The WCA Guidelines supplement the WCA Regulations. Please see the Regulations for more information about the WCA.
Guidelines are numbered in correspondence with related regulations. Note that multiple Guidelines may correspond to the same Regulation, and some Guidelines correspond to Regulations that do not exist anymore.
To be more informative, each Guideline is classified using one of the following labels. Note that this should be treated as metadata, not as a description of importance.
- ADDITION Additional information to supplement the Regulations.
- CLARIFICATION Information to address any possible questions about the interpretation of the Regulations.
- EXPLANATION Information that clarifies the intent of Regulations.
- RECOMMENDATION Something that is not strictly mandatory, but that should be done if possible.
- REMINDER Information that may be addressed by other Regulations/Guideline, but whose relevance is worth reiterating.
- EXAMPLE An example of how to apply a Regulation.
- Article 1: Officials
- Article 2: Competitors
- Article 3: Puzzles
- Article 4: Scrambling
- Article 5: Puzzle Defects
- Article 7: Environment
- Article 9: Events
- Article 10: Solved State
- Article 11: Incidents
- Article 12: Notation
- Article A: Speed Solving
- Article B: Blindfolded Solving
- Article C: One-Handed Solving
- Article E: Fewest Moves Solving
- Article H: Multi-Blind Solving
Article 1: Officials
- 1c+) If there are multiple WCA Delegates designated for the competition, "the WCA Delegate" refers to any of them. "The WCA Delegate" also refers to anyone appointed by a designated WCA Delegate for a relevant responsibility of the WCA Delegate for the competition.
- 1c++) WCA Delegates may attend the competition without being designated to serve in the WCA Delegate role for the competition. "The WCA Delegate" does not refer to them unless they have been appointed with a relevant responsibility by a designated WCA Delegate for the competition (see Guideline 1c+).
- 1h+) Competitors in the same group should use the same scramble sequences. Different groups should use different scramble sequences.
- 1h++) All attempts in the final round of an event, as well as all 3x3x3 Fewest Moves attempts, should have the same scramble sequences for all competitors (i.e. only 1 group).
- 1h1+) Scramblers/judges should only scramble for/judge other competitors in the same group only if it is important for competition logistics.
- 1h1++) For 3x3x3 Fewest Moves, judges may judge competitors in their own group before they have finished their attempt (i.e. while they are competing).
Article 2: Competitors
- 2c+) First-time competitors should register using their legal name. They may register using a reasonable nickname, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 2c2+) A WCA profile is the collection of data related to a competitor, and includes their personal information (name, nationality, gender, and date of birth) as well as all their results in official WCA competitions.
- 2d+) Date of birth and contact information should be especially secured.
- 2d++) If a third party (e.g. journalist) asks the organization team to be put in contact with any competitor(s), the competitor(s) should first be asked for consent.
- 2e+) If a competitor holds multiple citizenships, they may choose which country to represent at their first competition.
- 2e++) The WCA Delegate should also verify the name and date of birth by means of documents (e.g. a passport) of every new competitor at their first competition.
- 2e3+) Stateless competitors have no national records and rankings, nor continental records and rankings.
- 2i+) Although the competitor may pick up a stopwatch to view the current time (when they are not blindfolded), they must not start, stop, pause, or otherwise interact with the timekeeping of the stopwatch.
- 2i++) The organization team may provide the competitor an unofficial stopwatch for viewing the elapsed time (started together with the main stopwatch), in which case the competitor is not permitted to touch the official stopwatch.
- 2i+++) Bluetooth puzzles are considered electronic devices.
- 2i1b+) This includes relevant devices which are switched off or disconnected.
- 2i1c+) Electronic hand warmers may be used before or after an attempt only. Non-electronic hand warmers may be used at any time during an attempt.
- 2i2a+) A monitor of a camera can be visible to the competitor as long as it does not show the live feed of the camera.
- 2j2+) For example, if a competitor is disqualified from an event for failing to show up for the final round, their results from earlier rounds remain valid.
- 2k6+) WCA Delegates should only use their discretion to prevent competitors from being a severe detriment to the competition (e.g. wasting time and/or competition resources). Competitors should not be disqualified for a "poor" result when they are competing to the best of their abilities.
- 2s+) Special accommodations must be noted in the Delegate Report.
Article 3: Puzzles
- 3a+) Competitors may use puzzles of any reasonable size, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 3a++) By default, a competitor should use the same puzzle for consecutive attempts in a speed solving round. A competitor may switch puzzles between attempts, at the discretion of the judge or WCA Delegate.
- 3a+++) Competitors may borrow puzzles from other competitors privately, to use in competition.
- 3a1+) Competitors may be disqualified if they do not have a puzzle ready to submit soon after they are called (e.g. if they planned to use a puzzle that another competitor is currently using, and therefore cannot submit a puzzle at the moment).
- 3d1b+) Patterns do not need to be present on every face, but only on faces where a distinct color cannot be found. Pieces must not have any features (e.g. textures, pattern irregularities) that significantly distinguish them from similar pieces.
- 3h+) Puzzles may be refined internally by sanding, lubrication, or modifications which improve stability (e.g. magnets).
- 3h++) Examples of enhancements include: new moves are possible, normal moves are impossible, more pieces or faces are visible, colors on the backside of the puzzle are visible, moves are done automatically, or the puzzles have more/different solved states.
- 3h2++) "Stickerless" puzzles that significantly differ from most mass-produced "stickerless" puzzles are only permitted at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 3j+) In the past, engraved/embossed parts have been permitted. This is no longer permitted.
- 3j++) On Clock, pins may be distinguishable from any other pin of the same side.
- 3j2+) On Clock, the nine inner clock faces on one side are considered similar pieces.
- 3k2+) The WCA Delegate should not apply a listed exception if they believe the competitor tried to use a non-permitted puzzle on purpose.
- 3k2b+) If a non-permitted puzzle is found during the course of a 3x3x3 Multi-Blind attempt, the puzzle must not be exchanged or removed from the attempt and must be counted as unsolved if the entire attempt is not disqualified.
- 3k2b++) Suppose the competitor attempts 10 puzzles and solves 8 successfully. If it is found that two solved puzzles and one unsolved puzzle are not permitted, the competitor is considered to have a result with 6 solved puzzles out of 10 (rather than DNF), at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 3l+) Logos may feature any reasonable design that does not give a conspicuous advantage (e.g. encoding information that could be used to cheat), and leave the colored part clearly recognizable. Unconventional logos are only permitted at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 3l++) In the past, puzzles with logos have been permitted for blindfolded events. Such puzzles are no longer permitted.
- 3l1+) On NxNxN puzzles, a center piece is any piece with a single colored part. For example, the 5x5x5 Cube has 9 center pieces on each face.
Article 4: Scrambling
- 4b1+) The WCA Delegate must never re-generate any scramble sequences to replace other ones for the purpose of filtering. For example, it is not permitted to glance at the scramble sequences for a competition and generate the entire set again in order to generate "fairer" scramble sequences.
- 4b2+) In general, all official scramble sequences should be kept secret during the competition and published together after the end of the competition. In some cases (e.g. world records), the organization team may wish to release specific scramble sequences sooner after the end of a group.
- 4b2++) Competition organizers should ensure that scramblers, scramble sequences, and partially/fully scrambled puzzles are visually isolated from competitors (see Regulation A2c). For example, the scramblers may be located behind a wall, or a sufficiently high divider (e.g. a cardboard divider placed around the sides of a table where the scramblers are seated) may be used so that competitors are not able to see puzzles as the scramblers apply scramble sequences.
- 4b4+) All attempts that have been started within the time frame follow the standard solving procedure (i.e. they are not stopped when the time frame of the relevant scramble sequence expires).
- 4d+) Some puzzles use standard color schemes, except that white is replaced with black. In this case, black is the darkest color and must not be treated as white.
- 4d++) It is permitted for the puzzle to change its orientation when it is moved from the scrambler to the solving station, as long as no one is attempting to influence the randomness of the orientation (see Regulation A2e1).
- 4f+) The WCA Delegate should generate sufficient scramble sequences for the entire competition ahead of time, including spare scramble sequences for extra attempts.
- 4f++) If the WCA Delegate generates any additional scramble sequences during the competition, the scramble sequences must be saved.
Article 5: Puzzle Defects
- 5b+) The competitor is not permitted to cause a puzzle defect intentionally, unless correcting a previous puzzle defect (see Regulation 5b3b and Regulation 5b3c). Examples of intentionally causing puzzle defects: removing an attached center cap, rotating a corner piece, peeling a sticker.
- 5b5+) Examples of parts physically detached, resulting in a solved state: one 3x3x3 center cap, one big cube center piece, an inner piece of a big cube.
- 5b5++) Examples of parts physically detached, resulting in a "DNF": two 3x3x3 center caps, two big cube center pieces, a 3x3x3 edge piece, a 4x4x4 edge piece ("wing"), any combination of two pieces that both have colored parts.
- 5b5+++) Example of parts physically attached but not fully placed, resulting in a solved state: a 5x5x5 center piece twisted in its spot.
- 5b5++++) Example of parts physically attached but not fully placed, resulting in a "DNF": a 3x3x3 edge piece slightly popped out.
- 5c+) REMINDER If a competitor has a puzzle defect, this does not grant them the right to an extra attempt.
Article 7: Environment
- 7f1a+) A full-size mat should have minimum dimensions of 30cm (left to right) by 25cm (front to back).
- 7h2+) Competitors in a Competitor Waiting Area who are waiting between attempts should not be able to see the puzzles of the competitors on stage.
Article 9: Events
- 9b+) For an event with multiple rounds, every round after the first round (especially the final round) should be "Average of 5" or "Mean of 3" if one of these is a valid format.
- 9b++) Events other than those specified in Regulation 9b may be held during a competition, but will be considered unofficial and therefore will not be included in the official results of the competition.
- 9b3b+) The "Mean of 3" statistic does not affect the competitor's ranking in a "Best of 3" round (which is based on the best result). The WCA recognizes it outside of the competition format.
- 9f1+) If the timer displays 12.678 for an attempt, the original recorded time is 12.67 (drop any digit after a hundredth of a second). A judge may write the full-precision time on the score sheet (and keep the precision in the calculation of penalties), as long as the score taker truncates it for the official results.
- 9f4+) The result of an attempt is DNF only if the competitor began the attempt by indicating that they are ready (see Regulation A3b2) but the attempt was disqualified.
- 9f5+) The result of an attempt is DNS if the competitor was eligible for the attempt and did not start it (see Regulation A3b2). If the competitor did not qualify for an attempt (e.g. in a cutoff round), they have no result for the attempt.
- 9p2+) Result refers to the single or average that determines the ranking of the corresponding round.
- 9q+) RECOMMENDATION Events and rounds should have at least 2 competitors.
- 9t+) Because of 9t1 and 9t2, rounds may look like they do not comply with 9p1, 9m1, 9m2 or 9m3. However, making changes to comply to these rules would affect innocent competitors, which is why the results must stay the same.
- 9t++) If the change of results happens during the competition, this rule must also be applied. In that case, 9t1, 9t2 and 9t3 should also be followed, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- 9t3+) Suppose competitor A gets a 10.00 average and competitor B gets a 10.05 average in the first round of an event, such that competitor A advances to the final round but not B. If a score-taking mistake is discovered, and competitor B actually got a 9.95 average (and should have proceeded instead of A), competitor A keeps their result for the final round.
Article 10: Solved State
- 10e1+) For Square-1, because of the shape-shifting property of the puzzle, the metric for misalignments defined in Regulation 10f4 is different from the metric for the notation, used by the scramble program and defined in Regulation 12c4.
- 10f+) The misalignment limits are selected so that they provide a natural cutoff between one state of a puzzle (without penalty) and a state one move away.
- 10f4+) When counting the moves in case of a misalignment at the end of a solve, x and y are considered separately. Example: (5, 1) is considered one misalignment, (5, 5) is considered two misalignments.
- 10h1+) The solved state of Clock is not affected by loose or popped pin caps.
Article 11: Incidents
- 11e+) Since an appeal is not guaranteed to be successful, the competitor may choose to keep the timer running while appealing it, and resume the attempt when appropriate.
- 11e++) The WCA Delegate should record the reason(s) for the extra attempt (e.g. on the back of the score sheet).
- 11e1+) The extra attempt must be scrambled using an unmodified scramble sequence generated by an official scramble program (see Regulation 4f, Guideline 4f+).
- 11e2+) If an extra attempt itself leads to an additional extra attempt, the competitor should keep doing extra attempts until there is a valid extra attempt to replace the original regularly numbered attempt.
- 11e2++) Suppose a competitor has 5 regularly numbered attempts, and #2 leads to extra attempts. The competitor should do extra attempts until there is a valid extra attempt to replace #2. Suppose later another attempt leads to extra attempts, the competitor should proceed in a similar way as for #2.
Article 12: Notation
- 12a2+) For example, both Rw and 2Rw are valid notation for the same physical move for the 3x3x3 Cube. 1Rw is not valid notation for any NxNxN Cube, and 3Rw is not valid notation for the 2x2x2 Cube or the 3x3x3 Cube (but 3Rw is valid notation for the 4x4x4 Cube and larger NxNxN Cubes).
Article A: Speed Solving
- A1a2+) In case of a cumulative time limit, the judge records the original recorded time for a DNF on the score sheet in parentheses, e.g. "DNF (1:02.27)".
- A1a2++) If a round has a cumulative time limit of 30 minutes and the competitor's results of the first two attempts are 6:00 and DNF (10:00), then the time limit for the third attempt is 30:00 - 6:00 - 10:00 = 14:00. For this particular example, note that only the final result for an attempt counts. Therefore, a third attempt with an original recorded time of 13:59 without penalties meets the time limit because the final result is 13:59 (see Regulation 9f2), while a third attempt with a result of 13:59 + 2 = 14:01 does not meet the time limit.
- A1a2+++) If the result from an attempt is unavailable (e.g. the timer was reset), the judge should consult the WCA Delegate and make an estimate of the elapsed time for the attempt. This estimate counts towards the time limit, but must not be used as the basis of an official result for the individual attempt.
- A1a3+) The organization team and the WCA Delegate must be mindful that time limits influence the strategies of the competitors (e.g. rushing the first two attempts in hopes of meeting a cutoff in a cutoff round), and that changing time limits after the start of the round can disadvantage some competitors unfairly.
- A1a4+) If a competitor has accidentally been permitted to exceed the time limit, the time limit must be enforced retroactively, and the judge, competitor, and WCA Delegate should be informed (see Regulation 1g2). Judges must always be aware of the time limit for a current attempt (which might depend on previous attempts, in the case of a cumulative time limit).
- A2c1+) In the past, score sheets have been used to cover puzzles while leaving some sides exposed. This is no longer permitted.
- A2d1+) If the scramble signature is found to be missing before an attempt, the puzzle should immediately be returned to a scrambler for verification and a corresponding signature.
- A2d1++) An attempt must not be disqualified solely due to a missing scramble signature. If a scramble signature is missing after the beginning of an attempt, the judge must allow the attempt to continue (if it is still in progress) and the WCA Delegate should allow the result to be kept. However, the WCA Delegate may replace the attempt with an extra attempt if they have a reason (other than the missing signature) to suspect that the scramble was incorrect.
- A2d1+++) Although the WCA Delegate may allow several individual attempts with missing scramble signatures to count, they should ensure that missing scramble signatures do not become common.
- A3c3+) The competitor may reset the timer before/during the inspection phase if the judge accidentally neglected to do so. However, it is the responsibility of the judge to make sure the timer has been reset (see Regulation A3b). If the competitor accidentally tries to start the solve with a timer that the judge did not reset (i.e. the competitor performs inspection, places hands on the timer for a reasonable length of time, assumes that the timer will start normally, and starts to operate the puzzle), the attempt should be replaced by an extra attempt, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- A3c3++) The competitor cannot "test" or "restart" the timer during inspection, since inspection ends once the competitor starts the solve (see Regulation A4d). If the competitor stops the timer after they have started it for the first time, this is considered stopping the solve (see Regulation A6), even if they do so within 15 seconds of starting inspection.
- A3c4+) If the use of a thin object inside the puzzle has been enforced, the judge must not remove the object on behalf of the competitor.
- A3c4++) The competitor may remove the object during the solve, if they did not do it during the inspection (e.g. they forgot).
- A5b+) While inspecting or solving the puzzle, the competitor may touch the puzzle with any part of their body. Exception: 3x3x3 One-Handed (see Regulation C1b).
- A5b++) If a part of the competitor's puzzle pops out (see Regulation 5a), the competitor must not ask for assistance retrieving or locating the part and the judge should attempt to prevent others from assisting. If someone picks up a popped part for the competitor, the judge or competitor may ask them to place it on the solving station and not to assist any further.
- A6b+) The arbitrary value of 0.06 seconds was chosen to accommodate concerns about Stackmat timer malfunctions.
- A6e+) If the puzzle falls into the lap of the competitor after stopping the timer, this is considered touching the puzzle.
- A7c+) If a result signed by a competitor is found to be incomplete or unreadable, it should be interpreted the worst reasonable way (e.g. "1:05" will be considered 1:05.99, "25.X3" will be considered 25.73 if X could be either a 1 or a 7). Given that the Stackmat timer displays a time of X:0Y.ss as X:Y.ss, a missing tens digit should be considered more likely than a missing ones digit (e.g. "1:2.27" will be considered 1:02.27). The judge who signed an ambiguous result may be requested to clarify it, at the discretion of the score taker.
- A7g+) Examples of incidents that could grant a new competitor an extra attempt: not waiting for the green light, improperly starting or stopping the timer, going over inspection time due to misunderstanding how to start a solve, or other procedural time penalties.
- A7g++) Individual penalties cannot be waived for new competitors. A full extra attempt must be granted.
- A7g+++) The WCA Delegate should use stronger discretion when granting more than one extra attempt to the same new competitor. If more than one extra attempt is granted, it should be for a different incident.
Article B: Blindfolded Solving
- B1+) The competitor must use a puzzle without textures, markings, or other features that distinguish similar pieces (see Regulation 3k). This should be given special attention for Blindfolded Solving.
- B1b+) Blindfolds should be checked by the WCA Delegate before use in the competition.
- B2d+) By default, the competitor starts the solve the first time that they start the timer after the judge has indicated that they are ready (see Regulation B2a). If they want to check that the timer is in working order, they must (ask and) receive confirmation from the judge each time before starting/resetting the timer during this phase. Penalty for starting and resetting a timer without confirmation from the judge: disqualification of the attempt (DNF).
Article C: One-Handed Solving
- C1b+) The competitor may use both hands during inspection.
- C1b++) The competitor is not required to use the same solving hand for different attempts of the same round.
Article E: Fewest Moves Solving
- E2a1+) If a judge finds a submitted solution that does not appear to have information to identify the attempt, they should check both sides of the paper.
- E2b+) A competitor may choose to stop an attempt early by handing in a solution before the time limit.
- E2b++) A competitor may join a 3x3x3 Fewest Moves attempt that is already in progress, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate. In this case, their time limit is the time remaining (i.e. they must finish when other competitors reach their 60 minute time limit). Exception: a competitor must not be permitted to join a 3x3x3 Fewest Moves attempt if any competitor has finished their attempt already (see Guideline E2b+), or if there is any other risk that information about the scramble may have become known to the competitor who wishes to join.
- E2c+) Although the judge may provide a standard sheet for competitors to submit solutions, a competitor may submit a solution on a different piece of paper. (Note that the piece of paper must come from the judge, according to Regulation E3a.)
- E2c1+) A competition registrant ID is an identifier (e.g. a number) assigned to a competitor for the competition. Some competitions use this to keep track of score sheets and enter results.
- E2c1++) If the competitor forgot to write information to identify the attempt on their intended solution paper, they are permitted to add it in front of a judge after the time limit. In this case, the competitor must ask the judge while submitting their solution and then immediately write information to identify the attempt (without making other changes) under direct supervision of the judge. Once a competitor has finished submitting their solution (e.g. placing it in the judge's hands and allowing the judge to move on to the next competitor, placing it on the judge's table and walking away), they are not permitted to add any information. If the competitor writes anything after the time limit but before asking the judge, the attempt remains disqualified (DNF).
- E2c1+++) The competitor is not required to write the competition name, round, and/or attempt number on their submitted paper, but may wish to do so in order to help the organization team keep track of submitted solutions.
- E2c1++++) If a judge finds a submitted solution without information to identify the attempt (e.g. while grading the attempt), they should find out the competitor who wrote the solution in order to assign them a DNF (rather than DNS). Note that the competitor must not be allowed to write information to identify the attempt at this point, so they must receive a DNF result.
- E2c2+) Examples that are not considered a single unambiguous move sequence: multiple solution sequences without exactly one clearly indicated solution, a solution with ambiguous symbols (e.g. a letter that looks similar to "B" and "R" but is not clearly one or the other), a solution with stars or arrows indicating moves to be performed out of written order (e.g. "insertions" that are not written in-line with the rest of the move sequence, "pre-moves" that are not incorporated into the move sequence using valid notation), a move sequence that is not written out roughly as a series of lines in reading order, any arrangement of symbols that cannot be interpreted as an unambiguous move sequence. Exceptions to the examples above: small typographic corrections (e.g. blacking out moves and writing moves above that are clearly meant to replace them, moves written in subscript or superscript to fit between other moves).
- E2c2++) In the past, bracket notations (e.g. [r] or [u2]) were permitted for Fewest Moves. Only rotations based on x, y, or z are permitted now (see Regulation 12a4a).
- E2c3+) If a move is not clearly blacked out/scribbled out and it is not clear whether the move is part of the solution, the judge should consider it an ambiguous move sequence (see Regulation E2c2 and Guideline E2c2+).
- E2c4+) Examples of symbols or combinations of symbols that are not permitted in solutions for 3x3x3 Fewest Moves: M, e, r, Y (uppercase), T, U1, Ui, U3, U-, R++, R2', R'2, L'w, 1R, 2U, 2f, 2-3r, 1Rw, 3Rw, 2-3Rw, rw, Rr, *, →, ⮐, /, ., ?, [r], [r u], [F], <f>, [f]', [f]2, [x], (x), (L), 2(Rw), (U)2, (U)', (R U)', (R U R'), [R, U], [R: U].
- E2e+) Competitors must not derive solutions from any part of the scramble sequence, and solutions should not share significant parts with the inverse scramble sequence.
- E2e++) Example of solutions that should result in a disqualification of the attempt (DNF): solutions beginning with the same 4 or more moves as the inverse scramble sequence.
- E3d+) Any stopwatch or watch used by a competitor must not have any functions that would help the competitor find a solution.
- E3d++) Competitors should not consider a personal stopwatch or watch as the official time, and must submit their solution when the judge calls "STOP".
Article H: Multi-Blind Solving
- H1+) If a puzzle with a duplicate scramble is found during an attempt, the puzzle may be re-scrambled using a different scramble sequence, at the discretion of the WCA Delegate.
- H1b1+) The attempt is not disqualified for reaching the time limit, due to exceptions for 3x3x3 Multi-Blind (see Regulation A1a4 and Regulation A1a5).
- H1b1++) The judge may permit the competitor to continue the attempt unofficially, but the attempt must be stopped and judged first, in full accordance with the Regulations.
- H1d+) Example: Suppose a competitor attempts 10 cubes, stops the solve with a time of 59:57, and has two time penalties. The time of the final result is 59:57 + 2*2 = 60:01 (also see Regulation A1a5).
- H1d++) Example: Suppose a competitor attempts 10 cubes, the judge stops the competitor at 60 minutes, and the attempt has two time penalties. The time of the final result is 60:00 + 2*2 = 60:04.