3 weeks ago
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to set a new 3x3 average WR, and as per previous occasions, I've put together a bit of a write up about the solves and the competition. Looks like this is turning into a bit of a tradition now, may it continue for a little while longer!
For some context (obvious disclaimer, I'm sponsored by Gan), I was yet to use the Gan XS in competition until yesterday. I've had them for almost a couple of months now and have really enjoyed using the cubes at home in practice, but was always concerned that they would become too loose or uncontrollable in official competition, particularly when nerves are at play. These days, I find that 3x3 hardware is so precise and fine-tuned that switching main cubes is actually quite a long process, it takes weeks for me to get used to a slight change in feeling of a new cube. Initially I felt the same that I did about the 356 X - that it was slightly too fast and light, however the more I used it, the more comfortable and confident I became with the cube, to the point where I was happy to go ahead and use it at yesterday's competition. The game plan was to see how things went in the first round with the cube and then make any adjustments if necessary. If I completely butchered my solves then I would switch back to my X. Given my recent competition averages, I didn't think there was much downside at all. I started out the first round with a 5, 5+2, and a 6.2, which basically filled me with confidence in the hardware for the rest of the day, it was a pretty large shift in mindset - new hardware sometimes does this. I had almost the exact same experience almost a year ago, when I switched from the SM to the X at the Rijswijk Open, where I posted a 5.91 average in the finals. Hoping that this new cube confidence boost continues into upcoming competitions.
Big thanks again to Stewy on Reddit for these reconstructions!
(And for the record, the push after the average was quite lighthearted and with a guy with whom I have good rapport, I don't just push random little kids lol)
Scramble 1: R2 F' U2 L D' L' D' R D2 U2 F2 L' D2 L' D' B' U'
This scramble was pretty boring, I missed the slightly easier 4 move blue cross - the yellow cross I did was fine but I couldn't really see into much of the F2L - the only pair I saw was orange/green, which were in slightly annoying places. Of course, the front two pairs were set up pretty nicely after the cross but that wasn't what I'd planned in inspection.
Cross: R2' F D F D2
This first pair solution was completely intentional - I didn't really want to risk doing something like U' F' L U L' F in the first solve of a final, and so kept things 2 gen with a rotation, as well as solved the pair into the back as I really had no idea where the other F2L pieces would end up after the cross. Not very efficient, but safe, and would give me a good look at all of the empty F2L slots to hopefully see the remainder of the F2L pieces.
1st pair: R U' R' y R U' R' U R' U' R
Pretty standard second pair, which leaves the front two slots open.
2nd pair: y' U' L' U L R' U R
Third and fourth pairs can be solved pretty nicely without a rotation if we insert the FL pair using F U F'
3rd pair: R U' R' F U F'
4th pair: U' R U R'
Really should have done OLLCP here, which would have given me an anticlockwise U permutation (F R' F R2 U' R' U' R U R' F2), but with the U2 AUF before execution, I didn't take the time to recognise the CP of the two oriented corners.
OLL: U' U' F U R U2 R' U' R U2 R' U' F'
PLL: U R U R' F' R U2' R' U2' R' F R U R U2' R' U
7.16 seconds, 64 moves (ETM), 8.94 ETPS
Scramble 2: D' L D' U2 R2 U' B L U2 B2 R U R2 F2 D' U2 B'
Blue cross solution for this solve is intended to keep the yellow/red and yellow/orange F2L pairs in the top layer. It's fairly straightforward to execute the first pair and track the second pair whilst doing so - the main thing I was focusing on was to avoid any pauses between pair 2 and the yet-to-be-discovered third pair.
Inspection: x y2
Cross: U' R2 D R' D2
1st pair: R U' U' R' U L U L'
2nd pair: U' R' U2 R d' R U R'
After this, I can see that the red-white pair is connected and ready to insert. This can either be done with U2 L U' L' or U' L U2 L'. The latter does not require a regrip, so that's what I did here.
3rd pair: U' L U2 L'
I have no idea why I did the last pair with two rotations like I did, I think it was a combination of trying to avoid the LU solution, and also my instinct was at that point, doing the standard U' L' U' L U L' U' L would give an L OLL case, which are generally annoying to recognise and the algorithms aren't great.
4th pair: y' U R U' R' y' R' U' R
This is a very familiar last layer solution (think 4.73), unfortunately the U perm was 1.2 seconds, would have been super cool to have three sub 5s in a single average, but that will have to wait!
OLL: F R U' R' U' R U R' F'
PLL: R U' R U R U R U' R' U' R2 U'
5.04 seconds, 55 moves (ETM), 10.91 ETPS
As you can probably see in the video, I struggled for quite a while to figure out exactly what to do with this rather easy scramble - there was a lot that could be used, but luckily I ended up seeing and planning a really nice red X-cross whilst preserving another F2L pair. If I didn't see that at the last minute, I probably would have panicked and the solve likely would have ended up as an 8 or something.
Inspection: z' x'
The X-cross is a fairly straightforward keyhole solution - inserting the yellow/green edge and also preserving the green/white pair. There's a lot that can be done with this scramble, including a 5 move X-cross on white which I didn't even see.
X-Cross: L' U' r' l U' l' R' U' R D
At this point, because I'd planned the white/green pair in inspection, my instant reaction is to then insert it - however after solving the X-cross, the blue/yellow pair also appears right in front of me, so I undo my U' move and insert it with a sledgehammer to preserve the third pair.
2nd pair: y' U' U L F' L' F
Third pair is what we saw before.
3rd pair: U' R' U R
This is a nice little OLS case, essentially just two sledgehammers with a U' in between - it's very easy to recognise - there are three bars of LL stickers around the U layer.
OLS: U R' F R F' U' R' F R F'
U perm was a bit nicer after the practice on the previous solve.
PLL: R U' R U R U R U' R' U' R2
So this was slightly lower TPS, lower movecount than the other solves due to the processing required for the 2nd and 3rd F2L pairs, as well as recognition of the OLS case.
4.67 seconds, 42 moves (ETM), 8.99 ETPS
Scramble 4: L B2 U2 B' R' D2 R' B L B F' U2 L D R2 B R
Not many obvious cross choices here - the best I could come up with was to solve the orange whilst setting up a 3 move case to be inserted into the BL slot.
Inspection: x z'
Cross: U' R' F D2 R' U R' D'
1st pair: L U L'
The nice thing about this F2L was that it was rotationless and the lookahead was pretty easy, especially after inserting the second pair into the BL slot.
2nd pair: U' R U' R' U' R' U' R
Intentionally chose the FL pair rather than the FR pair at this point, as doing U' R U R' U2 R U R' creates a terrible last slot case.
3rd pair: U' R U' R' U L' U' L
4th pair: U R U R' U' R U R'
LL was pretty straightforward, I'm not a huge fan of this OLL case and may look to just start doing FURURF into ZBLL in the future, it could be slightly faster on average. I generally try and preserve any blocks, and here I know that doing the alg below will push that blue corner/edge block to the front, which makes PLL recognition a tad easier.
OLL: U' l' U' L U' L' U L U' L' U U l
PLL was meh, small lockups but nothing too disastrous.
PLL: R2 U R' U R' U' R U' R2 (D U') R' U R D'
6.55 seconds, 63 moves (ETM), 9.62 ETPS
At this point, I wasn't particularly nervous - I thought I'd slightly ruined my chances of WR on the 4th solve, but was still pretty excited about a potential sub 6 average - so my mindset was a bit more positive, rather than trying to protect against a WR fail. This is the point where an epic scramble comes along, always useful in this sort of situation :p
Cross and first 2 pairs are incredibly easy - only 11 moves.
Cross: U' R U2 R (U' D)
1st and 2nd pair: R' U R2 U' R'
At this point, we actually have 3/4 of a red F2L solved, which is outrageous! (And actually, doing x' z U2 R U2' R' U R U R' gives Lucas Etter OLL into no AUF PLL skip lol)
However, I'd planned the first 3 pairs in inspection, and given how easy the start was, my mindset was to just keep going as quickly and mindlessly as possible - I knew that I'd be able to find the last F2L pair pretty easily, and that with a standard finish to the solve, it should be a 5 without any mistakes, and faster with easy cases. If I hadn't planned the third pair, there's a small chance I may have actually switched to red.
3rd pair: y' R U' R' U' R U R' U2 R U' R'
At this point, it would have been possible to orient the LL edges by doing something like U' L F' L' F L' U L, but I know my limitations, and those moves aren't really something I'm willing or able to execute in a competition setting, so I rotated and finished the F2L with RUF - getting a nice VLS case after connecting the pair.
4th pair setup: y' U R' F R F'
VLS: U R U' (R' R) U' R' F R U R' U' F'
Not sure how I executed the A perm (and the double axis regrip) this quickly, but I'm glad I did!
PLL: y' x' R U' R D2 R' U R D2 R2'
4.99 seconds, 53 moves (ETM), 10.62 ETPS
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