Hello from Sarah and Michaela!
This week we are discussing the new, but really not so new to us, realm of puzzle competitions. Puzzle competitions have been around longer than most people know. Heck, most people don’t even know puzzle competitions are a thing, and when either of us share we are competitive puzzlers, we get those blank stares followed by a quizzical, “You’re a what?” So we are here to share a bit more about the ins and outs of puzzle competitions!
There are two main types of contests, online and in person. In person contests have historically been more common. This usually involves groups of four competing against each other to complete the same puzzle the fastest. One of the largest puzzle contests happens each January in St. Paul. The past few years there have been three heats of 75+ teams each. We have both been able to participate in this specific contest and we highly recommend joining in if you have the chance!
Now with COVID-19, online contests have been becoming more common. These contests have been all sorts of team sizes and piece counts. In online contests, participants timelapse themselves doing the puzzle with a timer in frame. These contests allow participation from around the world and allows a little more flexibility as participants can start the puzzle at any time.
Sometimes, a contest is the first time that a certain puzzle is released. This makes it a fair playing field for everyone as no one has potentially done that puzzle before. Sometimes a certain brand might sponsor the puzzle contest and their brand of puzzle or logo will appear in the puzzle.
Of course, there are prizes! Prizes can be anything from other puzzles to cash. One puzzle contest we both participate in even gives out large 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons! A lot of it depends who is sponsoring and/or hosting the event. It’s typical you keep the puzzle you completed for the competition. The first competition we participated in together in northern Minnesota was at cidery, and the prize included a growler of hard cider, a pint glass, and a sticker.
There are different places to look for competitions with social media being the easiest. Searching in Facebook events allows you to find competitions of all sizes, including quaint ones put on by a local church or school. This is how we actually found the competition at the cidery! Joining groups such as Jigsaw Puzzle Contests and Pacific Puzzlers can make finding some of these competitions easier depending what you are interested in. Additionally, following different companies social media might help, as companies sponsoring different events will share those events.
If you are interested in competing or knowing more about helping set up a competition in your community, check back next week for our follow up blog on things to consider when setting up a puzzle competition!
Stay Calm and Puzzle On!