Adventures in 4x4ing

Excepting a one-week detour to play with a Pyraminx and a weekend of fiddling with 2x2s, my cubing adventure has been exclusively a 3×3 one. Back in April, I purchased a QJ Mini 4×4 on amazon, and I thought I might get into it. Instead, I dove more deeply into the 3×3’s, learning F2L far better, mastering the PLLs (just 3 Gs left), and picking up OLLs here and there.

On Saturday, my five-year stumbled onto a youtube video of a 7×7 solve (probably starting with my youtube history) and asked, “Dad — why don’t you get a big cube?” Not one to argue with the flights of a kid’s imagination, I relented by pulling out my dusty 4×4. (A far cry from a 7×7, but, like a camera, the best one is the one that’s with you.) I spent 30 minutes in front of youtube (learning, as I did with a 3×3, from RobH0629‘s great tutorial), scribbled down a few parity algorithms, and then, voila!, solved a 4×4. The first time took about 17 minutes. Yes, 17 minutes!?! I kept screwing up the edge pairing and was destroying old pairs when building new ones…over and over and over. Once I figured that out, I got a 9-minute solve. I’d imagine that I could get it down to 5 minutes with a couple more days of practice.

In the meanwhile, in no particular order, here are my quick thoughts/reactions on the 4×4:

  • I don’t currently have, and don’t expect to develop any time soon, a real interest in speed-solving bigger cubes. Being able to solve them is enough. Bonus points for being able to solve them in a reasonable amount of time. If I could solve a 4×4 in three minutes, I’d be happy.
  • I found some of the more complicated OLL and PLL algorithms too hard to apply to a bigger cube (especially my QJ, which locked up quite a bit). I stuck to two-look and found it much easier. No biggie given the point above.
  • I learned an “intuitive approach to center-building,” ignoring some of the more efficient strategies and algorithms such as those compiled in Andy Klise’s guide
  • “Dedge” is not a typo, but rather a “double edge“. Who knew?
  • I quickly learned the last-edge-pairing algorithm: (Dd) R F’ U R’ F (Dd)’. Easy to memorize and perform. No such luck for the more complicated parity algorithms such as this combined OLL/PLL one: Rw2 B2 Rw’ U2 Rw’ U2 x’ U2 Rw’ U2 Rw U2 Rw’ U2 Rw2 U2. I’m still relying on a cheat sheet for those.
  • If I do get more into 4x4s, I definitely want a better cube — either the Shengshou the Dayan MF8.
  • After spending a bunch of time 4x4s, 3x3s suddenly seem really easy (and the cubies really large!).

Now back to those last G perms….

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