It took me a really long time to figure out why people liked puzzles so much.

Brian Holland

by Brian Holland

I'd toyed around with the metal mind-puzzles, you know the kind where two loops of steel are connected and you've gotta figure out how to pull them apart without breaking them? I guess I wasn't smart enough for them, or maybe my brain doesn't think in the right way to overcome them, so I would just get frustrated.

Like most people, I had jigsaw puzzles when I was a kid. One of those big cardboard ones where most of the edges were chewed at, or busted from where you'd try to force it together with a piece it wasn't supposed to go with.

For the longest time, I didn't super get it.

Especially when I was visiting my grandparents one Christmas and found my grandmother sitting alone at the kitchen table with a spread of about 1000 pieces before her, just staring at them, contemplative, in the wizened way that only a grandmother can stare.

puzzle 1I remember asking her what she was doing- I couldn't have been older than eight or nine-, and she told me, in her thick, Swedish accent, that she was “doing the jigsaw.”

But she wasn't doing anything! She was just staring at 1000 tiny pieces of oddly-shaped cardboard.

So, in all my childlike wisdom, I asked her if I could help.

First she made me search through to find all the corner pieces. Then I helped her find all the edges, and slowly we began to build the four walls of the painting. Sure, I may have copped a gentle slap or two to the back of my hand for trying to force two pieces together, but for the first time, someone was actually showing me that there was a method to, what appeared to be, madness.

Some twenty years later, and my boss, Good Games Brand Manager Jaime Lawrence, pointed out to me that jigsaw puzzles are a lot like miniatures.

Seeing as you're reading this on the Good Games website, I'm sure I don't have to point out to you what a deep and fulfilling hobby miniature painting and collecting is. But the more I thought about it, the more I found parallels between the two.

It's a small, mindful activity you can have set up on your dining room table. You can tend to it and add to it at different points through the week, and ultimately you're creating something.

'I love having a jigsaw set up in the house!' Jaime said. 'I'll do a little in front of TV at night with my better half, the kids will tinker with it whenever they walk through- and the cats love ruining the whole damn thing.

'I've framed one I'm quite chuffed at having finished.' Jaime said. 'You may not have made something from scratch, but you've brought it to life.'

Unlike miniatures, jigsaws are more accessible to a wide range of people. They make a perfect gift for someone who's tastes you're unsure of. Given the wide range of designs, you can always find a puzzle suitable for ages 5 to 95.puzzle 2

And I don't just mean the art. There are a variety of puzzles for folks not content with assembling a large picture.

There are 3D puzzles that make artistic sculptures, buildings or comic book characters. There are also a fun range of puzzles where the image on the box depicts what happened a few moments before the image you're trying to construct- turning the jigsaw into an excellent little brainteaser!

Good Games Salesperson Rob Cafini has even found a way to get jigsaw puzzles to appeal to those of us who are more competitively minded.

'What I love doing in a relationship is competitive puzzling.' Cafini told me. 'I buy her a 1000 piece puzzle. She buys me a 1000 piece puzzle. We give them to each other but keep the boxes so you don't know what you're putting together- and race!

'It's a load of fun,' he said, 'and you come to appreciate the image and puzzle that you're putting together more because you're having to follow the image and design lines, as opposed to just copying a box lid.'

Jigsaw puzzles have seen a resurgence in the past 18 months, almost as a result of the huge growth of the tabletop gaming industry.

As a result, more and more of our Good Games stores are now stocking a huge range of jigsaw puzzles for you to check out!

We also have a range of accessories, including the spray-glue which will seal your puzzle together once you've finished (and make it perfect for framing, as Jaime did with his), and my personal favourite, the jigsaw mat- a wide cloth you can lay your jigsaw on as you work on it, and then simply roll up the mat -puzzle and all-, to put it aside when you need your table space back!


puzzle 3Contact your local Good Games store or our experts, The Games Capital Online, to ask about jigsaw puzzles and puzzle accessories!