multi colored puzzles on table

The best way to start your jigsaw puzzle is to learn the basics of each pieces first and follow this realistic guide.

You know, I tried all the step-by-step procedure across the internet on how to do this but it doesn’t realistically works.

It just makes my puzzling game complicated.

That’s when I decided to go on my way and create my own technique to make it more enjoyable and fun.

But why on Earth is it difficult in the first place, aside from the fact that you’re playing a thousand pieces?

What makes a jigsaw puzzle difficult?

Jigsaw puzzling is difficult because there’s no standard guide on how to start with it.

It may seem to be easy-peasy at first glance but once you’ve held your hand on each piece, you’ll begin to question yourself as to how and why you’re being hard to yourself by choosing to play that.

Just kidding!

In fact, Kylie Jenner said that jigsaw puzzling is underrated. You may check my article about people who play jigsaw puzzles to see how Hollywood celebrities deal with puzzling.

Now that we know what is the reason as to why jigsaw puzzling is hard, I will share with you what strategy I’ve came to develop to make it more easier.

Here are the 4 tips you need to know how to start a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle

  1. Look for the letters at the back
  2. Sort according to shape
  3. Sort according to color
  4. Use adhesives, tables, or mats

1. Look for the letters at the back

Have you noticed that each jigsaw puzzle piece has letters on its back?

Those letters serve as guides or clues to where they belong in the whole jigsaw puzzle image.

Now, you may think that looking on those letter may be a form of “cheating” but it’s not.

Manufacturers intended to print it for that reason.

For those letters you can come up with the following tricks:

  1. You can group them according to letters
  2. You will know where the exact position is
  3. You will easily find any missing piece

2. Sort according to shape

Now aside from the letters at the back of each pieces, you’ll see that there are only 2 shape positions present.

These 2 shape positions are arranged in alternates, meaning you’ll need to connect a horizontal piece to the vertical piece and so on.

That’s also the reason why it’s difficult to finish because they’re the same!

It’s like you’re in a small town with a lot of twin people.

You may check on my article about what are the correct naming of jigsaw puzzle pieces for you to understand how they’re arranged most of the time.

3. Sort according to color

Most of the advice I’ve read online suggests grouping each piece according to color or shape first, but when I followed it personally, it just makes things more complicated.

What I’ve found out is that, you’ll need to do this AFTER you’ve grouped the according to letters.

These colors will serve as your specific guides on which piece should be connected to the other piece because of their shades.

It’ll help you limit the number of pieces you’ll choose from in the groupings that you’ve first made.

4. Use adhesives, tables, or mats

I guess this is the far most practical advise that most of the guides I’ve read is lacking.

Jigsaw puzzle is literally broken into pieces that you’ll need to connect right?

Meaning, it’s easy to separate with one wrong move of your fingers. It’s not securely attached to one another.

Each jigsaw puzzle piece should be securely attached to each other so as not to create chaos in your gaming experience.

Having adhesives such as tape or glue beside you will help you with this major problem.

I know that some Puzzlers out there will say that putting adhesives should only be done after you’ve finished the game.

It can be done also but for me, it’s not practical to do so because your time enjoying the game is compromised once pieces of it are disassembled unexpectedly.

So, you may want to secure it once and for all.

Now, if you don’t want to, I highly suggest you to have a jigsaw puzzle mat that can help each pieces not slip with each other.

This one is also good because you can get back to where you’ve stopped without disassembling it.

All you have to do is roll it and keep it somewhere. Don’t worry, jigsaw puzzle mats are designed so as not to split each piece you’ve matched already.

Moreover, if you have a large space in your house, you can buy a jigsaw puzzle table instead.

This one won’t move literally your game unless there’s someone who’ll move it to piss you off.

Just kidding!

Now that you know the basics of jigsaw puzzle, you’ll have an enjoyable time playing on it by following my tips below.

Here’s the easiest steps to play a jigsaw puzzle that realistically works

  1. Group each piece according to the letters at their backs
  2. Create another sub-groups based on their shape position
  3. Create another sub-groups based on their color shades
  4. Match each shape position alternately
  5. Use adhesives or mats to limit the separation of pieces

STEP 1. Group each piece according to the letters at their backs

As mentioned above, each jigsaw puzzles pieces has letters at the back, use this letter guides to group them accordingly.

This is the most time-consuming part of the game because you need to turn each piece upside down to see this but it’s all worth it in the long run.

In my personal experience in my 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, it took me 45 minutes to turn each piece upside down first then group it by letters afterward.

To make this time shorter, I suggest that once you’ve opened your game, pick a handful of it then, check on the letters at the back then segregate it right then and there.

My 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle has letters from A to F, meaning I’ve made 6 groups out of it.

STEP 2. Create another sub-groups based on their shape position

Grouping your jigsaw puzzle pieces according to letters is still difficult to start with.

I suggest that you should choose what letter to begin with first and then start creating sub-groupings on that.

I know it’s a lot of work, but that’s how you’ll get to match each pieces easily.

Trust me. I’ve managed to do it myself.

Creating another sub-groupings will limit the number of pieces that you’ll look for to match accordingly.

In my case, I’ve first choose letter F in my 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

And then, I arranged group F based on each pieces’ orientation: horizontal, vertical, and corners.

So, I’ve now had, 1 group of horizontals, 1 group of verticals, and 1 group of corners in group F.

STEP 3. Create another sub-groups based on their color shades

This step may be optional on your part if you find it easy to match after creating horizontal, vertical, and corner groups.

However, if you’re dealing with thousands of pieces like I do, I highly recommend you to do this.

In your horizontal group, check on the shade of color on the other side by flipping it over.

Do the same on your vertical and corner group.

Now, you can decide on which color you would pick first to start with.

STEP 4. Match each shape position alternately

You’ll now finally be able to start your jigsaw puzzle hype once your grouping task are done.

All you have to do is to pick what color in your horizontal, vertical, and corner group to start with.

Match each piece alternately.

If you start with the horizontal piece, find the vertical one next, and so on.

Why is that?

Because it’s how the die-cutting pattern is shaped. You may check on my article about the die-cutting process of jigsaw puzzles to know more about it.

Don’t limit yourselves by doing one direction only (for example: doing it from left to right alone). You may want to consider the other sides as well to make it faster.

STEP 5. Use adhesives or mats to limit separation of pieces

Lastly, I highly suggest that you put adhesives on your completed pieces right then and there.

This is to limit the chances of separation because of accidents.

In my case, I used to tape the back of my jigsaw puzzle pieces together.

Don’t worry, the take isn’t sticking hard on it so I can easily remove it whenever I want to.

I just used it to make it more secure and stable for I haven’t bought jigsaw puzzle mats when I used to play with it.


Doing jigsaw puzzle should be entertaining, fun, enjoying, and all the positive words you can think of.

It shouldn’t be complicated and frustration all the way you’re playing it.

You know, it’s also same with our lives too.

We should live a pleasant life on how we wanted to while we’re alive, and not live with it based on the “guides” stated by others.

All of those are “suggestions” for you, and not a “Law” you should strictly abide.

Live the life you wanted.

Be authentic and real.

Choose for yourself.

Decide for yourself.

It’s your life anyway.

As long as you’re happy and contented, as long as you don’t put down and harm others, you’re doing just fine.

Just be good. I think that’s all that matters, right?

I hope this realistic guides in playing jigsaw puzzles will help you enjoy more!

How about you? What are your “secret” moves and tricks on playing jigsaw puzzles?

Share it on the comment section below.


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  1. Hello Ann thank you so much for your tips on puzzling. I love doing jigsaw puzzles 1000, 1500 and 2000 piece puzzles, however I’m currently working on a 1000 piece puzzle that contains the letters on the back of each piece and all shapes appear identical. It’s very frustrating I had no idea something like this even existed. I will not be defeated I will complete the puzzle but again it’s so frustrating.

  2. Yes, it’s really frustrating when all pieces look identical. I hope you’ll finish your puzzle in no time. Enjoy puzzling! 🙂

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