Puzzle Me This

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Mom used to love doing jigsaw puzzles. But it was something she would generally do just around Christmas which made buying a puzzle almost an automatic Christmas or Birthday gift. (Her birthday was three days after Christmas). Then, she’d get out the card table and just go to work. Never took her long to finish even when we started getting the more challenging types of puzzles instead of the ones where we thought the subject was cool.

My wife started doing puzzles a couple of years ago. Again, it was a Christmas break thing to do when her work slowed down. For some reason, starting this year, she’s just been puzzle crazy so every time one is finished, we start a new one.

I was never all that into them but I’ve discovered they can be a pleasant distraction. It is more fun for me to have a puzzle with birds or something where you can put together discrete things.

But it certainly has revealed some big differences between us in our methods. She’s the one who can spend an hour or two just staring at pieces and trying to put things together. I’m more of a dabbler. Got a bit of free time, see how many pieces I can fit in. It also seems like every time I get a new look, a few pieces just jump out and get fit in. Then, I stall out and get bored with it and need to move on.

The exception is when you get close to the end. If there are just a few pieces left, then it is a mission to get it finished.

She likes to focus on a particular thing in the puzzle and then try to build that. I like to bounce around. Look for unique pieces and then see where the fit. She’s more into brute force – trying every piece that sort of fits. I do more pattern recognition – looking for a particular edge type. I actually hate the method of trying every piece. I kind of feel if a puzzle gets to that level, then it isn’t really fun anymore.

She will sort by color. I’m not into sorting pieces until you get near the end and then I’ll sort by shape. I’ve found we really both can’t work on it at the same time because we get into each other’s way. So that’s why I’ll just walk by from time to time and see what I can find.

Not sure I would ever want to start a puzzle but I’m very happy filling in the gaps from time to time.

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