Alternative methods to solving the first two layers (F2L)
About the extended cross | Examples | Solving the extended cross | Opposite color solving
On this page I want to talk a little bit about alternative methods to solving the first two layers of the cube. First I want to mention that not all methods use a "first two layers" approach. There are corners first approaches which, from what I've heard, don't include solving the first two layers of the cube as a sub-goal. So obviously there are other methods that don't include the first two layers as a stepping stone to the solution. This page is for methods that do include the first two layers as a sub-goal to solving the cube.
Two schools of thought:
There are two main schools of thought for completing the first two layers. (Of course there are many other ways to solve the first two layers, but speed solve solutions can generally be grouped into variations of these two groups). There are what I call "cross" methods and what I've heard referred to as "vanilla" layer methods. Obviously the two main examples of each are Jessica Fridrich's method and Lars Petrus' method, respectively. Cross methods start by solving the four edges of one layer (with respect to the centers on the adjacent faces) and to fill in the remaining four "slots" of the first two layers. The "vanilla" layer methods start by forming a 2x2x2 cube consisting of a corner and three edge pieces based around the corresponding three centers. This can be expanded either to a 2x2x3 or into the cross method by solving the remaining two edges in one of the faces the cube is in.
The "extended cross" method (why use it?):
The thing that got me thinking about extended cross at first is that sometimes the cross solve really stinks. Or also, sometime the 2x2x2 solve is long and slow, and doesn't leave the rest of the cube well setup to continue on. However, on the flip side sometimes one style of solve was much better than the other. So, why not use the type of solve that is best setup on your scramble, rather than the same one every time? That is basically what got me started on extended cross.
Goal of this page
On this page I will try to convince 2x2x2 only solvers to consider using the cross more often. I will also try to convince cross only solvers to consider the 2x2x2. The more advanced sections will try to convince you to direct solve the extended cross, and eventually to take up opposite cross solving to drastically increase your chances of using an extended cross approach.
About the extended cross | Examples | Solving the extended cross
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Special thanks to Werner Randelshofer for the code for the interactive cubes. http://www.randelshofer.ch/