I first heard about the Rubik's Cube in 1980. At the time, it was a little hard to believe that anything could move in three axes like that. Naturally, I had to have one. I bought mine at the first opportunity, but I didn't scramble it up right away. I imagined that when I started getting close to solving it, I would need a way to move just a few pieces at a time without mixing up the part I had alredy solved. So I began by trying to find a few simple move sequences (which I called dances) that would be useful. I developed the dances and solved the cube in a couple of days without any help (there was no help back then!). My original dances from 1980 are shown below. After some practice I was able to solve the cube fairly quickly, but I was never super fast - I remember being timed once by a few of my curious co-workers at 2:05.
The Moves: The dances are broken down into moves, where each move is one quarter of a full rotation. The diagrams of the moves all show the cube from the top, with the front face at the bottom. Use the white face as the "front" and another color, say blue, for the "top". Then when you are holding the cube with white toward you and blue at the top, the view will match the diagrams. I gave each move a descriptive name, and I later use the first letter of each name as a shorthand when defining the whole dance. Forward is like moving the right face ahead, Backward means moving the right face back, Left moves the back face to the left, Right moves the back face to the right, Up moves the center layer ahead, Down moves the center layer back. Open twists the top like opening a jar, Close is like closing the lid on a jar.
The Dances: Each dance also has a name, loosely related to how it acts or what it does to the elements. Since all these dances affect mainly the back face, their diagrams show the back face of the cube. This will be the yellow face if you used white for the front face. Also note that the top face of the cube is at the bottom of the diagram, as if you are tipping down the front face to look at the back. Remember that when you are actually going through the dance steps, the top face will be up and the back face will be pointing away from you. The arrows in the diagrams show how the elements shift around. Two of the dances (Elevator and Short Circuit) have a few more elements that also move, but the diagram shows only the important ones for a basic solution. Both of these dances are used early in the solving process so you don't have to worry about those other moving elements messing up anything you've already solved.
All my dances have the same basic theme - move one element out of the front face, dance it around a little, then put it back. Sometimes I move the element in and out from the same direction, and sometimes from a different direction. It turns out that the cube can be solved using only four of the dances (Elevator, Gearbox, Midtown and Stir the Pot) but if you want to solve it in less time you will want to learn at least two more (Short Circuit and Lazy Susan). In the diagrams below, only the right-hand versions are shown. If you want to master the cube, learn both the left-hand and right-hand versions of all the dances. There are a couple you will want to learn in reverse, too. When learning a dance for the first time, follow the sequence of moves I've written out beside the diagrams, but don't memorize the letters! Instead, commit each dance to muscle memory as soon as possible. I repeat: Do not memorize the letters! Practice each dance until muscle memory takes over. For more on the individual dances, see the section below the diagrams.
More about the dances:
Good luck and have fun with your Rubik's Cube!
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