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How do YOU set about solving large or complex puzzles?

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Thanks for your input mamastella. It's interesting how everyone seems to have slightly different ways of working. Your philosophy of solving puzzles in a 'relaxed' manner and not caring about the times is a salutary lesson for us all. It's easy to to get caught up in the competitive nature of high-score tables and forget the most important aspect of coming here: and that is solving puzzles for one's own pleasure. :^)


Also, I almost never use the picture for a reference. Just a further challenge that I enjoy.


This may sound like a contradiction, but I like to play relaxed (time not an issue) but with structured plan. If I see easily recognizable colors or patterns, I pull them all out to one side of the pile. I allow myself to do five of these picks. Then I work on assembling each of these areas. Then I expand out from them. I'm never in the top 10, so this method isn't recommended as an aid for speeding up your time. If I have a very complex or monotone puzzle, I sort the pieces into two general categories ... those with a "bump" on top, those with a "hole" on top. As I work the puzzle, I often further sort into those with a "bump" on the left side, and those with an open left side. I am fortunate to have a large screen monitor. I tried using my daughter's laptop when I was in bedrest for a while, and it was very frustrating.


stonehenge, I started off here doing something similar, but as I'm working on a laptop—albeit a fairly large one—I needed all the screen real estate I could muster for the larger puzzles. Having an always-on-top window that's barely larger than the thumbnail gives me a lot more room to manoeuvre. :^)


Thanks for your input Dohan, that's very interesting. I haven't got around to completing the original puzzle yet, but I'm sure it will take well over an hour using my existing method, so your time is quite impressive. 'Anarchic' it may be, but clearly effective with the right kind of puzzle.



After doing this puzzle I went to do the orignal image and as there was enough colour to distinguish the puzzle pieces from one another the anarchic method of putting the puzzle together a bit here and a bit there worked perfectily well. Mostly guided by the colours with an occasional glimps at the thumbnail there was no problem at all with my way of doing it. Before I used to sort everything out as well, but I got bored by it, I'm just too impatient I want to put things together as soon as I see them. :))
I've got no idea if this helps, but I must admit I had a fun afternoon doing puzzles :))

I always have a reference picture because I simply log on again in another window and have them side by side!


without a reference picture in front of me, this was one of the toughest I've done.


I'm afraid my approach to puzzle solving - putting parts together as I see them, sometimes a bit of border, sometimes a bit of this colour and that - wasn't usable with this puzzle as It didn't have enough different colours to solve it my way. With colourful puzzles this way gives very good results, It was worth a try. Thanks for some challenging entertainment on a rainy Thursday evening. :))

WOW!!! My brain is all set for a week as far as challenging puzzles go! Time: 1:31:11


Thank you sissy and you're welcome. I guess I'm not quite as slow as I thought... :^D


this was a tough one for me. ty


Thank you for insight John, that is indeed helpful. And a good time too—compared to mine, at least. :^)

I understand what you're saying about this particular puzzle being easy enough to envision, but many are not. So, unless you've got an eidetic memory, wouldn't you find it useful to have the thumbnail picture always visible for reference in those cases?


Well, as first to solve I should explain my technique on solving this one. I envisage the picture as a whole, but don't paste a copy - in this one it would be pointless, so just as easy doing almost blind.
First, as with all puzzles, I shrink the view to create a white halo around the pieces, then move the edges into the relevant area. Olongside this I also picked out full colour pieces and moved to the top right, and also those which appeared to have some joined up to the bottom right. I generally then put these together, and placed in the upper right part of the screen. This meant that I had the outside done, the pasted image and the assembled pieces. Next was to select the plain white pieces and put these into the botttom right portion. This took about 20 minutes, and is about half the total pieces.
This leaves the more difficult half with no discernable pattern. There is no real alternative other than just a slog. I tend not to isolate the pieces before I start, so these are all over. I then pick a piece from the inside and move it around the inside until it either fits, or move it to the top left area - in some order. Once you have gone around all the remaining pieces you should have put about half in, and then start on the others again. After the second run I just had 3 pieces left, which took no time at all.
I think that my time is fairly good for a puzzle of this size and picture, but no doubt can be bettered.
A good mouse and hand/eye co-ordination are definitely an advantage as well.
Hope this helps, John


Hi nellie, I will try to explain it better:
If you look at the top right corner of the thumbnail for this puzzle, you should see a small window containing a picture of the completed (inner) puzzle. This is a useful little feature of the Microsoft OneNote application, which comes with Office (SBE+ I think). It allows you to clip (capture) an area of the desktop as a picture and it has a setting to be 'always-on-top'—so it's not hidden by any other application, such as the browser window—making it ideal for displaying a handy reference while you work.


What do you mean on #1?


I've been wondering how some people seem to get such astonishingly quick times on some of the larger or more complex puzzles. So I thought I'd present a picture of a partially completed puzzle, as a puzzle showing my own method at an intermediate stage—which is hopefully an interesting and challenging puzzle in and of itself—as a starting point to ask people.

My own method is fairly straightforward:
1. Use an always-on-top OneNote side-note to take a clip of the picture for reference while working.
2. Zoom and pan so that there is enough room for between 3-4 rows above the pile—maybe allowing a bit more space if the pile is densely packed—and with the pile aligned to the left edge.
3. Loosely separate all the pieces out—placing all the edge pieces above and to the right, assembling them as I go, and trying to leave a gap at the right of the screen large enough for the completed puzzle.
4. Once all the edges are assembled, form the rectangle at the right-hand side of the screen and move any overlapping pieces out of the way.
5. At this point, much depends on what the puzzle's pieces consist of:
    a. If it's full of pieces that are easy to distinguish between one another, I'll just work from this position.
    b. If the pictures on the pieces are all hard to distinguish from one another, I'll rearrange them into groups of similar shapes and assemble based on the interlock shapes, mostly ignoring the pictures.
    c. If, as is the case with THIS particular puzzle (not the inner puzzle), some of the pieces are easy to pick out but lots aren't, I will assemble the picture as much as can be done easily then rearrange the remaining pieces into groups of shapes.

So, how do you do it? Is there a method I haven't considered that allows you to finish large or complex puzzles more quickly?

PS. If anyone's interested, here is a link to the inner puzzle: