Help! Have I been doing jigsaw puzzles wrong all this time?

Just a small selection of my 2020-2021 puzzle collection…

By rough estimates, I have done about eleventy-billion jigsaw puzzles since the pandemic started.

I know, right?

But a random comment during a family dinner last night has me freaking out… because maybe my super-awesome puzzling skills aren’t actually all that impressive after all!

As we were chatting about puzzles — like people do — someone commented that once they take the pieces out of the box, they put the box away. And I was like… what??? But how do you know what it’s supposed to look like?

And they told me that they look at the picture before they start, but that’s it.


Which basically implies…

I’ve been cheating all along!?!?!?!?!?!

It has never once occurred to me NOT to keep the puzzle box cover handy as a reference while working on a puzzle. Am I not supposed to? Are we supposed to just do our puzzles blind?

I’m shocked and dismayed and doubting my super puzzling abilities.

What do you think?

Has all my puzzling been in vain?

Photo by Sharon Snider on

I won’t be able to sleep nights until I get some answers! Please share your thoughts!

26 thoughts on “Help! Have I been doing jigsaw puzzles wrong all this time?

  1. Oh gosh, no!! Keep the box there all along. I’ve done a few really intricate ones and would have absolutely NO chance if the box wasn’t there. I don’t know if I’m impressed or bewildered they can do it that way.

  2. Hehehe… I have friends from High School who are twin sisters. They’ve been exchanging puzzles all through the year. I believe they keep the cover nearby! Do what you like. It is your pastime and if you are enjoying yourself, that’s the important thing.

  3. It depends on the puzzle for me. Usually I don’t use the cover to do them—I rely on the colors/patterns on the pieces to put them together. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “real puzzle person.” You do you! I’ve definitely used the cover sometimes for super hard puzzles, and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

    • That’s awesome to hear. The only ones I’ve done without the box this year have been puzzles made up of book covers, because using the picture would make it just way too easy. But other than that, I really do rely on the pictures if I’m ever going to finish.

  4. We keep the box out, refer to it frequently, and joke about “cheating”. Who cares?! PS the bottom half of the puzzle box is for sorting the boring pieces into, to do last. Like a big patch of sky.

  5. I am a big time cheater!! I study the picture so I know what pieces to look for. I will see a random piece and know where it goes because I know the picture so well. Here I thought I was so skilled at puzzle building and I have been cheating all this time!!! LOL.

  6. Try mxing it up. My jigsaw-loving sister rarely looks at the picture, but I was the opposite. Bit by bit, I think I’m teaching my brain to rely less on “where do you go” and more on “who do you go with” approach. Then try it without spreading the pieces out, leave them in the box and move them around, like you are gently tossing a salad, and watch as different pieces come to the surface … and then marvel when two adjacent pieces surface one after the other … the process becomes another world in which we can loose ourselves. Enjoy. Whichever way you enjoy you puzzle.

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