How to Solve Rubik's Puzzles- Including the Cube
Rubik's Puzzles - How Many and How to Solve Them
Everybody knows the Rubik's cube, it was the bane of my existence in the 1980s as everyone tried to solve it and then the geekiest kid in our class found a book that showed him how it was done and this precipitated weeks of torment as he got faster and faster at solving the puzzle and we got more and more bored at being only able to solve one side.
That was always going to end in tears with a large group of 14yo boys (it did and it is amazing the number of pieces you can smash one of these cubes in to), but rather than have the whole Rubik's phenomenon disappear into the ether, more and more Rubik's puzzles hit the scene.
Only yesterday I was reminded of this when a friend gave me a Rubik's clock puzzle and a solution book, both of which I have looked at and the puzzle which I have now scrambled. Will I ever sit down and read the solution and unscramble the clock?
Probably not, as it brings to many painful memories of geek torment. But it had raised my interest as to how many Rubik's puzzles actually came into existence after that first, now revered, cube.
Intro Photo: Me with an 80's hairstyle, 3D glasses and the Rubik's clock... and Solution! All others: amazon products.
My new 'toy', the Rubik's clock wasn't actually invented by Erno Rubik, he actually bought the patent from two other inventors and marketed the clock under his name.
A two sided puzzle that consists of 9 clock faces and 4 buttons, the position of each button determines which clock turns when you rotate one of the four wheels on the puzzle. The object of the puzzle is to get every clock face on both sides of the puzzle pointing to 12 o'clock.
The current world record for this exercise is 5.27 seconds.
Solving the Clock
Arguably the worlds most purchased toy
The puzzle that made Erno Rubik famous. brought to life by the Hungarian architect in 1974, the cube went on to sweep the world with its cunning ease of use, portability and simple premise. Just get the 6 sides of the cube all showing the same colour. A cinch.
Ok, so it didn't quite turn out that way for me, but there is a whole counter culture still in existence and growing nearly 40 years later with events held around the world and even a World Cube Association formed in 2003.
The perfect solution, or as it is humbly known, 'The God Number' is 20. This is the least number of moves required for a completely scrambled cube. The current world record for solving it is 5.66 seconds, which sadly occurred in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
The above record is for a 3x3x3 cube, but there is now a plethora of different combinations of cube ranging from 2x2x2 through to the absolutely crazy 17x17x17 cube.
A Simple Way to Solve the Cube
Rubik's Cubes - Apparently Bigger is Better
Apparently the 3x3x3 cube is far too easy for the genuine Rubik's cube enthusiast. So how can you make it exponentially more difficult? Add four more layers to the basic cube and create a 7x7x7 monster. What are the permutations for solving this beast of a cube? 19 500 551 183 731 307 835 329 126 754 019 748 794 904 992 692 043 434 567 152 132 912 323 232 706 135 469 180 065 278 712 755 853 360 682 328 551 719 137 311 299 993 600 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (roughly 19,501 sexvigintillion), so enjoy!
The world record is 2min 41.63s.
Sometimes referred to as the Vortex
Rubik's Void seems like a simple enough concept. Take a normal 3x3 cube and just remove the centre squares, thus leaving a doughnut hole in the middle. Yet by removing the centre the puzzle becomes fiendishly hard. Most solutions to the 3x3 rely on the centre square, so once it is missing, life becomes a little more complex.
Experienced cubists recommend learning the ropes on the basic cube before trying Rubik's Void. Though if you are a sucker for punishment then go right ahead and jump in the deep end.
To quote Obi Wan, Good luck Master Luke!
Into the Void... and Its Solution.. Just Ignore the Yellow is Opposite Yellow (White!!)
Get Yourself a Rubik's Void - Challenge Yourself
Comes complete with a carry bag to protect your half completed puzzle.
Should speed cubing be an Olympic Sport?
Rubik's Spiral Challenge
Even a jigsaw in the hands of Erno Rubik can turn in to a fiendish puzzle. There are only 55 pieces to this jigsaw, but due to the shape and layout of the puzzle as well as the difficult to follow subject matter (a vortex of joined Rubik's Cubes) this simple jumble of pieces has over 1.8 million ways to be assembled.... 1.799999 million of them are incorrect.
Already comes in pieces so even the hammer option is lost on this Rubik puzzle.
Rubik's Spiral Puzzle
Combining the torment that Rubik is known for in the well known format of a jigsaw puzzle. This one wont be done in one sitting!
Pursuing his apparent lifelong passion to continue to create puzzle toys Erno Rubik released the 360 puzzle on an unsuspecting world in 2009. The basic premise is to get 6 coloured balls through 3 spheres so they fall into the six coloured coded compartments on the outer of the third sphere.
Sadly for people like me you can't pull this one apart! (Though a hammer has been known to complete a similar action if used on the 360 in an appropriate manner!)
The current world record is 37.02 seconds.
Solving Rubik's 360 Ball Puzzle
A simple puzzle of 8 squares that have a black background and three multi coloured rings. The object of the puzzle is to get it in to the shape of a love heart with all three rings intertwined (just like it is in the picture).
Mr Rubik must have been having a mildly off day in the puzzle invention field when he popped this one out, as the world record for solving Rubik's Magic is an astounding 0.69 seconds. Probably not quite the easy challenge that Mr Rubik was thinking of when he invented it.
A Little Rubik's Magic
A little Rubiks Magic of your own.
Not so much a puzzle with one right answer like a lot of Rubik's other teasers, the snake is 24 hinged wedges that can be manipulated into many recognisable shapes. Cats, dogs and just about anything your imagination can conjure up can be built with this simple contraption.
More of a puzzle for those with vivid imaginations and busy hands.
What is your favourite Rubik's puzzle?
Pretty similar to Rubik's Cube, the UFO consists of 2 disks and 6 segments which can be rotated and twisted.
The object is to get all the coloured shapes on the segments lined up. The possible combinations are 39,916,800, so it will keep you amused for a while!
Solving the UFO
As a Tangram was the Rubik's Cube of its day it is quite appropriate that Erno Rubik put his name to a version of the puzzle.
A modern version of the Chinese puzzle that has kept generations amused for over a 100 years, the object of the puzzle is to form the pieces into a predetermined recognisable shape, e.g. a dog. Can be fiendishly difficult!
A Variety of Tangrams to Play With!
Not content with just tormenting yourself with a Rubik's puzzle. Is racing against the clock no longer a challenge? Then the Rubik's puzzle is for you.
Shake the small cube to get your target arrangement and the first player to get the centre squares of their puzzle matching the little shaker cube wins. The perfect torment for two.