How Do You Solve a Rubik’s Cube?
When you bought your Rubik’s cube, it was already solved. If you just left it alone, you wouldn’t have to solve it. I’m just saying.
Of course, we all know it’s impossible to leave it alone. You have to mess it up. At first, you turn a couple rows and then turn them back. Then you turn a few more and a few more again and eventually, you can’t get it back! Now, you have to actually solve the puzzle.
Rubik’s cube will sit on your shelf for a few days before you try it again. Over the next six months it will get picked up by a few smartypants friends who want a crack at it. After another year, you may pick it up and work on it for a short time, maybe even get one or two sides complete. Again, you’ll put it down for the next rainy day. It will seem like you’ve worked really hard on it, but you haven’t. Still, there comes a time in every cube owner’s life when they decide it needs to be solved, at any cost.
From my experience, there are three approaches to solving a Rubik’s cube.
I learned the first strategy from my brother when we were children. Every time we visited my Grandfather, he’d be working on his cube. On one visit, our small minds were blown when we realized he solved the cube. As I already stated, it’s impossible not to mess up a solved Rubik’s cube, and that’s especially true when it belongs to someone else.
When my grandfather realized we unsolved the Rubik’s cube, he told us that we’d have to re-solve it before we left. He was serious, or at least we thought so at the time. My brother’s solution, which I thought was pretty clever: peel off all the colored stickers and reapply them on matching sides. Although we got all the colors in the right places, it was still a big mess — similar to our paint-by-numbers work.
These days, I’d consider that cheating. But, it’s a good strategy to be aware of, you never know when you’ll be in a hostage situation that is one Rubik’s cube away from freedom.
The second approach comes in true internet style: have your computer solve it for you! Your computer is probably smarter than you anyway, why let that talent go to waste?
There are a number of web-based Rubik’s cube solvers. Basically, you paint the onscreen Rubik’s cube to look like yours and it generates a list of moves required to solve it. Click here for one that I have vetted. It works on the traditional 3 x 3 cube, and also on the newer 2 x 2 and 4 x 4 cubes. This is still cheating. But, it’s much less detectable than relocating the colored stickers.
Finally, the official approach, sanctioned by Rubik himself. This is the cross, corner, middle, top, corner method. It’s a combination of moves that systematically solve the cube. Once you know these moves, you can solve any cube. For the complete tutorial, click here.
The original 3 x 3 cube is a classic. But, they have released many different versions of the Rubik’s cube and similar puzzles. There is even a touch screen Rubik’s cube called the TouchCube. Click on the picture to check it out.
Written by: Chad Upton
[Available on Kindle]