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Interview with Graham Siggins

pjk

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May 13, 2020 : Interview with Speedsolving.com member Graham Siggins : Currently (at the time of this interview) holds the World Record for Multi-Blind, blindfold solving 59 out of 60 cubers in 59 minutes, 46 seconds, is ranked 3rd in the world for 5x5x5 Blindfolded (3 minutes, 17.54 seconds), and 3rd in the world for 4x4x4 Blindfolded Average (1 minute, 50.44 seconds)

Screenshot 2020-05-13 19.33.12.png


Where are you from and where do you live now?

I'm from San Diego, California. I lived in San Francisco for about 9 years for undergrad+grad school and moved back to San Diego recently, been back here now for about 6 months.

Occupation:

Currently funemployed. But I guess you could say my job right now is helping out my dad who I'm living with who is getting a bit old and stuff.
Before moving back to San Diego I had rifled through several jobs -- I was a lab teacher during my grad program, and I also worked as a graduate student researcher for a while, also graded for some classes, and tutored a bit after that. And as a curveball, drove for Lyft for a while until I realized that that sucks :p

You're currently the world record holder in multi-blind, what makes you interested in BLD?

I think I originally got into it mainly because it just seemed like a very impressive and cool looking thing. I saw it and thought "how in the heck is that even possible" and I guess I just felt the need to learn it. I quickly fell in love with how it's a real test of your own brain power. I love the idea of how the only thing holding you back from a huge amount of improvement is your own brain, rather than just the speed of your fingers/lookahead or something like that with sighted events. BLD events require 100% of your attention for success and that's pretty cool. It's like a mental workout.

What made you become interested in solving puzzles?

I was always really into little tactile puzzles ever since I was a kid, not really sure why. I guess it's just part of my personality. I enjoy being alone, and doing puzzles like that is like a form of meditation I guess.
I never thought to try out the Rubik's cube until I was 22. I was in the computer lab in the physics department of my school doing homework with some classmates, and I had a friend who was taking a break by speedsolving a 3x3, averaging like 25 seconds or so. I was super impressed and convinced him to teach me how to solve it. I immediately got super addicted to the improvement aspect, and basically haven't lost that addiction ever since.

What is your current practice routine and how has it changed since you started?

I actually haven't been cubing much at all in like the last month. I think various stressors in my life have started to have a serious affect on my mbld performance even in home practice which got really frustrating and just added to the preexisting stress, so I've been taking a bit of a break to try to figure all that out.
But my practice routine, say, last year: I would do a lot of 3bld. Probably spent a significantly longer amount of time doing 3bld than mbld. I'd often do 100 3bld solves a day, and then probably 1 mbld attempt every other day on average. I also have a super detailed google spreadsheet where I log all of the details of every mbld attempt I do, including dnf causes, memory palace rooms where dnfs happened, how much sleep I got before the attempt, what I ate that day, etc.
When I first started cubing I basically didnt do bld at all until about a year and a half after learning 3x3. But after finally learning 3bld I basically got obsessed with every bld event and would practice at least one bld event for a couple hours a day (if I could spare the time). This includes 6bld, 7bld, etc after I learned those too. When I was not learning new buffers/drilling algs, I was just spamming the heck out of solves all night. As the mbld world record started to seem like a reasonably attainable goal for me, I slowly started practicing mbld more and more often, and other bld events like 4bld, 5bld, etc. etc. less than before.

Out of the 53 competitions you've attended so far, which one is most memorable and why?

That'd definitely have to be worlds 2019 in Australia. That was my first ever worlds competition, and my second ever major competition after US Nats 2018. Aside from getting 1st in mbld and 2nd in 5bld, that competition was just overall an incredible experience because I got to meet probably 100+ cubers I had spoken to online but never actually met in real life. That trip was also the first time I'd left the country since I was 2 years old, and it was Australia of all places. Really amazing experience -- if anybody reading this ever has the opportunity to go to a big competition like that: do not pass it up for any silly reason!

What will the future of cubing be like and how would you like cubing to progress?

This is a pretty hard thing to predict. I feel like it could possibly go in multiple ways. I think there's one possibility that the WCA eventually not be the only large competitive cubing organization, and in that case I get a little worried thinking about how records would be regulated and what not.
But also, maybe the WCA remains the only big organization and that's that. That just seems a little unlikely to me.
But all I can say is that I hope/believe that eventually cubing can/will reach a point where we have a large enough amount of interest and competitors so that all of the events have a much greater chance of being optimized as best as possible. Like, I'm often thinking about how crazy it is that two old farts like me and Rowe can do 60+ mblds with a very low amount of time put in (like, relative to masters in other activities with a much larger base of competitors like chess, memory sports, track and field/running, things like that). I really think that if mbld had as many people dedicated to practicing it as say, marathon running does, the world record would probably be like 100ish cubes sub-hour by now. And that's not hyperbole.

In 5 years, where do you see yourself both in cubing and in life in general?

To be totally honest I don't see myself seriously practicing cubing anymore in 5 years. But I also don't ever want to quit doing it completely. Hopefully in 5 years I'm living in a place that I love, and have a job that I don't hate that also allows me to pursue fun stuff like hobbies outside of work a decent amount. And hopefully that also includes being able to attend cubing competitions here and there as well :)

What are your other hobbies?

Well the one that's been a part of my life for the longest is skateboarding. I was absolutely obsessed with skateboarding, doing it probably 3 hours a day on average from age 12 until I tore my ACL and meniscus in my knee when I was 17. That was right before going to college, so I spent my first semester of undergrad recovering from a majority reconstructive knee surgery. After recovering I got back into it, but going for a physics major/math minor and then a masters in physics was pretty intense and I never got back to skateboarding as much as I was doing it in high school. Nowadays I probably go skateboarding once a week at most, but part of me hopes I get more into it again eventually.

Aside from that, I've always loved video games and played them a ton ever since I was little. As a kid I played a bunch of NES, n64, gameboy and gamecube, and nowadays I still play all of those :p
I just can't shake my love for those retro games. They're so good.
More recently I've been getting pretty into speedrunning Super Mario 64 on the N64. I've been really enjoying my time with that. Depending on how well it goes, it might end up taking over cubing for me ;)
 

dudefaceguy

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Feb 17, 2019
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Thank you for this! Graham is a real inspiration, even to someone like me who has no plans of winning a competition, let alone a world record. I very much relate to the meditative aspect of 3bld and MBLD. The part about charting errors, including the memory palace locations involved, was also very interesting - a scientific approach, as I would expect from a physics master.
 

abunickabhi

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Amazing interview Graham. It is beautiful to see your progress especially in the year 2018. I can also understand it gets tougher to give time to cubing as life progresses, as I have not been able to practice cubing intensely since 2016. This lockdown period has helped me pick up some right habits in cubing, like practicing lefty turning, genning more 5-style algs, hopefully getting into MBLD practice, OH Roux reaching a decent level, MN/CN practice for 3x3 (Method Neutral/Colour Neutral).

"Like, I'm often thinking about how crazy it is that two old farts like me and Rowe can do 60+ mblds with a very low amount of time put in" , haha that was a bold statement. I think MBLD has a lot of potential for further improvement, but you efforts are definitely commendable and awesome. MBLD sport definitely doesnt have the funding to be pursued like the sport of marathon running, and many young kids will never take up MBLD as 3x3 event is already so deep and it requires a lot of effort to improve in the 3x3.

My question to you:
What do you think of the old-style MBLD attempts that were done when the WCA was first intercepted? Do you think it is a good way of casual practice at home, and can improve the 1 hour limit official WCA performance?

Also, if you want to get back into chess, my username is abunickabhi on lichess.org

Yo!
 
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