Last week, I was on a train journey back to my city, Mumbai from a competition in Hyderabad. My friend Pranav and I had just seen our friends off at Pune and went back to our coach. We had three hours to kill until Mumbai.
Of course, what else would cubers do in this situation? We talked about cubing.
That was when I found the inspiration to write this blog.
Here is an interesting excerpt from the conversation (from memory).
For some context, we were talking about Pyraminx. Pranav was sub-4.5 with just layer-by-layer and I was around the same speed with intuitive L4E.
S: “How are you so good with LBL man?”
P: “I have good finger tricks.”
S: “Show me.”
And then I realized how rudimentary my turning was. I had always attributed my bad turning in Pyraminx to my longer-than-normal fingers. I thought the reason I was locking up so much was because my fingers were always in the way. I had basically given up on the event itself. Turns out, I was just using the wrong finger tricks.
On the left is my old finger trick for U’. It was slow because I had to reach all the way to the back of the puzzle and also modify my grip to a much looser one, just for a simple U’.
On the other hand, you can see how much better the finger trick on the right is. I am in home grip and I do a simple, quick flick with my index finger to do the U’. (This can be applied to U as well)
As soon as I got home, I did an average of 100, and unsurprisingly, it was easily sub-4.
I am sure some of you modern cubers were aware of this finger trick because all the good pyraminxers use it, which is basically the norm. However, for someone who grew up on a ShengShou Pyraminx and Drew Brads’ solves, this was a game changer for me.
This finger trick was a tiny aspect of just one event but helped me improve by almost a second. Who knows how many aspects of how many events are waiting to be unlocked by you?
The rest of this blog will be about how YOU can also spot and improve these little adjustments.
Going back to my conversation with Pranav. I was also impressed by how he had improved so quickly at Pyraminx. He listed TWO important things that helped him get there.
- At competitions earlier this year, he had spent a lot of time with Aneesh Sawant (3.07 official average, 1.87 single). Watching Aneesh solve and having conversations with him, he learned many little tips and tidbits that added up and helped him improve.
- He had watched an unboxing video made by a sub-3 Pyraminx solver. He said he simply based his turning style on the “first turns” shown in the video.
What can you take away from this?
Befriend someone who is good at the event you want to get good at. They will be more than happy to geek out and keep feeding you ways to improve.
Watch good solvers’ turning and imitate them
Pranav got down the train a few stops before mine, having changed the way I looked at turning for Pyraminx.
My Own Thoughts
Having been in this hobby for about a decade and going through both old and new hardware, I have learnt a decent amount about turning in general, especially in the shorter events.
Turning accuracy, precision over speed
In my experience and observations, a slightly slower but more accurate approach to turning yields faster times than mindlessly turning fast or spamming. Over time, your turning speed naturally gets better as long as you focus mostly on accuracy.
I have mentioned this in more detail in an older blog which you can find here.
Turning styles and fixing flaws
There is a misconception that turning styles are impossible to change. While it is true to some extent, due to the differences in hand sizes or grips, it is totally possible to change some aspects of your turning. I have myself worked hard on getting better at the way I fundamentally do U, U’ and U2 on 3x3 and it has paid off.
You can compare your turning to the best speedcubers and find out your own flaws. Some examples are a loose or tight grip, wrong finger positions, low use of your non-dominant hand and exaggerated finger tricks. These flaws can become habits that are hard to break, but all of these mistakes can be fixed if you willingly focus on them while solving.
For help with finger tricks you can check out the xSkills Advanced Course where Kunal Oak and I cover advanced finger tricks in our respective modules.
To conclude this blog, a casual chat about Pyraminx finger tricks with a friend led to a profound realization: the tiniest adjustments can yield substantial improvements.
Thank you for reading, happy cubing!
Shubham Maharana is an all-rounding speed cuber from Mumbai. He is currently ranked 2nd for 2x2 Single and 7th for Sum of Ranks in India. He started cubing 8 years ago at the age of 9 and attended his first competition at 11. He was one of India’s Youngest Competition Organizers at the age of 14. He has won 23 WCA medals across 6 events.
Apart from Cubing, Shubham enjoys playing the piano, listening to music, and writing.