I never liked jigsaws – so what am I doing representing the US at the ‘puzzle Olympics’?

I was always more of a logic and word puzzler. Yet with just one month’s training, my family and I are at the white-knuckle, high-stakes tables of the World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship

My back aches. I’m sweating. My bladder is sending out distress signals. I’ve been going full throttle for three hours, and have five hours to go, but I can’t slow down. Not when the stakes are so high: I’m representing my country among the best competitors on Earth, sandwiched between teams from Turkey and Bulgaria. I am competing in the equivalent of an Ironman triathlon for assembling little cardboard pieces. No, seriously. I’m representing Team USA at the World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship.

A few months ago, I didn’t know such a competition existed. But it does, and these people are serious, and several hundred have gathered in a small town in Spain. Team USA consists of me, my wife and two teenage sons. We are at one of dozens of tables inside a hot dome. We’ve practised for a month, but nothing like the jigsaw masters, who have trained several hours a day for years.

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