On Saturday, Feb. 3, the Granby Drummer will host its inaugural Puzzle Slam competition and fundraiser at the Granby Senior Center.
A midwestern favorite, speed puzzling has risen in popularity in recent years. Regional, state, national and world championship competitions bring together people of all ages, who work solo or in teams to complete a new jigsaw puzzle. Interest has surged from California to Connecticut. The University of Hartford hosted the USA Northeast Regional Speed Puzzling Championship (NER2023) on Aug. 12.
Puzzlers from California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia and Connecticut competed in several divisions. The fastest time to complete a 1000-piece puzzle in the adult team division was 48 minutes and 38 seconds, while the winner of the adult solo division completed a 500-piece puzzle in 50 minutes and 57 seconds. The winners will go on to compete at the USA Jigsaws National contest in San Diego, Calif. in March.
The brainchild of Rita Isaacson, who served as managing editor of the Drummer from 2006 to 2022, the Puzzle Slam is intended to be a family-friendly, fun activity to break up the dreary winter to which New Englanders are accustomed.
Isaacson and other organizers attended and participated in NER2023 to gain insight into how puzzle slams are conducted. With 280 pieces connected out of 1000 pieces, Isaacson and her teammates placed 14th in the adults team division. “We didn’t go there with any idea that we were going [to win], because I’m not a fast puzzler at all,” Isaacson jokes, “It’s just a fun thing.”
Taking notes from NER2023, the Granby Puzzle Slam will be geared towards all ages and all levels of puzzling proficiency. Teams of four will be given a “secret” 500-piece puzzle, which they will unwrap and open.
The first step, Isaacson notes, is flipping over all the pieces. Then, she recommends sorting them by color and by type—for instance, putting all the edge pieces together. In preparation for the puzzle slam, competitors can practice this part at home, timing themselves to see how long it takes to flip over 500 jigsaw puzzle pieces. These are the same methods used by the winning speed puzzlers.
Isaacson notes that there is no expectation for participants in Granby’s Puzzle Slam to be at the professional level. “I just want people to have fun. I don’t want them to be frustrated,” she affirms. “I just want them to come and have a good time.” Besides encouraging a community atmosphere, the event will benefit the Granby Drummer.
To enter as a four-person team, competitors will register online and pay a $100 entry fee. This entry fee will be used to offset the costs of the event, and leftover funds will go towards supporting the Granby Drummer.
Corporations are invited to sponsor the event or one of the 20 to 30 puzzling tables. These funds will allow the Drummer to continue its vital function within the town of Granby.
For the first time since its inception, the Drummer has struggled to support its operations from advertising. Rising printing costs and energy prices have pinched the paper’s finances. In addition, the increasing use of social media for marketing and advertising has drained the pool of advertisers. With less advertising income and increased expenses, the Drummer needs to fundraise to continue carrying on its mission of informing residents of current issues and encouraging citizens to participate in the political, social, and cultural life of Granby.