Easiest Rubix Cube Solution

For those of you that think solving the Rubix Cube requires an IQ of 487+, you're probably still right. Solving the cube with no help is very challenging indeed and is a true test of one's logic (and patience). Luckily, a lot of people much smarter than you and I (or at least me, you might be one of them) have already done all the hard work and figured it all out. Most people who can solve a cube these days are merely learning and memorizing existing techniques and patterns, which is infinitely easier to do and doesn't take much skill at all (doing it blindfolded in under a minute is still something though).

There are a number of different methods typically used for solving the cube, the two most common being a layer-by-layer approach and the expanding corner approach. The expanding corner method is typically more difficult as it requires memorization of more patterns and more intuition as to what patterns are best applied when. The advantage however is that by memorizing more patters, you can solve any cube instance in less total moves and hence achieve faster times. This method is used by a number of competitive speed-cubers and will allow you to hit average times under one minute (with lots of practice).

Layered Method: The layered method on the other hand requires significantly less pattern memorization but takes more moves to solve a cube, i.e. it won't allow you to break the world record but it's pretty easy to learn. There are many minute variations of this method as well but the general principle is always the same:
  • The cube has six flat sides and three horizontal layers or slices;
  • In this method, the cube is solved one layer at a time;
  • The first layer is the easiest and can be solved intuitively;
  • The second layer requires memorization of one pattern (and it's reverse) and is also very easy;
  • The third and final layer is the hardest and requires at least 4 discrete patterns to solve;
Most of the difficulty lies in the final layer in which you have a choice between learning fewer patterns but taking more time to solve or learning more patterns and solving faster. As I'm pretty lazy in general, I learned to solve the cube based on other online guides and then simplified the final layer as much as possible choosing to reuse the same pattern multiple times to achieve the same result rather than learning mirrored versions, etc. The technique is described in full below.

Notation: Before jumping straight into it, it's important to become familiar with a bit of standard notation, i.e. an unambiguous way of representing the patterns you'll need to memorize in writing. The notation I'll be using is as follows:
  • Sides
    • F (Front): the side currently facing you
    • B (Back): the side opposite the front
    • U (Up): the side above or on top of the front side
    • D (Down): the side opposite the top, underneath the Cube
    • L (Left): the side directly to the left of the front
    • R (Right): the side directly to the right of the front
  • Rotation
    • A single F,B,U,D,L or R means rotate that side one-turn clockwise;
    • That is, F means turn the Front side clockwise once (90 degree rotation);
    • B means turn the Back side clockwise once, relative to itself (i.e. to decide which direction clockwise is, imagine looking at the side straight in front of you, regardless of where it is on the cube);
    • A single F,B,U,D,L or R with an ' proceeding it means turn that side one-turn anticlockwise;
    • That is, F' means turn the Front side anticlockwise once (90 degree rotation), etc;
    • A single F,B,U,D,L or R prefixed with a 2 means rotate that side two-turns clockwise;
    • That is, 2F means turn the Front side clockwise twice (180 degree rotation);
    • Note that 2F' == 2F, the chosen direction in each pattern will be based on mechanical fluidity; 
  • Examples
    • F R U R' U' F'
    • F D 2L D' 2L R' 2L' B
Special Credit: Before I begin outlining the solution steps, I need to make a special mention of the excellent solution published by Jasmine Lee, Beginner's Solution to the Rubix Cube. Many of the images in this post are adapted from her page.

First Layer: The first layer can be solved without any memorization as it's quite easy. The trick is to first form a cross on the top face, and then put in the corner pieces one at a time while maintaining the cross. This can be done as follows:
  • Pick a color and always start with the same color. This will help you to become familiar with the cube and will improve your orientation speed over time.
  • Have the middle piece of the color you picked facing up.
  • Try to put all the middle edge pieces of the matching color in the correct positions, this should look as follows when done (notice the white middle edge pieces also line-up with the side colors red and blue, this is vital):
  • Next you need to try and put all the 4 corner pieces in the top layer in their correct positions.
  • A corner piece has three colors, make sure all colors align correctly on all three sides of the vertex as follows:


  • Once your cube looks like the image above, you've solved your first layer!
  • Note: The first layer is simple if approached logically. Have a think about how to move one piece at a time in the correct position without disturbing the other pieces. The number of moves required is usually 4 to 5 at most. Learning to do this yourself is a lot more satisfying and fun than memorizing patters at this stage. 
  • Tip: Always hold the cube with the face you're trying to solve up (i.e. the white layer in the picture above). Rotate the cube on the vertical axis as required and peak on the bottom when needed. Keeping the orientation consistent will allow you to go on auto-pilot after a bit of practice and won't require much though at all.
Second Layer: If you look at the picture of the completed first layer above you'll notice that the second layer only requires correct placement of the four middle-edge pieces. This can be done by memorizing and applying one pattern (or it's reverse) from a specific cube orientation position as follows:
  • Rotate the cube so that the white layer completed above is always facing down. Then just rotate the cube on its vertical axis to complete the following moves.
  • Position a middle-edge piece on the top-layer such that its vertical-face color matches the color in the center of the the cube face (as shown in one of the following two diagrams) and then perform the corresponding move sequence to position the piece in the correct second layer location:


U' L' U L U F U' F'

U R U' R' U' F' U F

  • Keep doing the above two moves until you either:
    • Complete the second layer and all four middle-edge pieces are in their correct position, in which case you're done so skip to the third layer!
    • Can't complete the second layer because you can no longer rotate the top layer to match one of two states above, i.e. you're stuck with a correctly positioned but incorrectly orientated piece like so:

    • To get out of this, simply perform either of the two patterns listed above to take the middle piece out and move it to the top-layer, then rotate the top-layer until you match one of the two images above and perform the corresponding algorithm again to move it back into the middle-layer, but this time in the correct orientation and you're done!
Third Layer: Solving the third layer requires the memorization and application of at least 4 discrete patterns. Again, a lot of speed gains can be made here by learning more patterns, but you can get away with just 4 by applying them over and over in the right orientations. The strategy for solving the final layer is:
  1. form a horizontal cross by placing the middle-edge pieces with the correct color facing up (the colors on the side don't have to match the second layer middle pieces at this point).
  2. put the 4 corner pieces in their correct positions first.
  3. now flip the corner pieces into their correct orientations (i.e. so that all 3 colors on all 3 sides of each corner matches all the adjacent colors).
  4. and finally, move the middle-edge pieces into their correct positions and orientations to solve the cube!
Step 1 - The Cross:
  • After solving the second layer, position the cube so that you're looking straight down at the final top-layer and you'll see one of the following four patterns:


State 1

State 2

State 3

State 4

  • The goal is to get to State 4. If you're lucky, your cube may already be in this state straight after solving the second layer. 
  • If not, you'll need to gradually progress from whichever state you're in to the next until you get to 4 by applying the following algorithm over and over again:
F' R' U R' U' F'

  • Note: Make sure your cube is in one of the four states above before applying the pattern each time. That is, try to rotate the whole cube such that you have a horizontal line, or a reverse L shape in the top-left corner. A 2-by-2 square in the top-left corner counts as an L shape, etc.
Step 2 - Positioning Corners
  • After forming the cross, you'll need to position the 4 corners such that all three colors of a corner match all three colors on the adjoining sides.
  • Note that this doesn't meant the colors on the corner align with the adjoining sides, it only means that the corner has the correct colors such that it could align if it was flipped correctly (step 3).
  • There is one move you'll need to help you do this:
L U' R' U L' U' R' U2'
  • The trick as always is applying it from the correct position. What the move does is swap the positions of the top-right and the bottom-right corners, so apply it whilst holding the cube with the top-layer up and the corners you want to swap on your right. You'll need to apply the move either once or twice to get all four corners in the correct positions. Take some time to think about it first.
Step 3 - Orienting Corners
  • Once the corners are in their correct positions, the next step is to flip them around so that the three colors on each corner match the three adjacent sides.
  • Again, this can be done using only one move applied repeatedly from a correct position. The pattern you need to memorize is:
R U R' U R U2 R' U2
  • Explaining this move in detail is a little difficult, but basically it rotates all corners except the bottom left by 90 degrees on their own axis. Don't get it? Doesn't really matter to be honest. Just keep applying the move until you get all four corners in their correct orientations.
  • To help you do this, remember that the bottom left corner will not be rotated, so always perform the move from that reference point.
  • There are 7 possible orientation states your cube could be in, these are:
State 1
State 2
State 3
State 4

State 5
State 6
State 7
  • Notice here that State 1 is almost identical to State 2 if you rotate the cube 90 degrees anti-clockwise. So if you're in S2 (or S1 rotated to semi-S2), apply the move above until all four corners hare correctly orientated.
  • If you're in any of the other states, try to apply the move whilst having a 'white' square (i.e. wrongly orientated) in the bottom-left until you get to S1 or S2, then do the above. This may mean you'll have to do the move 3 or 4 times in total.
  • If you want a better understanding of what's happening here and want to take the guess-work out, refer to Peter's solution.
Step 4 - Positioning Middle-Edge Pieces
  • The final stage simply requires you to get the middle-edge pieces in the correct position to solve the cube!
  • The move you have to memorize and apply is:
F2 U L R' F2 L' R U F'
  • This time you simply need to position the cube such that the back row is complete (back-middle-edge piece in correct position and orientation) and apply the above pattern either once or twice to solve.
Synopsis
Using the above method, with practice, it's possible to solve the cube in around two minutes on average. The method only requires you to memorize 6 patterns, and know when to apply them based on a few simple rules.

Memorizing the moves may seem hard at first, but you'll find that with practice you'll commit them to mechanical memory, i.e. your hands will do all the work without you even having to think about it (thinking about it usually takes you out of flow state and leaves you completly lost).

The patterns described above are simple transformations of what others have published, I've chosen these particular orientations as they suite the mechanical memorization process best in my opinion. Once you get the hang of it though, feel free to experiment by learning more patterns, etc. 

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