Important factors that determine the speed & the difficulty level of a Puzzle
Written by Soon Cho / January 9th, 2023
Puzzle in the photo: Good Vibes Only by Humberto Cruz
How long does it take to do a 1000 piece puzzle? As Jigsaw puzzles become more popular after a surge during covid, this is among the most frequently asked questions.
There are 7 factors that determine how long the 1000 piece puzzle would take, and here they are.
1. The Image
Humans are visual creatures.
Before we talk to a stranger, we scan the looks. It is not to judge someone, but we simply rely on visual cues for basic adaptive behaviors such as finding food, mates, and shelter. It’s an instinct. So when we are putting 1000 pieces together, that’s what we do. We look for clues such as color, patterns, and textures to group the pieces and connect them together. To sum it up, images are the number one factor that determines the difficulty of the puzzle, and how long it will take to complete. The less ‘clues’ you have, the harder it is to do. There are many solid-coloured 1000 piece puzzles out there, and they are the most challenging, because there is no actual ‘image’ on the puzzle.
2. Piece Shape
The piece shapes have similar characteristics of images, as it is the next visual clue that is less obvious than the image. There are a variety of piece shapes in the puzzle world- such as a grid cut, a random cut, and other funky ones. If two pieces look similar, it could lead to what’s called ‘false fits’ but if you look close enough, there will be a subtle difference that determines which pieces go where. Generally, grid cuts with unique shapes are the easiest, and random cuts are the hardest. It’s because the cut lines in the grid connect together where the lines in the random don’t. However, humans can adapt with repetition, so if you practice with the same random cut over and over again, it could reduce the hours of puzzling.
3. Piece Count
This is pretty obvious, right? The more problems you need to solve, the longer it will take. The more pages the book has, it will take longer to read no matter how ‘easy to read’ that book is. You will take less time to do a 100 piece puzzle than a 1000 piece puzzle. And ironically, you can’t count the hours of puzzling with simple math. Let’s say it takes 3 hours to do a 1000 piece Gradient Puzzle for you- would 2000 pieces take exactly 6 hours? Generally it doesn’t work that way. Most definitely it will take more than 6 hours. This is because the more pieces you have, you have to spend double the time to find pieces, sort them, and look for the clues. In short, the smaller the piece count the puzzle has, you will multiply the speed to complete it.
4. Puzzle Quality
What does a puzzle quality mean?
If you are completely new to puzzling, you might have no idea how this affects the puzzling speed. On the other hand, if you are an avid puzzler, you definitely would. So there are a few things that determine the quality of a puzzle. A snug fit (the pieces hold together well), no false fits (all pieces go where they need to go), and thick & sturdy pieces (satisfying click). When putting the puzzle together, you will work in small sections and put them together in the right places of the image. To freely move small sections of a puzzle, the pieces need to hold well, or else they will fall apart and need to piece them together all over again. Sounds frustrating, right? Well not only that, if the puzzle has similar piece shapes and you end up putting many pieces that you ‘thought’ were in the right places but not, you might have to re-organize the pieces. Lastly, the thicker and sturdier the pieces are, you will have that extra satisfying ‘click’ when the pieces go in the right places. That satisfaction will keep you moving, thus it will increase your speed.
5. Your Experience
It’s common sense that the more experience you have with something, the better you get. Imagine the time you went to the airport to travel somewhere. Everything was new, and there were so many steps to get to the gate of your plane. You needed to wonder a bit, ask several people where to get somewhere and how to do things. However, a frequent traveler would know exactly what to do at the airport. This should make everything easier and speedier as the system is pretty much coded in the brain. The same applies to any skills in life including puzzling. Your brain works faster to solve a 1000 piece puzzle if you have been puzzling consistently for several years. For most everyday puzzlers, a 1000 piece puzzle would take roughly 3-5 hours- an easy image being 3-4 hours, and the harder ones being 5-7 hours. For starters, you might need to double the time.
6. People Involved
Do you like to work solo or with a team?
If you work better solo (like being a freelancer), you might solve puzzles faster by yourself and if you work better with a team, you might solve puzzles faster with a friend or family members. You probably think more hands and eyes will speed up the puzzle game, but sometimes they might bother you from moving forward. This is because everyone works differently even when it comes to solving puzzles. Just like any team sport, if you assign different tasks and roles to solve a puzzle with multiple people, it sure will be faster to complete the puzzle than doing it solo.
7. Your mood
This is not the most important factor that affects your puzzling speed, but it is worth mentioning. If you are feeling angry, frustrated, or extremely exhausted- this is not a good time to solve a 1000 piece puzzle. Although puzzles help you relax and clear your head, puzzling is something that works your brain. So when you feel angry, please get some fresh air and take a break. You won’t move too far solving puzzles with an unpleasant mood!
So you just read 7 factors that affect your puzzling time. What do you think?
Although you were curious about how long it takes to do a 1000 piece puzzle, remember that puzzling is not a race unless you are competing in a contest. Enjoy every moment of the puzzling experience, and take your time. Solving puzzles consistently builds your brain muscles, just like a physical work out for your body. It’s going to be fun, don’t rush it and enjoy every piece of the puzzle.