Cubing Standard #2: Basic 3x3x3 Moves

Status: DRAFT
Prescriptive or descriptive: descriptive (this standard attempts to describe existing conventions)

This standard describes the basic moves for a 3x3x3 cube.

The move names in this standard originate from David Singmaster, around 1981 [1].

2.1 Basic Moves

There are 18 basic moves:


Each move corresponds to one unique way that an outer layer can be moved, while restoring the puzzle shape to a cube. Note that these moves keep each center in its original location (but possibly reoriented).

Note: This standard does not include double-counter-clockwise moves, since those can be written as double-clockwise moves for basic applications. This also matches the World Cube Association, which does not recognize double-counter-clockwise moves (e.g. for the Fewest Moves event) [2]. Extensions of this standard may include such moves.

2.1.1 Clockwise Moves

There are 6 clockwise moves on a cube, corresponding to the 6 outer layers (standard 1.3.6): U, L, F, R, B, D.

Each face letter describes the following physical move:

Example: For a cube, U describes turning the U layer 90° clockwise. If we imagine the plane of the face as a clock face, this corresponds to moving the hour hand forward by 3 hours. Alternatively, this can be visualized as placing a screwdriver into the center of the layer, and turning it clockwise.

2.1.2 Counter-Clockwise Moves

A counter-clockwise move is the inverse of a clockwise move. This is written as the corresponding layer letter with a ' symbol after it The ' symbol is pronounced “prime”.

There are 6 counter-clockwise moves: U', L', F', R', B', D'.

Example: U' is pronounced “U prime”.

2.1.3 Double-Clockwise Moves

A double clockwise move is the same as doing two clockwise moves consecutively. This is written as the corresponding layer letter with the number 2 written after it.

There are 6 double-clockwise moves: U2, L2, F2, R2, B2, D2.

Note: In the 1980’s, it was common to write 2 as a superscript ². A lot of modern cubing software only understands the regular number suffix 2, so it is recommended to avoid the superscript version.


  1. Notes on Rubik’s Magic Cube, David Singmaster. Section 3. Notation.