Learning to solve a Rubik’s cube can be a frustrating experience, especially if you don’t know where to begin. So, let’s start with some basics of the cube. Each side of the cube is represented by its initial: F – front face; B – back face; L – left face; R – right face; U – up face; and D – down face.
It is important to understand these abbreviations. To explain the moves, I will be using the above abbreviations instead of typing them all out, and perhaps making them much more confusing. However, a few rules to read the short hand explanation.
A letter by itself means that the face needs to be turned clockwise (i.e. R). A letter followed by a prime means turn the face counter-clockwise (F’). A letter followed by the number 2 means to turn the face 180 degrees (B2).
So, for example, if you see R B2 F’, that means turn the right face clockwise (once), the back face needs to be turned 180 degrees, and the front face needs to be turned counter-clockwise (once).
Another tip to solving a Rubik’s cube is to realize that your center cubes do not move. Whatever the center cube color is on a given face is the color that face should be. So, if the front face center color is white, then that face should be white.
*Don’t forget to check out the instructional video I have about this: ‘How to Do a Rubiks Cube: Instructional Video’
Ok, let’s begin. The first thing you need to do is pick a color and make a cross. Most people start with the white because it is easier to pick out in a jumbled cube; however you can start with whatever color you choose. Find the side that has that color and you can begin your cross. This part of the cube is about familiarizing yourself with the way the cube turns and which pieces move. You really should be able to find the cross intuitively. It should look something like this:
Notice that the red and blue line up as well. You want to make sure that you don’t have any white ‘edge’ pieces in any extension of the cross, or the red and blue will not align and you get something like this:
The next step is to solve the first layer corners. You will need to do this individually. Begin by looking for the first layer corner pieces on the cube. The blue/red/white corner should be sitting in the bottom layer, like so:
The blue part would be facing the bottom, so we can’t see it here. However, you will want to turn the blue face counter-clockwise. Your cube will now look like this:
Now you’re going to line up the blue/white edge with the blue/white/red corner by turning the down face counter-clockwise. It will look like so:
Now that you have these lined up, reform your cross by turning the blue face clockwise. Once you’ve completed this, your cube should look like:
You will use similar techniques to solve the remaining three corners. When you have finished solving your first layer, it should look like this:
The top layer is the easiest to learn and here is where it gets a bit trickier as there are some algorithms to learn to help you figure out the rest. When moving on to solving the middle layer, always start with edge pieces that are in the bottom layer. So, to continue with this example, we’re going to position the blue/red edge piece so that the color on the side of the cube matches its center. If the red is on the bottom, then you’ll need to align the blue piece with its center by performing the following algorithm: D L D’ L’ D’ F’ D F. If the pieces are flipped, then you will need to perform the mirror algorithm, which is: D’ F’ D F D L D’ L’.
Once you’ve done this, you should be in position to solve the last layer. You will want to flip your cube upside down so that the white face (U) becomes the down face (D). It will remain in this position for the rest of the solution. On my cube, which I am using as an example, the color opposite white is yellow. You may have a different color and that’s okay.
When looking at your last layer, please note that there should be one of the following four patterns visible on your cube at this point.
If you are in state 1, then you’re almost done. Just permeate the corners. If you’re in state 2, you need to reorient the entire face. Now, remember that you flipped it upside down, so the U became the D, and vice versa. Keep that in mind as you try this algorithm to reorient the face: F U R U’ R’ F’. For state 3, try: F R U R’ U’ F’. State 4 is really just a combination of states 2 and 3. All you would do here is perform either state 2 or 3’s algorithm so it looks like 2 or 3. Then perform either 2 or 3; whichever you didn’t perform first.
Once you’ve done this, then there are only two possible states for your corners to be in. 1.) two adjacent corners need to be swapped, or 2.) two diagonal corners need to be swapped. When looking at your cube, if you do not see either of these situations, then you may not have completely finished the top layer and the middle layer so you will need to go back and double check your work.
To swap the adjacent corners, perform the following algorithm: L U’ R’ U L’ U’ R U2. To swap diagonal corners, you will simple perform the same algorithm twice; just position it so that you are turning the right corners.
If any of your pieces are out of place, try going back to make sure that you’ve correctly solved the first two layers. If everything looks good, then there are a few more algorithms you can try at this point:
R’ U’ R U’ R’ U2 R U2
R U R’ U R U2 R’ U2
R2 U F B’ R2 F’ B U R2
R2 U’ F B’ R2 F’ B U’ R2
Have fun and get ready to dazzle your friends with your newfound skill!
Further Reading and Additional Resources
‘Rubiks Cube Solution’ by Lars Petrus — THE Pro’s way of doing a rubiks cube (quite a bit more complicated, though)
Rubiks Cube solver tool – very cool.