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Attending Competitions

Let's go over the basic of UK speedcubing competitions and what happens when you're there.


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Competition Jargon - What it all means

  • Averge - Usually the competitor has 5 solves, we remove the fastest and slowest times of the 5 and take an average of the remaining 3
  • PB - Personal Best, this is your best overall time at home or in competition
  • PR - Personal Record, this is your OFFICIAL record in competitions
  • NR - National Record, this is the best solve natioanlly for that event
  • CR - Continental Record, this is the best solve on the continent for that event
  • WR - World Record, best solve in the world for that event
  • +2 - Pronounced "plus 2" is a time penalty given to a competitor that makes a mistake during their solve (more on this later)
  • DNF - Did Not Finish, when the competitor attempts the solve but does not finish in the time limit or stops the timer before its solved
  • DNS - Did Not Solve, when the competitor doesnt attempt the solve
  • Competitor Card - A card you are given upon arrival at the compeition that tells you which groups you are in for the events you registered for
  • Cover - The object that covers a cube so that you can't cheat and gain more inspection time
  • Cut Off - For most events a competitor has five attempts to solve the cube. However, you only get to do all five solves if you meet the cut-off time in one of the first two solves. The cut-off time is the agreed maximum time for that event for a competitor to be able to do all five solves.  It is different from the time-limit.
  • Delegate - Volunteers who are formally recognised by the World Cube Association, they make sure that competitions are run according to the mission, spirit, and regulations of the WCA
  • ID - Your unique identifaction number, found on your compeitor card and WCA profile
  • Judge - The judge will be sat with you when you compete and do your official solves (more on this later)
  • Register - There are two places in which you might need to register. The first on-line for a competition on the WCA website. The second is in-person at a competition to let the volunteer team know that you have arrived and so that you can receive your competitor card. This second place is now normally called check-in to reduce confusion
  • Time Limit - The time limit is the maximum time you have to solve the cube. Beyond that time the time will be recorded as DNF (did not finish). The time limit is different to the cut off time
  • Timer - The tool used to record your times solving the cubes

Who can take part in a Speedcubing competition?

Anyone! This is one of the best things about Speedcubing competitions. There are no age, gender, country, or other categories, everyone competes together.

Who can take part in a Speedcubing competition?

The details of all upcoming competitions around the world are on the World Cube Association website.

All the upcoming UK competitions that have been announced are available on this webpage.

The UK Cube Association (UKCA) also announces all the UK competitions on it’s website UK CUBEASSOCIATION (ukca.org) and on it’s social media channels.

UKCA Facebook


X (formerly Twitter)

How does someone take part in a competition?

The first thing you need to do is register an account on the World Cube Association (WCA) website.

Older competitors may wish to sign up using their own email account, for younger competitors it might be easier to sign up using their name but an adult’s email account.

Don’t worry, once you think your child is old enough then you can transfer the account to their email.

Once you have an account you are signed in on the WCA website then you can enter (register for) a competition.

How do you register for (enter) a competition?

Once you have a World Cube Association (WCA) account then you can enter or register for a competition. The registration period is the time when a competition is open for people to sign-up for competing in that competition.

Each competition has a registration period which opens a few months before a competition and closes the week before the competition itself. However, the registration period will close as soon as all the places in the competition (and waiting list) are full. This means that the most popular, or very small, competitions close within minutes of opening.

On the competition page on the WCA website click on the register link on the left-hand side, and follow the instructions. In particular, make sure to pay the registration fee in order to get accepted."

When you register you choose which events you are going to do at the competition. You can choose to do one event or all of the events available to you. If it's a 2-day competition and you only want to attend 1 day, you could check the schedule on the competition website and only register for events on the day you want to attend.

Can you register on the day?

No. You need to register at least a week in advance. Ideally as soon as the competition opens. Ahead of the competition the UKCA team assigns competitors to different groups/roles for the competition, and this takes time. It isn’t possible to turn up on the day and register as there would not be time for the volunteers to rearrange the groups/roles to accommodate new competitors.

How quickly do you need to register for a competition?

In the UK, competitions can sell-out very quickly. The most popular, or very small, or near to London competitions can be sold-out within minutes. A small competition in the UK is anything with less than 120 places (approximately).It is worth setting reminders on your phone or texting a fellow cubing parent close to the registration opening time so that you can be on-line when the registration period opens. In the UK, most competitions open their registration mid-week and normally at 7pm. But each competition page on the World Cube Association (WCA) will show exactly when that competition opens. On the left-hand side of each competition page there is a link that says register. If you click on that link you’ll be able to see one of: when registration opens; if registration is open; if a waiting list is open; if registration is closed.

What is a waiting list and should I go on the waiting list?

There is a competitor limit (maximum number of places) for each competition, to make sure venues are safe and that competitions can run to time. Once all places have been filled then many competitions hold a waiting list. If a competitor drops out of the competition then the first person on the waiting list is offered the place. In the UK, we do find that people do drop out so if the waiting list is open it is worth joining the waiting list (via the register link on the competition page on the World Cube Association (WCA) website. You have to pay the registration fee to get onto the waiting list, but if you don't get the spot, or decide you want to drop out, you will be refunded this in full.

Can we just come and watch a competition (and not compete).

Yes. Spectators are very welcome. Please check the competition page to see if there is a charge for spectators. Most UK competitions are free to spectators (except the UK Championships).Some parents find it helpful to bring their child to a competition to watch before they enter so that they understand what it will be like. But many of us didn’t do that and found competitions a very welcoming space.

How long do competitions take?

In the UK, most competitions are over a weekend. With different events taking place all day on the Saturday and all day on the Sunday. There may be 1-17 different official events during a competition.

Do we have to stay for the whole competition?

If the competition is over multiple days but the event(s) you are competing in are on a single day, then you do not have to be at the competition on days you do not have events.

We encourage competitors to stay at the competition, even if they have finished competing, to help run the competition.All competitions are run by volunteers and rely on competitors (and parents/spectators) helping with the events they are not competing in (see Q Can I help at competitions?) to ensure the competition runs smoothly and on time.

My child no longer wants to compete, what do I do?

If your registration is cancelled before the deadline (which is about a week before the competition), then youare normally refunded 75% of your registration fee. Each competition will set out the cut off date for the partial refund.

To drop out, all you need to do is send the organisers an email, by using the contact link on the competitionwebpage on the wca website.If your child changes their mind after this date (which in our experience is very common) then don’t worry about being a ‘no show’. We understand. It is not possible to get a refund after the cancellation deadline however (see Q If you can’t go to the competition what happens?).

If you can’t go to the competition what happens?

If your registration is cancelled before the deadline (which is about a week before the competition), then you are normally refunded 75% of your registration fee. Each competition will set out the cut of date for the partial refund.

Refunds can’t be made after this point because competitor numbers relate closely to venue costs (the WCA is not for profit but can’t run at a loss), and because places can’t be offered to those on the waiting list after this point. Places can’t be offered to others after this date due to the time it takes to set up competitions.

Individual competitors sign up to different events and ahead of the competition the UKCA team assigns competitors to different groups/roles for the competition, and this takes time. It isn’t possible to swap to analternative competitor as their event list and their experience will be different. A cut-off date ensures thatthe volunteer team has enough time to do this work.

Can you change the events you have registered to do at the competition?

Yes, if you do so before the deadline (which is about a week before the competition). Each competition will set out the cut of date for changes.Changes can’t be made after this point because ahead of the competition the UKCA team assigns competitors to different groups/roles for the competition, and this takes time.

A cut-off date ensures that the volunteer team has enough time to do this work. For most competitions, you can edit your events list on the same page you registered for the competition.For some you won't be able to do that, so you'll have to email the organisers of the competition using thecontact link on the competition webpages on the wca website.

Why can’t there be last minute changes to competitors or events at competitions?

Competitors are assigned to different groups/roles ahead of competitions. The volunteer team needs time toset that up. There isn’t time during the competitions themselves to allow changes on the day/weekend.

What happens at a competition? What can I expect at my first competition?

Coming Soon...

What do I need to bring to my first competition?

Make sure to bring formal Identification (ID) of some kind i.e. birth certificate, passport, drivers license. This allows confirmation of your date of birth and nationality. This is needed so that you can be formally assigneda World Cube Association ID.

You only need to bring identification to the first competition.Aside from that, make sure you bring all the cubes you wish to compete with.

Can my young person help at a competition: run/judge/scramble?

Running and judging is open to everyone and we ask all competitors to help with these activities. There is atutorial at the start of each day to teach competitors how to do these roles (that are really easy, and weencourage parents to help too as this helps the competitions run on time).

We don’t ask brand new competitors to scramble. Scramblers are assigned based on a computer program that works out who is likely to be the best scramblers who aren't currently competing in that group. These are then shown on the competitor cards we give out at the check-in desk at the competition.

We avoid letting people "scramble because they want to", because we need experienced cubers to ensure that scrambling is done properly and quickly. It's always a bad feeling when we must ask someone to stop scrambling for not doing their job properly, so we try to do everything to avoid that from happening.

Can I help at a competition?

Yes! And please do.

This not only helps the competition run smoothly but also helps your day go more quickly (and lets you understand what is happening more quickly). All competitors are required to help with theseroles too. Competitions are run entirely by volunteers. There are two main roles that spectators/parents can help with.

‘Running’ – this doesn’t involve any actual running. Runners take cubes and competitors to judges, and thecubes back to the scramble table. It’s very straightforward.

‘Judging’ – this is easier than it sounds and is your opportunity to sit quietly in a chair. Judges, remove the cover from the cube, start and stop the inspection time stopwatch, and write in the times for the solves. There is a tutorial at the start of each day of competitions to teach people these roles. There are other parents and spectators that will always be willing to help show you what to do.

How do we know how they’ve done in the competition? How do I get know if they are through to the next round?

Volunteers add competitors times to the WCA live results page during the competition https://live.worldcubeassociation.org/

This allows you to see your young person’s time once all the results have been entered into the system (scroll to the bottom of the list and see if there arecompetitors with no times next to them), then all the competitors highlighted in green are through to the next round.

Alternatively, some competitions are now using https://www.competitiongroups.com/

This allows you to see what group they are in for all rounds. Find the relevant competition on the website. Then find and click on their name. It shows you which groups competitors are in and is updated as the competition goes on.

Do I need to know all the rules?

No. As a parent you don’t.

Speedcubers will know the rules and be willing to help each other. Competition delegates (see question what do delegates do) will also be on hand to ensure rules are followed. There is lots of information on line: About the Regulations | World Cube Association

What do delegates do?

Delegates are volunteers who are formally recognised by the World Cube Association and they oversee competitions and make sure that competitions are run according to the mission, spirit, and regulations of the WCA.

UK delegates organise and run competitions in the UK this includes: social media, finance, safeguarding, results management, liaison with the World Cube Association etc.. etc..They are volunteers!

And as parents we couldn’t be more grateful. They are giving up their whole weekend (and hours beforehand in preparations) so that our young people can compete.

What’s a World Cube Association ID and profile?

The WCA ID is a number given to people who have completed an official WCA competition. Once you have competed at a competition for the first time, you will automatically have a WCA ID generated for you.

When you sign up to the WCA website you’ll be given a profile, your ID is linked to your WCA profile. You may upload a picture to the profile (this is optional).

How old do you have to be to compete? Is it split by age?

There are no age limits (upper or lower) and no age categories for competing. Everyone is welcome andeveryone competes on a level playing field. Some parents eventually end up competing (either to theembarrassment or the pride of their cuber!).

What are the different categories for competing?

There are no age, gender, country etc. categories for competing.The main category is the type of event. There are 17 ‘official’ cubing events. See Q What are all the differentevents/types of ‘cubes’? for more details.

How do I help my cuber with nerves?

All the best cubers feel what we describe as nerves before they are competing. But the adrenaline that creates that feeling is also what makes your fingers turn really quickly, so it’s not a bad thing.

It might be helpful to reframe the feeling as excitement as excitement also creates adrenaline and that feeling. It can be a helpful way to think about it. It’s also good to know that the more times you compete the more you’ll get use to it.

First competitions can be tough as everything is new, but they’ll still achieve something just bybeing there and getting their first official PR.

How do I help my cuber when they are upset with their result?

One thing to focus on is that competitors are competing against themselves and their own times andimproving your own time is more important than whether you finish 50th or 10th.

Indeed some of the biggestsmiles in competition are from competitors getting a sub-1 minute time for the first time in 3x3 (even thoughthe fastest in the world are sub 10 seconds). An approach of self-improvement and supporting others as theyget better is a good one to foster.

It’s also good to know that all cubers normally get faster times at home than they do in competition. It’soften down to nerves but also because they have done hundreds of solves at home and only get to do 5-20 incompetition.

What about injuries? Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or similar?

As with any sport, injuries can occur. This page is quite helpful in terms of talking to your young person about how to sit, and a few exercised that might be helpful to start incorporating to their day to help prevent injury.

RSI Treatment And Prevention – What You Need To Know (swindonsportstherapy.co.uk)

Speedcubing Parents Guide by Kirsty Grainger. A huge thank you to Kirsty for the hard work that has gone into making this comprehensive guide.