BUDAPEST, Hungary – A 16-year-old took the top prize at the Rubik's Cube world championship Sunday, solving the puzzle five times in an average of 12.46 seconds.
But the fastest single attempt was a cool 10.88 seconds, just off the world record of 9.86 seconds.
Yu Nakajima of Japan won the main event for twisting the classic 3x3 cube — which has nine colored tiles on each on its six sides — into the winning position, where all like-colored tiles are on the same face.
Andrew Kang of the United States, who came in second for the main event, set the best time for a single attempt at the championship. The world record has been held by Thibaut Jacquinot of France since May.
The five-attempt event garners the top award of $7,000, prizing consistency over of a single — possibly lucky — win.
More than 250 competitors from 33 countries took part in the event, the first to be held in Hungary — where the game was invented by Erno Rubik in 1974 — since competition began in 1982.
Rubik, an engineer who developed several other mechanical games after the cube, made a rare public appearance at the medal ceremony, helping to hand out the main awards.
"I'm glad the cube is reaching new generations, who face it with fresh wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm," the game's creator said.
Other competitors showed their skill by solving the cube blindfolded, with one hand or with their feet.
Finland's Anssi Vanhala, 15, was fastest with his feet at 49.33 seconds, although his favorite cube — which players customize with everything from silicon lubricants to talcum powder — was stolen during the competition.
Ryan Patricio, 18, a high school senior from Temecula, Calif., defended his world title in the one-hand category with a new world record, averaging 21.13 seconds in five attempts.
"Definitely there is room improvement and I expect a sub-20 (second) average at the next world championship in two years," said Patricio.
Hungary's Matyas Kuti was fastest solving the 4x4 and 5x5 cubes and also won several of the blindfolded events, which seemed to draw the most respect from his peers.
Blindfolded contestants attempt to memorize the position of key cubes before covering their eyes. Kuti's best blindfolded time for the 3x3 cube was just over 1 minute, 7 seconds.
Electronic timers were used and players solved the cubes that started at positions set with the help of computers.