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Solving a Puzzle like a Pro – Puzzle Solving Strategies & Tips

Solving a Puzzle like a Pro – Puzzle Solving Strategies & Tips

Solving a Puzzle Like an Expert


Jigsaw puzzles are among the world’s most time-honored stress-relieving hobbies, with a history dating back to the 1700s. While there are many ways to put together a puzzle, from the random to the methodical, it’s always good to plan ahead before you begin.

So are you wondering what’s the best jigsaw puzzle strategy to use, or what you’ll need to do before getting started? This article includes tips and plans of action for how to solve puzzles in a way that’s both organized and enjoyable for people of all ages.

Pick Your Puzzle

It’s important to pick the right puzzle, based both on difficulty level and what appeals to your imagination. The difficulty (and your puzzle-solving strategy) depends primarily on the number of pieces and the image design. For example, designs with more colors and distinct sections are typically easier to work through.

For beginners and younger children, a 100 or 200 piece jigsaw puzzle offers rewarding starting points. The larger format pieces take less concentration to sort and put together while still providing an engaging experience. Intermediate puzzle lovers can try their hands at 300 to 750 piece projects, more challenging but well worth the time once you put in the last piece! Finally, for those looking for a true test of skill, try 1,000 or 1,500+ piece puzzles

And again, it’s also helpful to choose a theme or style that relates to your interests! At Bits and Pieces, we carry jigsaw puzzles designed by renowned artists featuring breathtaking landscapes, animal scenes, intricate patterns, holiday themes, and much more.

Plan Ahead

Start with some baseline planning before you begin solving a puzzle and putting it all together. Ensure you have enough table space and consider how long you plan to spend puzzling — if it’s a longer-term project, for example, setting up shop on the kitchen table may not be the best idea. While some people quickly disassemble their projects and rebox them after finishing, others prefer to preserve them using puzzle frames and glue, which takes a little more forethought before starting. Either way, prepare accordingly!

Prepare Your Workspace

The best locations for putting puzzles together tend to have a few things in common. Primarily, good lighting, the right surface, and comfortable seating. Staring at small pieces for a long time can be difficult in dim environments, besides straining your eyes and adding an unnecessary challenge to sorting pieces. Keep a lamp nearby for quick access to extra light as needed.

As to the surface, avoid working on slick tables with little grip to keep the puzzle from sliding, as well as fabric surfaces that are too soft. Try puzzle tables or rollup mats with just enough tack and firmness to keep pieces from sliding around and getting lost. Plus, with specialized tables, you can more easily store and organize pieces. When it comes time to solve a puzzle, it also helps to work in an area that’s quiet and distraction-free.

Start Puzzling

Now it’s time to puzzle! In this section, we look at a few different strategies and best practices for how to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

Flip All Of Your Pieces

With all of your pieces spread out on the table or puzzle mat, begin by flipping them all right side up. It’s a little tedious but will ultimately save time and make your puzzle-solving more efficient in the long run.

Identify The Corners

Next, find all four corner pieces. The two straight edges forming a 90-degree angle are usually easy to spot, though this may require some patience for puzzles with lots of pieces. Flipping all of your pieces face up beforehand will help here, too. Note that this step won’t necessarily apply to shaped jigsaw puzzles.

Start With The Edges

One of the oldest tricks in the book — start bringing your puzzle to life by finding all of the edge pieces and putting them together. It’s okay if you don’t build the full border at the beginning, though connecting as many of the edge pieces as possible gives you a solid framework. Plus, it can help you work in sections and will keep things from getting too disorganized.

Sort By Color

This is an especially helpful strategy for solving a puzzle with lots of pieces. Start by sorting pieces into piles by similar colors; start broadly, making subdivisions as you go to match more specific hues, patterns, and images. This will help segment the puzzle-solving process into smaller and more manageable sections. You can also use an organizer or sorter to make this even easier.

Set Aside Unique Pieces

Puzzle strategy experts around the world recommend setting aside particularly unique pieces as you go. For example, those with distinct letters or words, lines, images like windows or eyes, textures, and so on. Some puzzles contain what are called “whimsy pieces,” which are immediately recognizable owing to their standout shape, of an object or animal, for example, often in keeping with the puzzle’s theme.

Take Breaks

Lastly, don’t forget to take breaks as needed. Sometimes it helps to have fresh eyes when you get stuck on a certain section. Solving puzzles is lots of fun and will be more enjoyable if you give yourself time and space!


Solving a puzzle is a joyful, rewarding, frustrating, curious, and historically treasured experience, from opening up the box to putting in that final piece. Everyone puzzles for their own reasons, and there’s no single goal (besides finishing), though don’t forget to have fun and be patient as you go. It’s important not to give up when feeling frustrated or overwhelmed; there are lots of strategies and tools out there to help you in your quest and to see the puzzle from a different perspective.

Now that you know how to solve a puzzle like an expert, it’s time to get started on your next project! Bits and Pieces has been supplying millions of adults and kids alike with unique jigsaws, brainteasers, and gift ideas since 1983. Shop our full collection of jigsaw puzzles online, or sign up for our catalog today!

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