Archive for the Cubing Category

Master Icosamate Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on May 8, 2022 by slateman

This puzzle is kicking my ass. Fortunately, our hero Super Antonio Vivaldi made a tutorial (including another video with algorithms and another on the regular Icosamate.)

Step One: Get Corners On One Face

This should be done intuitively. Use a beginner’s method to move/rotate these as you go on.

Step Two: Permute Last-Layer Corners

This is a challenge and will be the most time-consuming part of your solve. First, flip the puzzle over and remember your bottom-layer colors (it’s easy to get mixed up and forget, particularly after putting the puzzle down!) Now, you’re going to find one corner to use as a basis for figuring out what the top piece must be.

You will do a DDUU algorithm as expected. This swaps the top with the front center piece and it also swaps the back left and back right. Doing the algorithm a second time returns all to their proper spots. However, it will also rotate them.

Starting on the left side, this will spin those centers clockwise. Counter-clockwise is done starting on the right.

Usually you won’t have this all land perfectly. Remember some cheats: you can move up the front L & R pieces to the back L & R. Since those back ones will swap/rotate and the front won’t, it’s an easy way to move around which pieces you want.

If you’re stuck with a pair of adjacent ones, do the algorithm once. This swaps the top and the center. Then rotate the second wrong piece to the front and do the alg again. This is how you do a three-cycle. Make sure you do the DDUU on the right to start and then return with the left to ensure the back sides don’t get messed up.

Step Three: Rotate Last-Layer Corners

Get the top center rotated properly while keeping at least one corner oriented properly. You’ll do your DDUU until the top center is right (and you keep one aligned perfectly so you know which is which).

Now you’re going to get the remaining corners. You can have two or three out – never one. This is a beginner’s method approach using R’/D’/R/D. You’ll count how many turns you need. You will be looking for a multiple of five (to keep your top oriented correctly). You do your R’/D’/R/D until one corner is set. Then, using a last-layer method from a 3×3, keep the lower-right piece in place (it’s rotated wrong now). Keep doing the algorithm a total of five times (or multiple of five). If it’s not a multiple of five, that’s OK, now use the one incorrectly-rotated center as your center.

If you’re unlucky and get parity, you’ll find yourself with everything done and an incorrectly-oriented top center as stated above. In order to fix this, place your top center how it’s supposed to be. This will mess with the other five corners. *sigh*. Yup. Now using intuition, move around these pieces to get the top layer perfect.

I’m guessing here, but you’ll likely swap a top and a front – then turn the puzzle and perform the opposite algorithm (starting on left vs right). You’ll likely need to fix the piece you just put in place. Feel free to do so (clockwise or ccw).

If you get all those pieces put in properly, you’ll likely have a few corners which need rotations. Count how many you need: hopefully you’ll end up with five rotations and go back to the R’/D’/R/D to figure it all out.

Step Four: Match Edges

This three-cycle will swap edges. This will go red/green/blue clockwise if you start on the right. Like the Face Turning Octahedron algorithm, this will require you to bring one slice down, then do a D/D/U – return slice – D/U/U algorithm.

Starting on the left will rotate them clockwise (R/G/B). You will use a face with a V in front of you (like the blue/green shown here). If you bring the left (red) piece down, then you do Right down, left down, right up – return slice – right down, left up, right up.

If you start on the right (move yellow down to the blue), then your algorithm will go left down, right down, left up – return slice – left down, right up, left up.

Now…what to do when a pair are inevitably flipped upside down? OK, so get them adjacent like you’ve been doing. You’ll be flipping these, so hopefully these are your last two edges that need fixing. If they’re the blue and green here, use a dummy piece (yellow) as a start. Now, you’re going to want to flip the green piece. Do this by the following:

You’re going to be working with the lower-right corner (LR – the green triangle) and bottom layer. Turn LR’, then D, D, and return LR LR. This will flip the piece that was originally there.

Now, do your algorithm. Then undo your flip, now by LR’, LR’ D’, D’ and LR – the opposite of your prior flipping alg. Finally, do your step-four algorithm two more times. If you need guidance, check out SAV’s tutorial (with timestamp).

Step Five: Match Petals

This algorithm is the opposite of the step-four alg. Here, however, you will move up the M slice layer, perform three moves, return the M slice and then do three more. It’s almost exactly the opposite of the one above. I need time to get to this part.

Start by moving that M slice up to put the pink petal where the yellow is. Then, using the colored center as your basis, do a Right down (x2), left down (x2), right up (x2) then restore the M slice to its original spot and do a Right down (x2), left up (x2), right up (x2).

Update: A solid week of dedicated work resulted in a full solve. One of my proudest solves. Not sure how eager I am to mix this up again. :D

Rex Cube/Super Ivy Cube Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on May 7, 2022 by slateman

I bought a Rex Cube ages ago but never really enjoyed solving it. The puzzle itself felt like it was going to fall apart at any minute and upon solving it, I shelved it and hardly ever touched it again.

Last year I purchased a Super Ivy Cube and despite being the exact same puzzle in a sense, it’s a lot more fun and a much more solid. However, as usual, I forgot the final step and had to look it up. Thus, the usual tutorial/algorithms for my own personal reference.

Step One: Align All Edges

This is an intuitive step and is essentially solving a Dino Cube. You should be able to get all of these solved pretty easily.

Step Two: Move Centers

This is the standard up/up/down/down algorithm and I do this intuitively as well. I try to get three mismatched centers oriented around one corner to easily swap them. If they’re all in a line, I just try to solve one before moving on.

Step Three: Move Petals Around

This algorithm is the only reason for this post, really. This will swap petals on your front faces as seen here. You will start with Right up, left up, right down, left down, then turn the puzzle clockwise on the corner you’re looking at and reverse it. Left up, right up, left down, right down. This should flip those two sets of petals. Now, it’s just a matter of coordinating those swaps and you’re gold!

MF8 Regular Astrominx – New Puzzle!

Posted in Blog, Cubing on April 28, 2022 by slateman

New Puzzle! I finally added an icosahedron to round out the platonic solids.

New 6×6 & Megaminx Records!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records on January 3, 2022 by slateman

I started cubing almost 11 years ago and in my early days, I was more focused on speed than I am now. However, while my collection is now more focused on diversity and uniqueness – I still like to dabble into speedsolving from time to time. With a new, Christmas boost to the collection – I’ve upgraded my 6×6 and Megaminx – the former, a terrible V-Cube and the latter broken in shipping. Due to these substatial updates, new efforts were made to break decade-old records and in each case, the personal bests fell swiftly.

My 6×6 record, residing at over 15 minutes, was shorn to 11:11: an improvement by over four minutes. The Megaminx took a pair of tries before it too tumbled. I only did this puzzle for speed a few times, and I don’t endeavor to break this record – a half-minute improvement – any time soon.

A pair of records brought into the current decade, now leaving but the 2×2 and Pyraminx as sole representatives of the 2010s. Oh, and the 3×3 but that’s OK. My full cubing records can be found here.

4x4x6 Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on July 30, 2021 by slateman

This was my favorite puzzle and when it fell and got destroyed in Sweden, I was heartbroken. However, a few years later, whilst living in Italy, I replaced it and – to my dismay – realized I had forgotten some crucial steps into solving it!

Things are really quite simple and matching those inner-edge pieces remains my toughest challenge. I figure I should catalogue this stuff for future reference, rather than relying on old YouTube videos to help me through. OK, let’s see!

  1. Solve centers (like a 4×4)
  2. Solve edges (like a 4×4)
  3. Return to Cuboid (like a 3×3)
  4. Make sure your two middle layers are good.
  5. Solve inner-edge pieces (I struggle here)
  6. Position inner-lower layer ‘cross’ segment
  7. Then solve inner-lower layer edges (like a 3x3x2): R2 / U / R2 / U’ / R2
  8. Now inner-upper layer edges (headlights)
    • Headlights on Left (or 2x): R2 / U / R2 / U2 / R2 — u’ / d — R2 / U’ / R2 / U / R2
    • Inner-edge swap (Opposite): R2 / U2 / R2 / U2 / R2
    • Inner-edge swap (Adjacent): R2 / U / R2 / U — R2 / U2 / R2 / U2 — R2 / U / R2 / U’ / R2
  9. Middle-Layer Parity (If necessary): U2 / R2 / F2 / U2 / F2 / R2 / U2 / F2
  10. Now bottom centers (Intuitive)
  11. Bottom edges (just like step #7)
  12. Repeat Headlights & inner edges steps (#8)
  13. Middle-Layer Parity Redux (if necessary)

See if that makes sense the next time I need it!!!

New 4×4 Record: 1:43.62!!!

Posted in Blog, Cubing, High Scores/Accomplishments on April 2, 2021 by slateman

When I broke my four-year-old 4×4 record last month, I was rather thrilled, securing my first sub-2-minute solve in the process. I was quite content with the accomplishment and immediately felt satisfaction and zero motivation to improve upon the time. However, as I’m on spring break right now, I’ve been tinkering around with the puzzle and it’s so spectacular! The magnets are just wonderful and as I was running through things, I noticed two things. First, my centers are done in about 20 seconds. Second, I’ve been getting better at edge matching. First, I match white edges and then move on to yellow. These high-contrast pieces are much easier to keep track of and instead of lining up several edges at once (like the pros do), I just wing one at a time and keep track of other edges which is actually more productive.

Anyhow, as I have noticed an improvement, I figured I go for time. My best average-of-five now resides around 2:07 with a new record a full 10 seconds faster than my prior record! Pretty damn cool, I have to be honest. I can’t see any huge change coming in the future, but I may keep trying. \m/

Following Day Update: I haven’t come close to my 103-second solve, but it was not for a lack of effort. In the process, I managed a 2:05.28 average-of-five. it’s hardly disappointing: 2:05 would’ve been my personal best before last month!

New 5×5 Record! Sub-5 Minutes!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, High Scores/Accomplishments on March 25, 2021 by slateman

I haven’t really tried for a 5×5 record in ages. I purchased my ShengShou way back in 2012 and promptly broke my record. However, while the puzzle itself is pretty good, I only rarely returned to try to break my just-over-five-minutes standard.

For Christmas, I made a massive order of puzzles. I got like a dozen or something and among them were three magnetic puzzles: a 3×3, 4×4 and 5×5. Now, I’ve already proclaimed my love for these last month when I broke my four-year-old 4×4 record getting my very-first sub-two-minute solve. Today, with some extra time on my hands, I figured I’d take a stab at the 5×5, a puzzle I haven’t improved time on in eight-and-a-half years.

The stickerless, magnetic ShengShou is a great puzzle. It never locks up, those magnets help tidy up those quick turns and it cuts like a dream, so I’m rarely ever stuck between layers. My first solve was almost 5:30 – not too bad with no practice and my second was 5:07, a mere five seconds off my record. Solve #3 was it: my first sub-five-minute 5×5! Clocking in at 4:51, I beat my old record by 11 seconds!

After a mess up and another 5:something time, the stars aligned and…OMFG??!! 4:12.93! That is fifty seconds better than the record which stood since October of 2012. FIFTY SECONDS! I don’t even know what to say! Beating this would require some serious dedication but, like the 4×4 before it, I’ve accomplished what I’ve always wanted to: a sub-five. The four-minute finish line feels way too far off. I think next up will be a new 6×6. Still rocking the V-Cube 6 I bought in August of 2011. Urgh.

New 4×4 Record! Sub-2 Minutes!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, High Scores/Accomplishments on March 1, 2021 by slateman

I haven’t done any speed solving in quite some time, but after ordering a treasure trove of puzzles for Christmas, I was enjoying my 4×4 MoYu Meilong and its magnets. I realized just how quickly it turned and I thought a new record could be in sight. After an impressive 2:04 – an eight-second improvement on my existing personal best, I busted out my very first sub-2-minute run! Clocking in at 1:54.10, this was my first new record in over a year. I am certain I could improve upon it – but I don’t feel any burning need to do so. The 2-minute threshold is satisfying enough! Pretty psyched and this year marks my 10-year cubing anniversary.

Mixup Cube Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on January 17, 2021 by slateman

This puzzle was a curious one and I required a helpful tutorial to solve it. Just some quick algorithms to help me solve this cool cube.

Step 1: Return to a cube

First, you’ll get offset centers lined up with an edge piece sloped downward above it. Here, you move the center piece 45° to the right, then perform a R, U’, R’ before returning the center. You then keep repeating this process. If you’re stuck with a flipped edge, just bring it down to make it a center and repeat.

Step 2: Restore centers

Just prep centers. This will swap front and right centers. When you have a pair to exchange, move your center 45° to the right, then R2 and return. Super easy.

Step 3: Solve F2L

Solve the first two layers are you would on a normal 3×3.

Step 4: Last-Layer Parities

If you get the classic 4×4 parity, you can bring down your front edge 45° (an M slice). Then F2, an E (turn left as you look at it), F2, and return the E and return M’.

This will mess up three layer 2 edges which can be fixed easily apparently. Place the proper piece on bottom/back and whip out a: B2 M B2 M. This should fix it.

If you get a parity where your final two edges are swapped, place the flipped edge in front. A M’ here is a 45° upward.

M’, R, U, R’, U’
M’, U, R, U’, R’

I’m finding a problem where this doesn’t necessarily solve it all. But for now, it’s a good start. Perhaps I’ll edit this again in the future.

Clover Pyraminx Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on January 15, 2021 by slateman

This puzzle looks cool, turns wonderfully and appears simple enough. While it’s effectively just a 3×3 shape mod, I simply cannot visualize it as such. This tutorial helped me whittle the whole thing down to something digestible.

Step 1: Solve two-colored edges

These act like corners, so just find the proper plane and solve all three two-colored edges. This is an easy step and no image is necessary.

Step 2: Flatten Petals

Now you will be faced with one of three situations. If the two pieces are beside one another like shown here, place them on the right plane. Move this right side down, then move the bottom/left layer (here, the other green petal) down, then back up and up (R’, L, R, L’)

The second scenario is when the two incorrectly-placed pieces are on adjacent faces. Hold the tip of the triangle at you and the upright petals on the top-left and top-right. With the one stickered side facing you positioned on the left, turn this layer down 90°, then the right layer a full 180° and return the first face. I’ve included a video here for easier reference.

A third scenario exists where they’re on adjacent layers but on the same pivot. In this case, move one side away so it mirrors scenario #2. I believe this will be an easy fix.

Step 3: Solve all Petals

This step will involve either a two or a three-cycle. For the latter, hold pyramid tip at you, this swaps far left, top center and far right. Shown here, it’ll exchange the left red piece, the top yellow and the right blue. Do 180° flips between the two layers (DDUU – L2, R2, L2, R2). This is kind of intuitive and while it may involve commutators, for your basic purposes, it’s not difficult.

Now, sometimes you will encounter three that you can’t easily swap. You have two options here. A three-cycle may work (for instance, swapping two blues at once). But if you’re lost, which I often get, you may benefit from some two-cycles instead. Here, bring a face down with a 90° turn. This will look like a person wearing glasses looking at you (see pic). Now, your three-cycle maneuver (clockwise or CCW based on your needs) will cycle these just as you’d hope. This is a really-quick fix as, like before, you can swap the same-colored pieces to maneuver what you want without much thinking.

Step 4: Solve Centers/Corners

Any inverted (jutting out) centers here signify a hidden piece under a pyramid tip. Find it! OK, now leave it hidden in the tip of the pyramid. You are now going to swap this hidden piece with one that is jutting out, making sure the inverted piece is on top, also shown here. You’ll reveal it w/ a 90° right turn upwards (like shown in this image), then the usual algorithm (R, L’, R, L) but you’ll do this three times. This will also swap the two lower-layer centers as well, FYI. Do this as many times as necessary. You may get lucky and solve the puzzle this way. If not, move on to step #5.

Step 5: Swap Centers

Now that everything is flat, we can swap centers. You’re going to use the same algorithm as in step 4, but you don’t want to kick out those inverted pieces. First, find two centers you want to swap. (If you have more, just choose two and then repeat this step). Place these in front of you on the bottom as shown here. In order to prevent bumping out those inverted pieces, turn the top layer 90°. This way, those inner pieces will harmlessly swap. Do the same algorithm as before (again, three times) and your two bottom centers will be exchanged.