Piece by piece, North Dakota joins competitive jigsaw puzzle world with inaugural competition
FARGO — The relaxing, enjoyable pastime of assembling jigsaw puzzles has found its way into the intense world of competition.
Event organizers had to turn competitors away for the first ever North Dakota Jigsaw Puzzle Championship Sunday, July 15, at the Red River Valley Fair. Only 20 teams were accepted to compete.
Competitors of all ages participated in the inaugural competition, where teams of three-to-four members had to assemble a 500-piece puzzle in three hours.
Per competition rules, each team received the same puzzle, and no one was allowed to see the puzzle until the timer began.
The winning team, the Puzzlers on the Edge, completed their puzzle in under one hour.
With strategy, focus and a lot of fun, the reigning champs put their last piece of the puzzle in at 47 minutes and 29 seconds.
Susan Kempel, of Casselton, N.D., the captain of the winning team, said the competition was definitely there, but so was the fun.
"Winning it was awesome. It was a good feeling when we put that last piece in," Kempel said.
During the competition, Kempel and her team had no idea they were in the lead, until the final few minutes when event moderators were standing right by them, observing closely.
With a blue ribbon around her neck, Kempel said the secret to her team's success, besides putting the pieces together as fast they could, was flipping all the pieces face up, then sorting the side pieces from the inside pieces.
The Puzzlers on the Edge practiced only one time as a team before the competition, although they've all been putting puzzles together for most of their lives. It took the team an hour and 15 minutes to complete a 500-piece puzzle in their practice round; they shaved off about 30 minutes in their monumental win.
Like the inaugural championship they participated in, this was the team's first ever competition. And they plan to do it again, with a spot already secured in next year's championship.
In addition to the blue ribbons and trophy, Kempel's team won four tickets to see new movie Mamma Mia 2 and a $20 gift card to Fargo restaurant, Mezzaluna.
The second place team, Gettin Jiggy With It, wasn't far behind, coming in at 48 minutes and 13 seconds. They won four tickets to Cirque Du Soleil at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.
Puzzled People came in third place with a time of 50 minutes and 41 seconds, and received four reserved tickets to "Hello Dolly" at Trollwood.
RRVF and KFGO The Mighty 790 hosted the jigsaw championship that was held in the Foltz Special Events Center in the fairgrounds.