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How to Solve a Rubik's Cube:

A Layer-by-Layer Approach

By Anthony Hsu

You should have the first two layers of your cube solved now. If not, go back to steps 1-4.

Steps 1-4 (F2L)

Step 5:

You're now on the last layer (LL). The LL consists of four steps. The first step is to get a yellow flower or a yellow cross, whatever you want to call it. Just note that this use of the term "cross" is not the same as that in step 2 because the non-yellow stickers on the yellow edge pieces do not have to line up.

Basically, the goal of this step is to orient the four LL edges so that yellow is facing up. Decide which pattern you have and apply the corresponding move sequence.

Goal: Yellow Plus
Pattern:What to Do: Animation
Two opposite edges flippedHold offending pair at UF and UB. Do F R U R' U' F'.
Two adjacent edges flippedHold offending pair at UF and UR. Do F U R U' R' F'
Four edges flippedFlip the four edges two at a time using the above sequences.

Step 6:

After this step, your up side should be totally yellow, dude. Up side, not up layer.

In order to get a yellow side, you'll need to orient the four last layer (LL) corners so that yellow is facing up.

First, count how many corners you already have oriented correctly. Then, look at the corner currently in the ULF corner slot (the corner slot located at the intersection of the U (up), L (left), and F (front) faces). Look to see which side the yellow sticker of this corner is. If it is on the correct side (as indicated by the table below), then proceed by applying the corresponding move sequence. If the yellow sticker is not on the right side (As chances are, it probably won't be on the right side.), then turn the up layer 90 degrees, which moves another corner into the ULF slot. Now check again to see if the yellow sticker is on the correct side. Keep turning the up layer 90 degrees and checking the yellow sticker until it is on the correct side. Then proceed with the move sequence.

You need to get one corner oriented before you can get four.

Goal: Completed Yellow Side
Number of corners correctly oriented:Where you want the yellow sticker of the ULF corner located:Do:Animation
0LR U R' U R U2 R'. Then follow the instructions for when 1 corner is oriented correctly.
1UR U R' U R U2 R'. You may need to repeat this step a second time, but you'll never need to do it more than twice.
2FR U R' U R U2 R'. Then follow the instructions for when 1 corner is oriented correctly.
3?N/AImpossible! Your cube has been assembled incorrectly. Disassemble it and reassemble it in the solved state.N/A
4N/AYou're done with this step.N/A









Step 7:

Almost there! In this step, you will solve the four LL corners.

First, another notation lesson. D refers to the down face. x is a cube rotation. The x-axis is the one that cuts through the L and R centers. When you do x, you rotate the cube in the same direction as the turn R rotates the right side. The cube below illustrates the cube rotations x and x', in that order.

Now, to proceed with this step. You want to first line up exactly one corner, not two. You want the lined-up corner at ULF. Then, apply this move sequence: x R' U R' D2 R U' R' D2 R2 x'. You may have to apply it more than once.

Sometimes, however, you won't be able to line up exactly one corner, you'll always have two corners lined up diagonally opposite one another. In this scenario, it doesn't matter which corner is at ULF. Simply apply the move sequence once and then you shall be able to line up exactly one corner.
Goal: Solved Corners

Step 8:

Final step, wh00t! Hold the solved side on the front and apply this move sequence once or twice until the cube is solved: R2 U' R' U' R U R U R U' R.

If you don't have a solved side, then hold whatever side on the front and apply the move sequence once first. This will produce a solved side and then you can proceed as above.

Behold! A solved Rubik's Cube! See? That wasn't that hard! Anyone can do it. All it takes is a cube and some patience. Congratulations.

Now, if you're like me and hopelessly addicted (not really (at least I'd like to think)), you'll instinctively mix up the cube and start again. Eventually, you want to memorize all the steps and move sequences to this method so you won't need to refer to this guide in order to solve the cube.

Back to Step 1
Goal: Solved Cube (Duh!)

What's Next?

If you want to get even faster and start speed cubing, check out the Fridrich Method, Petrus Method, or Roux Method.

Special Thanks:

I want to thank Lars Petrus, firstly, for inventing the Petrus Method, which was the first method I learned to solve a Rubik's Cube and the method I currently speedsolve with. He is a hero of mine and an inspiration for me. Check out his site here.

I want to thank Werner Randelshofer for the CubeTwister, the Java applet that powers the Java animation cubes. Check out his site here.


Comments, Questions:

E-mail me at erwaman@gmail.com.