AL60 Solve Response – 35 seconds (Arghhhh!)

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.

(music: String Cheese Incident, ¡Bam! (March 23, 2002); cube: black Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers and modded Cubesmith grey stickers for U face)

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Cross Training

It’s time to come clean: My cross skills suck.

It’s been 14 months since I wrote about more advanced cross techniques, which is only slightly less long than I’ve been at this cubing thing altogether. At the time, I was thrilled just to move on from the beginner’s method of forming a daisy on top. Memorizing the cube’s color scheme seemed like an accomplishment.

A year-plus later, I’m stuck at around 35 seconds. I’ve learned all 21 PLLs, have gotten pretty fast at two-look OLL (with a handful of OLLs one-lookable), and am competent with F2L (fast, but with lots of hunting still). But my crosses are still really clunky. Time to start focusing on the cross.

To set a benchmark, I did 5 Ao12s of just crosses. I spread out the sessions to make sure they were pretty accurate representations. Although there are a few stray bests, the 60-cross average was 6.75: Continue reading

a purpose, finally: a blog for the mediocre

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.

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road trip: F2L revisited

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

Tough F2L Cases

PSA: This is a very old post, written just as I had begun to tackle F2L. Although my F2L is now much better, these cases remain hard. I’ve addressed these cases a few times since, with more robust analysis and improved algs — e.g., here, here, and here.

So, I’ve been working hard on F2L. Refusing to memorize algorithms, and heeding expert advice, I’ve concentrated on learning it “intuitively” or “organically.” While most of the cases feel instinctive at this point, there are a handful whose solution feels slightly less intuitive. This tutorial is a sort of personal dumping ground and cheat sheet for the cases I find toughest. I’ll add cases as they come up for me.

The basic solutions come from Badmephisto’s F2L cheat sheet, with some small tweaks to personalize them into my solving technique. As always, the visual diagrams come from Conrad Rider’s fantastic Visual Cube generator. Continue reading