Category Archives: video

F2L #36 – S Slice Variant

F2L 36

R U S’ (R’ U R) S R’
[setup: (R U’ R) U2 (F R’ F’ R) U2]

Four months! It’s been four full months since my last video/post. Totally unlike me. Busy is an understatement. It’s finally time to come for air momentarily with a tutorial I’ve planned for a long time.

This one relates to F2L 36, a case that I’ve never liked. The standard alg — U2 (R' F R F') U2 (R U R') — isn’t terribly slow. Nor is it very smooth or fluid. (My older video on that version.) I’ve come to prefer a “tricked out” variant that comes by way of Teller West — and, no surprise, it’s based around the S slice.

Here’s an in-depth tutorial comparing the standard alg to the S slice variant, showing my finger-tricks (very different than Teller’s), and vindicating the standard alg for certain cases:

(cube: Maru CX-3, partially un-stickered))

Like most S-based algs, this one succeeds or fails on finding a fluid, effortless way to finger-trick the slice. I couldn’t manage it the way Teller does. But once I “made it my own” — my recurring advice to cubers of all levels — the alg came together quickly. I push the S’ right-to-left across the top using my index finger, which is naturally on the right side of that edge after the R U; I pull the S left-to-right across the top after the R’ U R lands my index finger to the left of the edge. Mechanically, it all makes sense. But timing is everything.

I’m fascinated by how this algorithm can be deconstructed into component parts to help explain it’s mechanics:

   R U
                   R’ U R

The first “level” in blue is a standard corner insert. Sandwiched between is a series of self-reversing S slices at the next “level” in red, and between those a series of self-reversing R moves (with the critical U smack in the middle). Huh? Basically, it’s a corner insert. But, just before the final R’, the S’ knocks out an edge, the R’ U R brings around the replacement (previously stuck F2L edge). The S flips that edge while pairing it with the corner. When the corner finally inserts, it brings the edge with it. Pretty neat.

Once understood as an expansion of the simple R U R’ insert, it becomes obvious why the S version works only when the flipped edge is in its own slot. If the flipped edge is in another slot, you need to use another alg — as emphasized at the end of the video.

It was fun to spend time on this one. Busy I remain, but hopefully it won’t take another four months to pump out the next post.

Winner: Aolong Give-Away

Congratulations to Cubing Cubes for winning my Aolong give-away contest. His video was one of 19 walk-through entries and 1750+ subscriber entries. Here’s a video explnation of the winner determination and my walkthrough of the scramble I had provided:


D2 U' R2 U F2 D2 U' R2 U' B' L2 R' B' D2 U B2 L' D'

No one realized that the scramble was the one on which Mats Valk set the 3×3 single world record of 5.55 seconds.

I thought my own walk-through (my first on video, perhaps?) was pretty decent, although it shows (around 5:30) that I could have paired red/green more easily; I forgot that the back/right slot was empty. And, yeah, there’s that pesky editing error in the audio at 7:10. Oh well. Continue reading

13 Cubers / One Scramble

Once upon a time, this blog was something other than just a collection of my embedded Youtube videos. In fact, it was more like a repository of neat things related to cubing. Besides acting as an online chronicle of sorts, which is a function I still really dig, I want to steer the blog back to including other content.

This recent Cubing World video is a great excuse to do that. A follow up to last year’s Twelve Cubers, One Scramble video, this one features thirteen fast 3×3 solvers (two the current world record holders) each doing CFOP walk-through solves based on the same scramble: L2 B' L2 B' D2 B' R2 D2 F2 R2 B' L B' U' R' D' B2 L2 U' B U2

This video is great. As I commented on it, the solves demonstrate really well that solving a cube is not just a robotic application of memorized steps — naysayers’ favorite criticism. No doubt there is a formulaic element of “see X and apply Y,” especially at the OLL and PLL stages. But the amount of variation in these walk-throughs showcases the high degree of analysis, problem solving, and creativity that go into a really good solve. And these are no lackeys. That some of the best cubers in the world each approached the same scramble differently is a testament to the deep complexity of the cube.

From Alexander Lau’s Roux and Phil Yu’s ZZ mind-benders to Justin Mallari’s impressive dexterity and finger tricks to Feliks’ and Mats’ always brilliant solves, the video is riddled with nuggets of awesome tricks and techniques to study. I can watch these over and over again...and have!

1-Second Sidewinder (OLL #25)

View this alternate video if the embedded version below is blocked for you.

A quickie video showing my 1-second execution of OLL #25, The Sidewinder:

(puzzle: Dayan Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers; music: “The Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan)

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Cubing Through China (34.1 Ao10)

Badly jetlagged from my trip, I had thrown together pretty hastily the preview of my video with 10 solves across 10 unique locations in China. Somewhat better rested now, I pieced together the footage into a (long) video clocking it with an Ao10 of 34.1 seconds. I think that’s my best on camera average, and not bad considering that I was fighting exhaustion the whole trip.

(cube: Moyu Weilong with Cube Specialists fitted Bright+ stickers)

Bad lighting notwithstanding, the video and solves aren’t half bad. Continue reading

Excuses…Excuses — (0:39) Ao5 with a Cast

Here’s a dirty little (not-so-)secret fact: I’m a mediocre cuber. Indeed, mediocrity is, in a sense, the raison d’être of this blog.

me·di·o·cre [mee-dee-oh-ker]
of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate
     synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill
     antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable

More accurately, I’d say that I’m a pretty good cuber, but a very mediocre speedsolver. My technique is decent. I know all PLLs and can execute them efficiently. I understand intuitive F2L very well, and have learned a lot of tricks for more complicated cases. And I’ve got about 60% of the OLLs under my belt. But when it comes to putting them all together into full solves, I’m just not that great. My cross stinks. My look-ahead is non-existent. And, under the pressure of the clock, I tend to confuse F2L cases and forget OLL cases. That’s why I average just under 30 seconds.

And that’s why I very rarely record full solves and, even more rarely, averages. Well, after my surgery and with this damn cast still on my arm (¡au voir mañana!), I thought I could record an average of 5 (Ao5) with a built-in excuse. And so I did. Here’s the video with a 39 second Ao5 (and with BIG apologies for so much of it being out of frame!):

(puzzle: Dayan Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers; music: String Cheese Incident performing “Galactic > So What?” on 7.30.03)

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Void Cube – Walk-Through, Re-Stickering

void-cubeIn my last post, I wrote about new custom stickers from Olivér Nagy. Besides some great new custom logo stickers, he and I worked on a sticker template for Rubik’s-brand Void Cubes. The OEM Void stickers have a ridiculous pattern of concentric circles and the color scheme is a bit funky — with white replaced by red and red replaced by a magenta-purple. Re‑stickering to a familiar color scheme made it a lot easier to solve!

As long as I had the camera rolling, I decided to do a quick walk-through video. A lot of folks think the Void Cube is some alien beast when it comes to solves. In reality, with one key parity exception, it solves just like a 3×3. The video walks through that parity issue, which is more fully explained after the jump.

(puzzle: Ruibk’s brand Void Cube w/ custom bright stickers from Olivér Nagy; music: “Ice Flow,” Kevin MacLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0)

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