Speedcubing Violinist | God's World News

Speedcubing Violinist

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    University of Michigan student Stanley Chapel solves a Rubik’s Cube while blindfolded. Stanley is one of the world’s foremost “speedcubers.” He also is an accomplished violinist. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
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    Stanley Chapel performs one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s violin sonatas from memory. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
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    Stanley Chapel‎ has held 23 world records . . . and counting. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
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    Participants solve Rubik’s Cubes during a championship in Tokyo, Japan. (AP/Shizuo Kambayashi)
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    Erno Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube. (AP/Julio Cortez)
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A University of Michigan student has found his niche—as both a world-class “speedcuber” and a talented violinist. It’s an unusual combo. But Stanley Chapel see parallels between creative expression and mathematical process.

As a 14-year-old, Chapel solved his first Rubik’s Cube. Five weeks later, he entered his first competition—and solved a 3x3 cube in 22 seconds.

In 2017, Chapel placed fifth in both the 4x4 blindfolded and 5x5 blindfolded categories at the World Cube Association World Championship. That’s right, blindfolded.

Two years later, he won both events. He remains the reigning world champ—and world record holder—in the two categories.

Given his rapid cubing rise, you might think Chapel would prefer Rubik’s over violin. But Chapel insists he’s equally interested in both. His dual allegiance is clear as he routinely crosses campus lugging a dozen cubes—and a rare 1700s violin.

What’s more, the junior violin major claims playing the instrument has helped his speedcubing.

“Repetition, breaking things down into their smallest fundamental elements, . . . and being able to take these into the world of cubing has certainly been a huge help,” says Chapel.

Plus, he says years of playing the violin contributed to his having “very, very fine motor control already built up.”

That control makes him quite speedy—even blindfolded. Including time for studying the cube before blindfolding himself, Chapel can solve a 3x3 in about 17 seconds!

Chapel possesses an amazing memory too. He’s able to recall and apply thousands of algorithms to solve a Rubik’s Cube. He can also perform Johann Sebastian Bach violin sonatas without sheet music.

But his success is more than raw talent. Chapel spends hours honing both skills. He must perform regular hand stretches that help prevent the kinds of aches and pains that come with the frenetic cubing.

All twisting aside, Chapel seems to care most deeply about challenging himself. That approach will serve him well whatever he pursues. He says, “The satisfaction of taking something that people have done before me and improving it to a level that nobody has ever even thought to be possible is incredibly fulfilling.”

In August, Chapel plans to defend his titles in South Korea. After that, he isn’t sure how speedcubing fits into his plans.

“I guess it’s cool to know that nobody is able to do this,” Chapel says. “But, at the same time, giving myself a little bit of a reality check, it’s like, ‘How much does that actually matter?’”

Things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:18

Why? It takes hard work and discipline to achieve success in any pursuit. Stanley Chapel’s reality check echoes the biblical reminder of what’s eternal.