Titans gather to decide Rubik's Cube crown

Paris (AFP) –


More than 1,100 masters of the Rubik's Cube -- the infuriating puzzle that became the biggest selling toy ever -- will gather this week for the world championships in Paris.

The "speedcubers" will battle not only with their hands -- the world record is 4.73 seconds -- but with their feet, and some will also compete blindfolded, the organisers said.

With more than 43 quintillion ((a quintillion is a billion trillion) ways of solving the toy designed by the Hungarian architect Erno Rubik, records could fall, they said.

Australian Feliks Zemdegs, 21, who holds eight world records in six disciplines, is the man to beat, but will face stiff competition from his archrivals Mats Valk, also 21, from the Netherlands and 15-year-old American wunderkind Max Park.

The four-day championships at the Paris Docks start on Wednesday. It is the first time the French capital will host the tourney.

The fascinating -- and frustrating -- three-dimensional puzzle consists of 26 coloured "cubelets" or "cubies" set in a cube measuring 5.7 centimetres (2.25 inches) on each side.

The principle is to start with the cubies randomly distributed by colour, then twist and turn the rows of cubies along different axes until they are arrayed with a single colour on each face.

More than 450 million of the puzzles have been sold since the Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor invented it in 1977 with the modest goal of piquing his students' interest in geometry.