A few years ago...I'm 11 years old, and someone gives me a Rubik's cube for a present. I proudly take it to school to show people. Someone messes it up. I twist and turn and try to get it back. The someone laughs. I cry. That ends my relationship with the Rubik's Cube.
Over 20 years later, and now I decide that for goodness sake, I should be able to do the RC, and I'm intelligent enough, etc etc etc. So I ask for one for a present. This time the internet exists, and I do some research on how to solve it. Having assumed there's pretty much only 1 way to solve it, I'm surprised to find a multitude of ways, some related, others in a class of their own.
I see videos of people like Jessica Friedrich solving it in 15 seconds and nearly give up. I read about how she worked out billions (well, a lot, anyway) of algorithms to solve it. So "anyone can solve it in 2 easy steps: 1) learn all the algorithms, 2) solve it".
Then I find pages like Cubefreak, which list a number of different ways, and make me realise I'm not alone in my quest. Sites like Dan's Cube Station, Cube!, Joel's Speedcubing Page, and Dan Knights - On Speedcubing all confirm this. By this time, I decide I want to be a speedcuber. A day later I give that thought up.
By now I've learned to slowly solve the cube by following algorithms. Some methods use lots of algorithms; some use less. But at the back of my mind there's a nagging feeling that solving the cube by working through algorithms is a bit like the Maths teacher who tells his students they don't need to understand what they're doing, just follow the instructions. I feel like I'm cheating.
My quest begins to find a method which is simple to do, and which makes intuitive sense. On the bottom of the page How to solve the Rubik's Cube, there are links to alternate methods. Among these are methods by Lars Petrus, Matthew Monroe, and a method by Philip Marshall called Rubik's Cube: The Ultimate Solution. The Marshall method intrigues me because it says it uses only 2 algorithms. Two algorithms??? That must be a typo. How could something as complex as the cube use only 2 algorithms?
I take a look at the site and two things immediately hit me:
- The claim is true. There really are only two algorithms required.
- Using those algorithms to solve the cube is nearly impossible because the explanation of the site isn't overly clear.
I encourage you to take a look at Philip Marshall's site. You'll probably find what I did: the site is very wordy and takes many reads of each part to fully grasp what the author is saying. Yes, there are pictures of cubes, but overall, it's not like most of the other RC sites out there, which have fancy java applets, and easy to read chunks of text. That being said, a lot of the material on those sites is algorithms.
After about a week of doing not much else but working on understanding this method, I can safely say that I get it. It's a brilliant method; genius, even. But a few google searches convince me that not many others are using it, probably because people can't understand what he was writing. (That certainly is a common theme among the few forum entries I find.)
Now that I'm on board with the method, let me make a few observations about it
- It's not for speedcubers. If you're looking to reach that sub-20-second time, this is not the method for you and my site won't help you. I suggest trying some of the other links above.
- It always works.
- It's actually very easy to grasp and quite intuitive. I hope to use this site to convince you of that.
- It's challenging. Not because of all the algorithms to learn, but because working out where to use the two algorithms is not always a piece of cake.
- It's by far the most satisfying way to solve the cube. Every time I've finished a solve, I've felt good! It's good to know that I'm not mindlessly following a multitude of algorithms. With this method, I really do understand why it's working.
- His claim that "It is so simple that, once learned, one cannot forget the moves. You will not have to twist the cube incessantly in order to figure out how the moves are made. " is entirely true.
A quick word about its creator.
I had a good poke around the site and read what I could. I even sent an email to Philip using the address on the site, to thank him for the method and ask some questions about it. That bounced straight back. Then I read on one of the pages: That let's me out. All I can do is about 1.5 turns per second; but then I am 75 years old. Judging by the fact that the latest date on the site is 2004, I'd say Philip is now at least 80 years old (it's 2010 as I write this). That probably explained the bounced email.
The purpose of my site, then, is to try and make what I think is a fantastic method completely clear and understandable to anyone else who's interested. I'm not Philip Marhsall, I've never met him nor communicated with him. I hope he doesn't mind me making this site.
A quick word about notation.
The standard RC notation is never used in this method; sometimes, though, I'll use it to make things clearer. For completeness, here it is:
D-down face or underneath face
Putting a dash after any of those means to rotate anticlockwise (pretend you were looking at the face straight on).
So, a sequence like F R' D U' F2 means
- rotate the front face 1 turn clockwise
- rotate the right face 1 turn anticlockwise
- rotate the down face 1 turn clockwise
- rotate the upper face 1 turn anticlockwise
- rotate the front face 2 turns
Ready to begin? Grab a coffee, your cube and head to Overview of the Ultimate Solution.