Have you ever wondered how long it took someone to learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube? Maybe you felt like it was some supernatural gift that some people have and some people just don’t … like the ability to climb buildings (spider man) or the ability to be bullet proof (Luke Cage). I set out on a mission to learn the Rubik’s cube and I decided the way I would do it would be to set a goal of solving the cube at least once every day for 30 days. I figured that if I was able to accomplish that then I would indeed have finally mastered this task dispelling the myths and legends and/or finally obtaining this magical superpower.
So as an immediate disclaimer this is NOT a speed cubing article nor is that an objective that I have out of the gate … so this article will NOT cover techniques to allow you to solve the cube in under 10 seconds. You will however with this method be able to solve the cube in under 5 minutes (usually much faster but you get the point). I do believe though since this is the traditional method of solving the cube that most people should start with this technique and then graduate on to speed cubing after mastering the basics (this is a walk before you run kind of thing).
If you are like me you will have already explored many YouTube videos and maybe an online course or two where you saw all kinds of crazy notation that you had no hope of ever remembering. So that gibberish is actually a real thing and you WILL want some form of notation. My only modification to what most courses teach is you to tell you to just come up with one that is meaningful to you and that you can remember. You are not going to be judged on your ability to remember F and F prime. People will only care that you figured out how to solve the cube and whatever notation you use is really temporary until your muscle memory kicks in anyway and you are solving the cube on autopilot (that said I will show you the notation that I used).
Some online courses I have watched and reviewed on Udemy (I am not affiliated with Udemy but I take dozens of courses there every year) in the order of which they helped me:
So one more thing about me that you should know is that when I set my mind on doing something I generally go all-in on it. Thus, me buying tons of courses and watching even more videos on YouTube and reading tons of articles (some of which help and many of which did not help at all). I get locked in on a mission and just power through as much material as I have to until I accomplish my goal. You will need a bit of that focus and stubbornness to get through what it takes to learn how to solve the cube. Basically DON’T GIVE UP!
The six steps that you will learn to always solve the cube include:
Step 1 – THEE Old White Cross
Okay the goal here and until you move to step 4 is to keep the white side of the cube (the one with the white piece in the center) on top (or consider that the top of the cube). You need to line the middle pieces so that you have a white cross on top and most importantly the colors on the side of each branch of the cross needs to match the middle piece color of that side. So white on top blue on the side should be lined up with the blue middle piece, the white on top red on the side should be lined up with the red middle piece, and so on with orange and green (if you have a cube with standard colors – if your colors are weird then probably go buy a different cube). Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
Step 2 – Mind your T’s
Okay now what you want to start to do is look to the third/bottom row for white pieces to move to the top. If you don’t have any on the bottom row you probably want to manipulate the pieces (keeping THEE white cross intact) to get them on the bottom row. Then you will want to line them up with the two colors that they need to match. So the top color is white, one side matches the middle color of the right side and the other color matches the left side middle. In the end you will end up with the left side of the cube solved (all white) and the first row all the way around the cube will have colors that match the middle piece on each side. The top row and middle piece being the same color is what is referred to as a T. You will have 4 T’s before you have finished this step.Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
Step 3 – Top Two Rows or You’re Up a Creek
It starts to get a little harder at this point because you have to do a little more manipulation to get the pieces of the second row to match the middle color on each side. The end result will be the top two rows of the the blue, green, red, and orange sides all matching the respective middle piece (blue, green, red, and orange). In order to accomplish this you will once again be looking to the bottom row for your pieces making sure that you focus on any center piece on the bottom row that doesn’t have any yellow on it. If you don’t have any center pieces at the bottom with no yellow then that means you will have to move some down from the second row.Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
Step 4 – The Yellow Cross (you should have to do this step between 1 and 3 times)
At this point you will flip the cube over and now the yellow side of the cube is the top and the white side is the bottom (they should be opposite of each other if you have a standard cube). From this point forward you will need to learn and execute a few patterns. If the yellow side (the new top) has only a yellow in the center then you will do this three times. If there is a yellow line down the center hold that to where it is vertical and repeat the pattern (you will do this twice). If there is a yellow L then you will hold that so it is in the bottom left of the cube and you only have to do the pattern one time to clear this step. The pattern that I use is RU, [TL, BL], [TR, BR], RD. I totally made this notation up but it shows the pattern in braces that mirror each other. In my silly notation the following is the key:
First Character – the side to move
R – Right side
T – Top side
B – Back side (the side opposite the one facing me)
Second Character – how to move it
R – Counter Clockwise (right)
L – Clockwise (left)
If you are a purist this notation is total non-sense but I don’t care because it works for the way I remember things and it might work for others.
Okay so repeat that pattern shifting the cube as necessary until you get the L and complete the yellow cross.Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
Step 5 – Wait! I Meant THEE Yellow Cross
So you really can’t skip Step 4 (at least I cannot). So you haven’t done anything wrong but your goal with THEE yellow cross is to line up the middle colors with the two solved rows you already have. This is probably the easiest pattern for me to remember (not sure why there is probably a scientific reason for this). Anyway using my crazy notation it is:
[RU TL] [RD TL] [RU TL TL] [RD TL]
If you execute that sequence successfully once then you will indeed have THEE yellow cross now.Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
Step 6 – Complete the Cube
Okay there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is you really only have one pattern left to learn in order to be able to always solve your cube. The bad news is it is weird. It will involve you (remember you are not speed cubing) to rotate the cube. The pattern goes like this (I have to write this differently because of the turns):
Turn the cube counter clockwise
Turn the cube counter clockwise
Turn the cube clockwise
Turn the cube clockwise
Flip the cube over
*YOU MAY NEED A VARIATION OF THIS MOVEMENT WHERE YOU USE THE LEFT SIDE TURNING CLOCKWIZE AND THEN COUNTER CLOCKWISE.
YIKES! I’m sorry but there isn’t a great way for me to write this one (and remember other cubers will laugh at this notation but just ignore them) so you can remember but when you are doing it, it’s actually really easy and just works so …Check it out in the image below and the tutorial video at the end of the article.
So the final conclusion of all of this is that I did indeed learn how to solve the cube through this technique and it took about 2 weeks of solving the cube 1-3 times per day and committing what I learned to muscle memory (where I just automatically complete the six steps required to solve the cube sliding pieces around without thinking about it too much). It’s not something that comes to most people naturally so just decide whether you really want to learn how to do this or not. If you are willing to endure some frustration then give it a go, if not then just go ahead and move on now.