It is a puzzle!

Cracking your brains. Photo: Bijoy Ghosh  

They were among the biggest highlights of childhood, especially on rainy days. And as we grew up, they found their way to the breakfast table in different forms. While smartphones and social networking sites offering a gazillion colourful and rather addictive puzzles and games, one wonders if people still choose try to make a sense of hundred odd pieces of cardboard.

The first jigsaw puzzle was created in 1760 by John Spilsbury, a British engraver and mapmaker who mounted a map on a sheet of wood that he then sawed around each individual country. It was only in the early 20th century that magazines and newspapers found they could increase their daily subscriptions by publishing puzzle contests.

Shireen Sait, a school counsellor finds: “Working on puzzles is one of the most interesting ways to help children develop their problem-solving abilities. I’ve had many parents come to me with complaints about their children not faring well at English and Math and the first advice I give them is to get their child to start solving puzzles. This is one of the easiest ways to get a child to concentrate as well as to have him enjoy what he is doing.”

Puzzles are a great way to spend quality time with family and friends. “There’s so much of interaction, coordination, challenges and ideas that manifest over a puzzle. And the best part is that there are so many varieties of puzzles to choose from,” says Latika Mendonsa, an avid puzzle collector.

According to collegian Ayush Kumar, “The sense of accomplishment one feels when a puzzle is complete is priceless. Also, puzzles are among the cheapest forms of smart entertainment. When I was younger, my parents would actually display some of my completed puzzles to guests. That motivated me to continue solving puzzles of different kinds.”

While jigsaw puzzles, join the dots, spot the difference, crosswords, chess and the Rubik’s cube continue to be popular, today paper and pencil puzzles such as Sudoku, Kakuro and Ripple Effect are gaining ground. Then of course, Tower of Hanoi and Peg Solitaire are also excellent brain teasers.

Arun Gangadhar, a novelty store manager says: “Though video games are popular and puzzles are easily available on the internet, there are a lot of people who still invest in physical puzzles. However, I’ve noticed it is usually young parents who come and buy them. Even if the adults are solving puzzles, they prefer to do it online or in a newspaper.”

Puzzles are as relevant today despite our umpteen pastimes and hi-tech forms of entertainment.

And by the looks of it there will always be aficionados, whether they take to puzzles on paper or off it!

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 10:46:33 PM |

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