Home Australia Australian speed puzzles put the pieces into place in local competitions before the championships.

Australian speed puzzles put the pieces into place in local competitions before the championships.

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Hall of people sitting at tables, waiting to compete in a puzzle competition.

Reigning Australian national speed puzzle champion Katrina Coleman believes her winning time at the last national competition was a little slow.

In 2022 he took first place by completing a 500-piece puzzle in 44 minutes and 34 seconds.

But since competing on the international stage, Ms. Coleman has set a new personal best and shaved more than ten minutes off her finishing time.

As puzzlers across Australia prepare for state competitions, Ms Coleman is confident of defending her title as the country’s fastest.

Competitive advantage a gift from nan

Ms Coleman was first introduced to puzzles from her grandmother and said she was hooked as soon as she could put two pieces together.

It made the joy of completing the puzzle that made her Australian national champion even more intense.

Australian puzzlers preparing to compete in the national competition in 2022.(Supplied: Katrina Coleman)

By giving him a random puzzle, Coleman said he had a “surreal” stroke of luck that calmed his nerves.

“I sat at the table for the start of that competition, I just tapped the box and said ‘okay, nan, I need your help with this,'” Ms Coleman said.

“And when I opened the package it was called Grandad’s Garden.

“My grandfather was a horticulturist… and I just said, ‘Naya, you couldn’t have found a better puzzle.'”

Woman holding a puzzle box in front of an inflatable puzzle piece.

Katrina Coleman holding the Grandad’s Garden puzzle that won her national championships in 2022.(Supplied: Katrina Coleman)

Calm throughout the contest, the Tasmanian competitor felt a wave of emotion upon finishing the puzzle that became her passport to the international championships to be held in Spain in 2023.

There he got a reality check on the speed of the competition.

“I went to Spain a little naïve,” Coleman said.

“The first series I competed in, in Spain, the winner of that series completed the puzzle in 30 minutes, which at the time blew my mind.

“I completed it in 39.”

Coleman returned to Australia armed with new strategies, having observed some of the world’s best competitors.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little practice and some reality checks,” Coleman said.

National champion praises competition in his home state

Tasmania will host its first official state competition, organized by the Australian Puzzle Association, in Launceston this year.

Previously, an informal competition organized by a specialty puzzle store in southern Tasmania had been the gateway to the national championships.

Ms. Coleman is excited to see the official competition come to her home state.

She describes the energy of a competition space as “electric.”

“Solving puzzles in a room with a bunch of other puzzles is an incredible experience,” Ms. Coleman said.

“You can feel the adrenaline. Everyone is a little nervous and nervous.

“In ‘Three, Two, One, Puzzle’ all you hear are bags opening, box lids falling off and ending up on the floor, and pieces falling onto the table.”

Competitors room waiting for the competition to start

Competitors of the international speed puzzle competition in Spain.(Supplied: Katrina Coleman)

Beyond competition, she believes puzzles have social benefits, including meeting like-minded people and exchanging puzzles.

“You don’t have to be a quick puzzler to join the competition. Just enjoy the puzzles,” Ms Coleman said.

“Most people wouldn’t think that puzzles could be social, but they certainly are.”

Routine of a speed puzzle champion.

On Monday, the Australian champion set a new personal best by completing a 500-piece puzzle in under 30 minutes, shaving minutes off the personal best she set in February.

It’s a promising speed for possible success abroad.

If you are interested in speed puzzles, Ms. Coleman recommended timing and filming yourself trying to complete a puzzle to improve your times.

“You can see right away what you can do to improve your time,” Ms. Coleman said.

“It could be the placement of the pieces. It could be the fact that you spent half the puzzle with your chin resting on your fist thinking ‘where do the pieces go?’

“By involving both hands and looking at yourself in bewilderment, you will find ways you can improve.”

Coleman spends little time inspecting a puzzle box, occasionally referring to it if it’s stuck where a piece fits.

For puzzles with large swaths of sky, rely on your keen eye to differentiate changes in color gradient.

Forests can present difficulties, but Coleman looks for small clues in a piece, such as a fragment of a log.

If it gets stuck, it will sort the pieces by shape.

In preparation for next month’s state event, she is averaging 20 puzzles a week to improve her time.


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