I competed in my first jigsaw puzzle competition. It was way harder than I thought.
I competed in my first ever jigsaw puzzle competition and it was five and a half hours of non-stop puzzling. So a few weekends ago was the first ever National jigsaw puzzle championships put on by the USA jigsaw puzzle Association. It was basically the same setup as the world’s competition which I covered in the summer, but it was in San Diego, so way easier to get to than Spain. Just like the world’s competition Nationals was sponsored by ravensburger, and they also sponsored me to go to the competition and make these videos for you all to watch, so everything kicked off on Friday night. This was the first time that I had ever been in person at a jigsaw, puzzle event, and it was so much fun to just be in the company of so many other puzzlers.
There was an 18 000 piece puzzle to work on one. There was a puzzle swap table. There were many puzzle races going on all the time the next morning. They also had a live Zoom chat with Alejandro, the winner from last year’s worlds. Competition and I swear – I had like five different conversations that first night just talking about Alejandro and Kristen and their different puzzling Styles, and I was finally like.
I have found my people and I brought so many puzzles home. I arranged with a viewer to buy a bunch of vintage puzzles from her. I was given a bunch of Japanese puzzles. I was also given this puzzle of mine, which was just made by masterpieces, and they just gave it to me. So I think in another video I’ll do a full haul of what I brought home, but what I was really hoping to to bring home is one of these prizes.
I really had no idea what was going to happen if there was any chance at all. For me to win anything, so I guess let’s just get into the competition and find out what happened. Hi, everyone, I’m Karen Puzzles – and I am here in the USA – jigsaw puzzle national championships. So today is the first day of the actual competition. Today is just the teams competition, because it is going on for five and a half hours straight, no breaks, straight puzzles, five and a half hours.
We have to do three puzzles: two 1 000 piece puzzles and one 1500 piece puzzle. Now. You guys know that I usually puzzle alone. This is going to be my first time ever puzzling with four people at once. I don’t know how this is gon na go, but let’s meet our teammates
Thank you we’re about to go into the room now, I’m actually starting to get a little nervous.
This is getting too real. Thank you. Thank you, Ally for the kickoff and they’re unwrapping the puzzles right now, and I want to thank you for watching the live stream of the USA jigsaw puzzle association’s national championships right here in San Diego. Everyone make your own little pile of edges, hand them all to me. Oh my God, all right, let’s take a break from that over dramatic music and take a look at the puzzle.
So I was pretty happy when I saw this image because it’s a grid so you’re basically doing a bunch of mini puzzles and there is a fair amount of color separation between the orange, red, blue, pink, Etc. So you saw that we all started doing the Sorting. All together, but at about three minutes in I felt like I had enough Edge pieces that I could start working on the edge. So while I’m working on that, if you’re not familiar with the rules of a jigsaw puzzle competition, I just want to go over them. Really quick, so you’re allowed to have three or four people on your team, although usually it’s better to have four.
Unlike the world’s team competition, though, we had to do the puzzles in a specific order, so everyone started with this puzzle, and then everyone did the same. Second puzzle, and then everyone did the same third puzzle and you can only work on one puzzle at a time, so your team has to complete an entire puzzle. You have to get the time noted. Take it apart, put it back in the box and then you’re allowed to move on to the second puzzle, and the thing that everyone always wants to know is why what happens at the end, if you’re missing a piece? Well, basically, if you think you’re missing a piece, they note the time and then wait 10 seconds.
While you look for that piece and if the piece doesn’t turn up after 10 seconds, then that is your final time. So it’s essentially a 10 second penalty per missing piece. So here are a few teams to keep an eye on there’s team War and Peace which includes Yvonne and Lindsay, and both of them were on the Golden State puzzlers team at Worlds. We’ve also got the jigsaw. Junkies, who you may also remember from Worlds, their members, also changed up a little but Gray and Amber were both still on the team and they also had a very strong showing over the summer, and their table was right next to ours.
So that’s not intimidating at all, and then we’ve also got a team, no snacks. Their team includes Sarah Schuler, who you might know, as Sarah does puzzles on Instagram. She is a very strong Puzzler and everyone else on her team are also very strong puzzlers. So, at about 17 minutes in you can see how I finished most of the edge, and I started working on this orange mushroom and then at 22 minutes. We had our first rearranging and we actually changed the spots more than I expected, because you would see a section that you wanted to work on, but it was on the other side of the puzzle.
So you had to swap around to be able to get access to it, and while we had emailed a little bit before the competition Katie – and I only met Jonathan and Emma the night before we had never all puzzled together, this was our very first time. So I definitely felt like our communication wasn’t necessarily at the level that it could have been at. It’s pretty chaotic, having four people work on a single puzzle and there were definitely times where the pieces weren’t all organized properly or a piece ended up on the floor. I think about every single puzzle that I did during this competition. I think one piece always ended up on the floor. Okay, so the live stream didn’t show The Front Runners for quite a while, but at around 40 minutes we can finally start to compare our progress.
It looks like War and Peace might have a little more connection in the middle, but we’re not too far behind them. The jigsaw junkies are doing great. They have tons of those little sections in place and that basically finished on the live stream. Here you can definitely see that we are pretty far behind. Oh man, in 45 minutes look at the team, no snacks.
They are definitely in the home stretch. And Meanwhile, my team still has a lot to fill in the middle. This puzzle is a little deceptive because, yes, there are a lot of bright colors, but once you finish those there is also a lot of green and brown tying everything together. So once we pass 50 minutes, no snacks, the jigsaw, junkies and War and Peace are battling. This is what we love to see in a jigsaw puzzle: competition, oh at 56, minutes team.
No snacks is the first to finish a puzzle. You can see how they get their hands off the puzzle. The time is written down and then they immediately take it apart and open up the next puzzle, then at 58 minutes we have another finish by team Rasmussen. This team was not on my radar just because I didn’t know anyone who was on the team, but they turned it out. Amazing, puzzling by team Rasmussen.
So three minutes later at just over an hour, the jigsaw junkies finished their puzzle and then a minute and a half after that War and Peace finished. So you can see that we are still struggling through the last little bit of our puzzle, and one thing I didn’t really think about when editing the world’s videos is that you’re so focused on your own puzzle that you have no idea how anyone else is doing. We could sort of see the jigsaw junkies since they were right next to us, but everyone else. We had no idea until we heard the cheers and the yells and we knew that someone else had finished and it gets a little disheartening to just hear finish. After finishing, while you’re still sitting there struggling through your own puzzle, but at an hour 16, we finally finished and immediately moved on to the next puzzle.
But here is what the stats look like. So far, just for the first puzzle out of 33 total teams, we were 12 to finish and we were almost exactly 20 minutes behind the first team, so they had a big head start going into the second puzzle. Speaking of the second puzzle, let’s take a closer look. Wait, was that upside down? Let’S take a closer look, okay, so this puzzle is a little busier than the previous one.
When we first saw it, I immediately told my team to pull out all of the pieces with the banister and the stairs, because I thought those blue lines would divide up the image pretty nicely. The rest of my team did not like this puzzle as much as the first one, but this was actually my favorite of the day. I think there are a lot of different background textures that can really break up the image and I’m sure that I’m gon na redo this one just for fun one day. I also wanted to mention that ravensburger brought the artists to this event. Dean McAdam, who illustrated this puzzle and Nathaniel Mortensen, who did the mushroom puzzle, and it was just really cool to hear from them about what goes into illustrating a really fun puzzle.
Okay, um so Yvonne sent me her time lapse and when I line up the times you can see that at the same time that we were just starting War and Peace already had the edge done and a few big sections in the middle. So once again, I did the edge while everyone else sorted by color and texture moved on to the banister, which was easy enough. Although the diagonal lines of the stairs were pretty tricky. One thing that I remember about that day is that Taylor Swift’s album Midnight had just come out literally the day before, and I had the song Karma stuck in my head for the entire five and a half hours. So if you want the 4D Karen puzzles experience, get this puzzle and then solve it, while listening to just the chorus from Karma on repeat to an hour 48 um Team, No snacks is almost done and look at where we are at the exact same time.
We get a good shot of War and Peace and the jigsaw junkies, but no snacks are definitely in the lead. Thank you. They are like a well-oiled machine and at an hour 52. They were the first to finish the second puzzle, and then they didn’t show it on the live stream, but in an hour, 56 team Rasmussen who were sitting right behind us were the second to finish the second puzzle. This was a little disheartening, since my team wasn’t anywhere close and then War and Peace finished in just over two hours and then the jigsaw junkies were a minute and a half after that.
Okay come on where’s that piece: oh, they can’t find it. Oh they got it. Oh there they got it. Okay done with the second one jigsaw. Junkies just finished their second one with 203 12 right around there and to be clear, that’s two hours, three minutes 12 seconds for two 1 000 piece puzzles.
That’S amazing! So at this point, with a few teams already working on the third puzzle, Jonathan could glance over and he reported back that there was a whole lot of blue and it was going to be a very difficult underwater scene, but we’ll get to that soon. For now my team still has to finish our Goldilocks puzzle. I mean I definitely felt like we were making pretty solid progress all the way through, but there were just so many little sections to sort out, so it was a full 40 minutes later before we got to the home stretch all right, so I know it might Be a little confusing keeping track of everyone’s times, so here is a visual representation of where we are right. Now my team was the 13th to finish the second puzzle.
You can see a pretty big jump between the elite, top four teams and then everyone else below them and look at this. No snacks had a full 50 minute lead Over Us in starting the third puzzle and then in terms of the time for solving just the second puzzle on its own. We were 14th at an hour and 26 minutes which is still really fast, but not quite fast enough to get us into the top leaderboard failing this picture, these little red fishies and the yellow as well all right. Oh some of them are already together, don’t separate. Yeah, okay, moving on to the third puzzle, this one is 1500 pieces and they are all varying shades of blue okay.
Not all, but you know most. I think everyone was pretty dismayed when we pulled this out of the bag, but I don’t want you to go around blaming the organizers for this. What I learned from a few different people at this event is that the puzzle options for a competition are fairly limited. They have to choose a puzzle that hasn’t been released in the US, so that no one will have done it before all three of the puzzles that I showed today have only been released in Europe. So far also, they have to pick puzzles where ravensburger has enough inventory on hand to supply the amount that you need for a competition.
So when you take all of that into account, they only get a couple images to choose from and a fun fact that I learned is that one of the options that was offered for the world’s pears final was this rubber duck puzzle. Can you even imagine that would have been such a slog to try to do quickly? So while it is difficult, this puzzle is totally doable for a competition. It’S not like you have the saw wood Colored Sky like we saw at the world’s final. You do have a lot of different textures going on.
You have this yellow, the blue, the gray, the purple, the brown. So while it wouldn’t have been my Top Choice, it’s not like they gave us an impossible puzzle. Okay, so we were starting this puzzle at two hours and 45 minutes, which was exactly halfway through the competition, so we knew that we had two hours and 45 minutes to solve it, which at the time still seemed doable. Of course, we were starting pretty far behind the top teams when we were starting War and Peace already had the edge done and the sand and the octopus, but we jumped right into it. We started by sorting out all of the edges, all of the yellow and all of the red uh.
This was also when I started to get hungry and I grabbed a protein bar. Maybe if we had followed no snacks’s team name, we would have been a little faster anyway, at about two hours and 50 minutes. I started working on the edge, which was pretty difficult since a lot of it was all the same color. At the same time, Katie was working on the yellow, which connected to the bottom Edge that I was putting together. So it took about 22 minutes for me to get the entire Edge done.
At that point I swapped seats and I grabbed all of the red pieces from Jonathan and then Jonathan started working on the strategy that I now realize was a mistake and I am not trying to throw him under the bus here. He told us what he was doing and none of us said anything. So this is on all of us equally, but he decided to sort all of the rest of the pieces by piece shape, and the problem is that it was just way too early in the puzzling process to do that, even though everything was all a similar color There were definitely different textures going on, so it would have been better to sort by texture first and then by shape within that. Instead, as we moved on to each new element, we had to go through all of these pieces to find the textures that we needed. Instead of just sorting by texture in the first place, it just wasn’t very efficient or organized because some of the pieces never even got sorted at all and with 1500 pieces.
Even though we had these trays, it’s just a lot of pieces on the table all at once, and everything just felt so disorganized. So after working on the red sections, I moved on to these little red fish and you can see that I sorted by shape within that group of pieces and then at three and a half hours in you can just see how much further ahead, no snacks are. They definitely look a lot more organized than we were and I’ll be totally honest. I was so exhausted by this point. I did not want to be there anymore.
We had already solved two entire puzzles and now we were looking down the hardest puzzle. Yet this kind of competition really is like running a marathon, but for your brain without any built-in breaks you just have to keep going and going and going, and it is really hard to be focused on speed puzzles for this many hours in a row. So eventually I finished the red fish, but I didn’t really know where to go from there. At this point we are four hours in. You can see that War and Peace are doing really well, but no snacks is easily the furthest ahead of anybody. Meanwhile, we still have this huge expanse in the middle. I was working on the treasure chest at this point, but that’s a really small area of the puzzle and here’s a look at the jigsaw junkies.
They are just so much further ahead. So, looking back at it, I really think that, instead of sorting by shape for so long Jonathan would have been way better utilized by sorting out all of the blue scales and the purple scales and working on the dragon that would have filled in a lot. In the middle that we could have worked off of but okay enough about us, let’s just marvel at the speed of the team: no snacks, 4. 26. 40.
And how many pieces are left? Oh there, it is! You have a winner, uh four hours, 26 minutes, and it was about 45 seconds. We’Ll get the official uh time from the timer there, so to be done with over an hour to spare, is so impressive and to finish this particular puzzle so quickly is also so incredibly impressive. So then, about 10 minutes later we pan over from my team struggling over to team Rasmussen, who are just about finished okay.
That was incredible. Now it is a tight race between War and Peace and the jigsaw junkies to see who will get third and who will get fourth peace finishing for third place, except I wait well, they seem to be uh missing a piece and after looking around for a few Seconds, yes, they found it on the floor to actually get third place, but wait one minute and three seconds later. The jigsaw junkies also finished the question mark. It appears that they are also missing a piece, so they have 10 seconds to look around, for it is called at four hours and 53 minutes, and I will fully admit that at this point I was really jealous of everyone who had finished, not just because they Won but because they didn’t have to work on this puzzle anymore. I was so tired and at this point I just felt so aimless like I couldn’t pick a section to focus on so I didn’t feel like I was making any real progress at all.
So around the five hour mark. I think I said to the team. Guys know we’re not gon na finish right. I think some of them still had a little hope, but I could just tell that with how slow our progress was, there was just no way towards the end. I did start working on this blue scaly dragon and I did feel like I was getting a little bit of a second wind, but it was too little too late.
At this point, I knew that all of the remaining teams would just be ranked by how many pieces that they could put in. So it was just important to get in as many pieces as we could in this last half hour. Oh, but wait at five hours and 17 minutes so only 13 minutes to spare. We have our fifth finishers team floor check. They are the last team to actually finish all three puzzles and it looks like they had an extra piece and went back to being a team.
No snacks also had an extra piece. I bet one of them belonged to the jigsaw, junkies and just look when you have 1500 pieces on a table and you have four people speed puzzling, the exact same puzzle pieces just kind of get everywhere. Ten, nine, eight, seven. Six five, four three two one person, USA, jigsaw Nationals great job, all right. Everyone make sure your hands are off that puzzle, don’t touch it, don’t touch it we’ll have to sniff those fingers right off and that’s it.
We weren’t allowed to touch it anymore. So here is how much we got done. I really do think that if we had had another hour, I think maybe we could have finished it but honestly like who knows anyway. What happened next is that an official photographer came around to photograph everyone’s puzzle and that way, if there were any disputes later about how many pieces were put in, they could refer to those photos. And then we had to organize all of the leftover pieces into groups of ten. The pieces that count towards the total are any pieces in sections of three or more grouping them like this.
Just makes it a lot easier to count them when you can count by ten. So we ended up with a final count of 521 extra pieces, which meant that we had 979 correct pieces. So we basically made it two-thirds of the way through the puzzle, and then there was nothing else to do, but take it apart and be really sad that we didn’t finish. But we have made it to the end of the competition, which means that it is time for the statistics. This is always the best part.
So, starting with the five teams who finished this last puzzle was not easy. It still took the fastest team over two and a half hours. Next, here’s a look at the piece counts of everyone who didn’t finish, so you can see that my team, The Jig Squad, ended up in 13th Place. Overall, the top team in terms of piece count was every day. I’m puzzled, so they got sixth place and they won a medal, and then here is the full timeline. This is extra satisfying to look at since I was actually a part of this timeline living in the room.
You can see how the top four teams were way ahead of everyone else and from there it’s a pretty consistent slope down to the two teams who didn’t even finish the second puzzle, and then I thought this was interesting. This is all of the finishing times sorted by time and color coded by puzzle, so no snacks had the top two fastest times and then Rasmussen had the next two fastest times and you can see where my team was uh pretty solidly just in the middle. So that’s all of the data uh. Thank you again to my sister Katie, for I mean for puzzling with me for five and a half hours, and also for making all of those charts Katie. How do you feel I’m so tired?
My neck is so sore, I’m so tired everything hurts so I’m going to show you the team Awards, but first I want to give a shout out to completing the puzzle for sponsoring the live stream. Look. It is really difficult and really expensive to do a live stream like this. So even though there might not have always been the coverage that we wanted, the fact that there was a live stream at all for a first time event is just incredible. So if you don’t know them, completing the puzzle is a subscription service.
Where you get a puzzle in the mail you solve it, you send it back and then you get a new one. So I’m going to link them right down below. If you want to check them out I’ll also link the full live stream. If you want to watch all five and a half hours and listen to all of the commentary, I also want to give a shout out to this team, Craven for Raven. They used to attend the national jigsaw puzzle championships back in the 80s when it was sponsored by Hallmark. I was talking to them for a while.
They had so many good stories and, of course, thank you to ravensberger for sponsoring me to attend this event. After the competition, I actually had a special announcement where I showed the sizzle reel for the Karen puzzles Puzzle for the first time. That last puzzle was a lot right. Um. Well, do you want to know a puzzle? That’S also a lot, but in a slightly different way here we go.
We gave away 10 puzzles right there and the way that it worked is they had put tickets underneath some of the chairs in the room, and so it was so chaotic with everyone like turning over chairs trying to grab a ticket but to everyone who got one. I hope you’re enjoying it. So if you missed my other videos, the Karen puzzles Puzzle is available now on Amazon I’ll have the link to buy one down in the description. So, let’s just give another round of applause to all of the winners in sixth place every day. I’M puzzled in fifth place was the floor.
Check in fourth place was the jigsaw. Junkies in third place was War and Peace in second place was team Rasmussen and the winners of the teams competition. Of course, it was a team, no snap X in terms of prizes. Fourth, fifth and sixth place: each got medals first, second and third place all got trophies and the first place team. Also each got an engraved zacko puzzle board, so that was it for The Jig Squad.
Who knows, if we’re ever all gon na puzzle together again but stay tuned, because there was an entire second day of competition with the pairs and the individual events and not to spoil anything. But I did do a little bit better the second day. So I will be covering those in my next video, which will be up very soon so make sure you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss it in the meantime, if you wanted to try speed puzzling for yourself head over to Jonathan’s website speedpuzzling.com com to sign up For an online contest and if you want some bonus footage from this day head over to my patreon for an exclusive video just for my patrons. So let me know in the comments, if you have any questions about this event, and I can try to answer them in the next video your code word for the comments will be mermaids.
Be honest: do you think that you would have finished this puzzle in the time limit, so that’ll be it for today, but stay tuned for the next video for even more speed, puzzling,