3x3x3 speedsolving methods

Because of the popularity and relative simplicity of the 3x3x3 cube, there are a large number of methods out there. The most common and fast will be explored in this article.

Basic Methods

Basic methods require very few algorithms and little practice, but they also have a high move count and are very difficult to get fast times with. The fastest times that have been recorded with these methods are around 30 seconds. These methods are good beginner's methods, meaning they are good for teaching people who have never solved a Rubik's Cube before.

  • In the Layer-By-Layer method, the solver finishes the layers one at a time. This is one of the most common method for new cubers to discover on their own. To become faster at LBL better techniques such as Keyhole or F2L will speed up the first layers, and learning more algorithms for the last layer will allow it to be solved in fewer steps using the 4 Look Last Layer.
  • In the Corners First style, the corners are all solved, and then the edges and centers are filled in. This is a very easy method to learn, and it has many variations.
  • In the block building methods the first parts of the solve is done by setting up blocks of some form, a 2x2x3 as in the Petrus method or F2B (first two blocks) as in the Roux method.

Intermediate Methods

Intermediate methods are very popular because they are quite fast without requiring extensive knowledge or memorization. They have a moderate move count (although they can be heavily optimized) and are good for cubers who have mastered a basic method.

  • The CFOP Method (Fridrich) is the most popular speedcubing method. First the bottom layer edges are solved, then the first two layers are filled in either using intuition or algorithms, and finally the top layer is solved in two steps: OLL then PLL.
  • The Roux Method is a hybrid of block-building and corners first methods. Two opposite 1x2x3 blocks are made, then the last four corners are solved (CMLL). The remaining six edges are solved intuitively.
  • The ZZ Method is a relatively modern method where the edges are all oriented in the first step, allowing for more fingertricks and zero cube rotations. Last layer edges are pre-oriented, allowing for many options including 1LLL.
  • The Petrus Method The cuber creates a 2x2x2 block, expands it to a 2x2x3 block, orients all of the remaining edges, then finishes the first two layers. The last layer is finished in three steps, although many Petrus users elect to finish the last layer with OLL and PLL instead.
  • The Waterman Method is a method based on corners first methods. First cuber solves the first layer, then does the opposite layer's corners (CLL), and finally solves the remaining edges in three steps.
  • Columns First Methods are a group of methods that in some way build four columns of three pieces each, orients the remaining edges, and permutes the remaining edges.

Advanced Methods

An advanced method requires extensive memorization, understanding of intuitive blockbuilding, or both. Few people have ever mastered these methods, but they are theoretically capable of extremely low move counts and times.

  • The Heise Method is a very tricky block-building method that requires no algorithms at all. Four 1x2x2 blocks are created, and then paired up to finish all of the F2L minus two pieces, while also orienting the last layer edges. Then two corner-edge pairs are made and all of the edges are solved along with two corners. Finally the three remaining corners are finished with a commutator.
  • The Snyder Method is a very hard to learn method where the cube is solved in stages, using algorithms that simultaneously permute and orient throughout. The F2L is solved using a variety of block building techniques for convenience, and a large number of algorithms are used to solve the last layer in 1 or 2 looks. Generally, the last layer is divided into two stages: 1) solve all edges + one corner, 2) solve remaining corners. And where this 2-look method requires more than 4 turns compared to a direct solve, the solution reverts over to a 1-look direct solve, or an approximation.
  • The Human Thistlethwaite method is a human-usable version of the Thistlethwaite algorithm that reduces the cube to subgroups, and ends by solving the cube with only 180 degree face turns.
  • SSC (Shadowslice Snow Columns) is an interesting method and has been variously described as a variation on Orient First, an advanced Columns first or an improved Belt Method. In truth, it is all and none of those. Perhaps the most accurate and descriptive name is Human Kociemba Algorithm in a similar way to Human Thistlethwaite described above as the first "phase" reduces to oriented corners and edges and the second "phase solves" completely. It has only a handful of algorithms- (<35 in full, <12 min depending on the variant) with a large amount being done intuitively. It is also notable as using pseudo-blocks and pseudo-pairs.

Partial Methods

There are a couple of methods which only provide a way to solve a part of the cube; a cuber using one of these methods would be able to choose another method to do the other parts of the cube with. Sometimes these partial methods improve the move count of a normal method, and sometimes they just provide a different style that some people may prefer.

  • The MGLS Method is one way to solve the last layer plus a corner/edge slot. There are three steps: insert the F2L edge and orient the LL edges, insert the F2L corner and orient the LL corners, and then PLL.
  • The ZB Method solves the last layer plus a corner/edge slot in just two steps, but requires hundreds of lengthy algorithms. First the cuber finishes the F2L while orienting the LL edges, and then the cuber solves the entire LL in one step.
    • Vandenbergh-Harris (VH) is a method to solve the last F2L slot and orient last layer edges by connecting the last pair in U, then using a single case of ZBLS/ZBF2L. It's a good stepping stone for learning ZBLS.
  • Winter Variation (WV) is a method to solve the last F2L slot while orienting corners of the last layer in a single step.
  • CLL/ELL is an alternate way to finish the last layer with about the same speed and number of algorithms as OLL/PLL. There are two steps: solve the corners in one step (CLL), and solve the edges in one step (ELL). If you already have the edges oriented, you can modify the method to use CLL algorithms which keep the edges oriented, and then finish the cube with an edges-only PLL.
  • M-CELL is one way to solve the 3x3 cube after solving an F2L-2 (Cross-1 and F2L-1). It has an algorithm count of 96, all for 3TCLL. See the original post here
  • My World is another way to solve F2L-2 assuming the edges are already oriented. During third slot 3 LL edges are solved relative to each other reducing the number of algs needed for 1LLSLL. Note: Unlike M-CELL both the last slot and last layer is solved with 1 algorithm. It is also a 5-Look Solve Method or 5LS. Meaning the entire cube is solved with only 5 looks. The method has only ~3.8k algs; less than full 1LLL. See the original post here. For the SS Forum post look here.

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