What Is A Layer?

The key to solving many puzzles is simple – a different perspective.

For the Rubik Cube, this change comes when…

Instead of 54 squares Solving a cube is actually not about getting the squares in the right places
A fully dismantled rubik's cube You see the 12 edge pieces and 8 corner pieces on the frame of 6 centre pieces
And, instead of 6 faces, A rubik's cube is not really made up of 64 little faces
The key to solving the rubiks cube is to solve layers, not faces You see the cube’s three layers


Look at the three cubes below.

Explaining layers in the Rubik's cube

  • To the beginner’s eye, the cube at the left is just as solved as the cube at the front.
  • In reality, the cubes at the left and right are equally messed up!

Only on the cube at the front has real progress been made.

But why is that so?

Sure, the left cube has a green face. But most of the pieces making up that face are still in the wrong positions.

If the corner piece towards the right is correctly positioned, why is its yellow sticker next to the light blue centre piece? A corner piece in the wrong position on a rubik's cube
And the green and red edge piece surely doesn’t belong where you see it either! An edge piece in the wrong position on a rubik's cube
Towards the back, there’s two more pieces with a yellow (orange?) stickers, but on the face with the dark blue centre An edge and a corner piece in the wrong position on a rubik's cube
Ok, the corner piece at the front is correctly placed. It’s three stickers match the colours of the centre pieces they are on. Beginner’s luck, maybe? A corner piece in the correct position on a rubik's cube

By contrast, on the cube at the front, all the pieces on the top layer, not just the stickers on the top face, are in their correct places.

This, then —> the top layer of a rubik's cube, all solved <— is the key!

If you can solve one layer, then another, then another, you have solved the entire cube.