The 3x3 Rubik’s Cube® was invented in 1974, but didn’t make it to the US from Hungary until 1980. Like most kids then, I owned one or two of these little puzzle cubes, and like most of us, I never completely solved it. Back then we didn’t have YouTube and we couldn’t find solutions online. There was no “online.” We had to struggle to solve the puzzle intuitively. Plenty of people more dedicated than I did solve the puzzle. However, without access to algorithms, most of us had to just figure it out, so even when we made lots of progres and got close, finishing the cube was elusive and, because the starting conditions of a successful “move” was unclear and the steps to complete it weren’t recorded, it was essentially impossible to reproduce. Solving the frustrating little cube was a brute-force endeavor completed only by kids more patient than I.
Skip ahead to the present day, some 30+ years. In my Instagram feed was an advertisement for a cool looking illuminated and app-enabled speed cube on Kickstarter called the GoCube. I was intrigued, but not enough to lay out $80. Instead, I ordered a less sophisticated speed cube, the SpeedRipper on Amazon for $13.
After my cube arrived, I watched a video on YouTube that helped me solve the cube for the first time… ever! I learned a couple basic algorithms and the notations for the various required turns. It was pretty cool, but way too slow to be satisfying. To reduce memorization the same simple algorithms were simply repeated enough times to get the desired result. After a couple times I was watching through long sections of the video simply to get to the little algorithms I needed. Frustrated, I searched for solutions that weren’t video-based. The one I found was good, but still very much for beginners. Now I could scroll immediately to the layer I needed to solve to get the specific algorithms necessary for a solution. You Can Do The Cube: 3x3 Solution
I was also watching more videos of speed cubers, including world record holders. Those guys are fast! Doing so helped me to learn how their brains see the puzzle and how their hands and fingers manipulate the cube. The Rubik’s Cube is challenge not just for the mind, but for the hands, too. Simply completing the cube is merely the first step. I like it because it can be both challenging and a total mind-break.
I also learned that there are many types of “hardware” I hadn’t even imagined. The new speed cubes have dozens of micro-magnets inside to help lock the sides and prevent over-rotations. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to one of those when I can complete my cube unassisted.
Anyways, the big pictures on the guide I found forced me to scroll a bunch from one algorithm to the next, and much like the video before, the algorithms were simple for beginners, which required many superfluous steps. I went on another search.
The site I’m using now is still for beginners, but it uses the back and bottom—down—sides in its algorithms, significantly reducing the number of turns necessary to complete the algorithms. Ruwix: How to solve the Rubik’s Cube
The above-mentioned guide is on a Rubik’s Cube wiki site, which has loads of excellent information for the novice and expert alike. It even includes interactive animations so you can see how the edges and corners move around the cube during the algorithm steps, which I found very helpful to get a more intuitive understanding of what was going on, and will hopefully allow me to soon solve the puzzle without help.