Comparing Different Methods for Solving the Rubik's Cube
Since the invention of the cube in 1974 by Erno Rubik the toy has fascinated people around the world. When it first came out millions of puzzles remained unsolved since there were no known methods for solving it. In 1981 Patrick Bossert wrote a guide “You Can Do The Cube”, a step-by-step tutorial that became an instant bestseller.
As cubing has developed into a competitive sport in the early 2000’s new methods for solving the cube were invented. Today there are multiple methods for solving the Rubik’s Cube, each with its own advantages. This article will give a brief explanation of some of the most popular methods and go through the pros and cons of each.
Layer by Layer
This method (LBL) divides the cube into layers and you solve each layer by using specific algorithms. Compared to other methods there are only a few algorithms to memorize, and they are relatively intuitive. This technique is perfect for beginners since it is the most accessible. On the other hand, this method is not efficient for speedcubing. An average LBL solve is around 130 moves. If you want to achieve speeds under one minute it is recommended to learn additional methods.
The CFOP (short for Cross – F2L – OLL – PLL) method, also known as the Fridrich method, was named after Jessica Fridrich who helped develop and popularize it. This is the natural progression for many cubers after mastering the Layer by Layer method. An average CFOP solve is around 60 moves.The logic is simple to learn and it is possible to achieve incredibly fast times. This method is similar to LBL, however, when solving the second layer you pair pieces up before placing them into the first and second layer. The last layer is solved with two extra steps. This method relies heavily on predicting the next steps and some intuition. Although CFOP contains over a hundred algorithms to memorize, it is easy to modify them to make them easier to remember.
The Roux method was invented by French speedcuber Gilles Roux. Among speedcubers, the second most popular method to achieve sub-10 times after CFOP is Roux. An average Roux solve is 40-50 moves. Roux relies on intuitive block building and accurate speed-spinning. The last step includes spinning the M slice and U moves, which can result in pops if not careful. The logic behind Roux is more difficult to understand than CFOP. Since block building is considered a more advanced technique, most cubers who use Roux already have experience with CFOP.
The Mehta method is the newest method on this list, and is currently being further developed by a group of 10 cubers. An average solve is around 40-50 moves. This method contains an extensive list of algorithmic steps, with approximately 180 algorithms to learn. Since this method relies mostly on algorithms for the solve this greatly improves the turns per second, possibly since hardware today is greatly improved. However, the algorithms are easy to remember since they are normally less than 10 moves long while case recognition is particularly easy. This method is ergonomically oriented which may shave off another few seconds. If memorizing 180 algorithms is too much there is a beginner’s version with 25 algorithms. This version averages 58 moves.
The ZZ method is a modern speedcubing method invented by Zbigniew Zborowski in 2006. This method was developed to be more ergonomic than CFOP and ROUX by eliminating rotations, thereby allowing for more finger tricks. An average solve is around 45-55 moves. ZZ uses a combination of block building and LBL methods. The EOLine step, the ZZ signature move involves orienting edges and simultaneously setting two opposite edges aligned together with their centers. This move is difficult, which can slow lookahead abilities and turns per second. ZZ has potential for being faster than other methods but in practice the EOLine step often slows the solve.
After reading this overview of the multiple methods for solving the Rubik’s Cube you can choose which one is best matched for your needs. Each of the methods requires previous knowledge of the Layer by Layer method and Rubik’s Cube notations. The most efficient way to become familiar with this method is by using the GoCube, a smart Rubik’s Cube.