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Anthony Brooks

Superbowl Sunday

By | Competitions | One Comment

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It’s SuperBowl Sunday. Some of the world’s top athletes will be facing off, and most of these players will only have one chance shot at a championship (unless Tom Brady is your quarterback). Their entire careers, even lives, have revolved around getting to this point. That’s some serious pressure.

It’s easy to fall into the wrong headspace when in high pressure situations like this. Now, most of us don’t end up on TV with 100 million people watching, but we all experience flashes of anxiety in certain situations. It’s biology. And we can use it to our advantage. Not only is competing in any sport more enjoyable when it’s fun, but there are also scientific reasons to let loose.  Here are a few tips to combat that nervous feeling and use it to your advantage! 

Competition tip 1: Peak performance stems from both physical and mental performance. For athletes already in peak physical condition, gaining an edge may be more about improving what happens within the mind. Athletes are able to differentiate themselves from their competition, based upon the psychological skills they hold, develop, and are able to apply effectively. For athletes striving for best results, a positive mindset has been identified as making a vital difference in performance. So, enjoy the competition and have fun with those around you. That’s why you’ll always find me socializing at competitions. Warm up properly and focus on the task at hand when competing, and try to just enjoy the moments in between.

Competition tip 2: When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of endorphins (happy hormones). In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier. Thanks to the positive feedback loop of smiling, we can alter our brain’s emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile.

Competition tip 3: Thinking too much about what you are doing because you are worried about performing poorly can lead to “paralysis by analysis.” In a nutshell, paralysis by analysis occurs when people try to control every aspect of what they are doing in an attempt to ensure success. Unfortunately, this increased control can backfire, disrupting what was once a fluid, flawless performance. Try to come up with a great warm up routine. Competition is mostly mental. You’ve practiced countless hours, trust that you are prepared and get in the zone. Whenever I compete, I take a moment to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and embrace the “nervous” feeling rather than fight it. This will not only make you feel good, but also gets you excited about competing, and that positive natural adrenalin can make a big difference in your results.

Reflecting on 2016

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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I spent Christmas at home in Texas. Waking up in my old room made me realize how much I have evolved both as a person and a speedcuber. Time is a funny thing, you wake up everyday as if not much has changed, but you look back every year and things are very different.

I started cubing 9 years ago. Time has flown by – especially this year. Reflecting on 2016’s experiences, I have realized that my motivation to cube has also continued to evolve.

When I started cubing, my times dropped every few weeks, and I got an adrenalin rush every time I raced against the clock. This made competing extremely exciting, and the pressure I put on myself to improve made cubing all the more challenging and rewarding. However, as the years went by and my times improved, the threshold for improvement narrowed, and the frequency of competition PBs decreased as external expectations increased. So many variables would determine how well I did in competition, and half of them were out of my control. Competing eventually became less fun.

Still, I loved competing because it was an opportunity to improve my ranking and potentially set records. And even though the amount of pressure I placed on myself often affected my performance negatively, it was masked by the amount of fulfillment I received from travelling the world and meeting interesting people. In the last two years I have competed 35 times, all over the US, and as far as South America, Europe, and Africa. I have won 25 of these competitions, catapulting me to 1st place on the all-time 3×3 wins list. Cubing is a major part of my life, and I will always look back on these days with a sense of pride.

One of my favorite cubing memories is winning 2×2 at the US National Championship. I was a 17 year old with big bushy hair who was so happy to win the title. At 23, I look back on the accomplishment with a smile not because of the end result, but because of the journey to get there. Leading up to Nationals, I spent hundreds of hours refining and learning the EG method’s 128 algorithms. At the time, many people doubted its potential to be a viable speedsolving method. That changed when I posted the fastest 2×2 average ever recorded on YouTube – using EG. Now, nearly every world class 2×2 solver uses EG, including many of the same algorithms I developed in high school at my dining room table. That’s pretty cool.

I began this year with the idea of consciously focusing on improving my cubing skills, regardless of how that may affect my times. This began as the 310 challenge, and quickly evolved into an attempt at mastering ZB. I will post more about ZB when my work is refined further, but you can get the gist of it here, and find many of my ZBLL algorithms here.

I’ve always told cubers to not worry about their times and just focus on their solves. This year, I found myself saying that a lot – to myself. I’ve dedicated an enormous amount of time to refining, memorizing, and practicing the ZB system. The 310 challenge was an attempt to bring back the excitement of my early days of cubing. The process of learning ZB has made me realize that being on the forefront of new research and developing better algorithms and methods is ultimately what excites me.

Now, I’m cubing for myself again. And loving every solve. So, I’ll say it once more: try not to worry about your times, and just enjoy the process.

Happy Cubing,

AB

May Update

By | 310 Challenge, Competitions | No Comments

ZB: 

  • I finished learning ZBLL last week. 6 months, 493 algorithms! It’s been fun, but my brain needs a break. Will move on to ZBLS after refining some of the slower ZBLL cases.
  • More thoughts on ZB coming soon.

310 Challenge: 

  • Thank you to everyone who kept me company for the first 310 stream. It’s usually just Brian and I cubing, so it was a lot of fun having you guys around. 40 people tuned in to chat, and 300+ lurked. I’m going to implement a simple schedule this upcoming stream. The next livestream will be Monday (May 9) at 8pm EST, and the schedule will be posted on Facebook.
  • May skill: Opposite cross solving. My solves have started almost exclusively with a blue cross for 8 years. Full color neutrality would be extremely difficult at this point, but opposite color neutrality is something I’ve been wanting to work on for years. I’ll elaborate during the stream, but check out this article by Lars Vandenbergh in the meantime: http://www.cubezone.be/crossstudy.html

Competitions: 

  • Spring Scramble
    • I spent the weekend with James LaChance and his girlfriend Ashley. We went to the beach, ate ice cream out of donut cones, and watched the Warriors close out the season. Twas a good weekend.
    • Shout out to Daniel Wannamaker, another close final in the books! ZBLL on the final solve to win by .07.
  • Doseum
    • Last week, Texas Speedcubing hosted a competition at San Antonio’s Doseum. The Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibit is currently featured at the Doseum — so hosting a competition was a must! The venue had good lighting, a nice outdoor area, and the entire event ran smoothly. It was cool to see BRC at another location. I performed a few shows throughout the weekend, and Mike Elliot and I put on some fun demos during the competition’s lunch break.
    • I hope we’re able to host another competition at this location in the fall. The Doseum’s staff is friendly and the exhibits are really cool for kids (Spy Academy is my favorite). Definitely worth a visit for families in the San Antonio area.
    • Shout out to Tiana for getting her first official sub 30, and Dylan Miller for winning 3×3. Texas is getting fast! It was also really cool to have interpreters for deaf competitors. Speedcubing is a diverse community, and it’s up to us to make everyone feel welcome.
  • Albuquerque Spring 2016
    • Mike DeCock and I will be delegating New Mexico’s first competition on May 14th. Hope to see some of you there!

Logic’s Incredible World Tour – Dallas

By | Shows | One Comment

FullSizeRender-4 After wrapping up the competition on Saturday, Brian and I headed straight to Logic’s Incredible World Tour show in Dallas.

When Logic released ‘War Vet’ in 2012, it quickly became one of my go-to workout songs. I’m a big fan of rap with clever lyrics, so his music was right up my alley. Flash forward to Governor’s Ball 2015.

Gov Ball is a big music festival that takes place during the summer in NYC. I was about mid-way back in the sea of fans when Logic came on stage. Now, if you’re not familiar with Logic, he’s a big fan of the cube. Here’s a video of him solving while freestyling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLqFJaH3KVY. So, midway through his show I lifted a cube up in the air and began solving it one handed. Pretty quickly, people around me began shouting “Rubik’s Cube”, and before I knew it I was being pushed towards the front.

After a couple of minutes I was about 10 rows back, still twisting the cube. That’s when Logic finished performing a song, acknowledged the cube, talked to me for a minute, and told me he’d see me after the show. Sure enough, I met Logic (AKA Bobby) around the side of the stage after the show.

Now, back to this past weekend. Midway through the concert, once again in the middle of the pack, I lift my cube, and begin twisting. Almost like deja vu, people around me begin yelling “Cube! Cube!” and pushing me forward until I I’m about 10 rows from the front.

Funny enough, someone from Logic’s team saw me and took a video for Logic’s snapchat. A fan uploaded it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BDenivQtqR6/?taken-by=its.rattpack So Logic is walking across the stage in the middle of performing the song ‘Lord Willin’ when he notices me, squints, and smiles. It was already a special moment.

IMG_3116As he’s walking back across to the other side, he looks at me again and points. At this point I turn around to my brother and he’s freaking out. He knew that I had met Logic, but wasn’t expecting anything to happen. So, Lord Willin ends, crowd cheers, and he says, “Alright, I’m gonna need the lights on now.” Confused, the stage hands begin dimming the lights as he continues saying, “lights on, lights on, I need to see in here.” Lights finally come on. Crowd is confused. Logic walks to the front of the stage, crouches down, and says, “Anthony? Is that f*cking Anthony??”

I’m smiling ear to ear as everyone around me is like “WTF.” I yell back, “Yeah man, how’s it going?!” He asks when we last saw each other and we talk for a few moments, before he tells me to toss the cube to him. He begins scrambling and then says, “You know what, get Anthony up here!” Crowd cheers as I’m hoisted up by some 6’7 security guards. Brian follows suit behind me. Now we’re on the stage in front of a packed audience of 5,000+.

This story’s already long, so let’s cut to the chase. Logic mixes up the cube, music kicks in, and I start my solve on cue with the beat. The solve starts really slowly (combination of lack of inspection/lighting/nerves) and my heart is racing, but a PLL skip saves the day! I finish after 8 seconds, toss the cube to Logic, and walk towards the crowd as they go wild.

Find more about Logic at mindoflogic.com. He’s both a real talent and a genuine person. 

Thanks for a dope experience, Bobby! I’ll see you soon.

Lord Willin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqTrC1fEnUk

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Dallas Spring 2016

By | Competitions | 3 Comments

I hosted the Dallas Spring 2016 last Saturday. It was both Texas’ largest competition to date and my first serving as a delegate!

First, some info about the event:

We hosted the competition at a small building rented out by a wedding venue. Space was limited, but I was pleased that the lighting was good and, despite being cramped, we managed to scrape by with enough seating for everyone inside. We’ll find a larger venue next time.

We set up on Friday in hopes of a smooth start the following day. Unfortunately, we fell a bit behind at the start and had to play catch up the rest of the day. It’s unfortunate that we had to cancel the second round of OH, but we were able to include a 4th round of 3×3 — a first in Texas!

Thoughts:

Texas Speedcubing has grown significantly since I hosted my first competition, the Austin Open 2008 — we had 23 competitors! Growth is fantastic, and I hope to see this trend continue. However, we need help.

We hope to recruit experienced competitors to form a larger Texas Speedcubing organizational team. Please contact me if you’d like to get involved! We will be reaching out to candidates this month. 

Notable Results: 

Lots of sub-10 3×3 solves — Texas is getting fast!

Fastest solves recorded by each sub-10 competitor at the competition:

Brian Brooks – 9.80

Pranav Veera – 9.74

Riley Norrid – 9.43

Azhar Virani – 9.09

Alexander Wong – 9.08

Jeff Park – 8.97

Ryan Pryzbocki – 8.72

Mahith Bandi – 8.60

Anthony Brooks – 6.86

Dylan Miller – 6.79

Conclusion:

Despite the competition being more chaotic than I would have liked, many parents approached me to thank us for putting on the event, and competitors seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the day.

A big thank you to Casey for helping me figure things out throughout the day and entering all the data, as well as walking me through the post-competition process! We will apply what we’ve learnt to our next large competition, Texas Two-Day Showdown 2016. Hope to see you there!

A couple of quick shout-outs:

Brian Brooks: Sub-10! Welcome to the club!

Dylan Miller: Niiiice solve!

Jason Green: Thanks for running that errand while I was tied up! I need one of those shirts.

Sarah Borda: I love the cube you gave me — it made my day! Can’t wait to watch you smash those PBs next time. 😉

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Spring Break

By | Competitions, Travel | No Comments

Now that I’ve got midterms out of the way, let’s talk about the last two weeks.

I launched this site at midnight on March 10, as Brian simultaneously turned 18 next to me. Happy birthday to the big guy! That was a fun night. My mom and other brother, Trevor, both came up to Dallas the following day, and we flew to Vail, CO on the 12th.

I was 15 the last time we were on Vail mountain. I remember being caught in a blizzard. At least, it felt that way. -20 degrees, heavy wind, 15 foot visibility — we made the most of it, but it was cold. Very cold… Flash forward to Vail Mountain last week: it snowed mostly at night, and the sun shined throughout most of the days. It awesome. Unreal, really. I’ll share a few of my favorite shots below.

Back to cubing: I’m hosting the Dallas Spring 2016 this weekend. I set the registration cap at an ambitious 120, and over 100 competitors have preregistered! It’s shaping up to be the biggest Texas competition ever — can’t wait! I should put heat sheets together now. Before I go, thanks to everyone who sent kind words in the days since the launch! I really appreciate the love, and I’m excited to interact with everyone soon. A few cool messages below.

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AZCubing Winter 2016

By | Competitions, Travel | 6 Comments

Brian and I travelled to Phoenix, AZ last weekend for the AZCubing Winter 2016. We were excited to make it out to another one of Mike DeCock’s competitions after having such a good time at his inaugural competition last November. Mike didn’t disappoint — larger venue, better lighting, and an overall professional feel (sturdy cube covers with the AZCubing logo, a straightforward judging system, well laid out seating). I was impressed, and hope to see Arizona continue to blossom as a speedcubing state.

I love to watching speedcubing grow, so new faces at events, young and old, are always a great sign. It’s funny, I remember being one of the youngest competitors at my first WCA tournament. The veterans at that competition were Jim Mertens, Mike Hughey, and Tyson Mao. Dakota Harris was the fast guy, and he had only been cubing for a couple of years. I still have an autographed cube with their signatures on it. Now, I’m one of the older competitors at most of the competitions I go to — I’ve grown, and so has the community.

So, we arrived on Friday and were picked up by Eric Limeback’s mom, Brenda, she’s seriously the best. It’s no wonder Eric turned out so cool. Speaking of the Limebacks, this wasn’t the first time they had welcomed me into their home, so let’s talk about them for a minute. I met Eric in Toronto in the summer of 2010. Actually, it was summer of 2009. Wow, have we really been at this for that long? Time flies, man. Anyway, when I met Eric he was already ranked in the top 10 in the world in 3×3, and I was a shy fifteen year old just appearing on the scene. Still, the Limebacks happily took me in for the weekend, and I had a blast. We spent most of the weekend in Eric’s bedroom doing TeamBLD nonstop — coming up with codes and refining our system. We had beat the UWRs by the end of the weekend. Haha, good times.

Eric’s an incredibly authentic guy, and one of my closest friends now. I admire his ability to both lighten, and light up any atmosphere. I admire a lot of qualities that I see throughout the speedcubing community. It’s a special group of people, and I feel so fortunate to have the ability to connect with awesome people through the cube.

So, back to Arizona, I competed in 2×2, 3×3 and 3×3 one-handed:

2×2: As usual, I borrowed a 2×2 for both rounds. I might become interested in 2×2 again eventually, but I’ve only solved it in competition since Worlds 2015. Shout-out to Shonathon for knocking me off the podium by .01.

3×3 OH: My turning felt a lot less shaky than usual. Not particularly fast, but fairly smooth. I used a few ZBLLs one-handed for the first time in a few solves. It turned out fairly well overall, will be even better once I’ve practiced the algs.

3×3: I started off the first round of 3×3 with an EPLL skip (I used an OLLCP and it solved the LL completely), which set the tone for the rest of the day. My solves were certainly not error free, but aside from a couple of lockups and +2 mistakes my turning felt good. Brian judged and videotaped my second solve, which ended up being a mid-7. The average was 8.34, and I had five 7s throughout the three rounds. Very happy that sub-8s are becoming easier in competition!

Lunch: We had lunch at Jimmy John’s with Austin Reed, Nick Stanton, and Tristan Wright (aka Thrawst). I learnt about weird time zones in Arizona, and we all agreed that Steph Curry has the shot.

Awards: Shout-out to Nick and Austin for once again proving they’re the top-2 in Arizona! And congrats on your first sub 10 average, Austin, well deserved. Nick, your beard deserves its own award. Also, shoutout to everyone who set PBs and/or ended up on the podium — in particular, Sophie Berman, you don’t often see girls winning events at these competitions, so keep cubing, Sophie!

Post competition: We went to an MLB preseason game on Sunday. Funny enough, the game was coincidentally the Seattle Mariners vs the Texas Rangers. Brian and I live about a mile away from Globe Life Park in Arlington, where the Rangers typically play. I guess we’re loyal fans.

 

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