There are limits to intuitive F2L (so-called). There, I said it. Again. Yes, the concept of pairing edges and corners in the top layer before insertion is elementary, and, in many instances, you can intuit just how to do that — splitting pairs, using empty slots, etc. But the solution to certain cases is far from intuitive. Which is to say that purely intuitive approaches might work, but inefficiently (too many moves, unnecessary cube rotations, etc.).
Cases 23 and 24 are prime examples; their cousins, 11 and 12, are close seconds. Having spent a few days on these four cases (watching videos, looking on the speedsolving wiki, etc.), I found much better solutions than my “intuitive” ones. (With the exception of #23, which I had learned from Andy Klise’s excellent F2L Cheat Sheet.)
The improved cases are demonstrated in the video below and summarized in the chart that follows it. The cube is an F2L Practice Cube, basically a Maru Cx3 with only the bottom two layers stickered. Anyone learning F2L should un-sticker the top layer of a cube to prevent distraction and increase F2L focus.
A friend and I have a unspoken tradition of buying gag gifts for each other off our Amazon wish-lists, which amounts to us placing a bunch of random stuff on the lists to see what the other orders. Traditionally, it’s been music or movies, but we’ve definitely had some weird things come up — digital home thermostats, drill bits, and the like. Long ago, I placed a stickerless Dayan Megaminx (a dodecahedron shaped puzzle) on my list and forgot about it. I had no real interest in it, had no expectation of ever being able to solve it (I was a 2-minute 3×3 solver at the time), and, more than anything, thought it would be a funny item for the wishlist. Lo and behold, it arrived at my house last December. I messed with a few times, got frustrated, and stashed it on my shelf.
A couple days ago, my 19-month-old brought it over to me, having scrambled it on his way. My OCD thusly challenged, solve it I had to. Which meant learning how to solve it.
I approached it entirely intuitively after realizing through a couple web searches that it’s essentially a complicated 3×3 — with 12 faces (rather than six), each with 5 edges and 5 corners (rather than 4). I experimented a couple times and then, on my third, decided to give it a go on video. Here is the result — a 10-minute solve (excluding the last layer), presented at 3x speed: Continue reading →
Yesterday, AL60Ri7HMi57 posted a quick video with new lighting and a clean 22-second solve. In the comments, she wrote, “Do the scramble and post your time in the comments below!” So, I figured I’d give it a shot. I had my camcorder charging on my desk, so I haphazardly aimed it, flipped it on, scrambled, and solved. 35.65 seconds. Not great. But, in all honesty, right about where I am. At least on video. I’m about 5-7 seconds faster off video, without the inexplicable nervousness of being on-cam.
The Video and Initial Observations
My first reaction was to ignore the solve and move on. Rarely one to miss an opportunity for self-examination, though, I decided to learn from it. So, for better or worse, here’s the video.
Go ahead and stream the below as your read this post. It’s my strained attempt to find some topical background music consistent with the post’s forced title. Maybe it’s just the introspection of turning 36, but it’s fun to hear an updated version of a song* that we used to listen to in high school.
So, I received my Shengshou 5×5 yesterday from amazon. I’m not really into higher order cubes, and certainly not into speed-solving them. But I guess that curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to test my theory that a 5×5 actually would be easier than a 4×4 for want of parity issues. I *hate* 4×4 last layer parity — with its long and confusing algorithms. Two 5×5 solves in, my theory seems mostly right.
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. Continue reading →
So, at about 10 months into this thing, I feel like I’m starting to really hit a groove. My ability to learn new algorithms has accelerated dramatically, my fluidity has really increased, and my average speeds continue to fall steadily (if not quickly). At the same time, this blog is starting to gain some traction. Having done absolutely nothing to market or cultivate it — no twitter account, no facebook account, not even sharing it with many friends and family — site visits have really increased lately, my videos have gotten more views, a few folks have subscribed, and I’ve even got a dialogue going (via my youtube inbox) with a few followers.
As I wrote in my inaugural post (and then reiterated in my second and third posts), this blog was never about showing off. I was never going to be as good as the very fast cubers — for want of time, ambition, youth, and (probably) ability. I knew that going in, and know it even more today. But I sensed early on that this would be a fun adventure. Of my many hobbies, this felt like the one most easily chronicled — the one with milestones that lent themselves to tracking, with small accomplishments susceptible of tip-giving, and with enough jargony in-crowd patois the strategic sprinkle of which would give the appearance of skill and achievement. I was correct on all fronts.
Just back from a family road trip. I found myself in the passenger seat for the first and last 8-hour legs — the car seat behind it makes the legroom too small for my wife to sit there comfortably. Boredom. Good thing I brought a cube and Andy Klise’s awesome cheat sheet summarizing Badmephisto’s F2L algorithms.
Learn F2L intuitively. Those seem to be the F2L watchwords. And so I did. Intuitively. The basic idea of setting up pairs in the top layer and then inserting them into a slot made sense. And the basic approaches for hiding a corner while moving an edge eventually became second nature. But not efficient. With half the edge/corner pairs (on average) in the front/left faces, I had to do the exceptionally awkward (F’ U’ F) trigger to get them into the front-right slot or do a y turn to get the pair into the left/back faces for a (L’ U L) trigger. Either way, I’d have to slow down, switch hands, re-position, etc. No surprise, my fastest solves are the ones with all or most of the insertions resulting from pairs in the right/front faces with the super easy (R U R’) trigger. Continue reading →