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CFOP (cross, first 2 layers, the orientation of the last layer, a permutation of the last layer) is one of the most popular speedcubing methods. It is also known as the Fridrich method, named after its developer, Jessica Fridrich. It helps speedcubers solve the Rubik’s cube in significantly fewer moves than using the beginners’ method. CFOP reduces the average number of moves from ±110 in the beginner’s method to just ±56 moves.
Note: It is recommended to first begin with solving and mastering the Rubik’s Cube using the beginner’s method. Proceed to the CFOP method after achieving a speed-solving benchmark of 1½ to 2 minutes using the beginner’s method. Here is a link to beginners solving tips.
The Fridrich method consists of four steps:
- Cross: Solve the first layer’s four edge pieces completely into the shape of a cross.
- F2L (First Two Layers): Solve the first two layers.
- OLL (Orientation of the Last Layer): Correctly place the edge pieces and the last layer corners.
- PLL (Permutation of the Last Layer): Complete the Rubik’s cube by correctly placing the edge pieces and the last layer corners.
CFOP steps in detail
- The Cross
Solve the four edge pieces of the chosen first layer into the shape of a cross. When solved correctly, the four edge pieces take the shape of a cross. This step is identical to the beginner’s method’s first step, with just one difference. The cross has to be solved from the bottom instead of from the top, eliminating the need to flip the cube upside down. This allows for a quicker transition to the next step, saving valuable time. Solving from the bottom also facilitates visualization and thinking ahead about the pieces required for the next step. This is a key principle in becoming a successful speedcuber.
Initially, solving the Rubik’s cube from the bottom may take more time and be more challenging, but it gets easier with practice. What can help is occasionally viewing the bottom of the Rubik’s Cube while solving it to check for any errors. Checking the bottom of the cube can be eliminated altogether after mastering this step.
Select and stick to one color to solve the cross efficiently. A majority of speedcubers choose to start with white. Choosing and sticking to one color enables a speedcuber to memorize the color-scheme and recognize the pieces to solve in the next step more quickly. This is particularly important in the F2L step. This step can be completed intuitively without using any algorithms.
- First Two Layers (F2L)
This step is analogous to the second and third steps of the beginner’s method and helps solve the first two layers completely. A total of eight pieces need to be solved in two layers, starting with four of the first layer corner pieces and four middle layer edge pieces. This requires pairing a matching corner and an edge piece and placing them together in their slots.
F2L is a crucial step to speedsolving as this is where the majority of time gains are realized. The reduced solving time can be attributed to having a view of the top side of the Rubik’s cube, planning the next step ahead in time, and improved cubing techniques that eliminate unnecessary rotations. There are 41 possible variations for the corner edge positions, which can be solved intuitively without the need for algorithms.
- The orientation of the Last Layer (OLL)
The third step orients the last layer at the top correctly so that it is one color. The step involves eight pieces: four corner pieces and four edge pieces, which can be solved in one algorithm, the one-look OLL or two, in the case of the two-look OLL. There are 57 possible combinations to solve the last layer, excluding the solved variation. Consequently, it is necessary to learn all the 57 algorithms to fully master the one-look OLL. The two-look OLL only has ten algorithms to master. Fortunately, some of these algorithms are covered in the beginner’s method.
- Permutation of the Last Layer (PLL)
The fourth and final step completes the Rubik’s Cube. There 21 combinations and therefore 21 algorithms that need to be learned to solve the last layer pieces. The pieces are composed of four edges and four corner pieces. Two of these algorithms are learned in the beginner’s method too.
The CFOP method is easy and comes with practice
The CFOP method is one of the most efficient and widely used speedcubing methods. It is also popular among some of the leading speedcubers like Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park. Furthermore, many of the CFOP algorithms are also covered in the beginner’s method, making it easier to switch to CFOP.
However, it does take more time and effort to master the CFOP than the beginner’s method because it has additional algorithms that need to be learned and practiced. Although the CFOP has a higher degree of difficulty than the beginner’s method, it compensates for this by helping speedcubers achieve much faster solving times once mastered. In fact, reaching solving times of sub 30/20/10 seconds is attainable with practice.