Introduction to the Method of Marc Waterman


Thanks to its author Marc Waterman you can read the history of the method: [09/06/2004]

I somehow obtained a Japanese copy of the Rubik's cube in 1981 or 1982. For 4 weeks, day and night, I tried to solve it. During this period I had three ideas.

  • First: I found the corners of the U-face difficult to solve, so I decided that you have more freedom if you can neglect the M-ring.
  • Second: If you take out one corner from the D-face and put it back in an other way, something will change. So I found one process:
    R U R' U' F' U' F
    I could solve the U- corners, using only this!

(I turned the whole cube, so that D becomes L)

  • Third: I found out that, after turning U2 R2, you have a lot of freedom to move edges.

With this basic method I could solve the cube in 20 minutes. Then friends came up with processes to speed up this method. They had found these processes themselves, or from books. So after a while I speeded up to 1 minute. I won two regional contests.

At this point, Daan Krammer, a friend and math-genius, became enthusiast. Together we made the table for solving the corners of the U-face, finding lots of new processes. In the books were only processes which kept the M intact. Neglecting the M-ring made the processes shorter.

Then Daan started to work on solving the edges. He made tables of possible situations, and found many processes to solve them. During this period, Daan and I were cubing more than 4 hours a day, mostly in the classroom. Some teachers became annoyed, but others let us do it, as long as we did not disturb the lessons, and as long as we passed our testpapers. We held marathons very often. That was a good exercise. We tried to do 41 cubes in less then 15 minutes, we nearly succeeded!

In this period I met Anneke Treep and entered CFF (Cubism For Fun, the Dutch cube association). I did contests with Guus Razoux-Schultz at his home, and won most times. We practised together very often, we learned each others method. We even did contests, using each others method, and became as fast as 40 seconds!

Guus is more of a sportsman than I. This came out during the Dutch championship. I had been computergaming the whole night before, and came at the contest very sleepy, excited and nervous. Guus was used to doing long-distance-swimming contests. He has strong hands and very good stamina, and he was ready for it. For him it was easier to solve new, ungreased cubes. He won the contest by half a second. Daan became third.

Afters the Dutch championship, I kept on speedcubing for a year or so, and I won all the contests of the CFF. When I was 19, I slowly lost interest and went to Israel for half a year, studied chemical engineering and philosophy. After that I worked as a CAD-designer for 3 years. Then I decided to do something which I could do from my heart and I started an organic vegetable farm, together with my girlfriend. We have the farm now for 8 years. It is called Tuinderij De Ketel. My two little boys, 2 and 5 years old, play with the Rubik's Cube sometimes.

Marc Waterman

Short Method Description from the Author

Let us look at a brief description of this method from Marc Waterman himself: [08/25/2004]

How did my method really work in practice?

What takes most time in cube-contests is Looking at the Cube. I try to foretell the positions of corners and edges while turning. That saves time, because turning a process can be done blindfolded.

Once I solve the corners of the first face I watch the edges. When solving one edge, the centre can sometimes be taken along. When a red and an orange edge of the first (white) face are in the same slice, they can be solved together. Etc. I practiced very much on this kind of routines, because the first face makes up half of the solving time.

Solving the U-corners:
First look at the orientation. There are only 8 situations, which you can recognise very fast. For each of these basic situations there is a special way of recognising the positions. You don't have to see all the faces of the corners. This saves precious time.

When solving the corners of the the U-face, it is sometimes possible to transport one edge from the M-ring to U. I found out that it is often faster when there are many U-edges already in the U-face (although perhaps in the wrong place or position. When all U-edges are in the M-ring, you have a case of bad luck. I desperately tried to avoid that. But that meant that sometimes all U-edges were in the U-face, which was also a case of bad luck, because I did not have good routine in U-processes.

From here on U becomes R

When solving the first two redges, I try to make sure, that at least one of the other pair of redges stays in the right face. That means that I often start solving redges in the ring.

For solving the other pair of redges, together with orienting the edges in the ring I had to learn many formula's by heart, which were very similar. So I often got confused. This table of formula's took very much practicing, and now, 20 years later, I cannot reproduce any of those formula's anymore! So I'm glad you have found shorter solutions, but I am not going to learn them!

I tried to improve my method by avoiding this table. I left out one edge of the first face. This edge is called a "ledge". This ledge is solved, together with one redge, after solving the corners of the R-face. In the booklet of Anneke Treep there is a table for solving the ledge and the redge.

The placing of the midges takes three slices. Sometimes it is possible to eliminate or shorten this by anticipating. This is often possible when you solve one redge, together with the midges. Or when you have to solve only two midges. Sometimes you can see during a process, where the midges will be.

On the amount of turns: I had many discussions with Guus about this. A slice is officially counted as 2 turns. But using only UMR means very fast slices, faster than many of sequences of regular turns in the U-processes that Guus used. If you count a slice as one turn, I solved the cube in 40 to 45 turns. But sometimes in so-called "badlucksituations" it could be more than 50.

I have tried computing the first face. The corners can be done in maximum 8 turns. The edges+centre should be possible in 12 turns. I have no proof for this, but the total amount for the first face never exeeded 20 turns. In the booklet of Anneke Treep a table is included for solving the second pair of corners of the first face.

You can see the original booklet written by Anneke Treep here:

In the method described here we use the same notation so you should be familiar at least with the notation used in the booklet or you can look at Cube Concepts Page.

Go to Solving L Layer to start.