Solving a Rubik’s Cube (the BB@E Way)

By Matthew Canning, Become Better at Everything Founder

The Rubik’s Cube has astounded and delighted generations with its frustrating simplicity. Years ago, a gentleman named Denny Dedmore developed a way to solve it through a series of seven distinct steps, each consisting of several specific algorithms (series of twists and turns). The algorithms (18 in total) are each up to twenty-two moves in length and need to be applied to very specific color patterns on the Cube.

In short, Dedmore’s method allows the solver to exchange a difficult cognitive challenge for an equally daunting memorization challenge.

The Dedmore method is difficult in that it requires you to memorize a significant amount of mundane, redundant information. It’s difficult to memorize using brute force; however, using the mind’s natural desire to memorize associatively, this task can become drastically easier. In fact, using the standardized Memory Development tools discussed in the Become Better at Everything book, Never Forget Again, an absolute Cube amateur can spend a single afternoon learning to solve the puzzle using the Dedmore method. With a little time and practice, you can become comfortable enough to solve the Cube within a few minutes.

In order to do this, you’ll need a Rubik’s Cube. But if you didn’t figure that out already, well…this may be a long road.

First, read a detailed walk-through of the Dedmore method. Following along with the site, work with a Cube and solve it a few times over the course of a hour or so until you’re relatively familiar with the general method and the physical dynamics of the Cube. Don’t worry about memorizing anything yet.

When you’re ready to begin memorizing, you should have a good sense that the Cube shouldn’t be approached as a series of six surfaces, but rather as three layers. Next, take a look at the 14 actions or “twists” located on the right-hand side of the Dedmore method page. You’re going to want to first associate each of those 14 actions with individuals or Characters. For instance, your mother can represent the first action (twisting the bottom row to the left). Your neighbor can represent the second, your boss the third, NFL legend Jerry Rice the fourth, etc. Associating Characters with ideas like this may be difficult for the untrained, but it’s a skill that will prove to be endlessly useful as you explore Memory Development. Let your mind work freely. Do certain people remind you of specific twists? That can be a bit of a reach, so you can number each of the twists (one through fourteen), and then assign an individual Character to each number. Does someone remind you of the number one? How about two? Who would your thirteen be? If you read my book, Never Forget Again, you’ve already done most of the work—you can use your predefined Mnemonic Character Library.

Once you’ve associated individual Characters with the twists, drill them for a while. Pick a random twist, perform it, and call out the individual you’ve chosen to represent it. Going the other way, call out an individual and quickly perform his or her twist. Don’t move on until your associations are almost immediate.

Once you’re ready, go back to the Dedmore method page and begin reading it again. After you set up the starting corner, take a look at Dedmore solution part 1 (I will refrain from calling the parts of the solution “steps” in order to avoid confusion with the Memory Development concept of Steps mentioned below). There are five possible algorithms that can be used in order to move blocks into the correct position. Here’s the plan:

  1. Visually memorize the positions of the five numbers on the Cube that represent the respective algorithms.
  2. Choose a location—your home, a friend’s home, your workplace—and create a Journey through this place. Imagine walking through it beginning from the front door, and choose three Steps. Step 1 can be the entryway, Step 2 can be the living room, Step 3 can be the kitchen, etc. Walk through the Journey in a natural order, and vividly imagine each Step.
  3. Imagine interacting with your “right column down” Character at the Journey‘s first Step. Then move on to the second Step and imagine interacting with your “bottom row to the left” Character. Do this until you’ve filled the Journey’s three Steps with the twists needed for the first algorithm.
  4. Repeat this for each algorithm needed for solution part 1. Pick a Journey for each, create enough Steps to store the algorithm’s twists, and imagine the appropriate twist’s Character in each.

Let’s walk through this. Imagine you look at your Cube and realize that in order to get the the correct block into the required space at the top corner, you need to perform algorithm #2. You then imagine going to your algorithm #2 Journey and begin walking through the Steps. At Step 1, you imagine interacting with your “bottom row to the left” Character. At Step 2, you imagine interacting with your “right column down” Character, etc. As you imagine these Characters, you perform the respective twists that they represent. When you’ve exhausted the Steps of the Journey, you’re done with the algorithm and ready to move on.

You’re going to do the same thing for the second part of the Dedmore solution. Settle upon five locations to represent the five algorithms. Place a Character within each Step of each Journey and utilize them as needed.

Dedmore solution parts 3 and 4 contain only two algorithms each; however, you’ll notice that they’re a bit longer than previous ones—part 3′s algorithms are eight twists each and part 4′s are eleven each. You’ll have to choose Journeys that contain enough Steps. Things change a bit when you come to parts 5 and 6. While there is only one algorithm (and therefore only one Journey needed) for each, the visual patterns are a bit more varied and complex.

Like a video game, the final stage presents the biggest challenge. Part 7 presents two very easy patterns coupled with two very daunting algorithms.

And that, friends, is the whole story.

Although this system requires a good deal of up-front memorization, using your associative memory profoundly reduces the difficulty. Brute force memorization of this method can be maddening. If you practice daily, you’ll eventually become so used to this that the algorithms will become ingrained in your muscle memory and your hands will know exactly what to do on their own. Until then, practice, be diligent about walking through your Journeys (both with and without a Cube), and have fun.