Introduction: How to Solve a Rubik's Cube
Introduction: Rubik’s Cubes are a great way to impress your friends and family. While solving one shows others how creative you are, it is also a great way to pass time, de-stress, or take your mind off other things.
Learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube requires patience and persistence. You will not be able to learn how to solve the cube by following the instructions only once; it will require reading through multiple times. I recommend reviewing a few steps and learn to master them before moving on. You will also want to memorize the algorithms listed in parts 5-7 and the notations listed in the Terminology and Notation section.
Although your Rubik’s Cube will not be in the exact position as mine, you can follow the general steps below to help you learn to solve your cube. Finally, I can’t stress enough, that if you are serious about learning to solve the Rubik’s Cube you will want to pay attention to how pieces move around the cube when you are making turns. Understanding the outcome of your moves will help you grasp how to put pieces where you want them.
How to Use These Instructions: This method of solving the Rubik’s Cube will be outlined in seven parts. Each part contains a series of steps and turns, which will result in a very identifiable outcome to complete each part. At the beginning of each part, I will include a brief description of the desired outcome for the part. Within the steps, I will list the turns I made on my Rubik’s Cube to compete the step. I will also include images of how my Rubik’s Cube looks when making each turn. Although you will not be making the exact turns I make for most of the steps, you will be able learn how to get pieces to move where you want them to.
This method of solving the Rubik’s Cube allows me to solve it in about two minutes (others can solve it faster).
- Part 1 - Create a 2x2 Block (Steps 1-6)
- Part 2 - Add to the 2x2 Block to Create a 3x2 Block (Steps 7-10)
- Part 3 - Fixing the Inverted Edges (Step 11)
- Part 4 - Finish the Bottom Two Layers (Steps 12-13)
- Part 5 - Place the Remaining Corners in the Correct Places (Steps 14-15)
- Part 6 - Twist the Top Corners (Steps 16-18)
- Part 7 - Place the Remaining Edges (Steps 19-20)
Rubik’s Cube Basics and Concepts: A traditional Rubik’s Cube (3x3) has six faces (sides) and three types of pieces. It is important to understand that the center pieces never move in relation to the other center pieces. For example, the white center piece is always opposite the yellow centerpiece. Please note that if the Rubik’s Cube comes apart, you should always put it back together solved, or you will likely put it back together in an unsolvable state.
Terminology and Notation:
- Face – A side of the cube. There are six faces and may be referred to by its position as you are looking at it or by its center piece.
- Center Piece – A one-color piece in the center of a face.
- Edge Piece – A two-color piece between corner pieces. There are 12 edge pieces on a Rubik’s Cube.
- Corner Piece – A three-color piece. There are 8 corner pieces on a Rubik’s Cube.
- Layer – A 3x1 set of pieces that can be turned on the Rubik’s Cube.
- Top Layer (T) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer on the top of the cube.
- Bottom Layer (b) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer on the bottom of the cube.
- Front Layer (F) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer you are looking at.
- Back Layer (B) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer opposite the layer you are looking at.
- Right Layer (R) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer on the right side of the cube.
- Left Layer (L) – As you are looking at the Rubik’s Cube, it is the layer on the left side of the cube.
- Turn – A ¼ rotation of a layer in a clockwise direction. For turns in the counterclockwise direction, the notation will be underlined. For example, T tells you to turn the top layer ¼ rotation in a counterclockwise direction.
- Double Turn – A ½ rotation of a layer in a clockwise direction and is notated by a ( ' ' ). For example, 'R' tells you to turn the right face two turns in a clockwise direction.
Step 1: Create a 2x2 Block
While learning how to solve the Rubik’s Cube, I recommend always starting with the white center on top until you start to recognize the patterns of the cube. For this part we will be setting one corner (white/red/blue corner) and three edge pieces (white/red, white/blue, and blue/red) next to the appropriate centers to create a 2x2 block on the corner of the cube.
Note: The image above is the initial position of the cube.
Step 2: Locate the White/red/blue Corner and Place It in the Correct Position.
Note: The white/red edge is in the correct place; however, it is inverted.
Step 3: Twist Red/white Edge
Turns: 'R', T
Note: The blue/white edge from the last image can be worked into place while twisting the red/white edge.
Step 4: Connect the Red/white Edge With the Red/white/blue Corner
Turns: F, L, R, F, R
Note: The red/white edge is now in place. We will add the blue/white edge next.
Step 5: Place Blue/white Edge.
Turns: F, R, F
Note: The blue/white edge is now in place. Next, we will add the blue/red edge, but first we need to locate it on the cube. No turns were made for the last image in this step. The cube has been rotated to view a different face; however, we will rotate the red face to the front before continuing.
Step 6: Complete 2x2 Block
Turns: B, T, R, T
Note: Notice how the white/blue/red corner now creates a 2x2 block on the Rubik’s Cube. Part 1 is complete.
Step 7: Create 1x2 Block to Add to the 2x2 Block
In this step we are going to create a 1x2 and add it to the 2x2 to create a 3x2 block. We need the white/blue/orange corner and the white/orange and blue/orange edge. The idea is to add to the 2x2 without moving the pieces we have already placed.
Note: No turns made in this step. The entire cube was rotated to place the orange center as the right layer and the green center as my top layer. You should to locate the pieces you want to add to the 2x2. I have noted the corner piece I need is located in the top layer in the opposite corner I am looking at while the two edges pieces I need are next to the orange center.
Step 8: Pair the Blue/Orange Edge With the Blue/Orange/White Corner
Turns: R, B
Note: The blue/orange edge is now paired with the blue/orange/white corner. The orange/white edge in now located on the bottom of the right layer.
Step 9: Pair the Orange/White Edge With the Blue/Oragne/White Corner
Turns: 'R', T, B, 'R', T, 'R', T
Note: We now have a 1x2 block on the right layer.
Step 10: Add the 1x2 Block to the 2x2 Block
Note: We now have a 3x2 block completed. No turns in the second or third image. You will notice that the layers with the green and yellow centers can be turned without breaking up the 3x2. Part 2 is complete.
Step 11: Twist Incorrect Edges
In this step, we will be twisting any edge pieces that are inverted. There are seven edges remaining, and they will be inverted in pairs; either 2, 4, or 6 edges will be incorrect (at least one will be in the correct position or possibly all will be correct).
The remaining edge pieces will belong to one of the untouched faces (yellow and green). You want to ensure the edges with green actually touch the green center when aligned and the same for the yellow edges. If they do not touch, we will need to twist them.
Let start by placing our 3x2 block in the bottom corner with the green center on top and the yellow center on the right layer.
Note: No turns made in the first image. Rotated entire cube to position the yellow face on the right and the green face on the top.
Identify two incorrect edges and place them each in one of the marked positions in the second image. Be sure not to break the 3x2 while placing the edges into the needed positions. You will only need to rotate the top and right layers to put them into place.
Turns: F, T, F
Note: No images for the turns; however, you will repeat this step until all edges are twisted correctly and the edges match up similar to the last image. Part 3 is complete when all edges are correct.
Step 12: Add a Corner and Two Edges
Next, we will be adding the orange/yellow/blue corner along with the orange/yellow edge and the yellow/blue edge. We are going to continue to work with the orange center as the front layer and the yellow center as the right layer.
Turns: 'T', 'R', T, R, T, R, T, R, T, 'R'
Now that we have added another corner, let us add the last corner and edge to complete the bottom two layers.
Step 13: Complete Bottow Two Layers
Turns: T, R, 'T', R, 'T', R, 'T', R, T, R, T, R, T, R, 'T', R
Note: Be sure to follow the yellow/red/blue corner and the yellow/red edge through the turns to see how to move them through the cube’s right and top layer without breaking the areas we have already built.
The bottom two layers and Part 4 is complete.
Step 14: Identify Incorrect Corners
For this part we are not concerned with turning the corners the correct way (with green on top). What we want to do is ensure they are in the correct positions in relation to the centers and each other.
Note: Turned the top layer to align some of the corners in the correct places. Notice in the first image that the green/red/yellow corner and the green/red/white corner are in the correct positions. No turns for the second image. I rotated to cube to view the other two corners. The green/yellow/orange corner and the green/orange/white corner are in the wrong position.
Using the following algorithm with the two incorrect corners on the right side of the top layer, we can swap the two incorrect corners.
Step 15: Swap Incorrect Corners
Turns: L, T, R, T, L, T, R, 'T'
Note: Notice the green/white/orange corner and the green/yellow/orange corner have swapped places. You can use this algorithm as many times as required to place the incorrect corners. Once all corners have been placed, you have complete Part 5.
Step 16: Identifying Top Layer Patterns
In this Part, we will be twisting the corners so all pieces on the top layer match the center (in this case, green). This Part involves pattern recognition and as you become more familiar with solving the cube you will recognize the quickest way to solve this part.
The first image shows that one of the corners is turned the correct way (green on top). I have placed this corner in the left layer on the top. I find this to be the best pattern to solve this step quickly.
Note: No turns for the first image. The cube was rotated to place the correct corner on the top left.
Notice the orientation of the green/white/red block (green is facing the right face rather than the red face). I know from this pattern that I will need to do the Part 6 algorithm twice to complete Part 6.
Note: If you do not have this pattern from the first image, you can play around with the cube by using the Part 6 algorithm and learn the patterns of the top layer, and how they change after each iteration of the algorithm.
Step 17: First Iteration of the Part 6 Algorithm
Turns: R, T, R, T, R, 'T', R
I have now completed one iteration of the algorithm. I rotate the top to realign the corners to their correct places on the cube in the last image. Notice the pattern of the top layer, it still only has one corner turned the correct way; however, the green/white/red corner has been twisted (along with the other corners). From this pattern, one more iteration of the algorithm will solve this step.
Step 18: Second Iteration of the Part 6 Algorithm
Turns: R, T, R, T, R, 'T', R
Note: I’m not going to show the pictures for the algorithm again, but here is how the cube looks when Part 6 is complete. You can continue to use the algorithm as many times as need to complete Part 6.
Step 19: Identifying Final Algorithm
There is a small chance that your cube may be solved when you complete Part 6, but most commonly you will have one side complete with three incorrect edges on the other sides. I rotated the top to align the corners and rotated the cube to show the next two images.
Note: There is a chance that you will not have any solved sides. You will need to use the Part 7 algorithm twice to solve the cube, otherwise you will only need to complete the algorithm once.
Additionally, make note of the direction the incorrect edges need to be moved to be placed in the correct positions. The next algorithm will depend on that direction. The algorithm will be the same except the turns for the top layer will be in the same direction as you noted for the direction the edges. In this case the edges need to be moved in a clockwise direction, so the algorithm will require clockwise rotations of the top layer.
Step 20: Final Algorithm
Turns: 'F', T, L, R, 'F', L, R, T, 'F'
Note: If your edges require a counterclockwise turn, the two turns for the top layer should be changed to counterclockwise as well.
Congratulations if you were able to complete the steps and solve your Rubik’s Cube. Some important things to remember as you work to improve your solving time; you should know the steps in the correct order, understand how to solve each step, and memorize the algorithms, but the most important thing is to see the solution not just look at the solution. I hope these instructions were helpful.