If you have ever wondered how to solve the Rubik’s Cube, I have not only the answer for you but also a sweet way to memorise the entire algorithms needed. You will learn a beginner method for the cube which will lead you to solve it. This is not a tutorial for speedcubing. If you are an absolute newbie you should start with my series “How to become a memory champion“.
Memorise the notation
To solve the cube from your memory you need to understand its notation and memorise the algorithms from step 1-7 . There are only 12 necessary basic moves for a beginner so you can come up with a simple number system with twelve digits. If you don’t have a system, create one. You could use the Zodiac for example with its twelve starsigns from January to December. I use my Major System with PAO (Person, Action, Object), to memorise the algorithms. [Update: Technically you only need 10 moves because the the S and S’ are both only used here for Step 1, which you can easily learn with a few repetitions; therefore it is much more efficient to use a 2-digit number system and memorize two moves in one image]
You will need a memory system only in the beginning. After a while you will remember the moves with your muscle memory. This is the memory athlete approach. In the “Cubing scene” it is common to only practise these moves with muscle memory.
The following 12 turns are important:
- Front (F)
- Front inverse (F’)
- Left (L)
- Left inverse (L’)
- Right (R)
- Right inverse (R’)
- Upper (U)
- Upper inverse (U’)
- Down (D)
- Down inverse (D’)
- Standing (S) – turn the layer between front and back
- Standing inverse (S’)
Even numbers are always moved clockwise from their point of view. Odd numbers are moved counterclockwise.
To make it easier memorising the algorithms you can use the method of loci. Alternativly you can use keywords for every step. I used a journey but I stopped needing it very soon.
Sample System - The Zodiac
Sample System – The Zodiac
If you are only interested in memorising the cube and you don’t need a number system for memory sports, memory training, your daily life or whatsoever, you can create an easy system for this particular need on the fly.
Since there are only twelve different turns for a beginner, you’ll need twelve images to code them into memorable stories. I will demonstrate this by using the Zodiac to create them. But beware: If you are interested to learn how to SpeedCube later on, you will need a more sophisticated system, since there are 28 turns altogether. There are several methods like the Friedrich Method, where you will need most of them. For that you should consider the Major System with 100 images (or only the first 28, if you need it only for this matter).
Let’s take the twelve starsigns from the Zodiac in the order Jan-Dec and combine them with our notation:
- Capricorn – F
- Aquarius – F’
- Pisces – R
- Aries – R’
- Taurus – L
- Gemini – L’
- Cancer – U
- Leo – U’
- Virgo – D
- Libra – D’
- Scorpio – S
- Sagittarius – S’
Now we have twelve perfectly fine images. You can now start to create stories for your algorithm. But to avoid confusion with longer algorithms you should go one step further and make a little PAO (Person-Action-Object) out of the Zodiac. That could look like this:
- Capricorn (P) – climbing (A) – stone (O, because it is climbing on stones)
- Aquarius (P, imagine Neptune) – watering (A) – vase (O)
- Pisces (P) – swimming (A) – fishbone (O)
- Aries (P) – ram (A) – french horn (O, because it looks like the rams horn)
- Taurus (P) – impale (A) – horn (O)
- Gemini (P, just imagine any twins) – hold (A) – earrings (O, well that is all I have )
- Cancer (P) – pinch (A) – scissors (O)
- Leo (P) – bite (A) – crown (O)
- Virgo (P) – kiss (A) – lipstick (O, maybe not really virgo-like)
- Libra (P, imagine Justitia) – balance (A) – scales (O)
- Scorpio (P) – sting (A, if too similar to impale take poison f.e.) – spike (O)
- Sagittarius (P, imagine Robin Hood) – shoot (A) – bow (O)
Remember this is only an example, change whatever you like. Now you can memorise three numbers/three turns in one little story following the order P-A-O:
Hey, you just memorised step 1.1 – congratulations. You can put this on your first location in your journey or you create any keyword reminding you on step 1.1. If the algorithm is longer than three turns just add the next part of the PAO-sequence to your story. Don’t worry if it’s not a full PAO but only a P or a PO. You should be fine. For example step 1.2:
But be careful to keep the right order: It is always PAOPAO. Although we name Leo before the fishbone, the fishbone comes before Leo. In this case it is PAOP. The correct story would be: Aries is pinching with a fishbone Leo. But that sounds weird. Don’t worry about it, the PAO-sequence is always the same and that will help you to remember the right order.
For the later steps you will have to create longer stories with up to 16 elements in step 7. That would be PAOPAOPAOPAOPAOP. WTF, you might think. But even that is not so bad after all. If it twists your brain too much just break it down into a few stories and put them on several locations. But one long story should work out, too. Just repeat it a few times and you will have it clearly in your mind. And rememeber: After a while you wont need the stories anymore because your muscle memory will remember all algorithms.
Beginner Step 1 – The First Cross
Keep your cube always in the same position, with one clear top. It doesn’t matter what color you choose. For this tutorial I chose white as top color. Your cube will not always match the three cases shown below in step 1.1 – 1.3. You can create one of these states with very few turns. It should be easy to see, even if you are unexperienced. Then start the fitting algorithm. The result shall be the white cross on the top. Make sure, that in your result the edges fit the middle pieces in the middle layer.
Beginner Step 1.1
Beginner Step 1.2
Beginner Step 1.3
Beginner Step 2 – The First Layer
Finish the first layer by putting the white corner stones in their places. Watch out for the “L” on the left, the right or the double inverse “L”, you’ll see in the “before” states below. You might have to make a few turns and create one of the three “L’s” before you can start one the three algorithms. This makes this step probably the most difficult one for a beginner. Sometimes you must open your white cross, to bring down one of the white corner stones. Make sure to close the cross again, before you start the algorithm.
Beginner Step 2.1 – The Left L
Beginner Step 2.2 – The Right L
Beginner Step 2.3 – The Double Inverse L
Beginner Step 3 – The First Two Layers
Flip the cube so that white is now the new bottom. You will now finish the first two layers by putting in the middle edges. To do so look out for the two big “T’s”, either on the left or on the ride side, as you see below in step 3.1 and 3.2. Move the upper layer to create a “T”. If there is no possible “T”, because all upper edges are yellow, just do one of the two algorithms, to bring up one of the missing edges from the middle layer. Create now a “T” and do the fitting algorithm.
Beginner Step 3.1 – The Right T
Beginner Step 3.2 – The Left T
Beginner Step 4 – The Second Cross
Create now the second cross on the new top layer – the yellow cross. Before you start your algorithm, move the upper layer until you’ll have a yellow edge in the front left position. Repeat this step until the yellow edge is on top. Rotate the cube to work on all neccessary sides.
Beginner Step 5 – The Top Middle Pieces
Finish the top middle pieces. To do so you must most likely do this step several times. If you have two adjacent sides in the correct place, turn your cube, so that those two sides are on the right and on the back (remember the notation!). Do this step once more plus a F (Front) turn and you are done. If you don’t do this you might end up in a infinite loop. Don’t worry, you will figure this out.
Beginner Step 6 – Three Corner Swap
Before you do this algorithm, check the four top corners. If there is already one in the right place but just turned around (or even completly correct), move the cube so that it is now in the back left position of the upper layer. That is the only of the four corners that is not get swapped. Then start your algorithm. You might have to repeat this step. If there are all four corners in the right place, skip this step and move on to step 7.
Beginner Step 7 – Rotating Two Corners
Finish the cube by turning around two corners. Move your cube so that two of the unfinished corners are on the right side of the top layer and start your algorithm. You will likely have to repeat this step. If there are still some unfinished ones, turn around the cube to work on the next corners and repeat the algorithm.