How to learn to solve a Rubik’s cube

September 3, 2021 12:24 PM

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Want to get into cubing? Here’s how! Rubik’s cubes have been around for almost 50 years, always challenging children and adults alike with a seemingly impossible puzzle. You’ve probably tried to solve at least one side at a time at some point in your life. I got into cubing at the start of the pandemic when my dad found one of his old Rubik's cubes in a closet. I did a lot of research and figured out how to solve it, and since then I have continued to learn more, getting faster and faster. These are the tips I wish I knew when I first got into cubing that will guide you along your process and send you in the right direction on your cubing journey. 

Buy your first cube

I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT buy a Rubik’s brand cube. While they may be great for nostalgia and for casual turning, if you actually want to get fast at solving the cube, you cannot go for a Rubik’s brand. The design is outdated, and it doesn’t turn well so it will slow down your solving. On the other hand, you also don’t want to spend $50 on a cube from the get-go. Sure, you can work your way up to some nicer-quality cubes, but I would recommend starting with a $5 non-magnetic cube from an online cube store. Some popular stores are SpeedCubeShop, DailyPuzzles, and TheCubicle. Going with a budget cube is smart because that is all you need to get started, and when you upgrade to a nicer cube you will be even quicker because you started on a cube that was lower quality and required more accuracy and focus to turn. 

Mess around with it

I know you may be scared to scramble the cube, but you just need to do it. Before you can learn how to solve it, you need to learn how the cube moves by literally just turning it for a while. You can try to solve it or just pay attention to what happens to the pieces when you do a certain move. An important realization you will need to make is that you can’t just solve one side at a time. Because each piece has fixated colors on each side, you need to place each piece in its place, not each color. 

Learn the beginner’s method

Luckily, we live in an age where you can learn anything on the internet. I learned how to solve the Rubik's cube on YouTube, and you can too. There are many methods for solving the Rubik's cube, but you should start with the beginner’s method. In this method, there are only one or two algorithms (a series of moves) that you will need to learn compared to 50 algorithms with more complicated methods. It is pretty intuitive and won’t take long to learn and master. There are so many tutorials for this method on Youtube, so if one of them doesn’t work for you there will always be another one that does. 

Watch walkthrough solves

One of the best things that have helped me get better at cubing has been walkthrough solves on Youtube. This is where a person will solve the cube slowly and explain everything that they do and why. This will teach you small tricks to be more efficient in certain situations, and how to solve smarter overall. I would watch hours of these videos, solve the cube along with the person, and then try to implement what I learned into my own solves. Find one for your level of difficulty (start off with beginner) and follow along with the person to understand each turn that they make and what it does to solve the cube. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you have the method down, it’s all about practice. You can focus on timing, but I would also work on finger tricks (different ways that you can turn the cube) and efficiency. Most people like to time their solves to note their progress over time. A timer website that I like to use is csTimer. You can save your times and keep track of your best times and your progress. 

The speed comes later

Many people get into cubing because they saw someone solve a Rubik's cube in 10 seconds and want to be able to do it too. In reality, it is going to take a very long time for you to get to that level. You will probably be very slow when starting off and then get better over time. However, once you get the basics down, you still don’t want to be rushing your solves. When you try to solve the cube faster than you actually can, you make unnecessary turns and pause more often because your brain isn’t processing the cube that fast. Instead, you should take your time and turn the cube with intent. This often can make your times faster than they seem. If you are solving slower but more efficiently, you will solve better than someone who just spams moves and doesn’t actually know what they are doing. 

Branch out

If you have just gotten into cubing, you have probably also heard of a 2x2 cube and a 4x4 cube. But did you know that they have cubes that are 7x7, 15x15, and even bigger? There are also triangular cubes, cubes with 12 sides, cubes that move in strange ways, and many more. These may seem daunting, but I encourage you to try some of them out. Many of them are solved similarly to a traditional 3x3, and even if it is solved totally differently, it is usually not a lot more difficult. The key is to find the correct method for solving it by messing around with the cube and also following youtube tutorials. 

Go to a competition

It may seem like you have to be super fast to enter a cubing competition, but you don’t. Anyone can go to compete, and the experience will be super beneficial. You can go to the World Cube Association to find local competitions, sign up, and attend the competition. You will make friends in the cubing community, and people can teach you some of their own tricks to help you become faster. Cubing is not just about speed. Competitions are about bringing the community together, not just about cubing itself. It will be a great place for you to meet new people and learn more while having fun. 

I have grown to love cubing in the past year and a half that I have been doing it. I hope to continue cubing, getting better, and having fun throughout the process. When I first picked up the cube I couldn’t solve it at all, and now I can solve it in 17 seconds. I know it seems like an impossible challenge but I promise with a bit of hard work you will be able to solve it too. It is a great activity, hobby, and passion, and I hope that I have gotten you interested in it too and my tips gave you an overview of what your experience might look like.

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