Do you want to know why Feliks Zemdegs is very fast? This video has some good answers but I will add some other reasons for his amazing skill. If pattern recognition is a subject of abstract reasoning, then this is, in my opinion, an inborn talent of Feliks and the main ingredient of his success. This blog post is about the reasons behind the successful career of Feliks including my own explanations based on the video. Although there are emerging speedcubers today like the two Americans, Max Park and Patrick Ponce, the most impressive record in cubing still belongs to Feliks.
Turns per second(TPS) is number one on the list. According to his fellow speedcubers who followed his career, Feliks has an average of 9 turns per second. Imagine how an average Rubik’s solver can execute that fast. However, there are also other speedcubers who have almost the same statistics since it is easy to achieve by correct practice. This skill can be perfected by many hours of practice until it can be performed almost unconsciously. If a speedcuber was able to find some shortcuts to his solve and was able to finish it, for example, in just 45 turns then 45/9 = 5 seconds. That would be an amazing 5-second Rubik’s solve.
You may be wondering how it is possible to execute, a nine-move algorithm in just one second. Besides hardware preparation like lubrication and proper tensioning, a cuber must execute it not by using his brain but, believe it or not, by using his muscle. This is called muscle memory. A good example is walking. Your brain does not think about your feet movement. Similarly, in solving a cube, when a certain pattern is recognized, an appropriate algorithm is applied, almost without thinking.
In one interview, in order to improve on TPS, Feliks advised his fellow cuber to perform PLL whenever possible. It can be practised while watching TV or waiting for a bus. After hours and hours of practice, your muscle will be able to memorize the movements until you can execute it in almost one second.There are even some average cubers who can execute it in less than one second. For the standard Cross-F2l-Orientation-Permutation (CFOP) Rubik’s speedsolving method, a cuber can apply muscle memory to F(F2l), O(Oll), and PLL but not in C(Cross) because the latter is purely intuitive.
Therefore, secret number one is – Let your muscle memorize all the algorithms necessary for the CFOP method.
Number 2 on the list is color neutral. It is necessary to learn color neutrality at the very beginning because it is not easy to adjust to this technique after learning CFOP. The key application of color neutrality is on building the bottom cross. There are color combinations that are easier to start solving other than the common white cross solves.
Therefore, secret number two is – learn neutral color solving.
Number 3 on the list is look ahead. When finishing an algorithm, a cuber must be able to predict the outcome of the resulting pattern so that he can apply immediately the next algorithm. For example during the cross solution, a cuber sometimes keeps track of the first F2L pair to be inserted and then apply the next algorithm. Before finishing the last F2L pair (there are 4 F2L pairs), the cuber predicts the resulting OLL pattern, and then apply again the necessary algorithm. Lastly, before finishing OLL, the cuber again predicts the resulting PLL and then apply the last algorithm.
Therefore, secret number three is – Learn to look ahead.
Number 4 on the list is Experience. This word speaks for itself. Feliks has one of the most successful career with his long experience.
Therefore, secret number four is – Start cubing as early as possible. There are so many things that you can learn from experience.
Number 5 on the list is Zeroing. I did not include a link on Zeroing because in my opinion, there is no such thing. However I will add some “Zeroing” skills of Feliks that might or may not be present to other top cubers.
First, Feliks perfected the muscle memorization of CFOP algorithms.
Second, he mastered the art of building extended cross. This means that one F2L pair is already solved during cross building leaving only three F2L pairs to solve. Feliks is good at abstract reasoning because of his ability to recognize pattern quickly. For example, most cuber will build a cross using the white color because it is the easiest color to look at during inspection time. The problem here is when those cross pieces are not in good position. But Feliks can solve this problem by capitalizing on his advantage in choosing the easiest color to build the cross. There are even times when a cross is already set up which significantly minimize solving time.
Third, Feliks mastered the art of look ahead. You can notice on his solves that he seldom pause to think for his next move. He has changed the dogmatic rule “go slow and look ahead” to “go fast and look ahead”. How can this be possible for him to recognize quickly the resulting pattern after executing an algorithm? Again, it is because he is good in abstract reasoning. He can predict the resulting pattern even at lightning speed of execution.
Fourth, Feliks is always searching for any improvement on the CFOP method. He uses partial edge control technique wherein a cross on the top can be formed after executing the last F2L pair thus reducing the pattern to corner orientation. And when all the edges are oriented, he will perform COLL algorithm resulting in easier PLL. If partial edge control is not possible then he will apply OLL skip technique wherein the third layer will be oriented after inserting the last F2L pair. He may not be contented with COLL so he began to memorize ZBLL algorithms. These algorithms can solve the third layer in one look. There could be some other Feliks’ advance techniques that we have not yet discovered.
image source: wikimedia commons
video source: YouTube