I still have a few weeks of summer holiday left, and since I’m stuck in Xiamen, I decided to try to make a staycation out of it. You know, basically trying to do as many new activities and eating at as many different restaurants as I can.
So why not try a puzzle competition, right?
Now I’m hardly a puzzle-aficionado (or whatever they call puzzle lovers) thought I’m not a stranger to “the sport.” I do maybe 4 or so puzzles a year, as it gives me a good excuse to watch hours of TV while doing something productive.
I’ve also found the best puzzle company which makes doing puzzles much more fun. It’s called Pin-too and their puzzles are actually made out of plastic so when you finish you can lean them against the wall and display it without having to get puzzle glue and a frame (One thing I hate about puzzles is what do you do when you finish? It feels meaningless to just take it apart and put it back in the box, but you can’t hang them all either.) But anyway, this puzzle company is the best, and they have a cool puzzle store at a local mall, so I’ve been kinda getting into them more recently. They even have puzzle clocks, vases (that hold water) and round globes. Puzzles have come a long way since I was a kid…
So when this company announced a puzzle competition, how could I not sign up?!
So how does a puzzle competition work? Well, for this one we were put into teams of six (there was 48 people all together–so eight teams) and we would do all our puzzling with them.
Our first activity was to put a 300 piece puzzle together as fast as we could. Each team got the same puzzle, a cat with a pile of books in front of a rainy window.
I’ll admit it was pretty fun! We had a kid on our team, which slowed us down, and Azhi is no puzzle master, so it left the bulk of the work to me and four other women. But Azhi was good at separating the pieces for us, and we ended up giving the border to the kid (this puzzle company has special white pieces to go around the edge to make a nice displayable border) and these other ladies worked fast and hard.
We didn’t win top 3 (prizes were big discounts for puzzles) but we were pretty close. While we waited for the other teams to finish we got to sip on fruit and coffee drinks and eat snacks for free. Yummmmmm.
It was also Chinese Valentines Day and they gave us a free puzzle card and pens so we could write a message to someone and give it to them. Obviously I wrote mine for Azhi but then I broke it up quickly and put the pieces into the envelope before he saw what I wrote. Not sure he has managed to put together the puzzle yet, heh heh.
The next contest was what could be described as “puzzle relay.” We had these little mini puzzles, only 16 pieces, but many of the pieces were identical and would fit together easily even if they were wrong. So that, added with the time pressure and people watching you, made it more nerve wracking than it sounds.
Each team got their box of six mini puzzles and at the buzzer they had to rip open the packaging and begin, with the first person having to finish the puzzle correctly before the next person was allowed to start. Our strategy was to let our slowest player go first and hopefully make up the time after. The slowest player on our team? Azhi. And watching him try to piece together this little tiny puzzle was a test of patience. We weren’t allowed to help him at all (verbally or otherwise) so we watched in silence as he rotated pieces and slowly figured it out. The little girl was getting really frustrated at him and kept trying to yell out when he put the wrong piece together, haha. But he finally got in done and we recovered quick. I was the last one to put together my little puzzle for my team and we ended up winning second prize!
The last activity was just a general puzzle playing time. They had a bunch of puzzles to choose from and my teammate chose a 1,000 piece “currency of the world” puzzle. Even with six people, finishing that puzzle would take a few hours so Azhi and I stuck around long enough to get the edge and some bills done and then we left early.
They gave everyone a 20% discount and of course I spent it right away on my next puzzle. I went for a 2,000 piecer called “Our 2020.” It depicts a scene of what 2020 is like complete with temperature checks at stores and face masks in public (remember this is a Taiwanese puzzle company so things like face masks aren’t controversial at all.)
So I’m certainly not a hard core puzzler, but this was a fun thing to try and a good way to spend an afternoon. To make a staycation work, you gotta be willing to try any crazy old thing, including a puzzle competition.