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  • How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube | WIRED

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    Watch at: 00:00 / 00:00:20in a recent episode of almost impossibleI looked at the limits of speed cubingan event in which people compete tosolve a Rubik's Cube as fast as theypossibly can and in the course ofreporting that piece I actually learn tosolve a Rubik's Cube myself with helpfrom Tyson mouse co-founder of the worldcube Association in a little under twoweeks using the method now taught me Iwent from not being able to solve a cubeWatch at: 00:20 / 00:40at all to being able to solve itconsistently in just under a minute nowsome of you asked us to post astep-by-step tutorial on how to solvethe cube and maybe you've also heard itsaid the true mastery of a subject isachieved by teaching it to somebody elseso in the spirit of that Maxim I'm goingto show you the method that I used whenlearning to solve the cube in this videoWatch at: 00:40 / 01:00you're going to learn the fundamentalsof cubing how to hold and manipulate thecube how to read cube notation and howto solve the cube in eight steps all youneed to follow along is a scrambled cubenow if this is your first time solvingone I would budget about an hour plus orminus fifteen minutes to your firstsolve I know that's a long time but theWatch at: 01:00 / 01:20more time you spend practicing thequicker those times will come down andthey do come down pretty fast at leastin my experience finally there are manyways to solve a cube this is just one ofthem it's not the fastest it's not thebest it's not the easiest by any stretchit's just the method that was taught tome by a co-founder of the world cubeAssociation and the method that I use tobring my times down to under a minuteready let's beginWatch at: 01:20 / 01:40so before you move anything here aresome concepts to keep in mind that willmake solving the cube easier the moreyou practice number one when solving thecube try to bear in mind that you'resolving four pieces not stickers what doI mean by that most pieces on the cubeactually have more than one sticker onthem so if you try to solve a cube byonly solving four stickers you'llWatch at: 01:40 / 02:00quickly find that while you might beable to solve for one face the otherfaces won't match and that's because notall pieces on the cube are alike thereare three types edge pieces like thisone have two stickers they look likethis corner pieces like this one havethree stickers and they look like thisWatch at: 02:00 / 02:20and center pieces at the middle of each3x3 face have one stickerthese centerpieces are attached to anaxle inside the puzzle so they neveractually move on this cube for examplethe white center is always opposite theWatch at: 02:20 / 02:40yellow center the orange center isalways opposite the red center and theblue center is always opposite the greencenter and that's an important thing tokeep in mind because the fact that thesecenters don't move meaning that theyactually dictate where all of the otherpieces need to go now this concept was alittle confusing to me the first time Iheard it but I promise the more time youspend with the cube the clearer and moreWatch at: 02:40 / 03:00helpful this idea will become finallymany people think of the cube is beingcomprised of six phases but another wayto think about it is that it's comprisedof three layers a top a middle and abottom today we're gonna focus onsolving the cube one layer at a timeif you've already forgotten everything Ijust said that's totally fine you canjust go back and re-watch it for nowWatch at: 03:00 / 03:20it's enough to have these ideas floatingaround in the back of your head so withall of that stuff in mind let's getstarted the first step in solving thefirst layer of the cube is to make whatcubers call a daisy it's called makingthe Daisy because when you're finishedyou should have something that lookslike this a yellow Center surrounded byfour white edge pieces so how do we getfrom here to here well you start byWatch at: 03:20 / 03:40finding the yellow center the goal ofthis step is to surround this yellowcenter with four edge pieces of theopposite color which in this case iswhite if you've never solved the cubebefore it is very tempting to just startturning faces at random in hopes ofplacing an edge piece where you want itto go but I want you to resist thatimpulse I'm gonna give you two tips thatWatch at: 03:40 / 04:00will help me position those edge pieceslogically the first tip is that thereare only four white edge pieces that'sit remember you're moving pieces notstickers and there are only four edgepieces on this cube with white sides tofind them all you have to do is inspectthe cube in your hand once you find oneWatch at: 04:00 / 04:20pause think about the turns that you'llneed to move to place it beside theyellow Center for example here's a whiteedge piece to place it beside the yellowCenter all I have to do is this turnthat right face 90 degrees here'sanother one to get it beside the yellowCenter I need to turn it here and thenup trust me the first few times I solvedthe cube this process was not intuitiveWatch at: 04:20 / 04:40to me at all but making the Daisybecomessecond nature very quickly the more youpractice the second tip is that once youhave a pedal to the Daisy in place youactually won't have to remove it frombeside the yellow center to put any ofthe remaining pedals in place that'swhat I'm going to do nowand you should do the same when you'redone your yellow Center will besurrounded on all four sides with whiteedge pieces like a daisy don't worry ifWatch at: 04:40 / 05:00you have a white corner piece as wellwe'll get to that in a second the secondstep to solving the first layer is tocreate the white cross when you'refinished with this step you'll have aface with what looks like a white crossor a plus sign sort of depending on howyou look at it start by looking at yourDaisy if you've got white on any of yourcorners remember just ignore them fornow we're gonna focus on the four petalsWatch at: 05:00 / 05:20that reside on the edge pieces each ofthese four edge pieces has two stickersone and two by rotating the top face ofthe cube match the non-white stickerfrom each of those edge pieces to thecenter piece of the same color so forexample the non-white sticker on thisWatch at: 05:20 / 05:40edge piece is orange I'm gonna turn thetop face until the orange sticker isaligned over the orange center like soonce you've matched the sticker to thesame color Center rotate the face withthe matching Center two times moving awhite daisy petal from the top face ofthe cube to the bottom I'm now going torepeat this step three more times onceWatch at: 05:40 / 06:00for each of the remaining Daisy petalsso I've got the red center I'm gonnamatch that with this red edge piece hereturn it twice I've got this green edgepiece I'm gonna match it with the GreenCenter and turn it twice and I've gotthis blue edge piece that I'm gonnamatch with the blue Center and turn ittwice when you're finished you're gonnaWatch at: 06:00 / 06:20have a white cross on the bottom of yourcube like I said before don't worry ifyou've got white corners as well for nowyou're just looking for thisconfiguration right here one more tip tokeep in mind that white cross is gonnastay pointing down for the entireremainder of the solve we are finallyready to solve the very bottom layer ofWatch at: 06:20 / 06:40the cube when we're finished with thisstep the bottom layer of the cube willbe solved and as a bonus the bottom facewill be solved as well but before westart let's pause for a quick lesson onorgan onyx that's how to hold andmanipulate the cube withthe white face pointing down place yourleft thumb over these four squares andyour middle and ring fingers over theWatch at: 06:40 / 07:00four squares on the opposing face nowposition the middle and ring fingers ofyour right hand on these two stickers uphere and your right thumb on theunderside holding the cube this wayallows you to do two things first itlets you rotate the right face freelyWatch at: 07:00 / 07:20and easily conversely swapping theposition of your hands allows you torotate the left face as well and secondit lets you use your index fingers torotate the top face when you stringthese rotations together you get two ofthe most fundamental moves in cubing theWatch at: 07:20 / 07:40first sequence is called the righttrigger it looks like this using yourright hand rotate the right face ninetydegrees away from you use your rightindex finger to pull the top facetowards you by 90 degrees then use yourright hand to rotate the right faceninety degrees back towards you withyour left hand it looks like this useWatch at: 07:40 / 08:00your left hand to turn the left faceaway from you by 90 degrees use yourleft index finger to pull the top facetowards you by 90 degrees then use yourleft hand to turn the left face back 90degrees towards you now calls this threemove sequence the left trigger the rightand left triggers are the mostWatch at: 08:00 / 08:20fundamental moves in cubing the more youpractice them the faster you'll getwe're also going to use these triggers alot for the remainder of the solvestarting right here in step threeremember the goal of this step is tosolve the bottom most layer of the cueand to do it we're gonna search forwhite stickers on the top layer that arefacing outward we want to solve theWatch at: 08:20 / 08:40parts of the first layer that aren'talready solved which are the cornersthat have white stickers so we'll belooking for those and placing them oneat a time now you might find that thecube you're holding has a white stickeron the top face of your cube in fact weactually see that here on this one youalso might have a white sticker in thisbottom layer if you see either of thoseWatch at: 08:40 / 09:00things don't worry about it we'll get tothose in a second for now just focus onwhite stickers on the sides of your toplayer so you have a white stickerit's on a corner piece corners havethree stickers ignore the top oneinstead identify the color to the sideof your white sticker in my case thatWatch at: 09:00 / 09:20sticker is green and it is diagonallymatched to a red Center what I want youto do now is rotate the top face untilthe color beside your white stickerwhich in this case is green diagonallymatches to the center of the same colorif your corner sticker is oriented tothe left of your Center sticker you'regoing to use your left hand to performthe left trigger by rotating the leftWatch at: 09:20 / 09:40face away from you pulling the top facetowards you with your left index fingerand then rotating the left face towardsyou if the corner sticker is oriented tothe right of the center sticker you'regoing to use your right hand to performthe three move sequence by rotating theright face away from you pulling the topface towards you with your right indexfinger then rotating the right facetowards you you're gonna perform thisWatch at: 09:40 / 10:00move again search the top layer foroutward facing white stickers like thisone identify the color next to it alignthat color until it is diagonallymatched to the center of the same colorand perform the appropriate right orleft-handed trigger move here it's tothe left of the center sticker so I'lluse the left trigger same thing hereWatch at: 10:00 / 10:20left same thing here now there are acouple unusual situations that can ariseduring the third step and they didn'tactually happen on the cube I was usingto solve so I'm gonna use a demo cube toshow them to you here the first is anoutward facing white sticker on thebottom layer instead of the top if youWatch at: 10:20 / 10:40run into this situation simply find thesticker and determine whether it's onthe right or left side of the faceyou're looking at if it's on the rightside perform the right trigger byturning the right side 90 degrees awayfrom you pulling the top 90 degreestowards you and then rotating the rightface back 90 degrees towards you thisreposition is the white sticker from theoutside of the bottom layer to the topWatch at: 10:40 / 11:00of the first layer which is actuallyedge case number two if you find a whitesticker on the top face rotate that topface until the white sticker is directlyabove that is to say opposite a nonwhite sticker on the bottom face of thecube to help you see what that lookslike this is what I mean this whitesticker on the top face of the cube iscurrently directly oppositeWatch at: 11:00 / 11:20another white sticker on the bottom faceof the cube you don't want that so whatI want you to do instead is rotate thetop face until the white sticker on thetop is directly opposite a non-whitesticker on the bottom in this case thatsticker is blue next determine if thewhite sticker is on the right side ofthe cube or the left side if it's on theWatch at: 11:20 / 11:40right side like it is here perform theappropriate trigger move but instead ofdoing it just once do it twice oncetwice now the white sticker that wasright here is on the top layer facingoutward and I can solve it by matchingthe adjacent sticker to its colouredCenter and performing the appropriatetrigger move which in this case is aWatch at: 11:40 / 12:00right trigger continue performing theappropriate moves until there are nomore white corner stickers to solve forI'm going to do that on my cube now Ihave two that are facing up so I'm goingto match this over a non white side pullthe trigger two times repositioning themto the side this is to the side of aWatch at: 12:00 / 12:20blue sticker which is diagonally matchedon the right to this so I'm going toperform the right trigger this is besidean orange sticker and to match that toit's orange Center it's to the left soI'm going to perform the left triggerand I'm done when you're done the entirebottom layer will be solved and as abonus so will the bottom face on to stepWatch at: 12:20 / 12:40four the goal of this step is to solvethe second layer of the cube when you'redone your cube will look something likethis these first two layers completelysolved first search the top layer foredge pieces with no yellow stickers onceyou find one match the edge piece that'sWatch at: 12:40 / 13:00facing towards the side with the centerpiece of the same color when this topsticker is appropriately matched you'llhave an upside-down T so for examplethis is an edge piece with no yellowstickers the sticker facing the side isgreen I'm gonna rotate this top layeruntil the green piece is Center matchedover the same color I've got myupside-down T so I'm gonna look at thesticker on the top of this edge pieceWatch at: 13:00 / 13:20and see whether it matches the leftcenter or the right Center in this caseit matches the right center so I'm gonnause my right hand to first pull the topface towards me 90 degrees and performthe right triggerI've displaced the white sticker so I'mgonna use the sticker beside it orangediagonally match it to the center of thesame color and because it's on the leftside I'm gonna use the left trigger toWatch at: 13:20 / 13:40place it back on the bottom just like instep 3 if at any point the sticker onthe top of your edge piece is colormatched with the sticker on the leftside instead pull with your left indexfinger then perform the left trigger andfix the displaced white sticker as youwouldn't step 3 continue solving foredge pieces on the top layer withoutWatch at: 13:40 / 14:00yellow stickers until the second layeris completely solved occasionally you'llrun into an edge case like this onewhere there are no edge pieces in thetop layer without yellow stickers andyet the middle layer is not solved incases such as these you need to pullthese middle pieces out by performingWatch at: 14:00 / 14:20the left or right trigger and then solvefor the edge pieces without yellowstickers as you normally wouldhere's what that looks like there are noedge pieces in this top layer that don'thave yellow stickers and yet the secondlayer is not solved so we need to fixthis piece here it's on the right sideof the cube so I'm gonna use my righttrigger to pull it out I'm gonna fix thewhite piece that we just displaced bydiagonally matching with the red CenterWatch at: 14:20 / 14:40here it's on the left side so I'm gonnause my left trigger now I should have anedge piece in the upper layer thatdoesn't have a yellow side that's thisone right here notice it's the one Ijust kicked out like before I'm gonnatake the side that's facing out andmatch it to the same Center got myupside down tee I'm gonna look at thetop sticker it's red it's red on theWatch at: 14:40 / 15:00right face so I'm gonna use my righthand to pull the top once towards methen perform my right trigger again I'vedisplaced this white piece so I'm gonnamove the red diagonally match here it'son the left side I'm going to perform myleft trigger and now my second layer isentirely solved alright that brings usto step five the goal of Step five is toWatch at: 15:00 / 15:20create a yellow cross on the top of yourcube but before we do let's pause for asecond to discuss cube notation cubenotation is what cubers use to describealgorithms and algorithms are thememorized sequences of moves that theyuse to solve the cube quickly F standsfor the front face of the cube relativeto you B stands for the backWatch at: 15:20 / 15:40l stands for left R stands for right Dstands for down and U stands for up ifyou see a letter it means to turn thecorresponding face clockwise by 90Watch at: 15:40 / 16:00degrees relative to the perspective ofsomebody looking at that face head-on sothis and this are clockwise rotations ofthe right and left faces respectivelysimilarly if you see a letter followedby the number two it means to turn thecorresponding face two times for a totalof 180 degrees so for example you twoWatch at: 16:00 / 16:19would mean to turn the upper face twotimes if the letter is followed by anapostrophe that is to say a prime symbolit means to rotate the correspondingface counterclockwise by 90 degrees forexample L prime means to turn the leftface 90 degrees counterclockwiselike so I know all of this sounds like aWatch at: 16:19 / 16:40lot and that's because it is but withpractice reading and following notationbecomes a lot more straightforward sonow that you know cube notation it'stime to learn an algorithm the notationfor it is as follows F u R u prime Rprime f prime if you're looking for amnemonic you can call it for EarthWatch at: 16:40 / 17:00the goal of step 5 is to make a yellowcross and when you're done the top ofyour cube should look like this if youhave no yellow edge pieces perform firearth f u R u prime R prime F prime ifyou have two yellow edge pieces suchWatch at: 17:00 / 17:20that they form a line with the centerpiece orient the line so it faces up anddown relative to your perspective andagain perform f u R u prime R prime Fprime if you have two yellow edge piecessuch that they form a backwards L turnyour top layer until the edge pieces areWatch at: 17:20 / 17:40at the 12 and 9 positions on a clock andperform f u R u prime R Primeat this point you should have a yellowcross on your top face on to the nextstep the sixth step is to solve theentire yellow face begin this step byWatch at: 17:40 / 18:00inspecting the top face of your cube howmany corners have yellow stickers you'llnever have three but you'll have either0 1 or 2 if you have 0 or 2 rotate thetop face of your cube until there is ayellow sticker in this position righthere if you're holding it in your lefthand it's in the upper right hand cornerWatch at: 18:00 / 18:20of the left face like that once thatyellow sticker is in position performthe following algorithm R u R prime u Ru2 R prime again if you have either 0 or2 corner stickers like we do hereWatch at: 18:20 / 18:40position this top layer such that thereis a yellow sticker in the upper righthand corner of the left face and againperform the algorithm R u R prime u R u2R prime if you have your yellow crossWatch at: 18:40 / 19:00and only one yellow corner it'll looklike there's a fish on the top face ofyour cube rotate that top face so thatthe fish's mouth is pointing down and tothe left relative to your perspectiveand perform the algorithm again R u Rprime u R u2 R prime you might have toWatch at: 19:00 / 19:20orient the fish and perform thisalgorithm one last time but once you doyou'll have solved the yellow side ontostep 7 the goal of step 7 is to positionthe corners of the cube to perform thisstep inspect the top layer of your cubeyou want to be looking at the uppermostWatch at: 19:20 / 19:40corner pieces of each face so here andhere here and here here and here andhere and here for step 7 we're gonna belearning a new algorithm I'll be usingthis cube to demonstrate it goes likethis l prime uare you prime L u R prime R u R prime uWatch at: 19:40 / 20:00R u2 R prime now you'll notice that theWatch at: 20:00 / 20:208th step of this algorithm actuallyundoes the seventh step which is weirdbut it actually makes this algorithmeasier to remember and that's becausethe entire second half is exactly thesame as the algorithm we learned in step6got it good now occasionally you mightfind that none of your faces haveWatch at: 20:20 / 20:40matching corner pieces like on this democube and if that's the case just performyour new algorithm l prime u R u prime Lu R prime R u R prime u R u2 R prime ifWatch at: 20:40 / 21:00one of your faces has matching cornerpieces like we do here hold that face inthe left hand and perform the algorithml prime u R u prime L u R prime R u RWatch at: 21:00 / 21:20prime u R u2 R prime now look you'reWatch at: 21:20 / 21:40definitely gonna have to memorize all ofthese algorithms if you want your timeis to really come down but the more youpractice the less sort of clunky and themore natural they'll become at thispoint all of your corner pieces shouldmatch if they don't you might need toperform step 7s algorithm one more timenow rotate the upper face so that theWatch at: 21:40 / 22:00corner pieces match up with the rest ofthe cubes faces there's just one stepleft to go alright this is it the eighthand final step the goal of thisdeath is to position the edges of yourcube if none of the sides is solved justhang tight and we'll address that in amoment but for now if one of the sidesis completely solved like we have hereWatch at: 22:00 / 22:20face it away from you now inspect theedge pieces on the remaining three sidesthey should be just slightly out ofposition so for example this orangepiece really wants to be here this greenpiece really wants to be here and thisblue piece really wants to be over hereto swap these three edges in a clockwiseWatch at: 22:20 / 22:40fashion you'll be performing a newalgorithm it goes like this f2 u R primeL f2 l prime R u f2 to swap the threeWatch at: 22:40 / 23:00edge pieces in a counterclockwiserotation perform the algorithm f2 uprime R prime L f2 l prime R u prime F -Watch at: 23:00 / 23:20alright so what do you do if none ofyour sides are solved simple perform thecounterclockwise algorithm oncereposition the cube and the performanceagain that looks like thisf2 u prime R prime L F - L prime R uWatch at: 23:20 / 23:40prime f2 now you'll have one solved facepoint that away from you and perform thecounterclockwise algorithm a second timef2 u prime R prime L f2 l prime R uWatch at: 23:40 / 24:00prime f2 now your cube should be solvedand that's it you're done you solve thecube like I said at the top this mightbe the kind of thing you have to watchmultiple times and really try severaltimes over before you really start toget the hang of it but I'd say afterWatch at: 24:00 / 24:20about the first half dozen solves youshould be able to dothis without watching the video and themore consistently you solve it afterthat the more dramatically your timeswill start to come down