Miller Cubing - Introduction to F2L - July 7th, 2015                

Beginners F2L: 3 easy steps for every case

Introduction

Like most people when I was learning F2L, I just went online to figure out how to do it. After watching numerous tutorials on how it was done I had finally got it. During this time I found that if some things had been explained a little differently it  would have helped tremendously in understanding how to consistently perform F2L. When you are first starting it is difficult to keep track of everything and there is a lot to remember.

I created a system for myself that allowed me to be able to complete F2L in a more organized manner. There are lots of tutorials online but I wanted to include some items that I wish someone had told me while I was learning. I’m sure this is how most people learn to do F2L but I never found it written down in one location that was comprehensive enough for my taste. There was no systematic approach I could reference every single time no matter what the case was.  Having it written down and not having to keep rewinding a youtube video helped out quite a bit as it's much faster to reference a single case. This is just an explanation of a systematic approach to beginners F2L that makes sense to me and hopefully it helps someone else out there. I am by no means a super fast cuber (around 30 second average at the time of this writing) but wanted to get my thoughts down on paper before I forgot how difficult it was to keep everything straight.

This document is for people just learning how to do F2L and is intended to allow a user to solve every F2L case (there are 41 different unsolved cases) by following the following 3 steps no matter what the case is. I am going to assume you either have no F2L experience or very little and still need help with the basics. I tried very hard to make each step as simple and detailed as possible.  It may seem like a lot of reading initially, but once you have it down, you will probably only be referencing the images anyways.

Disclaimer

During the learning process your times will be drastically increased, but stick with it! After learning these steps and with a bit of practice you will easily be able to solve the cube in less than a minute. I would also suggest giving the document a full read before trying it so you have a general overview of the process before you start. This is the goal - First Two Layers:

Getting Ready

It is assumed that the user knows how to complete the cross and basic cube notation (http://ruwix.com/the-rubiks-cube/notation/  has a great interactive tool that you can see visually what each one means.). You actually don’t need the cube notation, but I included it for the people that prefer it. No previous knowledge of F2L is required. There will be no algorithms in this document, as I intend this to be fully intuitive.

We will use the white cross on bottom and the F2L pair will be the White/Blue/Red pair (The white/blue/red corner piece and the red/blue edge piece). For all examples the Blue side will be facing toward the user, so adjust based on the colors you are using. We will also be using the front right slot of the cube for all cases and examples, so you may need to perform the left handed version of these steps. I have tried to make it as simple as possible and it shouldn't matter what side the slot is on if you follow the instructions properly (face cube toward you, white side on the right, etc). I also assume that the case you are working on is your last F2L pair, so you do not need to worry about breaking up the other already-complete pairs when performing these cases.

This document will be broken down into three main sections: Setup, Pairing, and Insertions. We will discuss how to set up the pieces (Setup), then we will get the pair made (Pairing) by following one of 3 cases , and finally we will place it into its appropriate slot (Insertion) by following one of 2 cases. Once you have scrambled the cube and completed the cross, there are 4 F2L pairs we need to complete. For each one perform the following steps in this order.  Lets get started!


Step 1: Setup

In this step the goal is to set up the pieces in a way that we can easily pair them up. The main concept of this step is to get the pieces in the top layer and get them separate from one another. Some sub-steps will not be needed depending upon the case. If a sub-step is already done, just move on to the next. When first starting look for white corners and its corresponding edge  that are already in the top layer. This could save you some time until you get familiar with the process.

Identify the pair

Without moving anything look around the cube and find a white corner, then find its corresponding edge. We will be using the White/Blue/Red corner piece , so the Blue/Red piece is the edge piece. Any time a corner piece is referenced, it is the piece with white on it. The edge piece will be the piece without white on it.

Get both pieces in the top layer of the cube.

If both pieces are already in the top layer, great! Continue to Step 2.

If either piece is not in the top layer, you will need to place both pieces in the top layer before continuing. If you do not know how just follow these steps.

The same rules apply for corners and edges alike and the orientation of the pieces doesn't matter, just the position. Position is the physical location on the cube (back middle or  front right) and orientation is how the piece is rotated (white on top or  white on side).

  1. Rotate the cube until the slot is in the front right of the cube.
  2. Check the back middle and front right position in the upper face. If the other piece of the pair is in one of the slots designated by the arrows (Fig A), then move the upper face so that the piece in the top layer is NOT in one of those positions (Fig B.). Any other position will work.
  3. Lift up the slot using the right side of the cube (R) (Fig. C). What this is doing is lifting the “slot” the piece is in and placing it in the top layer, along with the piece. Anything in the top layer  can be moved around without affecting the other slots or the cross.
  4. Rotate the top layer one turn to the left ( U)
  5. At this point you have broken your cross, so you have to fix it. We fix it by un-doing our right side move (R’)
  6. Corners and pairs follow the same rules, so if the other piece is still not in the top layer go back to #1 and repeat the process.

      Fig.  A

       Fig. B

       Fig. C

      Fig. D

      Fig. E

Corner:

Edge

Separate the pieces

Now that both pieces are in the top layer, see if they are separated or not. If the two pieces are touching each other, then we need to get them separated. The easiest way I found to do this is the following steps. NOTE: the position and orientation of the pieces does NOT have to match the image as this will work for any two pieces that are next to each other. Just follow the steps:

  1. Put the white corner over its slot
  2. Rotate the cube so that the slot is in the front right position (Fig. A)
  3. Lift the slot up into the top layer (R) (Fig. B)
  4. Move the upper face twice (U2) (Fig. C)
  5. Move your slot back down (which fixes your cross) using a R’ move. (Fig. D)
  6. This should have separated your pieces.

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D

Setup is complete! Now it is time to determine which one of the 3 cases you have and pair the pieces up.

Step 2: Pairing

The goal of this step is to determine which case you have and apply that cases sub-steps to pair the pieces up. We can determine which case we have by looking at the top face of the cube and determining which colors are facing up. You can have the white piece facing up, two of the same color on top (both top faces blue for example)  or different colors on top (one blue and one red face on top). These are the only 3 possible cases at this point if you have followed the Setup step correctly.

The main concept of this step is to get one of your pieces out of the top layer by hiding it in one of the other layers, move the top layer so that the other piece is next to the piece you just hid, and then un-hide the piece in a way that pairs them up in the process.

In every case you will set up the pieces by putting them in a specific position, hide a piece by lifting up the slot the pair goes in, move the top layer to re-position the other piece, then Fix your Cross by lowering the slot back in place. Once this step is done you will move on to Step 3, inserting the pair. (Setup, Lift, Reposition, Lower)


   

Case 1: White on Top

This case is easy to recognize since one of the white faces will be pointing up.

  1. Setup
  1. Align the top layer so the color on the side of the EDGE piece (red in our case) aligns with the appropriate side of the cube with the same color. (Fig A.)
  2. Then ROTATE the whole cube until the slot is facing you AND the edge piece is on one of the sides and not in the front  or back. There will only be one way you can do this. (Fig. A)
  1. Lift - Lift the slot into the top layer by using an R or L’ move. (Fig. B)
  1. Take notice what happens to your EDGE piece. We are getting it out of the upper face so you can move the upper face around as much as you want without moving your edge.
  1. Reposition - Move the white face over your edge piece. Another way to think of this is to move the white face in line with the white center piece you exposed by lifting up the slot. In our example they are on the right face. (Fig. C)
  1. Note: You may have to move the top layer once or twice, but as long as you place it over the edge piece and in the same face as the white cross piece it will be lined up correctly.
  1. Lower - Fix your cross by lowering the slot you lifted in #2. If you lifted the right face up with an R move, undo that move with a R’. The same applies for the left side. If you lifted the left side, lower the left side. (Fig D.)

Now you have your pair, continue to Step 3. (Premade)

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D

Case 2: Same colors on top 

This case is easy to recognize since both top faces will be the same color. (Blue in this example)

  1. Setup-
  1. Align the top layer so the WHITE face is aligned with the color that is NOT on top. In our case we will put the white face on the RED side. (Fig A.)
  2. Then rotate the cube until the slot is facing you AND the white piece is facing left or right and NOT front or back. There will only be one way you can do this. (Fig. A)
  1. Lift - Lift the slot by using an R or L’ move. (Fig. B)
  1. Take notice what happens to your corner piece. We are getting it out of the upper face so you can move the upper face around as much as you want without moving your corner.
  1. Reposition - Move the top layer until the edge piece is in the back middle position. (Fig. C)
  1. Note: You may have to move the top layer once or twice, but as long as you place it in the middle back slot it will be lined up correctly.
  1. Lower - Fix your cross by lowering the slot you lifted in step 2. If you lifted the right face up with an R move, undo that move with a R’. The same applies for the left side. If you lifted the left side, lower the left side. (Fig D.)

Now you have your pair, continue to Step 3. (Premade)

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D

Case 3: Different colors on top 

This case is easy to recognize since both top faces will be different colors and neither will be white. I call this the “Easy” case.

  1. Setup-
  1. Align the top layer so the color on the side of the EDGE piece (red in our case) aligns with the appropriate side of the cube with the same color. (Fig A.)
  2. Then ROTATE the whole cube until the slot is facing you AND the edge piece is on one of the sides and not in the front  or back. There will only be one way you can do this. (Fig. A)
  3. NOTE: If you see the white piece facing towards you then this step is complete! Continue to Step 3. (Fig 0)
  1. Lift - Lift the slot by using an R or L’ move. (Fig. B)
  1. Take notice what happens to your edge piece. We are getting it out of the upper face so you can move the upper face around as much as you want without moving your edge.
  1. Reposition - Move the top layer until the white face is pointing towards you (Fig. C)
  2. Lower - Fix your cross by lowering the slot you lifted in step 2. If you lifted the right face up with an R move, undo that move with a R’. The same applies for the left side. If you lifted the left side, lower the left side. (Fig D.)

Now you have your pair ready for insertion, continue to Step 3. (Easy Case)

Fig. 0

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D


Step 3: Pair Insertion

By this point you have a pair that is ready to be inserted. Just pick the case (Easy or Premade) and follow the steps.  This is the easy part and we are almost done.The same sub-steps will apply to these as they did in Step 2: Setup, Lift, Reposition, Lower.

Premade Pair

As you can tell, our pair is already made and ready to be inserted into the slot.

  1. Setup
  1. Place the white corner piece over the slot
  2. Rotate the cube until the white face pointing towards you. (Fig. A)
  3. Rotate the top layer so you can see the entire pair in front of you (Fig. B)
  1. Lift - Lift up the slot you want to put the pair in (Fig. C)
  2. Reposition - Rotate the top layer until the white is facing you again. (Fig. D)
  1. Another way to think about this step is to imagine you are backing the pair into the slot you just lifted up, like backing a car into the garage.
  1. Lower - Fix your cross by lowering the slot you lifted in step 2. (Fig E.)

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D

Fig. E

Easy Case

This one is a bit easier because it combines a pairing and an insertion into one set of moves.

  1. Setup-
  1. Place the white corner piece over the slot
  2. Then rotate the cube until the slot is facing you AND the white piece is facing left or right and NOT front or back. There will only be one way you can do this. (Fig. A)
  3. You will know if it is setup correctly if the EDGE piece is in the back middle position. If not, Return to Step 2 (Different Colors on top)
  1. Lift - Lift the slot by using an R or L’ move. (Fig. B)
  1. Take notice what happens to your corner piece. We are actually pairing the corner with its edge piece.
  1. Reposition - Rotate the top layer until the white side is facing you and is lined up with the white cross piece you exposed by lifting up the slot (Fig. C)
  2. Lower - Fix your cross by lowering the slot you lifted in step 2. Since the pair was already made, this is also performing the insertion as well.

Fig. A

Fig. B

Fig. C

Fig. D

Success!

By this point we should have one complete F2L pair made and inserted. Go back to Step 1 and follow this same process for the other 3 pairs and you will wind up with a cube with the First Two Layers complete:

Where to go from here:

Practice practice practice! Once you get the steps down and are able to consistently perform these steps without having to reference the document, here are some things to try on your own:

  1. Start trying to combine steps. Try to get your pieces in the top layer in a way that they are separated already.
  2. Perform the insertions from different angles. If you can do it from the front, try it from the back. Setup the insertion and rotate the cube until the slot is in one of the back slots. then try the insertion. Make sure you are using your left hand as well as your right hand.
  3. Determine the moves in your head you need to do to finish the case and close your eyes and perform the moves to see if you get the pair inserted correctly. This helps you memorize the cases and is a must for getting fast.
  4. Learn more cases!  These are only 3 of the 41 cases F2L pairs can be in. Once you have a grasp of these, then all others can be derived from these cases.
  1. https://www.speedsolving.com/wiki/index.php/First_Two_Layers is a really good place to start, as it has TONS of algs for each case
  1. Have fun! Hopefully this document helps someone out

If you have any questions or ideas on how to improve this document, I would love to hear them. You can reach me at millercubing@outlook.com. I also plan on spinning up a video covering this content in the near future.

All images were generated using the wonderful tool over at visual cube:

http://cube.crider.co.uk/visualcube.php