How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube

Anyone can learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. If you missed the 1980’s, the Rubik’s Cube was the six-sided puzzle with nine different colored panels on each of its six sides that you could rotate in any direction. Solving the Rubik’s Cube involves mixing up the colors, then moving the nine panels into place so that the panels on each side contain only one color.

The Rubik’s Cube was invented separately by Erno Rubik of Hungary and Terutoshi Ishige of Japan – both in the mid 1970s. Rubik designed the cube in order to help his students recognize spatial relationships. By the 1980s, the popularity of the cube had spread around the world and had become a legendary puzzle.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a genius to solve the cube. My knucklehead brother learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube in a minute’s time when he was 14.

Some basic understanding of cube construction and solving strategy will set you on the correct path. Many resources are available that provide specific moves for Rubik’s Cube completion.

Understanding the Rubik’s Cube Construction

The first step in solving a Rubik’s Cube is understanding how it’s constructed and how the pieces move in relation to each other. At first glance, it appears that any colored space can occupy any position on the cube.
But this isn’t the case.

There are technically around 43 quintillion possible positions for the cube to be in (a number that is impossible to comprehend), but the number of practical cube arrangements becomes much smaller with some understanding of construction and overall strategy.

If you took your Rubik’s Cube apart, you’d find that there is a simple axle mechanism inside. Taking the cube apart is pretty easy too, and you might do so if you want to get a more visual understanding of how the cube works. Simply turn one face of the cube 45 degrees so that one of the corners is sticking out. Then, take a screwdriver and pop the corner piece off. The rest of the pieces should come off easily.

If you decide to take the cube apart, be sure to put it back together in a solved position. Putting the cube back haphazardly will lead to an unsolvable puzzle. Switching stickers around can make the puzzle impossible as well.
Three different types of pieces make up the construction of the Rubik’s Cube: center pieces, corner pieces, and edge pieces.

How to Solve a Rubik's Cube

How to Solve a Rubik's Cube

Center pieces: These are the colored squares in the middle of each face. The most important realization when it comes to solving the Rubik’s Cube is that these pieces cannot move out of the center position. These are the pieces that are attached to the axle within the cube. The positional relationship between the center pieces never changes. This is important because the cube solution becomes a matter of arranging all of the other pieces in relation to the center pieces of each face. There are six center pieces.

Corner pieces: These are the pieces of the cube that have three colored stickers. These pieces will always occupy a corner of the cube. There are eight corner pieces.

Edge pieces: These are the pieces that have two colored stickers. They will always be between two corner pieces. There are 12 edge pieces.

Basic Rubik’s Cube Solving Method

The basic strategy for solving the cube involves arranging the edge and corner pieces so that their colors correspond to the respective center pieces. For example, a corner piece that is white, green and red must end up in the corner of the cube where the white, green, and red faces meet. Since you’re working around the center pieces, the center color is considered to be the color for its whole face. For example, the face with the green colored center square can be called the green face, since all green pieces will be places around it.

Start by choosing a top face. For our example, we’ll use white. Orient the cube so that the white face (the face with white center piece) is facing the ceiling. The first step is to orient the edge pieces of the top face. This means that you must find any edge piece containing a white sticker and move it into place. For example, find the edge piece that has white and blue stickers. This piece must be moved so that the white side is next to the white center piece and the blue side is next to the blue center piece.

After all of the top edges have been correctly placed, you’ll need to correctly position the top corners. Then, you’ll position the side edges followed by the bottom corners and bottom edges. The cube cannot be solved by getting one colored face at a time – you must work in layers. Keep in mind that it is absolutely necessary to disturb pieces that are correctly positioned in order to get other pieces in place. The trick is to use sequences of moves that not only correctly position the pieces in question, but also get all the previously placed pieces back to their correct positions.

Rubik’s Cube Solving Materials

This basic method was first explained in a book called The Simple Solution to Rubik’s Cube by James G. Nourse. It is a great place for beginners to start. Also, it contains a specific Rubik’s Cube solution with easy to understand step-by-step moves.

Plenty of online resources are available too. One Rubik’s Cube solving resource I recommend is the YouTube series available at Bad Mephisto‘s page. This YouTube user clearly explains several Rubik’s Cube solutions.

There are plenty of Rubik’s Cube advanced methods that involve memorizing hundreds of algorithms. These are used by people who want to be able to solve the cube in a matter of seconds. For the beginner, seek out an online source or a book for an exact description. Anyone who is up to the challenge can use the basic strategy provided here to try solving the Rubik’s Cube on their own.

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