The Cubing Corner

One-Handed Speed Solving History

One Handed Speed Solving

One-Handed Speed Solving History

After its initial boom and bust in the ’80s, there was a resurgent interest in the early 2000s in the sport of cubing. A group formed in 2003 to organize the first competition since 1982. This event held numerous genres of cubing events, many of which are still held to this day. One popular event is the 3x3x3 One-handed (OH). This article summarizes the history of the popular event and the development of improved methods and times.

The poor quality of Rubik’s Cubes in the early 2000’s slowed the progress of improving times. The top solves in the first competitions averaged at 40 seconds. In 2004 Chris Harwick achieved a world record at 29.95 seconds, while Shotaro Makisumi averaged at 39.25 seconds. In 2005 the record was set again to 22.05 while the average was mid-26 seconds. Speedcubing was becoming more popular at this point, with 50 competitions worldwide in 2007 and many more speedcubers were competing. Cubes were poor in comparison to today’s standards, however, online forums popped up in 2006 that led to sharing ideas. This contributed to improving times by sharing tips for modifications, lubricants, and other strategies. Towards the end of the decade, speedsolving times vastly improved.

In 2011 Feliks Zemdegs emerged as a rising talent and secured a world record in the OH event. His single was 11.16 seconds while his average was 14.41 seconds, 2 seconds faster than the previous record. Later that year Michal Pleskowicz stole the record with the first  sub-10 solve of 9.53.

In 2017 Haixin Yang created a new record of 8.27 seconds, using a lucky Last Layer skip- a  1/15,000 probability of occurring. However, Feliks Zemdegs once again beat his record a week later with a 6.88 solve. After some analysis, it was found that the scramble for this world record was unintentionally botched, with the scrambler performing R instead of R’. The optimal solution for the solve involved the same number of moves as the actual scramble. Feliks was unable to perform the same scramble again however due to the mis-scramble being unintentional the WCA allowed the time.

The current record stands today at Feliks Zemdegs 6.88 seconds, while the world record average is 10.31 seconds and held by Max Park. The closest anyone has come to breaking Feliks’ record is Justin Mallari, placing second place with his 8.04 seconds in 2016.


OH solves require specific finger tricks and tons of practice. Cubers generally choose the opposite of their dominant hand, since you use the pinkie and index finger to move the cube around.

The majority of speedcubers use their preferred method of solves for both one-handed and two-handed solves. The exception is the Roux method, which relies on M slice moves and is very inefficient one-handed. It is not recommended to use the LBL method either as it requires multiple rotations and turns.

The COLL algorithm set, which provides algorithms for all corner orientation/permutation and results in a limited number of PLL cases. Since the corners are already solved, these are easier to perform one-handed. The more determined speed solvers may choose to skip the PLL stage entirely by learning the ZBLL algorithm set that solves the remainder of the last layer in one algorithm if the edges are correctly oriented.

ZBLL requires learning 500 algorithms- an intimidating feat. A different technique is learning a few algorithms for last-layer cases. These will be based off R and U moves – easy to perform one-handed. Note if you use your left hand to solve then your algorithms will need to use R and U moves but if you solve with your right hand then you will use algorithms with  L and U move.


Magnets can create extra friction, therefore many cubers prefer a nonmagnetic cube for this event. Some examples of non-magnetic cubes are the Valk 3 and the Gan 356 Air S.

Finger tricks

One of the most important parts of the solution is maintaining a comfortable grip that allows control. Most cubers place their ring finger at the back, the pinkie either on the back or R, and their index finger on the U face. The thumb supports the cube which leaves the middle finger free to do the solves.


  • If you solve using CFOP study some extra PLL in order to skip the M and M’ moves
  • Consider solving using Roux as it can save time
  • Use the table for support on difficult to perform moves such as M and M’s
  • Use U2 flicks as often as possible as they are easier than two individual U2s
  • Practice makes perfect. The muscles needed for one-handed solves may cramp in the beginning, but by practicing they will get stronger.
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