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Megaminx

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Rubik’s Cube

Having a wide variety of more or less obscure hobbies seems to be an integral part of who I am. Some of these hobbies only remain in vogue for a short period of time and are then left fallow, perhaps indefinitely. I thought that Rubik’s cube (henceforth cubing or speedcubing) might be such a transient pastime. I was wrong. It has come back more than once, and since I want to keep track of what I’m doing and also post some updates, I thought that creating a page for the cube would be a good idea, so here it is. The structure is based on the various kinds of puzzles related to Rubik’s cube, with a list of all related posts at the very bottom.

This post was last updated 2012-03-30.

Why Rubik’s cube?
Rubik’s 3×3
Rubik’s 3×3 blindfolded
Rubik’s 3×3 multiple blindfolded
Fewest moves
Rubik’s 4×4
Megaminx
List of related posts
Interesting or useful links

Why Rubik’s Cube?

The most common question I hear when cubing is: Have you solved it? The correct answer is, yes, tens of thousands of times (including blindfolded, backwards, one-handed and in my sleep), but I never say that. Most people don’t realise that the challenge is not gone just because the cube has been solved once. It can be solved in many ways (such as few moves, quickly or blindfolded), all which require a different way of thinking and a different kind of understanding of the puzzle. To be frank, I’m not extremely talented at this (no, I’m not being modest here), but I can understand the methods others have developed and learn. Striving for ever more elegant or quicker solves is like any sport (compare attaining high scores in a computer game or perfecting a golf swing). Trying bigger and/or harder puzzles (such as the 4×4 or Megaminx) is of course also a challenge I enjoy overcoming.

In addition to this, cubing fills a completely different function: it occupies my hands while my brain is doing something else. This phenomenon should be familiar to anyone who likes knitting or spinning pens using their fingers. Some algorithms and moves are so well-rooted that I need no conscious effort to execute them, which means that I can listen to a lecture with full concentration and solve the cube simultaneously, although not at top speed, perhaps. Sitting on the bus, I find it boring to only listen to audio books, but if I cube at the same time, it’s suddenly a lot more interesting. Thus, most of the time, the cube itself is only a sideshow. Cubing is a kind of meditation and/or therapy.

3×3 Rubik’s

This is the original cube and the puzzle I’ve spent by far the most time on, although I only started “seriously” during the summer of 2009. I use Lars Petrus’ method, but use Friedrich for the last layer. Since 2009, the cube has been lying untouched for months at a time, so this is not something I take very seriously, although I occasionally cube quite a lot. I have written about the 3×3 before, please refer to the following posts: Speed cubing, My first solve (Swedish), Christmas puzzles. Related posts: See below.

Best time: 0:16.75
Best average of 5: 0:21.27
Best average of 12: 0:22.20
Best mean of 100: 0:23.82

3×3 Rubik’s one handed

Of course, the 3×3 can also be solved one handed, something I started in early 2012 when I felt I didn’t really get anywhere with normal 3×3 solving and wanted to try something new.

Best time: 0:32.33
Best average of 5: 0:39.48
Best average of 12: 0:44.80
Best mean of 100: 0:53.29

3×3 Rubik’s blindfolded

As soon as I started achieving times below one minute for the 3×3, I started looking at blindfolded cubing. I’m using a 3-cycle orientation permutation method (3OP). Blindfolded cubing is a two stage problem: the cuber first has to memorise the state of the cube and then, while not looking, solve it. Although this is a lot harder than ordinary cubing, it’s not superhuman in the way it might look to an outsider. I’ve written about blindfolded cubing in more detail here: Solving Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. Related tags: Blindfolded cubing.

Best time: 5:51:13
Best average of 5: 8:13:68
Best average of 12: DNF

3×3 multiple blindfolded

Same as above, but instead of trying to solve one cube quickly and accurately at a time, you look at several cubes at once, memorise them and then solve them in sequence without looking. The method is the same as for one cube, but obviously requires a lot more memorisation and clever memory tricks. I haven’t done this very much and so my memorisation is very, very slow.

Best result: 2/3 in 47:58:93

Fewest moves

Fewest moves is what it sounds like. You receive a scramble (a string of moves to scramble the cube) and the you have one hour to find the solution to that scramble that requires the fewest moves. This is really interesting and there are lots of creative and fun stuff you can do, the only problem is that it takes quite a long time and that luck actually matters quite a lot. I don’t do fewest moves very often, but I still think it’s cool.

Fewest moves: 36

4×4 Rubik’s

I bought my first 4×4 in the autumn of 2009. I haven’t spent that much time with this one, but I think its quite interesting. It combines all the tricks of the 3×3 solve with some new ones (I use centres first, two edge-pair swap and then Petrus’). In a way, this puzzle is more interesting than the 3×3, because it adds two fairly creative steps to the process (though I suppose bigger cubes do this to an even higher extent). I haven’t written anything detailed about the 4×4, but I did write briefly about it here: Christmas puzzles. Related tags: See below.

Best time: 2:05:80
Best average of 5: 2:26:99
Best average of 12: 2:42:92
Best mean of 100: N/A

Megaminx

I first solved the Megaminx on Christmas Day, 2009, after borrowing it from a friend. I’m not sure what I think of the puzzle in terms of speedcubing (speeddodecahedroning is not a very pleasant word neither to write nor to say), I might need an new megaminx. As it is now, I can finish it in about ten minutes, but most of that time consists of looking for pieces and trying to remember which side is supposed to be up. My current colour scheme must have been designed by an idiot, because even I (with normal colour vision) think it’s really hard to tell some of the colours apart quickly. I wrote about the Megaminx and my first solve in this post: Christmas puzzles. Related tags: Megaminx.

Posts


Useful or interesting links

Speedcubing on Wikipedia
The Petrus method
CFOP tutorial Erik Akkersdijk
Bob Burton’s CubeWhiz.com (my favourite)
3OP blindfold method by Shotaro Makisumi
Speedsolving.com (forum)
World Cube Association (competitions, official site)

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Christmas puzzles

I don’t know about Anglo-American or Taiwanese culture, but in Sweden, collaboratively solving puzzles (mostly jigsaw ones) seems to be a tradition, or at least it used to be. I’ve never liked jigsaw puzzles and I don’t have a flat surface big enough for that even if I wanted to. There are other puzzles though, such as Rubik’s cube, which has mostly been something I fiddle with at the same time as doing something else (listening to the teacher, going by bus to Taipei, and so on). The 3×3 requires almost no mental effort nowadays, if I stick to what I already know.

However, on Christmas Eve, I visited friends in Taipei and found out that Gunnar is also interested in solving puzzles like this, although I have a feeling he’s on an altogether different level when it comes to real understanding rather than familiarity. I can understand what I do, but I find it hard to create entirely new algorithms, for instance. Anyway, he lent me a Megaminx, which I solved last night before I fell asleep. It took only a couple of hours of serious thinking, because I reused and adapted lots of algorithms I was already very familiar with either from normal cubing or blindfolded cubing (those algorithms were extremely useful!).


Solved Megaminx.

As is the case with the 3×3, the only difficult part of the Megaminx is the last layer, everything else I could solve without thinking about it too much and at reasonable speed. I ended up correcting last-layer edge orientation the same way as in Petrus’ 3×3 method (i.e. swapping bad edges at an earlier step), and then correcting edge permutation. Corner permutation was done using a variant of Petrus’ 3×3 again, but for the corner orientation, I relied entirely on the quite long algorithms from blindfolded cubing. In all, I would say the Megaminx is a lot easier than the 4×4, for reasons explained below.

During this semester, I’ve also bought and solved a 4×4 (even though that was three months ago now). The problem with the 4×4 is that the centres aren’t fixed as they are on a 3×3 or Megaminx, but rather have to be constructed. Figuring out how to do this is rather easy, and after that, the rest is identical to a 3×3.


My 4×4, exceptionally good quality.

With one exception. Sometimes you end up with an edge pair flipped, which is impossible on a 3×3. The problem is that solving this last edge is really, really horrible. I cheated and got the algorithm from the internet (r ² B ² U ² l U ² r ‘ U² r U ² F ² r F ² l ‘ B ² r ²), and I think I wouldn’t have been able to find this on my own, even given years of time I’m in reality not prepared to waste. Flipping the edge pair earlier is also difficult, because it’s hard to spot this phenomenon early on. With this shortcut, it took me less than an hour to solve the cube the first time. I don’t say this to boast, I do it because I want to show that if you know the 3×3 well, 4×4 is no biggie.

In other cubing news, I’ve also taken a look at a really cool concept, which looks impossible, but turns out to be mechanically identical to a 3×3 (and is thus solved the same way), but uses shape instead of colours. This means that it’s very easy to solve if you can already solve a 3×3, but the feeling in doing so is still extremely odd and well worth the money even if you do it only once. This is what it looks like…


..scrambled


…and solved!

I should also note that my new 3×3 record is 39 seconds, but on the other hand, I’ve almost forgotten how to solve the cube blindfolded. Well, even if it’s Christmas, I suppose I can’t have everything.

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