F2L #36 – S Slice Variant

F2L 36
S-Slice Variant

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
             S’
                   R’ U R
             S
   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:

The Scramble

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)

OLL #25
(Sidewinder)

(R’ F) (R B’) (R’ F’) (R B)

setup: L F R’ F’ L’ F R F’

I’m fairly meticulous when it comes to learning new algorithms, especially OLLs. My first stop is usually the speedsolving wiki OLL page. But beware: Rarely is the first algorithm for each case the best. The most common or most obvious, perhaps. But rarely the best.

Such was definitely the case with the Sidewinder (OLL 25). The first algorithm listed required a four-move setup, two Sexy Moves, and then a closing three-move trigger. The second one is equally clunky. But then the third is short and sweet. It starts with a y2, but that’s not really any different than just treating a different orientation as “home” for the case. After a few minutes of experimenting, it became obvious that the third option was the most efficient, lending itself to easy finger tricks. Continue reading

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