When my bag went through the X-Ray machine, I saw the screener get a really odd look on his face. I told him there were a bunch of Rubik's Cubes in there, and he said, "But do you have a round one?" I'm guessing that was the Megaminx. Anyways, they didn't have to hand search my bag, so I went to the gate and practiced a bit.
The flight was rather short and we landed at O'Hare. At O'Hare, I found the train to downtown, I bought my 2-day visitor pass, and got on the train. The train ride itself was probably as long as the flight. I grabbed breakfast at McDonald's and started walking towards the Cultural Center. Along the way, I saw guy with a cube and asked if they were going to the competition too. I walked with them since I wasn't familiar with the area. Once at the competition, I sat down and chatted with some people and just practiced a bit. I saw Adam Zamora and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He was extremely busy getting stuff setup, and told me to ask Tyson. I introduced myself to Tyson (I had previously talked to him before about running a tournament in Minnesota). He introduced me to another Minnesotan who would be interested in helping with a tournament.
In our registration bags, we got a Rubik's UFO, a Rubik's t-shirt (there were various sizes and designs), a Rubik's Pen from the Paris competition, two sets of replacement stickers, some stuff about Chicago's Art of Play (which the US Open was part of), a Rubik's Revolution T-shirt (which was only in size medium). Later, I also received an autographed Adam Zamora trading card. Cubesmith was there selling stickers, so I picked up a bunch of 3x3x3 and some Square-1 Stickers, along with some more T-shirts. Also during registration, you had to guess how many pieces were in the jar.
Qualification round - My first solve was 24.20 (24 qualifies for the semi-finals). My 2nd solve was 24.99 and my third solve was 27.64. I didn't make the semi-finals, but that's fine, because there's was a consolation round so I could get an official WCA average and a chance to get a better personal best. After that, I helped out with judging. Since it was the first round, I had to explain the process to a few people. But overall, judging was fun. Adam Zamora gave me a few judging tips later.
Magic - The Magic was off on a side table, so I went over to do that. Bob Burton was running that. I did my first solve, and Bob gave me some advice (have the Magic close to the timer). I did my second solve. On my third solve, I went to do the twist and my Magic just locked up. I tried to get it back to the beginning, but it just wouldn't unfold. I kept trying a few times and couldn't get it. I just took a DNF, and Bob was nice enough to fix my Magic. I did my other two solves without another DNF so I have a WCA average.
I did some more judging for the 2x2x2 event. I probably could have competed, but my 2x2x2 times are just awful (although if I got an Eastsheen, they might be better).
3x3x3 OH - I did my one-handed solves and got a best time of 1:15.57. One one of my solves, the cube slipped from my hand but I was able to catch it withouth dropping it, so that was good. After one of them, the judge took the cube and scrambled it there. I asked if he memorized the second scramble, and he didn't realize it needed to have a certain scramble, so he took it back to the table and got the actual scramble. Clips of my one-handed appeared on the Today Show also.
There was enough interest, so a Megaminx competition was created. I didn't expect an official competition, so I hadn't been practicing. Luckily, I did bring my puzzle. My time was about a minute higher than normal.
I tried to learn a better Pyraminx solution than my own in the last week, but my Pyraminx was so tight, it made my thumb sore, so I didn't practice it too much. I tried to quickly cram the other algorithms. My first solve was 12.66. Looking at the WCA page, I have the North American Record for an average. Hopefully I'll either be able to improve it or have the record crushed by someone else.
3x3x3 Consolation Round - Did my solves without too many problems. I got a 23.88 and a 23.07, so I get a better single solve record, and I feel somewhat good that I can get sub-24. I won the overall consolation round.
I don't think I did much judging for the 3x3x3 consolation, since all the other judges weren't in that round. I did judge the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5.
There were various mystery puzzles throughout the day. I got called up for one, and it involved a bunch of theorhetical math stuff, which I haven't done for about 9 years, so I just took a stab and said positive infinite, which was wrong. In one mystery puzzle, Stefan, Lars, and Arnaud got paired with three people who never solved the cube before and did a team solve (just like the team blindfold, but the people holding the cube could look). Since they wouldn't be familiar with notation, there was a lot of circles drawn in midair.
After the first day of competition, I went to the hotel and checked in. The view from the window was this:
After checking in, I walked to Gamer's Paradise. On the way there, it started to rain. Almost everyone walking waited under awnings until it was over. I just kept walking, because I didn't care. Dear people of Chicago, it's just water. It dries. I ate at the food court at the mall and it was pretty good. I ran into Chris Pelley there. He bought a small bottle of wine at the food court, but they didn't open it for him. So, he tried opening it with a screwdriver. It didn't work.
At Gamer's Paradise, it was pretty fun. I borrowed a cube from Mike Stewart to race Chris Pelley. I guess my cube must be extremely loose compared to everyone else. I got to talk with the people from Winning Moves and Seven Towns, and it was pretty interesting. I left Gamer's Paradise and hopped on a bus back to the hotel. I didn't do much when I got back.
The next morning, I couldn't sleep in. I woke up around 5 or so. Nothing was on TV. I tried to watch a movie, but the rental mechanism wouldn't work. The shower at the Congress Hotel was absolutely awful. In the sink, if I turned on the water to all the way hot, let it run for a few minutes, and it was tepid. So I turned the shower to all the way hot, and this is what the shower looked like:
Anyways, I packed up my bag and wandered through Millenium Park and some of downtown Chicago.
I tried to find a church that had an early service, but I had a hard time even finding a church. Walking around downtown Minneapolis, I was able to find many churchs walking around. Anyways, I finally saw a cross at the top of a building, so I went over to see when the service was.
I'm not sure the church has read John 2:14-16.
After that, I ran to McDonald's to pick up breakfast sandwiches to give out. It seriously took 30 minutes to get the food. Everyone else in the restaurant were also waiting. Anyways, I finally got them, and I went and gave them out.
After that, I ran to the Cultural Center and sat around with Chris Pelley and Grant Tregay cubing. The combination of the humidity and all the walking I did earlier had my shirt very sweaty, so I changed to my "Cube Solver" t-shirt that was in my registration bag. The competition started, but I was just judging that day, with the exception of the Square-1, which got bumped to Sunday.
Square-1 - I did pretty good. The first scramble had a pretty easy edge-gather. And I had pretty good solves overall. I took 3rd place overall, so that's good.
I did some more juding on Sunday. I got to see Stefan's 5x5x5 pop. I think about 25 pieces popped. He kept having to put it together and then move pieces again. He did win an award for it though.
I also got to judge Rowe Hessler on solving 8 cubes blindfolded. I tried to prevent people from bothering him, but he didn't seem to mind. He felt kind of bad for having to have me stay there forever, so he asked Bob Burton if he could take over for me.
In the final 3x3x3 round, Tyson emphasized no flash photography, so my pictures are pretty bad without that. The whole room was silent, and each solve was done individually.
After the final 3x3x3 round, people sat around and the media interview some people.
At the closing ceremonies, I got my 3rd place Square-1 trophy. After the 3x3x3, Tyson also called out Chris Gardner (aka The Pursuit of Happyness guy) forward to shake Ryan's hand and receive a special cube of his own.
After that, I took the train back to O'Hare. Going through security, I hear the screen say they should hand-check this bag. Another TSA guy looks at the screen and says, "It's a bunch of Rubik's Cubes, I've seen them all week)." My flight back to Rochester was delayed, because a transplant patient was going to Mayo Clinic, and his connecting flight was delayed.
After I landed, I headed to my car and went home.