Steve Spears

Tips to solving the Rubik's Cube

1

December

So you thinking of giving (or getting) a Rubik's Cube for the holidays but can't bear the thought of mountains of frustration heaped upon you when you discover you can't solve it. Help is here.

Tyson Mao is a champion speed-solver of the cube. So incredibly proficient at the puzzle, Mao was hired to be Will Smith's "cube coach" for the upcoming movie Pursuit of Happyness, in which the Rubik's Cube has a sort of starring role.

In an interview with Stuck in the 80s, Mao explains his attachment to the puzzle.  "The attraction of the Rubik's Cube for me was being able to do something that was seemingly comprised of nothing more than mankind's purest forms of frustration," Mao says. "It was overwhelmingly addictive."

To Mao, the cube itself is "a beautiful toy."

"It's simple concept has a tangible place in the minds of today, as it did in the '80s," he says.

Mao solved it the first time in about two hours. These days, his times are anywhere from 16 to 18 seconds.

Tyson Mao's advice to Rubik's Cube novices:

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1. Start by watching: "You can learn a lot just by watching. Be observant of what's going on around the Rubik's Cube. If something works, think about why it works."
2. Keep it simple: "When you solve a Rubik's Cube, you are placing pieces, and not stickers."
3. Know how it works: "Recognize that the centers of the Rubik's Cube do not move  and therefore they define the colors of the solved state.  In other words, the side with the red center will be red when the Rubik's Cube is solved. There is no other choice."

Most important: Don't give up. "Many people have thrown their Rubik's Cubes away in frustration, or they have simply lost them due to negligence," Mao says.

Hey, that's no way to treat a piece of '80s history!

To see a video of Mao and other speed-cubers solving the puzzle, click here.