Notation and color scheme

In the move sequences given later, the usual letters will be used: U, D, L, R, F, B. R = look at the right side and turn it clockwise R2 = RR R' = RRR Of course, inner slices are slices like others and can be moved using a single move: E, M, S. Lower-case letters mean you have to turn two layers instead of one. r = RM' This notation is not perfect, but it's the most widely used.

My cubes follow Rubik's standard color scheme. Similar colors on opposite sides help a lot: White/Yellow, Orange/Red and... hum... Green/Blue. They look like on the pictures below.

Step 2

Just as in Step 1, you must build a 1x2x3 block. Five more pieces: BR/DR/FR-edges and DBR/DFR-corners. But now, the strategy is different, because as soon as you do F, B or D, the Lside block becomes an endangered species.

Of course, there are thousands of configurations. Don't think about an optimal solving of these five pieces. I suggest the following strategy: Solve a 1x2x2 block: Assemble a corner-edge pair (1). Add the missing edge (2). Solve the last corner and edge (3). This way, you're always trying to track and combine two elements, that's what you need in a step where tracking pieces is important. That's what makes the strength of Fridrich's F2L strategy (four pairs). The pictures show the four possible building sequences. Note: The first corner-edge pair (1) is brought to R-side only when combined with the missing edge (2). (1), (2) and (3) should take less than 2 seconds (total: 5 seconds). No time to waste in looking for the best corner to work with. Sometimes there's a 1x1x2 block (corner-edge pair) already built. Just look for the missing edge and solve. But often, you can't notice any interesting pattern. Take the first corner you can find (DFR or DBR) and assemble a pair (suitable edge easily located). If you can see the second edge before doing any move, it's perfect. If not, you'll see it soon. If needed, be ready to change on the fly the move that your fingers just started. The last corner-edge pair should not be a problem. Because M-slice is free, it's even easier than solving the last pair in F2L strategies. There are configurations I like to find. When they appear, you can start solving immediately, without trying to find better. For example, look at the picture on the right. The blue-white edge must go to RB. In this position, building a pair with the blue-white-red corner (that can be moved freely in U and R without disturbing the blue-white edge) while locating the red-white edge is easy, and you can make a fast 1x2x2 block at RD-RDB-RB. Even more interesting, the last pair to solve will be located in front of you. This step is designed for right hand work. You can do everything with U, R, M and (of course) r moves. Sometimes, F or B can help, but I want to show you with this example that you have many opportunities when working with only a few basic moves. On this case, we already have a 1x1x2 block. It may be interesting to break the block while moving the second edge, like this: R'UMU'RU'. But there are many other solutions with M/U/R/r moves. You can just put the block aside and change the orientation of the second edge in U-side: U'rU2R'U'RU or r'U'rURU2 (the one I prefer). A bit more naïve, you can move all the pieces to R-side first: U'rUR'U'R2U. A last one for the road: U'Rr2U'MU. And if other moves than U/R/M/r are allowed, BUB'U2 is shorter. Sequences based exclusively on U/R/M/r moves may be a bit longer, but they often are competitive: - They don't make you loose your left-hand grip, and the cube remains stable and ready for Step 3. - Fingertricks with the right hand and the left index are powerful.

- A rotation of the whole cube costs time. - Less thinking. You may prefer to build the 1x2x3 blocks in horizontal slices. Instead of U/R/M/r moves, you get U/R/E/u. I suppose it can be as fast, with a slightly better visibility, but starting Step 3 with the last corners on top is more comfortable. The number of moves can be reduced by choosing the easiest 1x2x3 block belonging to R-side. But if the two 1x2x3 blocks don't match at all, Step 3 becomes very difficult to analyze quickly.

Some help
I added this section for people in lack of inspiration who need an extensive list of cases to tell them what to do. But sticking to them is not the best thing to do. With practice, you progressively learn how to work with pieces positioned at random places (there are sooo many lucky configurations not given here), how to feel bad cases coming and dodge them. Important note: The sequences to come are fast, but not optimal.

Build a 1x2x2 in R-layer
If you follow the strategy suggested above, it's not difficult to build the first corner-edge pair. Just find a pair of pieces that match with a minimum of M/U/R/r moves. Usually, the resulting pair is located in r-layers or l-layers. Then, the tables below give an example of a solution to each of the possible cases on your way to a 1x2x2 block in R-layer. Starting from a corner-edge pair, you have to analyze the position of the missing edge. If you can't find the case you're looking for, then you need to rotate U-layer or R-layer (a layer the pair does not belong to), or consider a symmetrical case. In my opinion, you don't need to learn anything by heart, because most of the configurations are really easy to solve. Just look at them a few times, one by one, an you'll realize how intuitive it is. You should notice you can often perform r moves instead of R, when there's nothing to care about in M-layer (or r instead of M' when there's nothing in R-layer).

R-1x2x2: Find out the case depending on the corner-edge pair, then look for the position of the missing edge

Missing edge is R/U r2U'RU2 U/R U'r'U'r'U

R/F r2U'R2U2 F/R RU'r2UrU'

R/B r2U B/R r'U'r'U'R'U2

R/D rUR'U'rU D/R r2UM'UR'U'

D/B r'Ur'U B/D r2U'R'U2

Solve the last pair
Let's analyze six cases for the last D-corner (two locations and three orientations). Considering the 14 positions for the last edge is not very useful, since reducing this number is only a matter of applying one or two moves (M or U). Thus, some of the configurations not listed here can be slightly longer, but many are the same length or shorter because of move cancelations.

Step 3

Now, you have to solve the last four corners. Mastering cases recognition takes time, don't expect to be good at this step before several months. You should learn cases progressively, using two easy sequences (orientation and permutation for example) for the ones you don't know. Many other web sites teach you how to solve four corners (Waterman, CLL, COLL). In this method, there's no big difference, except that M-slice is free. Let's call it CMLL.

The corners generate eight configurations of orientations (if you look at what should be U color) and six possible permutation cases. No need to learn 6x8=48 cases. For many of them, it's only a matter of symmetry, or applying a reverse sequence. You have to remember "only" 24 unique sequences if you want to master this step. Progressively, you'll find out how to detect patterns for fast case recognition, from different point of views (and with a lot of experience, you'll even begin to analyze the configuration and ready your fingers before the end of Step 2). For many of the sequences given below, you need to adjust U before execution. Do the reverse sequence, you'll see where to start from.
Analyze the orientation pattern and find the right column I (A1)' Sym(A1) (A2)' (A3)' (A4)' (A2)' (A3)' (A5)' (A4)' (A5)' (A2)' (A3)' (A4)' Sym(A2, A3, Sym(A2, A3, (A5)' A4, A5) A4, A5) Sym(A2, A3, A4, A5) R'FU2F'RFR'U R'FRF'U2F'U2 2RF' F (C4)' Sym(C4) (C2)' Sym(C3) R'UL'U2RU'R' U2R2 (A2)' (A3)' (A4)' (A5)' Sym(A2, A3, A4, A5) R2U'RF'R'Ur2UF UF' (A6)' Sym(A6) RU2R'U'RU'BUB' U'R' (C6)' Sym(C6)

R'U'RU'R'U2R (C1)' Sym(C1)

R'ULU'RUR' (C3)' Sym(C2) (C5)' Sym(C5)

(B1)' Sym(B1)

(B3)' Sym(B4)

(B4)' Sym(B3)

(B2)' Sym(B2)

(B5)' Sym(B5)

(B6)' Sym(B6)

(R'DR'DR')U(R'DR R'F2R'U'RF2R' 'DR')' UR2 (D1)' Sym(D1) (E5)' Sym(D3)

RU'r'U'F'UF (E3)' Sym(D2) (F5)' Sym(D5) RB'UR'B'RU' R'B (F4)' Sym(E4) (F3)' Sym(D4)

RUR2F2rFR'F2R (D6)' Sym(D6)

R2F'UFU'F'U'F2R RU'L'UR'U2B' F'R UBL (F1)' Sym(E1) (E2)' Sym(E2) R'UrU2R2FRF' R (F2)' Sym(F2)

FRUR'U'F' (D2)' Sym(E3) (E6)' Sym(E6)

(D3)' Sym(E5)

(E1)' Sym(F1)

(D5)' Sym(F5)

(E4)' Sym(F4)

(D4)' Sym(F3)

R'URUBU2B'RB' R'B (F6)' Sym(F6)

(E6)2 (G1)' Sym(G1) (R'FRUR')F(R'FRU R')' (H1)' Sym(H1)

R'F2RF'U2RU' R'FRUFU'RUR L'B'U 'U'F' (G4)' Sym(G4) (H2)' (H4)' Sym(G3)

(G2)' Sym(G2)

RU'L'UR'ULU R'U'RU'R'UF'UF L'UL R (H3) ' (H5)' Sym(G5) (G6)' Sym(G6) (E6)3 R2B'D'R2E'F2R2 URF2 (H6)' Sym(H6)

(G3)' Sym(H2, H4)

(G5)' (G3)' (G5)' Sym(H3, H5) Sym(H2, H4) Sym(H3, H5)

Notes: - In this step, a quarter-turn metric is the best speed metric. - Because M-slice is free, instead of an R move at the beginning or at the end of a sequence, you can do r, l or L. - Many, many more possibilities, ask me if you've got a problem with a case. - I did not propose a fast recognition technique based on easy color patterns, because you'll find them out automatically, and because you can achieve better recognition skills with a deeper analysis.

An old video showing sequences for all the cases

Some other fast sequences I use:

Possible improvement: Solving the last corners with non matching 1x2x3 blocks is easy while solving slowly (useful for fewest-moves) and allows you to optimize the first two steps much more. But fast recognition in such circumstances is very difficult. However, it should be possible thanks to a recognition system based on locating L/R colors first (instead of the orientation pattern above). James Straughan wrote a table that directly gives you a solution to all cases when side blocks don't match (and of course, it works when they do).

Step 4

Six edges and four centers (6E4C) remain unsolved. You should need less than 15 moves on average in this step, but don't be afraid of MU! Mastering different techniques allows you to detect interesting lucky configurations. There's more to learn than the method described here.

Edges orientation - Definition

An edge is correctly oriented if you can solve it with a sequence in the group generated by <U, D, L, R, F2, B2>, i.e.: - For UL-edge and UR-edge (the last yellow/white pieces), the orientation is correct if the L/Rfacelet (yellow/white) is on F/B/L/R-side. - One of the four other edges is correctly oriented if a facelet matches the adjacent M-center's color or the opposite M-center's color. On the examples below, yellow and white facelets always are on L/R, but you can perfectly work with any configuration for the other stickers.

Edge is OK. Red matches orange.

Edge is NOT OK. Orange and blue are not opposite colors.

Edge is OK. Yellow facelet on Fside.

Edge is NOT OK. White facelet on Uside.

Method Step 4a - Edges orientation
You begin with an orientation step. Just make all edges correctly oriented. It's an iterative process. Adjust U and/or rotate the whole cube, your pattern belongs to one of three categories below where purple edges represent wrong orientations. Apply the sequence and the pattern will change. Do it again, as long as wrong orientations remain. Light-grey pieces stand for pieces already solved during previous steps (using Steps 1-2-3 or any other technique, corners-first for example).




Step 4b - Finish L/R-sides
Solve UL-edge and UR-edge. There's a constraint, you must keep the orientations you just obtained. U and M2 moves are okay, but if you perform a M/M' move, U2M/M' must follow. Very few possible combinations, zero recognition time. The following examples may help.


Step 4c - Permute M-edges
The case is easy to identify, so you should be able to execute the right moves immediately. Only 3 cases: U2MU2, U2M2U2 and E2ME2 (this last one may look a bit difficult, but it takes only 1s and you can anticipate it before the end of 4b).

Make it fast
Using this rather intuitive technique (and a good cube), you can solve the last 6 edges and 4 centers in less than 5 seconds on average (inspection and U adjustement included). No need to learn highly engineered last-layer sequences, and the few fingertricks based on <M, U> come quick. - When centers are oriented, the orientation pattern is very easy to recognize. Solving the last corner-edge pair of Step 2 almost always ends with an R/R' move. This means that you can choose to use r/r' if needed and orient centers early. Most of Step 3 sequences leave this orientation unchanged. It's often possible to recognize the orientation pattern of edges before the end of Step 3.

- The orientation step can be very fast, especially when there are exactly three bad edges in Uside. In 13 cases out of 32, it requires five moves or less. If you orient centers early, you can immediately detect a lucky case for this method. - Orientation sequences always end with M', and before this move, you have the choice between U and U'. Note that 4b sequences frequently begin with a slice move. In fact, 4a and 4b can be one only step. It's easy to locate L/R-edges during the orientation step (white and yellow facelets - bright colors - help in tracking them), even when going full speed. With practice, you'll see that merging 4a and 4b is a kind of natural auto-optimization. - Step 4c sometimes begin with a U2 move, so don't put U-corners in place too fast at the end of 4b.

Depending on the position of the last two L/R-edges, you may shorten the orientation sequence. I found 28 special cases (after adjusting U-layer), some of them are interesting in speed-cubing others only for fewest-moves solving. Look at case 5a for example. If you've got two misoriented edges on bottom (only), and if ULedge or UR-edge is at DF and the other at UF, then you have to make an M move. The "*" tells you that three misoriented edges have appeared on top. Finish the orientation with adjusting U and performing MUM' or M'UM' for example. No "*"? Your best friend! You should notice that symmetry plays a very important role. Other solutions exist.
2a: UF+UR - M* 2b: DB+UR - M'* 2c: UF+UB MU2M'UM'* 2d: DF+DB M'U2M'UM'*

1a: DF+UF - M

3a: UF+UB M 3b: DB+UR M* 6a: UL+UR M* 6b: UB+UR M* 6c: DF+UB UM* 6d: DF+UR U'M* 6e: DF+DB M -

4a: DF+UF - M'* 4b: DF+UL - M* 4c: DF+DB - M* 4d: UB+UR - M'

5a: DF+UF - M* 5b: UR+UB - M*

7a: DB+UR - M* 7b: DB+UB - M*

8a: DF+UL 8b: DF+UF 8c: DF+DB U2M'* 8d: DB+UB 8e: UF+UR 8f: UF+UB 8g: UB+UR

- M'* - M* UM' UM* U2M* M* 9a: UB+UL M2U'M