While there are a few standard strategies for puzzling, the approach I’ve honed over the years is slightly different from the other puzzling approaches I’ve heard about from others. Since I am almost always putting together a puzzle with another person, this strategy is gear towards a two-person team. Here goes…
Identify Areas of Interest
Even before opening the box/bag and dumping out the pieces, we typically review the puzzle picture to see if there are stand out areas that can be easily separated from the rest of the pieces. For example, if a puzzle has one particular area with standout colors, we’ll be looking for those pieces as we sort the initial dump of pieces. For example, in the Frozen puzzle pictured to the right, the pink shawl is something that easily stands out. Another area of interest might be parts that are too hard to tackle at the beginning, such as a solid blue sky.
Dump and Initial Sort
This is where my jigsaw puzzle strategy differs a bit from others. After dumping the pieces, we’re doing 3 things at once. First, obviously we’re looking to get all of the pieces face up. Second, any time we see an edge piece, separate it out. Don’t try to place anything yet, just get them into a pile. And finally, we’re looking for any of those initially identified areas of interest. Again, we’re not looking to place anything yet, just get the initial pieces face up and into the appropriate groupings.
Divide and Conquer
Split responsibilities up among the puzzlers. For example, one person can take the edge pieces and another can look to start with the areas of interest. In addition to just making progress, the overall goal is to get the easiest pieces out of the big pool of available tiles.
Communication is Key
Always letting the other puzzle builders know what you’re working on is of vital importance. If I know what you’re working on, I’m able to throw pieces your way if I come across them while working on my own parts. A successful jigsaw puzzle strategy depends on communication.
Share the Box
Since all team members are going to need to constantly look at the puzzle box for reference, always having it nearby, for everyone to access, is a big help. I love it when puzzles have pictures on both sides of the box, this way there’s more than one reference to go around.
Save the Hardest for Last
This tends to happen automatically, but I always like to keep the hardest part of the puzzle for the end. The vast majority of the time, this is the sky in an outdoor scene. By doing it last, it helps prevent puzzle frustration, and also make it a little easier if these pieces are all that’s left. Of course, if you’re tackling The Krypt, this part pretty much consumes the entire process : )
That’s it – hopefully my jigsaw puzzle strategy will help you, and lead to more puzzling enjoyment!