Can you Solve It?: National Puzzle Day
Today, Jan. 29, is National Puzzle Day! A day to celebrate the puzzles we love like jigsaw, crossword, Wordle, Sudoku, Search and Find, Word Jumble, and many others. In addition to being fun, studies have shown that puzzles improve mental speed, short-term memory, concentration, and even lift our mood when we solve the puzzle. Here, sharp-minded Buzz neighbors share their love of puzzles.
After West University neighbor Diane Burnett retired a few years ago, she had more time to do things like read and exercise. She had always enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles, so she started collecting them.
“I started out with lower counts like 500-pieces, but quickly moved to 1000-piece puzzles. I then attempted a 1500-piece puzzle and a 2000-piece puzzle and realized that 1000-pieces was the sweet spot for me – enough but not too much.”
Diane started puzzling with her friend Mary Brisco. “Mary comes over to my house, and we puzzle in the afternoons while having a chance to talk about everything. We are good partners because Mary and I puzzle differently. I rely on shapes, and she finds where each piece on the puzzle picture goes, so we make a good team!”
During Covid, Diane ordered two 1000-piece Covid-themed puzzles, one of toilet paper and one of face masks. Diane commented, “Both were very difficult because all of the pieces were similar shapes, and both had only two colors. This was not fun for Mary, so she abandoned me.”
Mary laughed. “They were absolutely horrible and difficult to do, so I didn't!” Diane agreed and said it was not fun for her either, but she was determined to finish. “The two completed puzzles are still on my dining room table. I cannot bring myself to take them apart after all that hard work!”
Diane shared that Mary came up with the genius idea of putting an art board on the dining room table and putting a rim around the edge so that pieces would not fall to the floor. Diane commented, “It works really great although every once in a while, we still have to get on our hands and knees to find one of those pesky missing pieces that sometimes sneaks off the table. Puzzling has brought both of us pleasure and allowed us to keep up with each other at the same time.”
In addition to being a dedicated and talented jigsaw puzzler, Cecile Lambert is a big Astros fan. For Christmas 2022, a friend gifted her a puzzle with a picture of the inside of Minute Maid Park during a game, which included players on the field and thousands of orange-wearing fans in the stands. Cecile shared, “The people were smaller than an eraser on the end of a pencil. It was tough but I like a challenge. I started the puzzle when the Astros baseball season started in April and by the time I finished, they were in the playoffs!”
Cecile has not hosted any big parties lately, so the puzzle still adorns her dining room table. It was too big to fit on the card table she usually uses. Cecile thinks she will glue it together and have it framed.
Sometimes Cecile has more than one puzzle going at the same time. “I like that they keep me busy when I’m not out with friends or family or doing any of my other activities. I tend to run early so it gives me something to do while I’m waiting! I often consider working on my puzzles as my reward after I check everything off my to-do list for the day.”
Cecile has a whole closet of puzzles she enjoys trading with friends who also enjoy jigsaws.
During the months of Covid quarantine, Cecile completed more than 40 puzzles. “They saved my life during the pandemic. There’s only so much television you can watch before you get bored.”
Cecile is thrilled to have a four-year-old great-granddaughter who likes putting together children’s puzzles. “I am so thankful that Blaire inherited my puzzle gene. She is a really good at it and has fun doing them.”
Deborah and Rock Gremillion like to keep a puzzle out on her coffee table for any visitors to work on. “It is great for intergenerational bonding. We love working on puzzles with our nine-year-old granddaughter Olivia. It is a fun activity to do together.”
Deborah likes to choose puzzles that have a photo she likes and will want to look at while they are working on it. For her favorites, such as a tree frog and a collage of Love postage stamps, she uses Mod Podge craft glue to preserve them and hang them on our walls. “At Christmas time I switch them out with Christmas puzzles we have done over the years. Having them up as artwork is a nice reminder of putting them together with family and friends.”
Kelly Ownby likes to play Wordle and tries to solve the puzzle in fewer tries than her sister or friends. “Now, I might have a bit of a competitive streak in me. I play early in the morning and send my results to my sister and the friend that first tried to get me to play. We are pretty evenly matched, but I must admit I get a little thrill when I beat my sister.”
Kelly always starts with the same word that uses the “Wheel of Fortune” letters: n, r, s, t, e. “One of these days I’ll get it on the first try! There definitely is some strategy involved. I have to think back to the rules of phonics. I feel like the more I play, the better I get. Also being an avid reader has given me a larger word bank to draw from.”
Nancy Harper became a fan of the numbers game Sudoku during one hurricane season when she was without power for 14 days. “The usual online entertainment sources were not available as we were all trying to save our cell phone batteries because charging was challenging. Some neighbors were discussing Sudoku, so I decided to get a puzzle book and was hooked. Back in the day you went to a bookstore to buy a book but now it’s on our phones so you can play anytime, anywhere. Each time you solve a puzzle, it’s a very, very small victory and we all need those little victories!”
It is not puzzling at all to see why people’s love of puzzles makes it worthy of its own day. Here are links to free games to help you celebrate National Puzzle Day. Good luck and enjoy!
Free Online Puzzles
- USA Today's Daily Crossword
- Jigsaw Free Online from Jigsaw Planet
- Word Search Puzzles
- Chicago Tribune's Word Jumble Daily
- Wordle - The New York Times
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