Puzzle-solving tips from experts
Sitting down to begin work on a jigsaw puzzle is an exciting but daunting experience. Alfonso Alvarez-Ossorio, the president of the World Jigsaw Puzzle Federation, and Tammy McLeod, a competitive puzzle solver, share their tips on solving puzzles quickly, expert strategies for completing jigsaw puzzles of all sizes, the best methods to get started with the hobby of puzzling, and more details about how jigsaw champions work on their puzzles.
The challenges of solving a puzzle fast
“The difficulty of a jigsaw puzzle – and the time it will take to assemble it – is directly proportional to the number of pieces,” says Alvarez-Ossorio. In addition, there are two factors that account for the difficulty of a jigsaw puzzle, says Alvarez-Ossorio. First, he says is the “morphology of the pieces, which depends on the manufacturer and the die used (the more you distinguish some pieces from others, the easier),” and second is “the contrast of the puzzle image (the greater the contrast, the more diversity of colours and strokes more defined, the easier and faster the assembly).”
The right surface
Where you do jigsaw puzzles is almost as important as how you do one. “In official competitions, vinyl-plastic is used so that the pieces move quickly across the surface,” says Alvarez-Ossorio. The mats are usually used white, “to reflect the light of space – lighting is a very important factor.” When doing a puzzle at home, you’ll want a dedicated space, such as a folding card table, so you can spread out your pieces and so they won’t get lost. If you don’t have room, puzzle mats are helpful because you can easily roll a puzzle-in-progress up for storage when you need to reclaim your dining room or coffee table.