Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bandage Cube Kit—Bandaged YZ Family

I don't know why exactly, but I like this configuration a lot. It is just fun to play with. Maybe it is the three 2x2x1 blocks. Maybe it is because edges can be solved with EPS and corners permuted with Triple-EPS, and oriented with Sune/Mirror. Perhaps because although setups are needed to get around the bandaging, they are not overly complex. There is just something about the feel that is enjoyable.


After a couple solves I decided to share my enjoyment of this puzzle on the thread. I noticed that Burgo listed the Bandaged YZ as a difficult puzzle. I couldn't believe it. So I checked the pictures and noticed that the three little tiles across the middle of the green side are supposed to be one long tile. Maybe I should graduate from my very simplified one to his Unbandaged one before attempting the terribly bandaged one!

Burgo's Unbandaged YZ (below) didn't seem difficult either, although he lists it as difficult. Perhaps I should have scrambled it and solved it several times to see if there were any hidden surprises. But the blue and white faces could be turned from the get-go so 3 of the 5 edges and 4 of the 5 corners that need to be solved are easy to handle. And turning the blue face 180° makes the orange yellow corner edge pair easily accessible. Furthermore doing blue' yellow' puts all little ones on top in such a way that all manner of EPS and Sunes can be done. I even had to swap two edges and it was no problem at all with my standard edge swapper algorithm—U' R U' R' ....


At first Burgo's Bandaged YZ (see below) seemed like it was going to be another relatively easy solve.

First Solve:
  1. Bandaged pieces—easy
  2. Edges—easy
  3. Permuting Corners—easy
  4. Orienting Corners—required coming up with an all new technique that I've never seen before which uses a combination of Edge Piece Series and a Corner 3-cycle.
Second solve:
  1. Bandaged pieces—easy
  2. Edges—easy
  3. Permuting Corners—not easy, but not difficult
  4. Orienting Corners—interesting
Orienting Corners—
  1. Need to twist 1, 2, 5, 7
  2. Did 1 with 3-cycle and 3-cycle' (2)
  3. Did 5 with 3-cycle and 3-cycle' (4)
  4. 3-cycle 2 to 3
  5. Double swap 3 to 1 and 7 to 2 (Triple-EPS)
  6. Twist 2 and 7 with 3-cycle and 3-cycle' (2)
  7. Noticed I now needed an n=1 3-cycle, so didn't have to undo steps 4 and 5. :D
Throughout the solve I hold green on the left and white up.

3-cycle: (RUi RiU) x n Ri RUiRi Di RURi D R (UiR URi) x n
  • n = 0 moves UFL > URF > RDF
  • n = 2 moves UFL > RFU > RDF
  • n = 4 moves UFL > FUR > RDF
  • n = 1 moves UFL > FRD > RUB
3-cycle': (RUi RiU) x n Ri Di RUiRi D RURi R (UiR URi) x n

The idea is that you can twist corner 1 by cycling it to 2 with n = 0, then cycle it back with n = 2 or 4 depending on how it needs to twist. Notice the UFLs and RDFs above? But the piece at 2 twists. That is the key. Same thing works for corner 3. Cycle 3 to 2, then back to 3 with the proper twist. 2 takes care of itself since you can't have just one twisted corner.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Bandage Cube Kit—Recap of Summer Solves So Far

Traffic Jam
So named on rline’s youtube video.
Bandaged 3
Had to get a hint from the forum. Get F2L then use LDL’ to put the vertical post on the bottom. 
Had to get a couple hints from rline’s blog. Edges first. 3x3x2 CPS to solve corners. Bars on L and R.
This one is the easiest one yet for me. Reminds me of the F2L part of the Petrus method.
Right-handed Triple-EPS (RUR’U’) followed by left-handed (F’U’FU) 3-cycles corners on top (on U). 
Edge Road
Simple using the techniques described above.
Corner Road

Belt Road


Stalagmites and Stalactites

Unbandaged Big Block v1
Similar to all the rest of the Big Blockish types so far. i.e. get block then orient edges…
Unbandaged Big Block v2
Orienting edges was tricky but possible.
Unbandaged Big Block v3

Bandaged Clock Mars
Edges First
Bandaged Clock Saturn

3 Bar
Similar to 3x3x2
3 Bar Clock
Edges First; 3x3x2; 1x2 corners first; last 3-cycle tricky—needed setup.
Mr T
Swap of corner-edge pairs needed at end. Never did codify how to do it, but did it. 
Unbandaged Wall-i
Very easy
Got it down to needing to twist two corners but they are not in corners that can be twisted using the sune/mirror dune method. Finally got it! 3-cycle the corners into the correct positions, then twist them, then 3-cycle them back.
Detiled Corners Only Fuse-3
Could get close but not finish it, so finally sat down with a notebook and figured it out.
Fuse-3 minus 5 edges
Used the Corner 4-cycle to hide the edge. It worked.
Fuse-3 minus 4 edges
Worked out a fairly thorough solution and documented it on Puzzled 2.
Worked out a fairly thorough solution and documented it on Puzzled 2.
Bandage Loop
Documented on old blog post.
Unbandaged Flying Carpets
I struggled to get the middle layer, but finally achieved it by trying to organize the 2x1 yellows somewhat. Then when I looked at the yellows all I needed to do was twist 3 corners to have a pattern that pleases me. I have "iii" on one side, and "iö" on the other side. (from PM to Burgo)
budlcuber 01
I made a puzzle and solved it. Then I extended it to budlcuber 02 and am totally baffled.
budlcuber 02
Documented on blog
budlcuber 03
Documented on blog
budlcuber 04
Fully tiled version of 01-03. Documented on the blog.
Big Block Clock
A couple solves. The first one fell together a bit easier, but the second wasn’t all that bad.
Unbandaged Big Block Clock v1
Scrambled, solved down to a tricky 4-cycle, gave up. Approached it from the “analyze what CAN be done” perspective and figured it out. Scrambled and solved.
Unbandaged Big Block Clock v2
This one solves like the others but looks sort of like budlcuber 04. Sort of.
Very similar to Unbandaged Big Block Clock v2 but with a 2x1x1 column under the 2x2x1 roof.
Bandage 3+
When it was down to 2 corners needing twisted with the 2x2x1 on D and 1x1x1 at 3, RU’R’ F’U2F makes it so the Sune/Mirror twister works.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bandage Kit—Big Block Clock Family including Stonehenge

I solved Big Block Clock once in December 2012 and had a terrible time with it. LINK to blog entry.

Today it was much easier. A little Petrus to get the F2L, and Sune to get the LL edges. Then Triple-EPS to place the LL corners and some creative use of Sune/Mirror Sune to twist 2 corners at a time. It is a bit tricky because of the clock hands but not that hard. Solved 2 or 3 times today.

Unbandaged Big Block Clock v1 was next. At first it seemed easy enough, but I got stuck at the end. After re-tiling the last 4 corners and experimenting a little I realized that it wasn't that hard after all. So I scrambled and solved it a time or two.

Now for Unbandaged Big Block Clock v2. I haven't solved it yet, but it reminds me a bit of budlcuber 04. I don't think they will solve anything the same, but they look similar.


July 21, 2014
v2 done yesterday. Today Stonehenge was made and solved. I'm including it in the Big Block Clock
Family because it is identical to v2 only with the orange blue edge/orange blue white corner replaced by a 2x1x1 block. It was surprisingly easy.

Since v2 looks sort of like budlcuber 04 and Stonehenge is a close kin to v2, I have to add a 2x1x1 to budlcuber 04 and make budlcuber 05.

(Later) Tried it and decided it makes it impossibly difficult. At least it makes it a whole new challenge that I am not up to at this point, so I went on to Bandaged 3+.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bandage Cube—budlcuber 03 & 04

In the last post I meandered my way from the Unbandaged Flying Carpets to budlcuber 02 with a quick mention of budlcuber 01, which was very similar to budlcuber 02. budlcuber 03 continues the series by adding the remainder of the edges. In my opinion it is not much more difficult than 02.

Here it is—budlcuber 03


And here is budlcuber 04—


I found this fully tiled version to be extremely challenging and so far have only solved it once. Had to come up with a brand new sequence to orient two corners at the end and then restore the edges that moved. I have this niggling feeling that there is probably an easier way.

Recap of versions
budlcuber 01—A green, orange, white frame, and a red, blue, yellow frame
budlcuber 02—Fill the blue, yellow, red frame with a 3x1x1 block
budlcuber 03—Add all the missing edges
budlcuber 04—Add all the missing corners

R FiLF2 RiDR yxR2— From solved state to working state

R2xiyi RiDiR F2LiF Ri— From working state to solved state

R2 U2 R U2 R2— FR > UR > BR > UL

(U2 Li U2 L) x 3— 12487

(U2 Li U2 L) x 5— FL > UL > RL

RiFR Ui RiFiR— Flip UL and UF (and move stuff all around)

(RiFR U RiFiR Ui) x 2— Flips FL UF UR UB

L-Sune U L-antisune ULiUiL (U2 Li U2 L) x 5 LiULU2— Twists 2 clock and 7 anti

L-Sune Ui L-antisune U2 LiUiL U2 (U2 Li U2 L) x 5 U2 LiULUi— 1 anti and 2 clock

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bandage Cube—Unbandaged Flying Carpets & budlcuber 02

Today I solved the Unbandaged Flying Carpets, by Burgo. It was fun. He had posted—a long time ago—on the forum. The interesting thing is that he posted pictures of the scrambled state, not solved. So part of the challenge was making your way to a place without knowing where you were going. I struggled to get the middle layer, but finally achieved it by trying to organize the 2x1 yellows somewhat. Then when I looked at the yellows all I needed to do was twist 3 corners to have a pattern that pleased me. I got "iii" on one side, and "iö" on the other side.

After solving Unbandaged Flying Carpets I felt like making my own bandaged cube, scrambling it, and posting it online. budlcuber 01 was very simple to solve. Well, when approached correctly it was. So I decided to make it a teeny bit more complex. Now I can't solve it! Here it is in scrambled state:


budlcuber 01 was the same puzzle minus the 3x1x1 block.

budlcuber 02 is almost solved, but even if I can figure out how to flip the last edge, I won't be able to tell you how I got to this point.

Here is what it looks like now. Perhaps it is time to just swap the tiles and start slowly and carefully analyzing it.

July 16, 2014
I tried last night but got nowhere and it was soon a mess again. I had just about decided to detile it and start over where I left off with the ones on Burgo's list on the forum. Another possibility was to break the 3x1x1 into a 2x1x1 and a 1x1x1, but I didn't really want to do that. The problem with this puzzle was that it seemed that the best I could do was have two layers that could twist. Sometimes only one. And even when I could twist two layers I couldn't get any familiar algorithms to work. I was so close to giving up, but decided to fiddle with it one more time today. This time instead of worrying about what I couldn't do, I just looked for things I could do, and wrote them down and recorded the affects. (I'm using Ri for R anti clockwise, because I don't like the way the F' looks.)

With Green on front and Red up, the first thing I tried was—
I wasn't overly impressed with the results so went back to solved. Next I tried—

R FiLF2 RiDR y
Surprise! Now L, M, and R can all move! Follow with
and now L, M, R, and U can all move! So altogether we have—

R FiLF2 RiDR yxR2 from the solved state puts the

3x1x1 at the bottom in R;
The white 2x1 on the bottom at the back of the M slice;
The orange 2x1 on the front at the bottom of the M slice;
The 2x2x1on the bottom back in L.

And what can I do now?
  • The Sune Family! The cube, or at least the bottom layers need to be spun around for some. Example—(DE)2 Ri or y2 sets it up for a right-handed Sune.
  • LiUi LU and y2Ri RU RiUi.
Shortly after this I started experimenting with a solved 3x3x3 cube so I could better see where pieces were moving.
  • (Right-hand Sune) (DE)2 L (Left-hand Sune) Li (DE)2 RU RiU moves UF > UB > UR and twists corners 2, 7, and 8 clockwise. 
  • With the 3x1x1 in R do R2 U2 R U2 R2 to cycle FR > UR > BR > UL.
So now I am somewhat hopeful that with this knowledge I can maybe make some progress toward solving budlcuber 02. (Later) Almost there. The one corner isn't in the correct place. Maybe tomorrow. Good night.

July 17, 2014
Solved! But getting the last corner was a matter of trying the algorithms above in different combinations until something worked. Not real confident about it. I need a corner twister that doesn't move edges.

Breakthrough on another front. Mi U2 M Ri F2 R does a 5 cycle of corners and a 3 cycle of edges. After doing it for awhile I realized it could be shortened to these:
  • (U2 Li U2 L) x 3 cycles 1>2>4>8>7 A Pure Corner Cycle!
  • (U2 Li U2 L) x 5 cycles UL > UR > FL A Pure Edge Cycle!
To get back from the working state to solved state—
  • R2x'y' RiDiR F2LiF Ri
As far as the corner twister goes, Once all the edges are solved, get the corner to 1, twist it using Li Ui L U times 2 or 4, if necessary. Then move it into place using the pure 5 cycle. Then Use Li Ui L U times whatever until the edges are solved.

I think I've got everything I need to solve this little bugger. Ain't so impossible after all.

The finished product—

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bandage Cube—Fuse-3




After RUF' RU2R'

So solve to these and do

RU2R' FU'R' and its done!

Last night I discovered a way to twist 4 corners without cycling edges at the same time! Yay!

( ( R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R ) (R' F2 y' ( R U2 R' U' R U' R' ) y ) ) x 2

I think of it as doing the RU corner swapper followed by an antisune, and doing it twice.
It twists 2 and 8 anti, and 4 and 6 clock. 2 is what I call UFR, 4 is DFL, 6 is DBR, and 8 is UBL.

Then later there was cause for more rejoicing. Whereas the first discovery was the result of deliberate documentation, the second one was stumbled upon while scrambling. After a few twists I realized that all three 2x1x1 posts were planted in the F2L. After solving it, further experimentation uncovered the way to get there from the place where the 2x1x1 pieces are solved—RUF' RU2R'. This state allows use of F RUR'U' F' and its buddy, for flipping edges. It also allows for the Sune family of cycling edges and twisting corners, which may make the previously mentioned discovery obsolete. 

While on the topic of Sune, I'd like to mention a very nice little Word document that Burgo put online that has a way to use Sune to do a pure 3-cycle of edges. Right-handed Sune, y, Left-handed Sune, y' cycles UF > UL > UB. After undoing the setup with RU2R' FU'R' it translates to FD > UB > UL.

In the previous post I included some algorithms. I don't know exactly how many I will actually use now, but here is a more complete list:

Solving the 2x1x1 Pieces
Something that can help in some situations to get the 3 2x1x1 pieces is R ( U R U' R' ) or ( R U R' U' ) R'.

3-cycle of Corners
3>4>2 followed by 3>6>2 followed by 4>3>2 cycles 2>6>4 and returns the 3 2x1x1 pieces to their solved state.

Corner Swappers and Twisters
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R swaps 2 and 4, and 6 and 8, and cycles edges.
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) x 2 F R twists 2 and 4 clock, and 6 and 8 anti, and cycles edges.
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) x 4 F R twists 2 and 4 anti, and 6 and 8 clock, and cycles edges.

F R ( F' U' F U ) R U R2 F' swaps only 2 and 4, and cycles edges.

( ( R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R ) (R' F2 y' ( R U2 R' U' R U' R' ) y ) ) x 2 twists 2 and 8, and 4 and 6 without cycling edges.

3-cycle of Edges

R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R swaps some corners and does FD > RB > UB.
R' F2 y' ( R U R' U R U2 R' ) y F2 R swaps some corners and does FD > RB > UB.

( RUF' RU2R' ), Right-handed Sune, y, Left-handed Sune, y' ( RU2R' FU'R' ) 

cycles FD > UB > UL with no corners affected.

Edge Flippers

( R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R ) (R' F2 y' ( R U2 R' U' R U' R' ) y F2 R ) 
flips FD and UB and swaps corners.
( R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R ) (R' F2 y' ( R U R' U R U2 R' ) y F2 R ) 
flips FD and RB and swaps corners.

Alternately, one could just solve to the above picture using familiar algorithms, and be 6 twists from solved! :D

  1. Solve the 2x1x1 pieces.
  2. Check corners and permute if necessary.
  3. With white up, solve the two middle layer edges.
  4. RUF' RU2R'
  5. Solve the edges.
  6. Solve the corners.
  7. RU2R' FU'R'
Although only a small handful of algorithms are actually needed, it was fun coming up with all of these and sorting through them to come up with a strategy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bandage Cube—Fuse-3 Partially Detiled

Note: This is more of a story than a solution guide. Check later posts for more about the Fused-3 Bandage Cube.

The Detiled Corners Only Fuse-3 was a challenge at first, but then became relatively simple compared to the monster I created by adding a couple edges to it. Here is what the Detiled Corners Only Fuse-3 looks like with centers and complete corners.


Below you can see it with one edge added. In this case the green-white edge. I solved this one at least once. Hiding the edge using the 4-cycle of corners, then putting it back after doing whatever needs to be done with the corners seems to be the ticket.


Next I tried the one below and could not do it.


The one below, which I thought would be simpler, proved to be challenging as well. It wasn't until I posted these pictures and noticed the 2x2x3 block, that I thought the Petrus technique of building the 2x2x3 block then orienting edges might work. My first attempt worked, but I've been puzzling enough to know that might not mean it will always be so easy. Second attempt did not work out so well. So much for the Petrus method. I guess I got lucky the first time.

Another approach. Before solving the two edges make sure the corners are in a double swap situation.  Solve the two edges; keep checking the corners. When moving and twisting corners move the edge in danger to a safe spot before the move or twist. Sometimes it is a bit complicated, but it worked, and I got solve #2. Repeatable? Rememberable? We'll see.

First of all, if there are no added edges to worry about, the algorithm for swapping URF and DLF (2 and 4), and ULB and DRB (6 and 8), is quite simple: ( R' F' ) ( R U R' U' ) ( F R ). When you want to manipulate corners without disturbing the 2 placed edges, it gets more complicated, as the edges need to be moved out of the path of the corner swaps.

With red on the right and white on the front, ( R' F2 U F U ) ( R' F R F' ) ( U' F' U' F2 R ) does a double swap of corners. URF and DLF (2 and 4), and ULB and DRB (6 and 8). Same thing can be used with ( R' F R F' ) x 2 to twist 2 and 4 clockwise and 6 and 8 anti clockwise. Likewise x 4 twists 2 and 4 anti clockwise and 6 and 8 clockwise.

But what if red is on the front and white is on top and I want to swap 2 and 4? I could just use ( R' F' ) ( R U R' U' ) x 3 ( F R ). But that will not work for the twists that may be needed later.

3-cycle corners 3>4>2 then 3>6>2; then do ( R F' U2 F ) ( R U R' U' ) x 2 ( F' U2 F R' ); then cycle the corners back. It twists 2 and 4 anti, and 6 and 8 clock. There must be an easier way to protect those two edges! It isn't really difficult, but it is 48 twists.

Lastly, what if red is up and white on the right? ( R' F2 U2 F ) ( R U R' U' ) ( F' U2 F2 R )


The more edges that are added the more difficult it will be to use this method, as it relies on having 3 detiled edges that won't be affected by the EPS. I can't imagine how the fully tiled Fuse-3 can be solved. But for now let's get down what we have so far.

After solving the 3 2x1x1 pieces check to see if the corners are in a double swap OR fully permuted situation. It is important they get in one of these positions and remain so for the rest of the solve. The reason for this is that the 3-cycle of corners also moves edges. Perhaps it would be easy to find ways to hide the edges before the 3-cycle. Something else to think about.

Solving the 2x1x1 Pieces
Something that can help in some situations to get the 3 2x1x1 pieces is R ( U R U' R' ) or ( R U R' U' ) R'.

3-cycle of Corners
3>4>2 followed by 3>6>2 followed by 4>3>2 cycles 2>6>4 and returns the 3 2x1x1 pieces to their solved state.

Corner Swappers and Twisters
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) F R swaps 2 and 4, and 6 and 8.
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) x 2 F R twists 2 and 4 clock, and 6 and 8 anti.
R' F' ( R U R' U' ) x 4 F R twists 2 and 4 anti, and 6 and 8 clock.

F R ( F' U' F U ) R U R2 F' swaps only 2 and 4.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bandage Cube—Detiled Corners Only Fuse-3

Progress on the Bandage Kit has been coming along nicely. I hit a road bump though with the Detiled Corners Only Fuse-3. I could get close but not quite get it. One time it was a single swap of corners that had me befuddled. Another time it was a 3-cycle, of all things. And then it was a 4-cycle. All I really knew how to do was a double-swap of corners.

It was time for some serious analysis and note-taking. Although some puzzlers do not enjoy this approach, for me it is quite enjoyable and satisfying. Although most of the Bandage Cubes so far haven't required this rigor, the Detiled Fuse-3 did.

Here is a picture showing a couple relaxed puzzlers with the Bandage Cube in the background.

And here is a picture showing some of my notes, the Detiled Fuse-3, not so detiled, but with only one edge tiled that was blank in the fully detiled one. Also featured are the guys we made with some of the leftover pieces.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bandage Cube—Corner Road

Recap: In my revisit of the All-in-one bandage cube kit recently I've worked through the one I saw recently on Twisty Puzzling's youtube channel, then the 2-bar, 3-slices, fuse, big block, and bandaged 3. I bookmarked Seth—themathkid's Bandaged Cubes Google Doc, and at the bottom of the Easy Ones section is one called Corner Road.
We went for a walk today, and on my way out the door I grabbed what I thought was the Bandage Kit Corner Road. What I actually grabbed was my Mefferts bicube. On my walk I managed to scramble it, and start solving it. After we got home, we had a play in the pool then, after the kids went in, I sat outside and worked on it some more. I finally managed to get almost 2 layers just trying different things that didn't mess up anything else I'd done. Dinner time. After dinner I got back to it and thought, hmmm, this looks a lot like the bicube. I wonder if any of the algorithms I worked out for it will work. They did. It wasn't until it was completely solved that I realized it was the bicube! :oops: I think I'm losing my mind.
So then I went and got the Corner Road. It was a bear to scramble, but I was finally satisfied that it was scrambled sufficiently. When trying to solve it I'm getting absolutely nowhere! This is supposed to be easy? The bicube seems easier to me. Perhaps tomorrow things will make more sense.
It wasn't easy, but I finally got the 2x2x2 block together, but the corner was twisted. It was another hassle to get it oriented correctly. I only have a vague idea how I did it. Then I figured it was all downhill from there, as I could simply solve it using my bicube method. Or so I thought. I ended up with two swapped pieces. That has never happened to me with the bicube!


(Later) Well... it turns out that someone put the Cross Road pics, which are actually classified as difficult, on the Corner Road. Some investigating on the forum revealed the true, relatively simple Corner Road config. I am no longer going to trust the Google Doc.

The true Corner Road was indeed pretty easy. 

Getting reacquainted with Jeay's Working Corner Method

This summer we packed 30 or so puzzles and flew to visit Raymond and Fam in the Czech Republic. Breann, who had learned this method and no other, made some comment about bubururu or something like that, and it piqued my curiosity. What were those algorithms, and how similar are they to the EPS technique I use now when using a working corner? So I looked them up. Actually, the three algorithms were for dealing with the two last edges solved, which either needed to be swapped, or flipped, or swapped and flipped. The swapper is very similar to the one I have learned and used since, but I actually like it better in one sense, with a slight modification.

To swap UR and FR without flipping:
U' R U' R' U' R U' R' U'

To swap and flip UR and FR:
F' U' F U' F' U' F U2

To flip UR and FR:
F' U F U' R U' R' U

Will I actually learn and use these? Probably not, since I usually solve either Corners First or F2L, but I like them. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hluboká Castle

"Bud, don't just sit on that bench trying to remember how to solve your Square-1!"

"All right, I'll move to the other bench. And it isn't just a Square-1. It's a Super Square-1, and I can't get the middle layers back to squares."

"No, no, no. Get up. Go out in the courtyard!"

"Fine. I'm in the courtyard. Happy?"

Seriously, this castle and the grounds around it are absolutely beautiful. These three pictures were taken by my son at my request, but most of the time I was taking pictures and enjoying the sights with my family. Check out my Flickr photo page if you'd like. LINK

And seriously, the Super Square-1 was quite a challenge. Even using the notes I compiled when I first figured it out long ago, it was a challenge. I thought about starting from scratch, looking for another way to solve it, but gave that idea up quickly. I thought about throwing it away. I thought about giving it away. But in the end I worked through my notes and refined them somewhat to make them easier to remember. :D

Alex and the 2x2x1

Alex is focused very seriously on the 2x2x1 while his family (which I graciously cropped out) is clowning around around him.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Puzzling With Annie in the Garden

We have been visiting our son, Raymond, and his family in the Czech Republic. About 30 or so puzzles accompanied us. :] All my puzzles have been solved at one time or another, but many had not been solved yet in 2014. That is a situation being remedied this summer. It is the Dayan Gem IV's turn today.

One of the puzzle highlights of the summer is an opportunity to show a local young man how to solve a cube. This week we talked about solving the first two layers. He had done so some years back but had forgotten how. Next week perhaps we can review the first two layers and go on to the last layer.

A daily puzzle delight has been puzzling with my 3-year old granddaughter. We have discussed the differences between a cube, a tetrahedron, a dodecahedron, an octahedron, a curvy kite hexahedron, and a truncated octahedron. :] She especially likes the gear puzzles, and is good at identifying which pieces still need solved on all the puzzles. Above she is completing her two-twist solve of the megaminx.

Besides puzzling we had a blast today going to the local zoo and then to a playground for a picnic. I was surprised to see a baseball field at the park. I didn't think Europeans played baseball. The zoo pictures are uploaded to my flickr page.

Monday, June 9, 2014


What fun it was to see some of the highlights of Prague with the family yesterday. And of course there were opportunities to become re-acquainted and better acquainted with a long neglected puzzle—The Gear Cube Extreme.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ghost Cube

The Ghost Cube came into my life almost two weeks ago. After the initial greeting, I admired it from a distance for a week. Finally I scrambled it. It was a bugger to find two pieces that went side by side. I was trying to be systematic, but that is really hard. Once though, when I chanced to turn the puzzle around, Bam! A center, edge, and corner had come together without any effort on my part. Yay! A start. As I built my way around the center I had this niggling fear that I might be in for an unpleasant surprise because of the fact that the puzzle when solved is not in 3x3x3 form. Oh, did I mention that during this solve I did not use any reference photos to see what went where? It is now solved and I have several observations.

  1. This is a hand mod version, not a mass produced version. During the solve I noticed that one of the centers that ends up as a corner of the solved cube, was not made exactly right. The vertex sticks out a little bit further than it should in one direction. 
  2. Two of the centers end up as corners of the solved cube. One of these two should be the starting point of the solve. 
  3. When a weird shaped piece needs to twist in place, I have a terrible time visualizing which way it should go.
  4. When I do a 3-cycle of corners on a standard cube I know which orientation two of them are going to end up with. Not so with this beast.

I think before I scramble it again I should try some familiar moves and see what happens. Perhaps I can start seeing more clearly, and rely less on try-it-and-see.

May 25, 2014
I have not made any attempt to memorize what goes where, as it seems that would defeat the purpose of the challenge of this puzzle. But after 3 solves I am beginning to be able to see a little more clearly. I still maintain that one of the two centers that end up on a corner of the cube should be the starting point, although I can't tell them apart so don't know if one or the other would be better. I have also developed a favorite edge to start with—the long one that has three surfaces.

I'm getting a feel for which way to twist corners, and I've noticed a difference between the middle layer edges and the top and bottom layer edges.

Although it is making a bit more sense than at first, there is still an amount of "maybe this one goes there" type thinking.

So far I've been using a straight layer-by-layer approach and after the first layer have to shift back and forth a lot between cube form and 3x3x3 form.

When I first learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube, I learned a working corner technique, a layer-by-layer method, a corners first method, an edges first method, some F2L techniques, and even tried the Petrus method. I can not imagine ever being able to solve the Ghost Cube corners first. When solving a cube now it is usually either F2L or Corners First, so I rarely use the algorithm I learned for placing middle layer edges, but now we are becoming good friends. :D Perhaps I should try some of the other methods.

May 27, 2014
Layer-by-Layer works and is the first method I tried since it allowed me to complete a layer at a time, which was important as I was getting used to seeing how the pieces fit together. But the algorithm for inserting middle layer pieces, although I like it as far as algorithms go, seemed unnecessary once I realized the Working Corner method could be used. In the latest solve the Working Corner method worked well. Instead of R'URU' F'U'FU to insert a middle layer edge, it only took something like RUR'. On the last corner and edge I tried to figure out how to join them and insert them together, but couldn't figure it out, so ended up easily inserting the edge, then using a 3-cycle to put the corner in.

For the last layer, whether I used the Layer-by-Layer method or the Working Corner method, I orient edges, place edges, place corners, orient corners.

Recap of methods: The Corners First method is not going to happen on the Ghost Cube. Edges First might work, but inserting the corners in the first layer is not difficult and is a tremendous help visually. At this point in my familiarity with the pieces, F2L would be a matter of finding a corner, keeping track of it while finding an edge, figuring out how to make them fit together correctly, and inserting them together as a pair. Seems to me like it would be a lot harder than the Working Corner method.

Now what? More Working Corner solves in which I try to insert the last corner-edge pair together.

May 28, 2014
It is settled. After considering each of the solving strategies I am familiar with, the Working Corner Method is my strategy of choice for the Ghost Cube.

I did not start this process by studying the pieces of the cube carefully. Just scramble and go. Needless to say that first solve took a long time, involved much trial and error, and I could hardly tell the difference between an edge and a corner! Since then I have looked at the pieces in the solved state and noticed some similarities and symmetries. Very helpful. It is still the most challenging 3x3x3 shape mod I've ever experienced and I still sometimes have a hard time finding the right piece for a particular spot. But there is definite progress. One major breakthrough came by taking a hard look at the middle layer center pieces in solved state. I no longer have to twist centers as many times as I used to, in order to find the correct orientation. In my last solve I was down to the last 4 corners, but when I looked at them I decided it was cute the way it was, so I declared it a new solved state. I give you Ghost Cube Man—

May 31, 2014
I was curious to know how others solve the Ghost Cube, so I asked on the Puzzle Photography page, but did not get much response. Thank you Otis Cheng for sharing your approach. So I messaged rline and Burgo asking specifically how they go about it. rline has a unique method. I tried it a couple times, at least I tried following the sequence of steps. He did not go into detail as to how he did each step. Although I do not enjoy my implementation of his steps, I feel that I learned something from trying nonetheless and have refined my solves somewhat. Here is what I have now—

Most of Layer 1

  • One of the two columns made up of a center-edge pair that make up one edge of the solved cube.
  • The other 3 edges around this same center.
  • 3 of the 4 corners around this same center.

Use the Working Corner to solve the Middle Layer

  • Use the working corner to orient the middle layer centers one at a time.
  • Use the working corner to solve the middle layer edges.
  • When the middle layer is complete solve the working corner corner.

Last Layer

  • Orient edges.
  • Permute edges.
  • 3-cycle corners.
  • Orient corners.
As I have mentioned previously, the middle layer centers can give me fits. Some things I have learned that can be helpful—

Each has a triangle side. The triangle sides of the correct two adjacent centers can be oriented to lie on a plane. The triangle sides of the other two centers lie on a parallel plane. The hexagon shaped pieces go between these centers. The smallest triangle and the largest triangle go together, but if you forget to check that and are just trying to find which two work together, and two look like maybe they are on a plane, but neither hexagon piece will work with them, those centers need to be on the top of the middle layer rather than the bottom.