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Introducing Par Puzzles to “Rookies”: What is Par Time?

When I first introduce someone to Par Puzzles I always get the same reaction, amazement at the quality and intricacies of the pieces. Who isn’t? To this day there is a always a sense of wonderment when first opening those black boxes to see what puzzle holds your next challenge. Once the initial daze passes, the wood puzzle rookie really starts getting into the feel of the pieces, the color, grain of the wood, and of course the cut. Is it so interesting to watch someone who has never seen a whimsical or silhouette puzzle piece before discover all the special pieces dispersed throughout the box. the figures that are performing all sorts of functions.I particularly like the ones that focus on trades, such as one of a woman working on an old fashioned sewing machine I recently saw. You just know they are asking themselves how they will ever be able to return to a conventional cardboard puzzle after assembling a Par.

After the inspection period ends, the puzzle assembling begins. Realizing there is no picture panic sets in and then the realization it’s probably going to take a long time to complete. No sooner have they said that than you pull a rabbit out of your hat and show them it really isn’t as hard as they think. At that point you show them the label on the side of the box and say with a wink, it’s not that bad, you should be able to complete this 800 piece puzzle in 4 1/2 hours if you are “Par”. Many hours later your new puzzle addict says the Par Time must be a joke, who can do a puzzle like that in such a short time? So the question is, is it really a joke?

I read once that the original owners of Par welcomed anyone to bring in a puzzle they had bought and gave them a prize (can’t recall exactly if it was money or a puzzle) if they couldn’t complete it in the Par time. I think it said they never lost the bet. (I believe I read this in one of Anne William’s greatly researched articles, but I could not find the source, so not sure.) So if the story is accurate there is some basis to it. I have always wondered how they got the Par time. Obviously size is one factor, but they must have had a difficulty rating too as I have seen vastly different Par times for similar size puzzles. To date, I think we have come close to completing it in Par Time before, but usually we are off by a minimum of 2 hours. What is your experience, have you completed a Par Puzzle in Par Time? if so, any tricks you care to share? Email them to us and we will post peoples’ responses.