My grandmother introduced me to the art of jigsaw puzzles when I was 8 or 9 years old. I’m sure I had done one before then, but I distinctly remember her explaining how to do the edges first and the work your way in. I have been a jigsaw puzzle aficionado ever since. But as much as I enjoy putting a puzzle together, time is tight and I’m choosy about the type of puzzles I like to do. I’m not a fan of folk art (which my parents love) or landscapes (borrrring…). I like puzzles that have interesting things going on, plenty of color, and enough challenge to be fun without being infuriating. Having completed a 500-piece puzzle once that consisted entirely of iridescent gold paper with no picture whatsoever, I have a right to be picky.
The Baffler puzzle by Chris Yates caught my eye for bright colors, interesting pieces, and a lack of straight edges or cohesive image. When I put together a puzzle, I use colors for a guide, but I am much more drawn to the shape of the pieces. My brain works by making connections and the shapes tend to stand out to me. Moreover, I’m not someone who sorts pieces, as my husband and father-in-law do. Besides feeling more like a chore than a pleasure, it seems kind of like cheating. Call me a purist.
I challenged myself to solve the Baffler in one sitting without being a nutcase about it. We were also watching a mini-series at the time, so it’s not like I could be that intense. The 78 pieces took me just under 45 minutes of casual puzzle time and I was wishing for more. This was a great way to exercise my ability to see physical patterns and not just color patterns in the pieces.
What makes the Baffler tricky, other than the lack of picture to build around, is that the pieces are outlined in black making the holes seem bigger than they are and the pegs seem smaller. I was concerned that the tiny “pegs” would result in pieces ending up in the wrong spot, but this was mostly unfounded. It did happen once, but that was with a single-peg piece and I quickly found the error. The Baffler puzzles are on thick enough cardboard that there was no warping and it was very difficult to force a piece into place that didn’t belong. If you’ve ever done a cheaply made puzzle, you know how infuriating that can be.
I put the puzzle together without looking at the picture on the box (ok, I looked at it once, to resolve the problem I mentioned above), but you could easily use that as a guide to help with assembly or when you get stuck. And with 78 pieces, it never feels insurmountable. The Baffler is fun, and challenges you to think about things in different ways. Plus, the colors are just lovely.
The Baffler is available in three different designs (Bindu Truss, pictured above, Spiral of Archimedes, and The Nonagon) from CEACO. It retails for $9.99.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the Baffler for review purposes. There was no promise of a positive review and the opinions contained in this post are my own.