Color neutrality

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The term color neutral (or colour neutral outside of the U.S.) or just CN refers to the ability to start a puzzle on any color. Besides full color neutrality, various partial neutrality are possible. For example, in CFOP, being able to start on 2 opposite (but fixed) colors is known as being Dual Color Neutral.

Cubers universally agree that the easiest way to become color neutral is to practice color neutrality from the start.

History In 3x3 Speedsolving

Color neutrality has been explored as early as the beginning of speedsolving. Lars Petrus used color neutrality with the Petrus method to reach World Championship 1982. However, as CFOP became the dominant speedcubing method in the late 90s, most top speedcubers started from a fixed color cross to achieve better look-ahead during F2L. Indeed, while opposite color neutrality was explored and advocated by several cubers, primarily Chris Hardwick, as early as 2004, no serious CFOP user before 2007 recommended color neutrality as a viable option in speedsolving. It was first Rowe Hessler's success starting in 2008, then the meteoric rise of Feliks Zemdegs in 2009, that propelled color neutrality to the forefront of 3x3 speedsolving. As of 2021, many of the top cubers have adopted color neutrality, although some still remain not or x2y color neutral.

Types of color neutrality (for NxNxNs)

Fixed Orientation

Fixed orientation refers to being able to start a solve in only one orientation, e.g. yellow on top and blue in front for 3x3. It is most often used in rotationless methods like Roux and especially ZZ, because it makes recognizing EO easier for the latter. It is not be confused with y color neutrality, which doesn't use a fixed front color.

y Color Neutrality

y Color Neutrality refers to the ability to solve in any orientation that has specific top and bottom colors, so y rotations can be used to transition between them.

Most of the time, this equivalent to CFOP solvers only being able to solver on one cross color.

x2y Color Neutrality

x2y Color Neutrality, in a CFOP context often also called Dual Color Neutrality, Double Color Neutrality or Opposite Color Neutrality, refers to the ability to solve in any orientation with a specific color either on top or on bottom. The orientations can be reached from each other using only x2 and y rotations, thus the name.

It is very common among Roux and ZZ solvers because it allows to use any pre-built pair for the 1st Roux Block and requires the solver to only recognize two of the three EOs and two F2Ls, respectively. It is, to a lesser but still notable extent, also often used in conjunction with CFOP.

Full Color Neutrality

Full Color Neutrality or total color neutrality, as the term suggests, is the ability of a solver to start the solve on any color.

Less common forms of color neutrality

Less common forms of color neutrality include:

  • x Color Neutrality: Fixed left and right colors, equivalent to only solving cross on only one color for Cross on left.
  • xy2 Color Neutrality: Specific color on the left or right side, useful for Roux because of more options for blocks than y2, easier to identify ULUR edges and working better with non-matching blocks. Its most well known user is James Straughan. However, xy2 CN never really became popular and x2y CN is mostly used nowadays instead.

In Other Events

Color neutrality has been the norm among competitive cubers in smaller events like 2x2, Pyraminx and Skewb since the beginning of these events because it leads to luckier cases a lot more often than in larger puzzles. Because of the long time used for FMC in which all colors can be observed, color neutrality is also often used there.

Notable Color-Neutral Cubers

Notable Dual Color-Neutral Cubers

Further Reading