Northland speed puzzlers headed to World Championship

Northland speed puzzlers headed to World Championship

Some puzzle for pleasure, and some puzzle for the prize.

Some puzzle for pleasure, and some puzzle for the prize.

Amber Haglund-Pagel and Valerie Coit are speed puzzlers. They are headed for Spain to compete in next weekend’s World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship.

“Everyone gets the same jigsaw puzzle, and you open it at the same time, and you do it as fast as you possibly can, and whoever finishes first wins,” Haglund-Pagel explained the premise.

Coit is the president of the USA Jigsaw Puzzle Association.

“I would like to say I’m the fun aunt of jigsaw puzzling in Duluth,” she said, “but I think I’m more the grandma at this point.”

She helped start the Duluth Puzzle Derby, and attending that event hooked Haglund-Pagel.

“I thought, this is really interesting and fun and I think I could get better,” she said.

She has. Haglund-Pagel is a national champion and thinks she has a good shot at Worlds, especially in the team competition.

“I’m most excited just to compete with our heavy-hitter team,” Haglund-Pagel said. “We’ve got a chance of winning, actually.”

“Yeah, you do,” Coit agreed. “This is going to be the first time that the U.S. has really had strong competitors and people that could actually potentially win.”

There are three categories: individual, pairs, and teams. Haglund-Pagel and Coit will compete as a pair.

But they know that trying to do a 1,000-piece puzzle as fast as possible isn’t a fit for everyone.

“There’s a lot of folks out there who are like, why would you take something that’s supposed to be relaxing and then make it stressful?” Coit laughed. “I find it hugely relaxing to speed puzzle because literally I think of nothing else.”

The two are happy to support people’s puzzling habits no matter how they do it. During the pandemic, Haglund-Pagel started a Jigsaw Puzzle Swap, and there are now four locations around the Twin Ports.

The World competition starts Friday, June 24 and runs through Sunday, June 26. You can follow along on the USA Jigsaw Puzzle Association Facebook page.