How to solve the Rubik’s Cube

Intro

There are a couple of “beginner” approaches to solving the cube.  I never used to recommend these to people, but I can see the usefulness to get your feet wet learning how to solve this way.  If you start to enjoy it, I still recommend moving on to the methods I discuss under the Let’s get to it header sooner rather than later!

TheCubicle.us (a big cube retailer) created this tutorial which is by far the easiest beginner’s method I have ever seen!

TheCubicle.us tutorial     Cheat Sheet

The Rubik’s site has some decent videos and cheat sheets too (not as good as thecubicle.us in my opinion).

Rubik’s printout     Rubik’s Videos     Rubik’s Site

Let’s get to it!

If you are reading this you are probably a friend of mine I am trying to get into (or back into) cubing.  So I am going to tell you my personal recommendation called the CFOP method (or Fridrich after the lady who popularized it).  A big part of this recommendation comes from the fact that you know me, and I understand this method well, so if you have questions you can ask and I can explain.  This is also the most popular speedcubing method by far.  There are other good methods like Roux, Petrus, and ZZ.  Some people say Roux is easy to learn.  I actually first learned Petrus years ago, but CFOP is far easier to me.  There is also a “beginner’s method” which is pretty similar to CFOP.  Anyway… if you want to learn non-CFOP you are on your own as far as help from me. 🙂

CFOP is basically a 4 step method.  You can learn to solve without memorizing that much, and then you can memorize more as you get faster to help improve efficiency.  I am not going to write every step here, but give you references and the general idea.  My goal is to make this not too long and intimidating, which it really does not need to be.  (I would actually read this entire post first before watching all the videos, to get an overview of how simple the 4 steps are).

1. The C in CFOP is for Cross

Make a white cross on your cube, so the four white edge pieces are next to the white center piece.  Make sure the other color on the white edge matches the other center it is touching.  In other words the white/green edge should be between the white center and the green center.  There are tricks to get more advanced at this, but for now just build the cross.  You can do it!  I would recommend learning to build it on the bottom of the cube instead of the top, it’s not that hard and it will help you later.  One hint, the centers of a Rubik’s cube never move relative to each other!  Your cross should look like the image with the green check, not the red X:

images.png

2. The F in CFOP is for First Two Layers (F2L)

In this step you will learn a few “tricks” to finish everything except the top layer of the cube!  I do not think of this as memorization.  Once you see how to do a few cases for inserting an “F2L Pair”, you will be able to do the First Two Layers by intuition.  That is how I learned.  Again, like all these steps, later on you can learn some algorithms to make certain cases faster.  This is a two part video that I believe makes learning F2L pretty simple and easy to understand:

3. The O in CFOP stands for Orient the Last Layer (OLL)

The last two steps are where you get to do some rote memorization.  Here you have a small choice.  If you think you will be practicing a fair amount and would like to get fast in the near future, I would definitely go ahead and learn 2 look OLL/PLL.  2 look means you can solve any of the cases with 2 algorithms at most, and there are not very many to learn.  To learn 2 look, I recommend badmephisto’s Youtube videos shared below.  I learned pretty much entirely from his algorithms, although some from his cheatsheet and not his video.  Which brings up an important point, each case you can get for OLL/PLL has MANY options to solve it, and it is good to find one that feels good for you to execute.  Most of mine I just picked one of the options on the cheatsheet, but there are also great resources like AlgDb.Net that lists every possibility.

If you are more interested in being able to solve the cube, even if it is a little slower, but would prefer less things to memorize… I created a video below for that.  You can learn OLL and PLL with only 2 algorithms each, but it is less efficient.  That means in some cases you might have to do the same algorithm a few times before you complete the step.

You will need to know the cube notation for these algorithms.  For example R means turn the Right face clockwise if you were looking straight at it, R’ means counterclockwise.  The notations are on the cheatsheet, or you can also find online tools like Ruwix that animate them.  There are a lot of notations you will NOT need, but mainly you need R-Right, L-Left, F-Front, B-Back, U-Up, D-Down, M-Middle, and a couple for rotating the whole cube (x and y).

OLL Option One – 2 Look – If you want to be fast ASAP

OLL Option Two – “Multi Look” – If you want to memorize less

(Note: for finishing OLL corners you must watch for the right case with yellow up, it could be on the sides or back. Sorry if that is confusing in my video!)

4. The P in CFOP stands for Permute the Last Layer (PLL)

The comments here are exactly the same as step 3.  Here are the two options for videos:

PLL Option One – 2 Look – If you want to be fast ASAP

PLL Option Two – “Multi Look” – If you want to memorize less

Conclusion

That’s it!  Using the 2 Look OLL/PLL methods you can pretty “easily” get under a 40 second average solve time.  There is always more to learn with cubing which makes it fun, depending on how hooked you get.  You can check out my progress on my WCA Profile or my Youtube channel (which is mostly cubing).

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3 Responses to “How to solve the Rubik’s Cube”

  1. ellajairose Says:

    Great instructions just make sure everyone knows F – front, B – back, U – upper, D – down, R – right, L – left. I know it’s self explanatory but I think the first time I saw the abbreviations I was like ‘what?!?’

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