Ian Koenig set a record in the basement of his Brewster Road home where he completed the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle. Made by Ravensburger Puzzles in Germany, the 32,000-piece puzzle features 32 panels of Keith Haring’s artwork in vibrant reds, pinks, blues, oranges, yellows and greens. The puzzle's limited color palette makes it even more challenging to put together. Pictured below, the puzzle comes in a 3 foot by 2 foot box that weighs 42 pounds.
We asked him how he came to complete the puzzle and here is what we learned:
How did you become interested in pursuing this feat?
I’ve always been a fan of jigsaw puzzles. I find them relaxing. So last Christmas I received this one as a Christmas present from my wife and sons. I have to admit that I never would have bought it myself since I did not actually believe I could do it (My initial estimate was that it would take me 18 years). But since it was Christmas break and I was on vacation and we were not going anywhere, I decided to give it a try. I finished the first section (of 4,000+ pieces) about 3/12 weeks later on January 17th. Completing the first section gave me hope and I forged through the rest in just under 5 months.
How did you sort the pieces?
I sorted each major solid color into its own pile: blue, yellow, red, green, pink, orange, and white. I arrayed these around the table in a semicircle. By the way, I had trouble distinguishing orange and red at times and mixed those up a bit. Behind each solid color, I made a pile that was that color plus black. Behind the color=black pile, I made a pile of color+black+white.
In between the piles I made piles which had two base-colors plus black. In this puzzle, I had: yellow+blue+black, red+yellow+black, green+pink+black, etc. You get the picture. No matter how hard I tried I never really get better than about 99.9% right.
I also developed a system and sorted the pieces by shapes. After awhile, I learned how the puzzle was cut so I had a feel for the kind of piece I was looking for.
Is the puzzle custom made or mass-produced?
It's mass produced (the largest mass produced jigsaw puzzle in the world) by Ravensburger. Here it is on Amazon.com:
What is the cost of the puzzle?
It cost $257 and comes in a very large box, but I was able to pick up the box.
Are you the first person to complete it?
As far as I know, I am sixth in the world. At least I am the sixth entry in the Hall of Fame:
Where did you have space to put it together?
I completed the puzzle in my basement where it is now mounted on a wall. I wrote a detailed blog about my experience, including how I eventually mounted it. The blog is here.
What do you do professionally?
I am the Chief Software Architect at LexisNexis
Do you think your professional skills came into play in completing the puzzle?
When you work in software you look for patterns in things which is similar to what you do when working on a puzzle.
Did anyone help you with the task?
My sons Robert and Jonathan both age 12 helped with about 100 pieces. The other 32,000 I did myself. (Dakota, the dog didn’t actually help and might actually of eaten one of the pieces.)
What did you miss while you were in the basement?
Life takes priority. I never missed dinner or a night of sleep – though I did put in some 18-hour days working on it.
What’s the largest puzzle you completed before this one?
A 5,000 piece puzzle of the wonders of the ancient world.
What was your family’s reaction?
They were happy that they found a Christmas present that I really enjoyed!