Thompson Clarke, fourth-year Ivey student, is always eager to check things off of his bucket list, like solving the Rubik's Cube with his feet to secure a national record. While his many other interests include juggling, playing guitar and break-dancing, Thompson says his true passion is the traditional 3x3 Rubik’s Cube.
“If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, there’s a scene in it where Will Smith solves the Rubik’s Cube,” says Thompson. “Ever since I saw that, I just thought it would be a fun party trick to learn.”
Thompson recalls his parents gifting Rubik’s Cubes to him and his brother that Christmas. His mom offered a dollar to the first person who could solve it, and after trying relentlessly for a couple of days, Thompson turned to YouTube to learn how the solution. He was 11 years old when he first solved his Cube and won the dollar.
Within a month, Thompson managed to go from an average of 10 minutes per solve to one minute. At that point, Thompson began to get involved with Rubik’s Cube forums and community sites to find resources to help him get faster.
“What draws me to the [Rubik's] Cube, more so than any other hobby that I’ve gotten into, is the sheer complexity of it but, at the same time, its simplicity,” muses Thompson. “If you know how to solve it, you can solve every single one of those 43 quintillion possibilities every time.”
Eight months after successfully solving the Cube, Thompson went to his first official speed-solving competition at Seneca College in Toronto. Since then, he has been a contender at 53 Rubik’s Cube competitions from Montreal to Las Vegas, winning national titles and attending world championships. His fastest average solving time for the cube is 8.09 seconds, placing him 86th in the world.
Thompson admits that he’s still chasing after the national record for the 3x3 Cube, but the competition has gotten tougher since he started.
Now, Thompson is focused on giving back to the cubing community. He is the founder and president of the Western Rubik’s Cube Club, which hosted the first officially recognized Cube competition of London, Ont. last year.
“People would often assume that I must be good at math or problem-solving or creative puzzles,” says Thompson. “But the main thing that cubing has helped me with is proving to me what the power of hard work, perseverance and dedication can do for you.”
Besides helping to grow the Canadian cubing community with the club, Thompson is also hoping to pursue work in consumer brand management. He plans to bring the mentality that as long as you put your mind to it, accomplishing the impossible is possible.
The Western Rubik’s Cube Club meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Somerville House.