'Enjoying monotony helps': how to take on the world in competitive jigsaw puzzling

Whenever she would do puzzles with friends and family, they’d react to her with a combination of envy and awe. “They would say things like, ‘I take weeks, and you’ve just done it in a couple of hours.’ ‘That is so amazing, how you do that?’ I started to wonder if I really was fast at doing puzzles, and the only way to find out was to race against another puzzler.” Healy, from Perth, Australia, began to research puzzle competitions and found most were overseas, in places such as Belgium or the US. Organised by the World Jigsaw Puzzle Federation, it marked the first time competitors would receive a worldranking. Healy grabbed a fellow puzzle-enthusiast friend and they packed their puzzle piece sorters and magnifying glasses, and headed to the event at the Millennium Dome in Valladolid. Move over colouring books - jigsaw puzzles are the next self-care trend (PopSugar) “There were competitors from all over the world speaking different languages,” the 44-year-old recalls. Being the first Australians to ever compete, we were treated like celebrities, everyone wanted their photo with us and were fascinated that we had travelled so far. We were invited to compete in ajigsaw puzzle competition in Turkey.” Healy was seated in the front row, close to the video cameras streaming the event. On day two, the individual category takes place to find the world’sfastest puzzler. Those who don’t completetheirpuzzle in the required time have their remaining pieces counted to determine their ranking. It was decided it was the competitor’s fault, but lots of people helped them pick the pieces up so they could keepgoing. There is always the drama of a final piece missing.” Healy ranked 79th, completing the Ravensburger puzzle titled Elephant Family in one hour 45 minutes. Jane Hanzelkova of the Czech Republic won, completing the puzzle in 46 minutes 35 seconds. “I find in general the biggest puzzle communities and best puzzlers are in the countries with the longest and coldest winters,” Healy says. Buoyed by the welcoming and thrilling experience of the Spanish championships, Healy founded the Australian Jigsaw Puzzle Association in December. She is organising the inaugural Australian competition, to be held in Melbourne in November, Covid-19 allowing. It will be something for her to look forward to if the world event, scheduled for September, again in Valladolid, iscancelled because of the pandemic. Healy says there has been a surge in group members due to Covid-19, with people sharing their completed puzzles and asking for tips on the association’s Facebook page. Puzzles have been selling out in stores around the world, as people look for hobbies to keep them occupied during the social distancing requirements and travel restrictions of the pandemic. “I think the increase in popularity is wonderful and does not surprise me because I know why puzzles are great, and it’s about time that others worked it out too,” Healy says. It slows my thoughts down, gives me a bit of ‘me’ time and with every piece that goes together, I get a little hit of joy. I enjoy watching other people’s time lapse videos of themselves doing puzzles to see if they have a technique that I can adopt to speed things up a bit. I purchase from all sorts of retails stores, it just takes a puzzle to jump out at me … an image can just resonate with you.