Archive for the Cubing Category

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.

Petal Pyraminx Guide

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on January 1, 2021 by slateman

This little puzzle isn’t altogether too difficult, but it’s a good-enough challenge. As always, I need a little help to push myself through these and I will inevitably forget it all. For the sake of posterity, here are the instructions I’ve worked with, alongside some help from this tutorial. There are only four major steps: two on the Pyraminx portion and two on the inner circles. I sometimes struggle with step 2, but it’s the usual L’, R, L, R’ (or reverse) like all ‘Minx and Skewb puzzles.

  1. Situate tri-color tips so they’re all aligned.
  2. Solve the 6 two-sided edges to match those tips.
  3. Solve small inner-circle triangles.
  4. Solve large inner-circle triangles.

The tutorial shows how to swap those large triangles around. It’s not super intuitive for me and this is the hardest step for me. Here’s the timestamp in the video where he discusses this, but he places the swapped large triangles on the top of the front layer, and on the left of the top. You’ll perform this using the right layer of the side facing you. When you do it, this must bring the large triangle you want to swap up with it. If not, something is wrong and it won’t work. In this photo, the triangle is positioned properly.

Up, Circle Right
Down, Circle Left
Up, Circle Right
Down, Circle Right
Up, Circle Left, Down

All the circle rotations are done on the top layer, FYI. Good luck!!!

New 7×7 Records! 16:15!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records on February 9, 2019 by slateman

Sometime last year, my son dropped my V-Cube 7 on the floor. It shattered, that dreaded CHSSSSSSSS sound only cubers can recognize. I’ve tried to rebuild it, but I’m not so good with the tiny pieces and just gave up. I never really liked the puzzle anyway.

For Christmas, funnily enough seven years to the date since I got my original 7×7, my son got me a new one: an MF7S. This is a smaller cube (69mm vs 75mm) with bright stickers and while it doesn’t fit aesthetically into the collection, the puzzle kicks ass!!! It turns like a dream and is solid and reliable. Since I never liked the V-Cube puzzles (6×6 and 7×7), I only really tried speedsolving them a few times. With the new cube, why not try it? Last week I nailed a 19:33 time, then this morning got that down to 18 and change and then just now 16:15.72! Wow! That’s almost as fast as my 6×6 record (again though, that’s a V-Cube…urgh!)

So, while I don’t really go for times, it’s nice to get this solve done quickly. I’ll soon hit a ceiling, but I think as is, it’s an impressive time! I’ve updated my cubing records page accordingly, of course. Not bad for an almost-43-year-old! :D

Skewb Ultimate Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on December 13, 2018 by slateman

I grabbed this little guy while in New York and, it being a Skewb variation, I quickly ran into troubles. Not quire sure what’s up with these friggin’ things, but my brain breaks a little bit, particularly this dumb dodecahedron. It didn’t help that after getting a few steps in, I kept getting confused by orientation and the tutorials out there leave a bit to be desired. Not knocking their content – but they’re not too organized. Anyhow, here’s my solution, which will likely require some tweaking before I forget how it’s all done. That’s kinda silly though, as it only really requires the same one algorithm all Skewbs need. R’, L, R, L’. You can reverse it (L, R’, L’, R) for step 2.

Step 1: Solve an X
This isn’t so bad, though sometimes moving an item out of the way takes a second. This should really be intuitive, but worst case, you might have the piece in the correct spot but not oriented.

If so, move it up to the opposite side. If moved to the right, rotate counter-clockwise, if on the left, CW. Then bring it down and fix the initial turn. Note, if the color you want is facing up when starting this, you’ll have to do this step twice. You can situate all four without breaking one another.

Step 2: Position remaining centers
This will swap the top and front centers as well as the left and the right. If you’re smart enough, you can plan this out. I, on the other hand, just keep bringing the top piece down to its correct spot (and messing up the rest in the process) until everything is right. Don’t worry about orientation – just getting them in the right spot. You’ll know which algorithm to use based on its upper-level orientation. If the piece you need is on the left face, start with a R’ to bring it to its position. If on the right, start with L. This takes a few tries, but it’s easy.

Step 3: Orient top-layer X
This can be a pain. Figure out the top-layer colors (here they’re pink and green) and you want there to be two on one face. In this photo these stickers are close, but it could be on the other side where they are farther apart. These can be any combination of those colors too. G,G/P,P or how it is here, one of each. You’ll put these on the left side and rotate the puzzle up so your algorithm is done adjacent to your bottom layer. Doubled algorithm this time: R’, L, R, L’ (x2).

If you have no doubles, which is likely, find one sticker you want. If it’s on the left, start with the R’ version of the algorithm and vice versa. I believe this should consistently give you a usable pair.

Step 4: Orient remaining centers
The very same algorithm will be used to rotate centers. This will flip four centers: U, F, L and R. If you only have two, you’ll be doing this algorithm twice – by fixing one and breaking three others (3+1=4).

Get the four centers U, F, L and R as mentioned and rotate up slightly. You will be performing this algorithm on a properly-oriented side as shown here. Do the same algorithm 6x. Every so often you will have four mis-oriented centers in a row and not a plus pattern. Despite having four, your goal, you still have to perform this step repeatedly. Use your intuition to figure out which to fix so to prep yourself for a proper final step.

Good luck!

Master Pyraminx Algorithms

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on November 19, 2018 by slateman

When I first moved to Sweden, I purchased the new flat-edged Master Pyraminx. The puzzle looks great and I solved it a number of times. Then, I forgot how.

It’s strange; I can still solve the rest of my puzzles, or at least I think I can. In recent months, I’ve returned to the puzzle each time frustrated by my lack of memory and the unclear tutorials online. Today I checked again and hobbled together a solution. As always, for my own purposes, here are the steps I used to finally remember this solve!

Step 1: Solve One Face

Well, of course, get tips matching their adjacent sides first and get all three corners properly aligned. Then, pick one face to solve. This requires some intuitive positioning but it shouldn’t prove too difficult. Get those three center edges and then fill in the remaining six middle-edge pieces.

Step 2: Flip Middle Edges

Sometimes you’ll have all these middle pieces placed correctly. If not, however, two will be placed correctly, but oriented in reverse. In this case, move the correct piece to the back. Then you perform this algorithm, using intuition for replacing the bottom layer.

LD, RD, LU, RU
U’, L’, U, L

Step 3: Finish Second Layer

Here we bring the red piece down, not vice versa. Again we break the bottom layer, but that’s OK, it’s easy to fix! Of course, you can figure out the opposite if mirrored, so use intuition when figuring out what goes where here.

l, R’, l’, R’
Then get the U out of the way (u’)
L’, u, L, u’

Step 4: Centers

There are three possibilities here. Centers are all solved, none are solved or three are out of place. You could solve centers earlier or at the end, but if you have three centers misplaced, the algorithm will make you repeat the final step, so here’s a good time to do this algorithm.

To solve four centers, place opposite centers on top and bottom. It should be an easy one here:

LD, RD, LU, RU (x3).

As I mentioned, when three centers are out, it messes with things. This is sometimes referred to as parity. For this case, place the one properly-placed center on the left side and do the following:

R, U, R’, U (x2).

If this doesn’t swap your centers correctly, do it again. Done!

Step 5: Last-Layer Edges

All that should should remain are last-layer edges. Either these are solved or they need to be permuted. These could go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The algorithm here works opposite of that rotation. But it’s easy enough and can be done twice to accomplish the same result.

R, U, R’, U, R, U

Change that to U’ for a clockwise last-layer spin.