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Interview with Jessica Fridrich (March, 2012)


Staff member
Mar 13, 2006
This interview was originally posted in March, 2012, by Sillas Tsutsui da Silva (@Sillas)

-What motivated you to create a new method?
Many of your questions seem to have started with a vision that I sat down
one day and created "the" method. This is not how it happened at all. It
was a long process spread over several years during which the system
was evolving. Numerous speedcubers contributed with individual moves,
ideas, hints, sometimes anonymous people on a bus to school.

The motivation was to be faster, of course.

-When you had the idea to create your method?
I got my hands on a solving system before I owned the cube, unfortunately.
In Czechoslovakia in early 80's, it was very hard to get the cube. It was not being
sold there. One had to travel abroad to get one. I started with a simple method
from a Czech magazine VTM and evolved it into my system over the years.

-Who motivated, inspired and helped you to create?
Everyone around me. There was my buddy, Ludek Marek from the same high school
with whom I would exchange ideas and compete against. Later on, it was Mirek
Goljan and friends from cube clubs at the Czech Technical University and at
Charles University in Prague.

-As you systematized and developed the method?
I started with the following system from the VTM magazine:
- cross
- 4 corners
- 4 edges from 2nd layer (essentially one algorithm)
- flip edges
- place edges
- twist corners
- place corners

First, I switched the order of the four phases for the LL to flip edges + twist corners, then permute
edges and permute corners. It was Ludek Marek, who pointed out that when there was this "T"
pattern on the last face, flipping edges accidentally also twisted the corners, saving a step. This
gave me an idea to develop algorithms that would do the orientation of all 8 cubies at the same
time and then the permutation at the same time. This breaking up of the LL into two phases made
a lot of sense to me as the orientation patterns were easily recognized and so were the permutations.
It was much easier to recognize the orientations and permutations than to see how to flip and permute
edges at the same time.

Since there were no computers powerful enough to develop the best moves, I started assembling the
algorithms for the LL by hand. The recipe was simple -- do something to the LL with a few moves and then
solve the LL in a different manner. Then see what happened, try the inverse.

Next, I tried to develop algorithms for inserting two edges into the middle layer instead of just one.
This was the system that allowed me to win the first Czechoslovak championship in 1982. Later in June,
I met Guus Razoux Schultz at the World Championship in Budapest. He was using a similar system but,
as far as I remember, he did not unify the phases into orientation + permutation. What caught my
attention was his approach for the middle layer -- he inserted the 4 corners *with* the 2nd layer
edges. I saw this already in use before I met him. For example, my friend Robert Krajca was using this system for the
middle layer. But because he was not too fast, I thought that this was not any good and stuck to my
"two edges to the middle layer" idea. Later that year, I started experimenting with the "Krajca-Schultz"
middle layer only to discover that after little practice and supplying some cute shortcuts, it turned out
to be much faster than what I was using. I completely switched to this system, which is essentially
the same what is on my web site now.

-You really expect that your method was considered one of the most efficient and popular?
Not at all. When I put the algorithms on my web site in 1997, I really thought that no one will ever learn the method as
cubing was pretty much "dead". But in three years, I was surprised how many people visited the
web site and learned the method and worked on it further to become even faster. The new generation
of cubers was as excited as we were in early 80's.

-Which methods you knew before creating it?
As I said above, it was the method from the Czech VTM magazine and also a very very primitive method
from a Russian magazine Kvant, which was in fact the first one I looked at before I owned the cube.

-You expect there may be some improvement in your method?
You mean some more improvement in the future? Sure, there will be.

-What challenges and obstacles you had to face to create it?
Lack of computer power to optimize the moves. The trial and error method was not
very efficient. With computers, one could optimize the algorithms to your hands.

-Where and when you spent the most time developing your method?
At home and then at college, at the dorms, on the bus, train, ...

- Anytime you thought about quitting?
No, not really. It was always great fun for me to search for algorithms and practice their execution. In fact, as I look back, the development was probably more fun than competing.

- When you created, you thought it would be possible to use it with color neutral?
Why not? It would require an individual with extraordinary capabilities, such as Feliks :)
I really wonder how he can figure out in a few seconds which color to use, then all four
edges and the first pair ... This is fantastic.

- Having developed this made you feel accomplished?
Whenever people continue in your steps is always nice. This applies to my research
as well as the cube.

-What are the flaws you had to correct or rework before finalizing?
The biggest flaw was the middle layer as I said above. The second flaw, which I did not
correct was the twisting style. This is a part of the method IMHO as it defines the

- How long did it take you to develop your method from the time you started?
It was a long process that started in the Spring of 1981 and was finished by the end of 1982,
roughly. I kept on adding new algorithms here and there in 1983 and later.

Jessica Fridrich's Website
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whenever I saw your profile pic i thought it was donkey kong