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Are You Ready to Master Speed Puzzling? Tips and Tricks for Puzzle Enthusiasts

Are you a puzzle enthusiast looking to take your skills to the next level? Whether you're a casual puzzler or a seasoned competitor, mastering the art of speed puzzling can elevate your game to new heights. Speed competitions that start at home are a great way to break into the world of speed puzzling. But before you start, here are some brief but helpful tips that should improve your puzzling time. In this blog post, we'll explore some expert tips and tricks to help you complete jigsaw puzzles at lightning speed, perfect for puzzle competitions while at home, whether a seasoned puzzler or a novice to the sport. Let the race against the clock begin!

The Basics: Setting the Stage for Speed Puzzling

Sort Strategically with Precision:

Flipping over all pieces is key to sorting. Flipping with purpose is the key to saving time. There are several flip and sort strategies that can be used, such as flip and sort by color, flip and sort edges, or flip and don't sort, to name just a few. Try all to see what works best for you, but practice them all to stay in the game with different puzzle images.

  1. Begin by sorting pieces into edge pieces, corner pieces, and interior pieces.
  2. Group pieces based on colors, patterns, and distinctive shapes to expedite matching.
  3. Sorting is the foundation of speed puzzling. By organizing pieces effectively, you reduce search time and enhance your ability to locate the right components quickly.

For more in-depth ideas on sorting, visit this great blog post on SORTING.

Create a Framework. Edges or Center Pieces?:

While some speed puzzlers assemble the puzzle's border first to establish a solid framework, others assemble key sections of the puzzle to save time.

  1. Connecting edge pieces quickly gives you a clear picture of the puzzle's dimensions.
  2. Building the puzzle's border provides a visual reference for the entire picture.
  3. Assembling pieces that have distinct markings or colors also helps in speed puzzling. Try alternating styles to find the one that best works for you.

Pro Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Identify Key Patterns:

Train your eyes to recognize common patterns and shapes in puzzle pieces.

  1. Look for specific colors, straight edges, or unique details that can guide your assembly.
  2. Developing pattern recognition skills is crucial.
  3. Identifying key elements within the pieces helps you make quick decisions on their placement.

Here are some examples of key patterns to look for in a jigsaw puzzle:

  • Straight Edges: The edges of puzzle pieces often have straight lines. Identifying these straight edges is a fundamental pattern and is crucial for assembling the puzzle border.

  • Corner Pieces: Corners are easily recognizable as pieces with two straight edges meeting at a right angle. These pieces provide anchor points for building the puzzle framework.

  • Distinctive Connectors: Some puzzles have unique connectors or shapes on their edges that match specific pieces. These connectors may include tabs, notches, or protrusions that form a distinct pattern, aiding in rapid piece identification.

  • Color Matching: Identify colors or color combinations that repeat throughout the puzzle. This could be a specific shade, a gradient, or a consistent color scheme. Grouping pieces based on color patterns accelerates the assembly of various sections.

  • Repeating Images or Motifs: In puzzles with repeating images or motifs, certain sections may feature identical patterns. Look for these repetitions as they can help you quickly complete specific regions of the puzzle.

  • Symmetrical Designs: Symmetrical designs in the puzzle image can be used to your advantage. If one side of a symmetrical pattern is assembled, the other side can be mirrored, guiding you in placing pieces more efficiently.

  • Landmarks or Focal Points: Identify landmarks or focal points in the puzzle image. These could be distinctive objects, characters, or scenes. Assemble pieces around these focal points to build recognizable segments of the puzzle.

  • Edge Piece Combinations: Pay attention to the combinations of colors and patterns on edge pieces. Sometimes, specific colors or patterns only appear together along the edges, serving as additional clues for edge piece matching.

  • Boundary Features: Observe the puzzle's image for features that create boundaries between different sections. These features may include contrasting colors, distinct lines, or changes in the overall pattern. Assemble pieces along these boundaries to compartmentalize the puzzle.

  • Edge of the Image: Look for features at the edge of the puzzle image that provide context or continuity. These features can guide you in connecting pieces along the outer borders and progressing inward.

  • Texture or Surface Detail: Some puzzles have distinct textures or surface details. These details can form patterns that guide your assembly. For example, a puzzle with a sky background may have subtle gradients or cloud patterns that help connect pieces.

By training your eyes to recognize these key patterns, you'll develop a systematic approach to puzzling that allows for quicker identification and assembly of pieces. The combination of these patterns often creates a roadmap for efficiently completing different sections of the puzzle.

Parallel Processing:

  1. Segmentation: Divide the puzzle into smaller sections based on distinctive features, colors, or patterns.
  2. Identify Key Areas: Identify key areas or regions in the puzzle that have unique features, landmarks, or color patterns.
  3. Work on Edges Concurrently: Focus on connecting edge pieces in different sections simultaneously.
  4. Cluster-Based Assembly: Group pieces within each section based on color, pattern, or shape.
  5. Utilize Different Sections of the Puzzle Board: Use different sections of the board for working on distinct areas of the puzzle.
  6. Rotate and Flip Pieces Strategically: Experiment with rotating and flipping pieces to identify potential matches in multiple sections.
  7. Memory Palace Technique: Apply the Memory Palace technique by memorizing specific pieces and their locations within each section.
  8. Color Coding for Segments: Color code or visually mark pieces within each segment to quickly identify which pieces belong to a specific cluster.
  9. Progressive Expansion: Assemble smaller clusters of pieces within each section progressively.
  10. Prioritize Challenging Areas: Identify the more challenging or intricate sections of the puzzle and allocate focused attention to them early on.

Parallel processing in speed puzzling allows you to leverage your cognitive abilities more effectively, promoting a dynamic and strategic approach to puzzle assembly. By breaking down the puzzle into manageable segments and working on them concurrently, you can significantly increase your overall speed and efficiency in completing jigsaw puzzles.

Edge Assembly Hacks:

  1. Utilize the "two-finger shuffle" to rapidly sift through edge pieces.
  2. Connect edge pieces quickly by looking for unique connectors like tabs or protruding shapes.

The "two-finger shuffle" is a technique used in speed puzzling to efficiently sift through puzzle pieces, particularly edge pieces. It involves using two fingers to rapidly slide through a stack of puzzle pieces, allowing the puzzler to quickly identify and retrieve specific pieces.

Here's a step-by-step explanation of the "two-finger shuffle":

  1. Stack of Edge Pieces: Start with a stack of edge pieces that need to be sorted or assembled.
  2. Hold with Two Fingers: Using your thumb and index finger, hold the stack of pieces securely. The fingers should be on opposite sides of the stack.
  3. Slide and Fan: While holding the stack, slide your fingers in opposite directions, creating a fanning motion. This motion causes the pieces to spread out, making them easier to see and access.
  4. Quick Identification: As the pieces fan out, quickly scan for the specific edge piece you need. The spreading motion helps reveal the details on each piece, aiding in rapid identification.
  5. Retrieve and Connect: Once you identify the desired piece, retrieve it from the stack and connect it to the existing puzzle assembly.

The "two-finger shuffle" is particularly effective when dealing with a large number of edge pieces. It enhances the speed of sorting and connecting edge pieces, contributing to overall efficiency in the speed puzzling process.

Efficient Piece Placement:

  1. Minimize Hand Movement: Keep your hand movements concise and purposeful. Minimize unnecessary gestures to save time.
  2. Fingertip Precision: Use your fingertips to grasp and place pieces accurately. This allows for more precise control during assembly.
  3. Visual Matching: Focus on visual matching rather than relying solely on trial and error. Train your eyes to quickly identify potential matches based on patterns and shapes.
  4. Strategic Rotation: Rotate pieces strategically to test different orientations quickly. This can help identify correct placements more efficiently.
  5. Categorize and Prioritize: Categorize pieces based on their characteristics (color, pattern, shape) and prioritize assembly in segments. This systematic approach prevents overwhelm and accelerates progress.

Mindfulness and Relaxation:

  1. Maintain a Calm Mind: Stay calm and composed during speed puzzling. Avoid rushing, and maintain a steady pace to make informed decisions.
  2. Mindful Breathing: Practice mindful breathing to stay focused and centered. Deep breaths can help alleviate stress and enhance cognitive function.
  3. Positive Visualization: Visualize the completed puzzle in your mind as you work. Positive visualization reinforces your goal and motivates you to stay on track.
  4. Relaxed Posture: Ensure a comfortable and relaxed posture while puzzling. This promotes better concentration and reduces physical strain.


Mastering speed puzzling requires a combination of skill, strategy, and a calm mindset. Experiment with different techniques, find what works best for you, and practice regularly to improve your speed and efficiency. Remember, speed puzzling is not just about completing a puzzle quickly; it's about the thrill of the challenge and the satisfaction of overcoming it with finesse. Happy puzzling!