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Speedcubing Glossary

Table of Contents

Terms related to speedcubing


Algorithm

An algorithm describes a process in which character series are transformed step-by-step according to a certain pattern and repeated until the desired result is achieved. With speedcubing, you will learn very specific sequences of moves, so-called algorithms, for many solving methods. These methods differ in their complexity. For some methods, you only need to know a few move sequences (or algorithms) and repeat them continuously. For faster solving times, there are also more complex ways of solving a cube. Those require you to know many algorithms and special cases by heart but, in turn, require fewer moves. This video explains in detail the concept of speedcubing and the use of algorithms for solving a cube.

Notations

Algorithms are shown in the form of notations. These consist of letters, numbers and apostrophes. The sequences describe how the layers of a speed cube must be rotated. You can find detailed information and learn how to read notations on our guide page on reading notations.

CFOP

CFOP, also known as the Fridrich method, stands for the sequence Cross, F2L (FTL), OLL and PLL. For a detailed explanation of these terms, as well as tutorials for this method, please see CFOP speedsolving method.

Cross

This term describes the first step of the Fridrich method, where the white side of a cube is to be arranged in a cross pattern. The edge pieces and centre pieces should also have the same colour on each side.

F2L (FTL)

This term stands for 'first two layers' and describes the solving of the first two (bottom) layers. This procedure is the second part of the Fridrich method (CFOP).

OLL

OLL is the abbreviation for 'orient last layer' and refers to orienting the last (top) layer. It is the third part of the Fridrich method (CFOP).

PLL

PLL stands for 'permutate last layer', or in other words, rearrange the last (top) layer. This is the fourth and final part of the Fridrich method (CFOP).

Fridrich method

The Fridrich method, also called CFOP, was developed by Jessica Fridrich. Almost all cubers use it and achieve record times thanks to this method. CFOP stands for the sequence of Cross, F2L (FTL), OLL and PLL.

In the following interview, Jessica Fridrich talks more about the method she developed:

Look Ahead

'Look ahead' stands for thinking ahead, which is of great importance in speedcubing. When making a turn, you should already anticipate the next step. This allows you to increase your speed and efficiency when solving your cube.

God's number

God's number, also called "God's algorithm", is the minimum number of moves needed to solve a cube, regardless of the starting configuration. You can find more detailed information about the history of this number on our 3x3 speed cube category page.

Devil's number

The term devil's number refers to the number of moves required to solve a cube from any starting configuration using a single repeating algorithm. Devil's algorithm is the algorithm needed to achieve this task. To this day, neither man nor machine were able to calculate the devil's algorithm, or the devil’s number, for the 2x2 cube or the other larger models. These calculations result in an unimaginably large number of possibilities that, so far, could not be captured.

Blindfolded cubing / solving

As the name suggest, blindfolded cubing is the act of solving a speed cube while blindfolded. First, the cuber memorises the unsolved cube and then solves it blindfolded. You can find more about this topic under Possible methods of blindfolded cubing at competitions.

Colour neutrality

Colour neutrality describes the ability of a cuber to solve the cube by starting with a piece or cube face of any colour. In contrast, many of the known methods specify which colour is used to start solving a cube, namely with the cross of the white side and then finishing with OLL and PLL. Cubers agree that the easiest way to learn colour neutrality is to practice it early on in your speedcubing career.

Fewest moves

Fewest moves means you solve a speed cube in as few moves as possible. The Fewest Moves Challenge (FMC) is also an event at WCA tournaments where the cuber has to note a solution with the fewest possible moves within one hour. Allowed are a maximum of 80 moves including rotations. A turn of 90°, a so-called quarter turn, counts as one move.

WCA

WCA stands for World Cube Association which was founded in 2004. It organises competitions for cubers from all over the world. Championships are held to crown the world champions in various cubing categories.


Features and design of a speed cube


Cubelet / cubie

A single cube piece is sometimes called a cubelet or cubie.

Centre piece

A centre piece is a piece, or pieces resp., in the middle of a cube. You can find additional information in our FAQ about popping.

Edge piece

Edge pieces are the outer pieces located between the corner pieces of a cube. A 3x3 cube, therefore, has one piece per side between the corner pieces, a 4x4 cube two pieces per side. You can find additional information in our FAQ about popping.

Corner piece

Corner pieces, as the name suggests, are located at the corners of the cube. In the case of cube-shaped puzzles, there are eight corner pieces, but depending on the shape of the puzzle, there can also be more or fewer corner pieces. You can find additional information in our FAQ about popping.

Layer

The layers of a cube, sometimes referred to as rows, can be rotated per side. For example, a 3x3 cube has three layers. Many beginners solve cubes using the layer-by-layer method. The cube is solved row by row and many variants and variations of this method exist.

Florian mod

Florian mod describes the slightly rounded edges of the cube pieces. They contribute to a better rotation feel and improved corner cutting.

Fun fact: The majority of cubes produced today already feature the Florian mod as standard, while in the past, some cubers resorted to sanding their cube pieces with sandpaper.
Most of our cubes have Florian mod shaped cube pieces, such as the GAN 11 M Pro 3x3.

Sculpted design

The term 'sculpted design' describes puzzles with a special surface; like our GAN Megaminx M, for example. The surface of pieces is not flat, as is the case with traditional cubes, but has either indentations or bulges that allow for better grip.

Version: black / stickered

Cubes can be divided into black, stickered and stickerless cubes. Stickered cubes usually have a monochrome (often black) interior and coloured stickers. This has the advantage that scratched stickers can be replaced. In addition, stickers have a slight edge, which provides a better grip during turns. Stickers may peel off with frequent use or UV exposure and will then have to be replaced with new ones.

Go to all stickered cubes

Version: stickerless

Stickerless cubes are made of coloured plastic pieces. This has the advantage that there are no stickers to be replaced, and the pieces retain their colour even with heavy use. A variation of the stickerless cube is called frosted (stickerless). Here, the surface is slightly matt and not completely smooth. This makes the cube easier to grip and less prone to scratches.

Go to all stickerless cubes

Colour scheme

Did you know that most cubes can be separated into two colour schemes?
There is a Western and a Japanese colour scheme. Both feature the same colours (namely white, yellow, orange, red, green and blue), but the layout is different, and so is the preferred solving method for cubers.

Western colour scheme

With the Western colour scheme, cubers start solving with the white layer and finish with the yellow layer. This pattern is also known as 'minus yellow'. It stems from the fact that, if you add or subtract the colour yellow from any cube face colour, you get the colour of the opposite face; for example:
white + yellow = yellow
red + yellow = orange
blue + yellow = green

Japanese colour scheme

The first mass-produced cubes featured the Japanese colour scheme. Even today, some cubers use speed cubes with the Japanese pattern and solve them using the Fridrich method by starting with the blue layer and finishing with the white layer.

Colouration

Full-bright

Full-bright describes the very vibrant colouration of a cube in neon tones. The colour nuances vary by manufacturer. This colouration exists for stickered and stickerless cubes.

Half-bright

Half-bright describes a colouration where the colours green and yellow come in neon tones, and the remaining colours are rather bright but not as vivid. The colour nuances vary by manufacturer. This colouration exists for stickered as well as stickerless cubes.

Classic / Jelly / Macaron

There are other colourations, such as the Macaron with cute pastel colours, Jelly with slightly transparent colours or the Classic version inspired by the original cube.

Magnet system

A magnet system that is built into a cube makes it easier to position the layers and prevents them from rotating past the corners during quick turns. Magnets attract and complete the last few millimetres of a turn.

Depending on the cube and the brand, you may also be able to adjust the magnets to your requirements:
  • In the case of budget cubes, the magnets are glued inside the cube pieces and can not be exchanged.
  • With reasonably priced cubes, the magnets are embedded in the cube pieces and can be exchanged.
  • For cubes in the medium to higher price ranges, the magnet strength is individually adjustable.

You can find all the advantages of cubes with magnet systems in our FAQ about magnetic cubes.

Ball-Core

In speed cubes with Ball-Core positioning, the core has a positioning system with magnets built into a ball. With it, the layers attract each other and click into the correct position faster. So the Ball-Core helps you to align the layers even more precisely during turns, compared to magnets built only into the cube pieces. It also reduces possible popping with fast rotations and provides a smoother rotation feel.


You can find two speed cubes with magnetic Ball-Core in our assortment: the MoYu Super RS3 M 2022 3x3 Ball-Core and the MoYu WeiLong WR M V9 Ball-Core UV 3x3.

MagLev

MagLev is short for magnetic levitation or magnetic levitation force, respectively. It is a method that utilises magnetic fields to cushion impacts/vibrations and to operate, for example, magnetically levitating trains. No other support is needed, gravity and other forces are offset by the magnetic force.

Cubes with MagLev construction have in their tensioning system two superimposed magnets whose like poles face, and thus repel, each other. This system replaces the usual springs and reduces friction. It also allows for faster rotations and completely eliminates spring noise. We can recommend the premium-quality GAN12 M MagLev frosted 3x3.
Alternatively, we also carry some great models at more affordable prices:

GAN GES

The manufacturer GAN calls its spring tensioning system GAN GES. It is built into the highest quality GAN cubes. You can find detailed information on our FAQ page about the GES for GAN speed cubes.

Honeycomb Contact Surface by GAN

The honeycomb contact surface refers to the, you guessed it, honeycomb surface on the inside of a GAN brand speed cube. This surface allows for an even distribution of silicone oil. Other manufacturers have developed similar textures on the inner surfaces of their cubes for the same purpose.

Tensioning system

The tensioning system is the mechanism that regulates the tension of the springs built into the cube, and it can be adjusted to individual requirements. Learn more about it on our FAQ page about spring tension.

Speed cube handling


Corner cutting

With a cube that has good corner-cutting characteristics, individual pieces move smoothly. Thus, a cube piece can be returned to its correct position by moving another piece without the cube jamming, losing its pieces, or even breaking. You can find additional information on our FAQ page about popping.
Corner cutting works in both directions. That means you can cut corners in the direction of normal rotation to the right (also called positive) as well as to the left (also called reverse).

Half turn

In cubing, a half turn counts as two moves. A whole turn would be 360 degrees; therefore, a half turn is 180 degrees.

Quarter turn

A quarter turn counts as one move. A whole turn is 360 degrees; therefore, a quarter turn is 90 degrees. Each 90° rotation counts as one move.

Lock-up / locking

Lock-up or locking are terms used to describe when the cube jams. When a piece, one or even multiple layers are misaligned, you won’t be able to execute the turn correctly and the cube locks up. On our FAQ page about popping, you will find helpful tips on how to remedy this situation.

Overshooting

Overshooting describes a rotation that goes further than desired. For example, you intend to rotate a layer by 90 degrees, but due to high speed, it overshoots and turns 180 degrees instead. This wastes time and negatively affects your solving times.

Popping

Popping means that individual cube pieces fall out or the cube completely breaks apart. You can find all the information about that on our FAQ page about popping.

Scramble

Turning a speed cube to disarrange the pieces so you can solve it afterwards is called scrambling. Often, about 20 different turns are used to scramble a cube. There is also software that can generate a scramble for you to replicate according to the instructions.