’t know. I want to achieve high rankings but at the same time I want to take it cool and enjoy the social aspect of cubing.