You may not know this but, as well as being a complete board game addict, I also really enjoy jigsaw puzzles.
And, I am very happy to say, that my own Bearded Moon and Mini-meeple are fellow dedicated dissectologists.
However, it didn’t strike me that we actually collect jigsaw puzzles until we rearranged our cupboard under the stairs to store our Christmas decorations (not that I am counting down the weeks until we can legit put them up again…..38 by the way. Just, you know, in case anyone else was wondering).
Pulling out box after box, we counted over 40 – all of which we had solved but none of which we felt able to lose. Not as many as our growing collection of board games, granted. But still enough to form a pretty imposing cardboard fortress!
It didn’t even occur to me that we were actually hard-core solvers until we slid out giant his-and-hers Portapuzzle board holders, numerous felt jigsaw rolls, and purpose built sorting trays.
But, as we sat on the sofa in a sort of stunned silence, our eyes drifted towards the wooden coffee table in front of us. Not that unusual you might think. We love coffee. We like tables. Why wouldn’t we want somewhere to place our cups?
But this is no ordinary table. This is a table which Bearded Moon built himself. This is a table which he designed specifically to accommodate a hearty 1,000 piece puzzle with edge space to spare. Lifting-and shifting mechanisms incorporated to raise the top and bring it forwards in order to reduce that well known affliction, solver’s slouch*
(* I don’t think this is technically a medical term but if it isn’t then it should be – oh and I am now claiming dominion over it!)
So, having finally realised that we are indeed puzzle junkies, it occurred to me that my obsession with board games and my love for jigsaws are not mutually exclusive.
Indeed, the cardboard connection is so strong that not appreciating it until now is a bit ridiculous. Particularly as one of my favourite game genres is puzzly, tile laying games……..where tiles interlink……….like a puzzle……to be solved….…Doh!
The part jigsaws play in my own anxiety management also cannot be understated. Although finding the correct pieces (or not) can be a relative roller coaster of highs and lows (sky blue hues, you are my nemesis!), there is no analysis paralysis in jigsaw puzzling. It is an exact science; the pieces either go together or they do not. Yoda would approve.
For the most part, you see, successful connection is not my responsibility – the obligation to ensure a puzzle is a cohesive and tightly fitting tableau remains at all times with the designer and the manufacturer. There is only one correct way to arrange the pieces.
I can (and do) of course pause over whether a piece goes in a particular place but whether it does or not is predetermined – there is no free choice. Strange perhaps for a control freak like me. But it brings brief, welcome relief. I don’t have to worry about what my actions now will mean when the last piece is in my hand because somebody else has already decided that for me. A mistaken link is clear once a few ill-fitting pieces are pushed together. It is an error which can be remedied before it compounds into a bigger problem down the line by simply disconnecting them again.
As such, on loud days, I can concentrate on a very small part of a jigsaw when the risk of feeling overwhelmed is real. Or, on days when I feel strong enough to tackle the bigger picture, I can spread myself out, adding a piece to an edge over here or a shape forming over there.
Furthermore, in the same way that board games can be played in different ways, jigsaws can be incredibly versatile. Solving alone, solving in a group – there is no maximum player count.
Age too has very little meaning, aside from larger pieces and child friendly themes being more practical and attractive to pint-sized puzzlists! If your experiences are anything like ours, however, our Mini-meeple loves deep diving into all of our 1000+ puzzles as much as his own collection; his little hands riffling through the delicate pieces, selecting one and clicking it into place with a satisfying “ta-da”.
Theme, size, dimension, and finish options are also almost infinite – a never ending supply of enjoyment that adapts to enthusiastic puzzologists as skills and preferences develop over time. There is, I have no doubt, a jigsaw for every jigster out there!
And, as well as a perfect solo escape, a co-operative campaign to crack a border or resolve a fiddly section (sky, I am talking about you again!) can be a really sociable experience – all hands on deck proving to be a successful strategy when faced with an endless sea of sand or, yep, sky!
It is also an opportunity to talk. To shoot the breeze or ponder more philosophically weighty issues, sure. But also an opportunity to tackle more awkward or difficult topics on a much more personal level.
With eyes drawn to the task at hand, a jigsaw puzzle provides a legitimate visual escape from an otherwise discomforting discourse. And the ability to raise something sensitive with the pressure gauge needle pointing lower has been a lifeline in our household. Literally.
As you can probably tell from my board gaming content and my already bursting-at-the-seams jigsawing intro, I have lots to talk about when you get me on the subject of puzzles! With that in mind, I will pause this little piece here and let you explore my jigsaw reviews, blogs, and photos which I will be adding to favouritefoe.com over the coming weeks, months, and years.
Living life, one game at a time (with a little added puzzling pizzaz!)