This former Rubik’s record holder continues to unlock the true meaning of the cube

Nfld. & Labrador

Memorial University student Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu admits he can get pretty philosophical over a hunk of multicoloured plastic, but, the Rubik’s cube has shaped his outlook on life, he says.

Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu says the Rubik's cube has allowed him to redefine his own limitations and see his full potential.(Katie Breen/CBC)

Sakib Ibn Rashid Rhivu admits he can get pretty philosophical over a hunk of multicoloured plastic but, he says, the Rubik's cube has shaped his outlook on life.

Before breaking Bangladesh's speed-cubing records, Rhivu thought anyone who could solve a cube in under six minutes was "superhuman."

He's since solved it in under six seconds.

"Whenever I can't do anything in my life, any new task … I think, 'OK, I couldn't do Rubik's cube either.'"

He applies that mindset to his studies at Memorial University and to life in general.

Record-setting years

Rhivu, 24, set out to break Bangladesh's national record in 2013 when he was in Grade 10.

"Bangladeshi competitions are, like, really crazy, I would say. Like, it doesn't happen in Canada, the fests are really calm."

In Canada, spectators are people already interested in the cubing community, Rhivu said. It's bigger in Bangladesh. In his first national competition, he said, there were 8,000 people watching him.

"It's like a concert.… That's how you'd understand it. It's not an auditorium, it's an open field, and it's like a concert — an outdoor concert."

To build on that analogy, if the competition was a concert, Rhivu was a Rubik's rock star. When he first beat the existing national record, he cut the time almost in half. Then he topped his own competition best seven times, he said.

Local media picked up his story. He said people knew him wherever he went.

His final record in an official competition, 7.18 seconds for a single solve, stood as Bangladesh's national record until 2019 — a year after he moved to Canada. That's when he retired from competitive speed solving. The current world record is 3.47 seconds.

"I had to stop cubing because I'm residing in Newfoundland and there is no competition in Newfoundland," Rhivu said. "I was planning to arrange one in 2020, last year, but COVID happened.… I'm still planning to arrange one when the situation is better."

'Life is like a Rubik's cube'

At his peak, Rhivu said he'd practise eight hours a day. When it came time to eat, he'd eat with one hand and solve a puzzle in the other.

He's since put his cube down at the dinner table, but he hasn't forgotten all the algorithms needed to solve at top speeds. And the approach is still applicable.

"Cubers," he said, have a saying: "Life is like a Rubik's cube." It can be messed up, but anything's fixable.

"How I solve the Rubik's cube is one by one, one step at a time, and I focus on that step," he said. "In my life, I do the same thing."

He focuses on one problem at time, he says.

"It's like a staircase, and you just work up to the success."

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