Alan Bawden mentioned the joy of rediscovering his lost cube-solving
techniques. This happened to me about three years ago for an unusual
reason. I've become active in science fiction fandom, and fans
determine where the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) is
held each year by running miniature political campaigns. A friend of
mine was bidding for Glasgow, and she asked if I had any `plaid
things'. I told her I had a plaid Rubik's cube, and a political
strategy was born. The plaid cube is of course the Tartan, which Jim
Saxe and I discovered and described in this group on 16 February 1981
(see archives). I blanked some old cubes, and figured out how to use
spray paint to efficiently create Tartan cubes. I produced a half
dozen or so, and they make good conversation pieces at conventions.
Unfortunately, I seem to be the only convention-going science fiction
fan who can *solve* a Tartan (with the possible exception of Phil
Servita <firstname.lastname@example.org> who as I recall figured out an
effective method but wearied in its execution). So I would see a
scrambled Tartan at a convention party, and fix it, and put it down,
and five minutes later it would be scrambled again. I quickly found
out how rusty I was, and through the enforced practice I've gotten
about as good as I was a decade ago. But some of the Glasgow
promoters took Tartan cubes over to the UK, and those cubes just never
get solved. I sent them instructions for solving it, but I don't know
if any of them have figured out the instructions.
Well, eventually they told me they really wanted something mere
mortals could deal with, and I painted some pieces of wood plaid that
they could use for doorstops. I was surprised, though, to find that
to make a plaid pattern going around a corner, if you only have four
colors of paint, it seems the *only* thing you can do is use a
coloring locally identical to the Tartan.
As for the cubes in the UK, I expect to get there in 1995. For it
seems the clever ploy worked, and the fans voted to have the 1995
Worldcon in Glasgow. I'm sure they owe it all to the Tartan. Sure.