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How to get really fast

Though the mental side may be the most interesting, there is also a strong physical side to speed cubing. You need a good cube and fast fingers, to have any chance of achieving world class speed!

The cube itself

These days it's hard to find a bad cube. A cube you find at a regular retailer is most likely a good speed cube.

Springs in the "skeleton" are vital to quality cubing. You can sense if there is one by pulling on a layer. It should have a "springy" give of 1 millimeter or so. New cubes can be tight and hard to pull apart, but it's still a different feel than a springless cube. Do NOT buy a springless cube! Modern cubes are mostly built so you can't get to the springs and adjust them, which is a shame. The exception are the DIY cubes you can order from rubiks.com and other places. Not that it's a must have at all, but you can get slightly better results by adjusting the spring tensions, and even replacing broken springs.

Though some cubes can get pretty good without treatment, I recommend that you lube it. Many lubricants work. I used candle wax first. It works fine, except that it needs to be reapplied twice a week. Later I turned to silicone spray, which works for months. It is what all speed cubers use these days. You can get it cheaply at any automotive store.

One weird thing with the silicone spray is that when you first apply it, on some cubes, it will act almost like glue, and will be very hard to turn for about a minute or two, and only after that will it be easy to turn.

In the 1981 Swedish championships, the cubes were silicone treated, but not "broken in", so we only got about half out normal speed. I won with 40.43 sec...

The cubes I can find now (made by Oddzon (buy here)) are good and fast mechanically, but have horrid paper stickers (under a thin plastic membrane) that wear out in no time. Some people paint them when the stickers are gone. I use regular colored vinyl film. It works fine, once you've found 6 colors of film. And you get enough vinyl for a 1000 cubes :-) These days you can even order high quality replacement stickers from cubesmith.com

Even the best cube will wear out. That is natural, just buy a new one. I have used up over 15 cubes over the years.

Dexterity

I don't know the best way to use hands and fingers, but I know what I do. My style is probably adapted to my method, where you spend a lot of time turning the same two adjacent sides.

I'm right handed, but I use the left hand for turning, and the right hand for more or less just holding the cube. I don't know why. It took me several months before I realized I was doing this "left handed".

The grip

I have tried to illustrate my right hand grip in this cube. The red sticker is where I hold the thumb, the orange (rotate to see better) for the index finger, the yellow is the middle finger, and the ring finger is usually placed on the green faces. The white part is the two sides you can turn.

Use a firm but not too tight grip.

Think in "columns"

The sequence of two turns to the right can be done in one single movement by gripping the red "column" by your left hand by the yellow stickers. The right hand should hold the grip as above.

Every sequence of two (and often more) moves can be done this way, that halves the number of movements you need to make. It takes a while to get to see sequences as moving columns in stead of separate turns, but it's very easy once you know it.

The Trigger

To do sequence on the left, hold with your left hand the thumb on the red spot and the middle finger on the yellow. The index finger should not be part of the grip, but should press gently on the white sticker, while you do the first turn. When it is almost complete, you will feel that you can turn the top layer with the index finger. Press, and complete the second turn that way. Meanwhile, start gently turning back with the rest of the left hand, still holding the grip between red and yellow. When the second turn is almost done, you will be able to do the third turn instantly.

This can be done ridiculously fast, 0.1 seconds or so. But start practicing at lower speeds...

You need a cube in good shape, or you will break it or get stuck.

Movies

Enough talk. Here is actual footage of how it's done. You need QuickTime 4.0 or later to watch.
This is Sune™ at top speed. Seven moves in 0.70 seconds. It's in 30 frames per second. In frame 9 more than one full turn is done! To see anything of what's going on you need to step through it. If that's too confusing, first look at the slow version.
This is the same Sune™ done slower to illustrate the finger tricks. The first three moves is a trigger, just as described above. The next two moves is also a trigger, but skipping the first move. And the final two moves are a simple column sequence.
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