Rowe is a speedcuber from Patterson, NY and is currently the Production Director at TheCubicle. Besides managing the production of competition speedcubes, Rowe is one of the most accomplished American speedcubers to date, logging nearly 400 WCA medals, 34 WCA records, and a world championship title. There’s a lot more to Rowe than good cubes and fast records, so we’re here to learn more!
Over the years, you went from dominating smaller NxN cubes to very quickly becoming world class at Square-1. Now, you’re recognized as one of the best multi-blind solvers in the world. How the heck do you get so good at so many different things? What’s the secret?
Great question. Earlier on in my career I was definitely a smaller cube specialist because my biggest strength was turn speed. My look ahead was okay, but wasn't great enough to be very competitive in bigger puzzles like 5x5 and up. I pretty much just stuck with the events that matched my strengths, like 2x2, 3x3, and OH. As I got older, naturally, my turn speed deteriorated a bit, so I started to branch out into other events. Square-1 was always an event that I had interest in, but I just didn't have enough patience with the hardware back in the day. Once the newer square-1 puzzles were released I decided to give it a try. I think the biggest advantage I had with square-1 was my determination to learn and effectively use Cube Shape Parity (CSP). This really gave me a head start over most other solvers, but once they caught on to the magic of CSP, it was pretty much over for me. Last year I decided it was time to pick a new event, and I wanted to choose one that I would have the most potential with given my strengths. Multi-Blind was my pick because turn speed does not matter too much, and lookahead is non-existent. You also have to be able to accept failure and keep pushing yourself through different levels of improvement. That’s definitely something I wouldn’t have had the patience for when I was younger. It just seems like the event for me now because the determination and drive that I have towards improvement outweighs any of the skills that have deteriorated with my age. So, I guess the answer is, I pick events that I know I have the most potential in.
Your level of self-awareness is really remarkable. Of course, the fear of failure and having to accept it can be really intimidating for beginners. Do you have any advice on how to approach events like blindfolded that involve a higher failure rate?
Certainly. Beginning blindfolded events is scary, but you just have to accept that DNFs are inevitable. It may take dozens of attempts to get that first success, but it will come. Just don’t get too upset in the process. After a bit of practice you will get more accurate and your times will improve quickly without much effort. However, there will be times when that next level requires you to really push your memo speed outside your comfort zone, which can lead to some upsetting results at first. Remember to hang in there. Eventually, you will get used to it and come out faster than ever.
If you’re interested in blindfolded solving, definitely take note of that! Onto your work with the Pro Shop, what’s it like? Are there any interesting elements to the job that you think normal cubers wouldn’t expect?
It’s a very busy job. Keeping the shelves full of premium cubes is tough work, as well as maintaining a high level of quality. But still, no matter how hard it is to keep up with demand, we still have a lot of fun in the Pro Shop, which is what I love most about it.
Have you had to prepare cubes for any modern top 3x3 solvers? Any cool stories on those?
Yes, I prepared many cubes for top speedcubers including Max Park, Tymon Kolasinski, and Lucas Etter. Pretty much, if we sponsor them, I’ve most likely prepared cubes for them. The most memorable cubes are the ones that people set records with. It is always cool to know that cubers enjoy what I’ve made them.
Sounds awesome. Outside of cubing, what do you like to do most? Do you have any hobbies?
Lately I haven’t been up to much, but I am going for a second Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. On top of that I enjoy self studying to try to improve my programming. I also started reading more recently. I really like science fiction books. Other hobbies that I don’t do much anymore include bowling and video games.
Do you have a favorite book or story?
Harry Potter is easily my favorite series!
A lot of people say that cubing had a huge impact on their lives. How would you say cubing influenced your personality?
It’s definitely influenced my life a lot. I wouldn’t be working or living where I do now if it wasn’t for cubing, and I certainly would’ve never met my fiancée Ashley either. In terms of my personality, I haven’t changed much. I am definitely more competitive and driven than I used to be, and probably a little more outgoing.
Now for the last question, if you had to describe your cubing style using only three words, what would they be?
Could be better 🤣
Haha, super modest. Well, a lot of cubers look up to you for a whole bunch of reasons. Thanks for being an inspiration and thanks for the wise words!