Beginner’s Guide: How To Solve The 2×2 Rubik’s Cube

The 2×2 Rubik’s Cube is a smaller cousin of the 3×3 Rubik’s Cube. Larry D. Nichols conceived the 2×2 twist cube puzzle and received a patent in 1972, two years before Dr. Rubik’s invention in 1974. Unlike the 3×3, it only features two layers.

Over the years, the 2×2 has inspired designers to create different versions of mini puzzles like the Puppet Cube V2, Puppet Cube V1, the OS Cube, and the Mini Pillowed 2×2, which features a keychain.
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If you can solve a 3×3, you already know how to solve a 2×2 Rubik’s cube, but with a few different cases since it’s a regular 3×3 without the centerpieces and edges.

This guide investigates the efficient solving of a 2×2 Rubik’s cube step by step.

What You Need To Know

Before learning how to solve a 2×2 Rubik’s cube for beginners, you must know the Rubik’s cube notations, which are letters describing the cube’s rotations. Six letters convey the turning of the Rubik’s cube, each of its six faces.

These include:

  • F (Front): the face facing you
  • B (Back): the back face
  • R (Right): the right face
  • L (Left): the left face
  • U (Up): the upper face
  • D (Down): the face opposite the upper face

The letter alone means a 90-degree clockwise rotation; the letter followed by an apostrophe mark (F’) means a counterclockwise 90-degree rotation; and the letter followed by 2 means two single turns or a double turn (180 degrees).

Algorithms tell you the turns you need to make on the cube in a particular order. For example, F R’ U2 means turn the front face clockwise, then the right face counterclockwise, and do a 180-degree turn of the up face.

Importance Of Learning How To Solve It

Cube solving and mental acuity, engaging with the 2×2 Rubik’s Cube proves to be an intriguing and accessible pursuit for enthusiasts of all ages.

Its compact size might mislead some into perceiving it as a simplified variant of its larger counterpart, the classic 3×3 cube.

However, immersing oneself in the world of 2×2 cube solving reveals a distinctive set of challenges that necessitate a different approach, fostering essential cognitive skills.

Mastering the art of solving this diminutive puzzle not only brings the satisfaction of accomplishment but also serves as a crucial stepping stone toward excelling in more intricate variations.

One of the paramount advantages of delving into 2×2 cube solving lies in the enhancement of spatial reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

The cube’s reduced complexity compels solvers to craft efficient strategies, refining their analytical skills and logical thinking.

As individuals navigate through algorithms and patterns to unravel the code of this seemingly straightforward puzzle, they cultivate a heightened sense of spatial awareness applicable to various real-life scenarios.

Moreover, the 2×2 cube acts as a gateway for beginners, offering insight into the fundamental principles of the Rubik’s Cube, thereby establishing a robust foundation for those aiming to progress to more complex configurations, including speedsolving and speedcubing techniques and the intricacies of the white side and last layer corners.


Step One: First Layer

Start by selecting a color to start with. This guide will begin with white since it’s the easiest color to spot while solving the cube fast. Find a face with one white piece from the two layers and solve the white face as the bottom layer. You can try and solve this without algorithms by only using intuition.

Your goal is to place the white pieces next to each other in the correct position to complete the first layer. Choose a face with white as the bottom and find the white corner at the top layer. If there are no white corners at the top layer, use R U R’ or R U R’ to put a white corner at the top layer.

Use U, U’, or U2 to shift three white pieces to the bottom layer to create a bottom face with three white pieces. The next step is to perform R U R’, U R U R’, and U R2 U’ R2 algorithms to rotate all the white pieces from different layers, depending on your case, until the 2×2 Rubik’s Cube has four white pieces on the bottom face.

Use R U R’ to move a white piece from the right face’s top row to the bottom, U R U’ R to move a white piece from the top row of the front face to the bottom, and U R2 U’ R2 to move a white piece from the top face to the bottom face.

2x2 algorithms

Step Two: Yellows On Top

After solving the bottom layer, there can only be seven possible patterns or combinations of the yellow stickers, depending on the position of the yellow corner pieces. Place the 2×2 cube in front of you with the solved white face facing down and hidden. Don’t worry too much about the orientation, note each of the positions of the yellow pieces on the top.

While maintaining the white face at the bottom, count the number of yellow stickers on the top layer, match your cube to one of the images below, and use the following algorithm.

This step aims to orient the last layer, or the yellows, on top. Orientation means flipping the pieces, and the permutation does not matter, meaning you don’t have to solve them correctly with each other.

A faster solution is enabled by knowing most or all of the algorithms. However, it’s also possible to complete this step using the first algorithm only, known as the ‘Little Fish’ algorithm (R U R’ U R U2 R’).

It solves the pattern known as the Sune or Little Fish and would involve executing the algorithm from different angles until you reach a suitable case and executing it one more time to solve the step. The same pattern performed backward solves the anti-Sune or Big Fish pattern.

Most of these algorithms are the same algorithms used in the Rubik’s Cube speed-solving method. Since you don’t have to preserve any edges on the 2×2, you can use shorter algorithms, provided they rotate the corners as needed.

Yellow Side Algorithms
R U R’ U R U2 R’ R U2 R’ U’ R U’ R’ R U R’ U R U’ R’ U R U2 R F R U R’ U’ F’
R U2 R2 U’ R2 U’ R2 U2 R L’ U’ L U R U’ R’ F L’ U’ L’ U R U’ L U

Step Three: Corners

In the third and final step, you must permute the corners you oriented in the previous step. Permuting refers to cycling certain pieces while maintaining the same orientation.

Here you will shuffle the corners to fix them into their correct position by matching the colors to create matching squares on each face – then you will have the right position.

Although there are many ways to solve the last layer, you can only use one algorithm called the “Bar” (R’ U R’ D2 R U’ R’ D2 R2). You may need to perform it one or two times, depending on the case, and it’s the same algorithm used in step 5 of the 3×3 beginner’s method solution.

Start by finding pairs of corners with adjacent matching colors and bringing them together with pieces of the same color from the first layer. For example, you can start with two orange corner pieces and move to two blue corner pieces, turn the cube upside down, and perform R’ U R’ D2 R U’ R’ D2 R2 until you solve the cube.

If you don’t have any matching adjacent colors, don’t worry! Simply perform the algorithm twice with any face as the back face, except white or yellow.

For example, perform the algorithm if a red corner piece is next to an orange corner piece and repeat it. It will move the corner pieces of the same color to similar positions.

Finally, turn the cube upside down and perform the R’ U R’ D2 R U’ R’ D2 R2 algorithm, and voila, you have solved the 2×2 Rubik’s cube using the beginner method.

R’ U R’ D2 R U’ R’ D2 R2

Final Thoughts

Learning how to solve a mini cube, pocket cube, or 2×2 Rubik’s cube step by step is straightforward for a kid or adult.

Ensure you understand the notations used to describe the cube’s side rotations (you can watch a video tutorial on YouTube for info), then start with the first layer, orient the cube in a way with yellows on top, and finally permutate the correctly oriented corners.

You may find that you end up with the cube in the wrong position—this is the first step to learning!

Keep practicing until you can solve the cube without instructions to improve your solving speed, and don’t forget to join Puzzlcrate for a monthly box of twisty puzzle fun. Good luck!


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