All speedcubers aspire to get faster at solving the Rubik's cube. All of us know that practice perseverance and patience, aka, the three P's are essential to becoming good at anything, and speed cubing is no exception. Speed cubers also eventually learn better methods, algorithms and techniques to solve the cube faster. Anyone who spends a lot of time with the Rubik's cube is more likely to improve faster. Along with practice, learning algorithms plays a vital role in reducing the solving time as algorithms help reduce the total amount of steps one takes to solve the Rubik's cube. The more algorithms we learn, the more likely it is that we will be able to solve the cube with fewer steps and even reduce the average time it takes to solve each step. Today i will try to explore how to memorize algorithms faster so we can learn multiple algorithm sheets taster. Keep in mind i will be talking about the 3x3 and will mostly focus on the CFOP method.
1. Recognize the importance of algorithms
The first step is to truly understand the power of algorithms and how it can shape your style of solving. A typical CFOP solve had 7 steps- 1 cross, 4 F2L pairs, 1 OLL, 1 PLL. Every cuber who solves using this method must aspire to look at the cube just once for each step and have the ability to solve that particular step. Thus the most obvious way to maximize speed is to make sure you 'one-look' each step.
2. Starting with the essential alg sets
This is very subjective, but personally, full PLL and full OLL is something every cuber must learn. One has to learn only 21 algorithms to be able to fully one-look the PLL step. Learning 21 cases means a beginner cuber who takes atleast 3-4 looks for the PLL stage gets to look at it once and solve it with just one alg. Learning full OLL is the next logical step. It has 57 algs but there are multiple alg sheets that break it down into different type of cases which will make it easier to memorize.
3. Learning easy algs first, harder algs later
Look at each algorithm, try it out on the cube and see if the finger tricks are easy, move count is less and doesn't feel too confusing. Eg. Algs like the G perm, N perm are usually very confusing initially and algs like A perms, U perms are quite straightforward and even has lesser move count. Figure out which ones feel easy to execute and learn them one by one.
4. Learning OLL algorithms in parts
57 algorithms might be daunting, but learning them by using algsheets where they are divided into multiple parts of similar looking cases is a great way to speed up the learning process. Cubehead has a fantastic alg sheet which is designed in a way one can learn full OLL within a month or even quicker.
5. Learn regularly but also make sure you don't overwhelm yourself
The best way to learn algorithms is to be regular, even if it means you're learning lesser algorithms each day. It is very easy to get overwhelmed looking at the amount of algorithms one has to learn. Learning one algorithm a day, bringing that particular case and solving it over and over for some more time and doing casual solves is more than enough for a beginner solver. Learning one alg a day means one can learn the entire PLL and OLL sets within 78 days which is truly amazing and because these 78 days also contain casual solves, it also gets easier to recognize cases quicker.
6. Recognize and try to break down each algorithm into blocks
We are starting to get a bit technical from here. Every single algorithm can be broken down into different blocks of moves. Common blocks of moves are "R U R' U" aka, sexy move, " R' F R F' ", aka, sledgehamer. These blocks are so common they even have their own names. Once you start learning algorithms you'll be able to recognize such blocks. Think of breaking algs down into blocks as breaking down words into syllables. Most alg sheets already have common blocks in parenthesis but if you're learning from sheets without these, you can make your own block of moves, preferably not more than 2-4 moves. I'll give two examples of algorithms which are divided into blocks- T perm- (R U R' U') (R' F) (R2 U' R' U') (R U R' F'), Sune (OLL)- (R U R' U) (R U2 R').
7. Learn to look at an algorithm and execute the inverse of that algorithm
This skill isn't directly related to learning algorithms but learning to invert an algorithm will help you bring the cases quicker so you can actually visually look at which case the algorithm is going to solve. The way you invert an algorithm is to add a prime to the last move and write down/execute each alg from the last move to the first move. Let's take the sexy move for example- R U R' U'. The inverse of this algorithm would be U R U' R'. Here we can see adding a prime to U' would cancel it out and it will become a U. If you can take the time to write down the inverse of each algorithm in a printed sheet right below the algorithm, you can make it easier to bring those cases so you can learn them quicker.
8. Recognize algs that suit your finger tricks
Usually there are multiple algs for each case. Speedcube db has a plethora of algorithms and has multiple algorithms for almost each and every oll and pll. This is a bit advanced and it is usually fine if you learn the most popular algorithm for each case, but other algs exist if you're willing to explore and experiment.
9. Try to make the process of learning algorithms as visual and interactive as possible
With the sheer amount of cubing content on the Internet, especially with new types of content like YouTube shorts, you can look at the execution of various algorithms visually and even see the execution so you can learn to execute it the right way. You can also learn algorithms from friends as it makes the learning process more interactive.
10. Keep learning algs
This might sound redundant on a blog article about memorizing and learning algorithms but being regular and learning more algs will help you realise and understand the importance of learning algs and cutting down steps of solving a cube. While learning full PLL and full OLL is an absolute must in my opinion, learning regularly will make you think of different ways to cut down the steps needed to solve the cube faster. While intuitive F2L is fantastic and being able to solve F2L pairs that way is great and eliminates the need for learning algorithms, if you learn algorithms regularly, you will eventually want to learn algorithms to make even f2l cases easier and even focus on learning algorithms just because the intuitive way is not finger trick friendly. You'll start finding various reasons to keep learning more and more and discover more alg sheets such as winter variation, COLL, OLL-CP, and even massive alg sets such as ZBLLs which enables you to one look the entire last layer. Learning regularly also helps you find similarities and patterns in algorithms which will help memorizing algs quicker and even help you push the amount of algorithms you learn each day.
For the most part , you can make the process of learning algorithms simpler by breaking them down into smaller sets, breaking algorithms down into blocks and most importantly, by just being regular and not losing the flow. Following this simple yet effective guide will help you become a better cuber, faster.
Vijay Kishore is the former two-time 3x3 National Champion and former NR holder from Chennai. He started cubing when he was 13 and it has almost been a decade since his cubing journey started. Along with cubing, Vijay also loves electronic music and music production and is also fond of cricket. He has attended 55 competitions and has won a total of 91 podiums with 36 gold medals and 1 National Record. He has also represented India in the Redbull World Cup twice.