The World's (previous) Largest Jigsaw Puzzle
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LIFE: The Great Challenge   -   by Royce B. McClure
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    (1k/2k/3k/4k & 24K piece puzzles)
6 October, 2008
18 Jigsaw Enthusiasts   -  all employees at Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd. in Noida, India.
Assembled between October 1st 2008 (7:22 PM) and October 6th 2008 (8:05 AM) - 108 hours and 43 minutes non-stop!


I'm Aditya Nagpal writing in on behalf of the Jigsaw Enthusiasts from Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd. in Noida, India.
I'm pleased to inform you that I and my team (18 members total, all employees of Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd.) have successfully solved the 24000pc Life puzzle for the first time in India. Not only that, we have done it non-stop for the first time in the world in a clock time of 108 hrs 43 mins. We practised a lot for this event, and during the course of practice, we solved the 1000pc miniature Sea of Life, 2000pc Sea of Life, 3000pc Life and 4000pc Slice of Life puzzles as well. All these puzzles are of Royce's artwork.

I'll briefly mention our story here:  (Click images below to enlarge.)

As Educa puzzles are not available in India, we purchased the puzzles online and had them shipped to Adobe's US address, from where four colleagues carried them back to India. To acquaint ourselves with the artwork of the big puzzle, we held a non-stop practice session starting 8 PM on 26th Sep. in which we targeted the 3000pc and 4000pc puzzles. There were 17 of us, so 7 of us worked on the 3000pc puzzle and 10 of us took on the 4000pc puzzle. The 3000pc puzzle turned out to be very easy due to the high amount of detail per piece and got finished in 12 hrs. (60 man-hours) flat. But the 4000pc Slice of Life was in a league of its own. It turned out to be as complex as a 6000pc section of the Life puzzle and took 38 hrs. (230 man-hours) to finish. However, finishing these puzzles within a weekend gave our collective confidence a big boost and readied us for the big day.

FIRST TO COMPLETE IN INDIA. For the 24000pc Life puzzle, we were 18 in all. We began at 7:22 PM on 1st Oct. starting with Section 1. After sorting, there were primarily 4 areas to target: Balloons, Animals, Sea water and Clownfish. The clownfish were the toughest of the lot. As it neared completion, we directed a majority of our resources on to Section 2, which we opened at 8:30 PM on Oct 2. We completed Section 1 at 11:30 AM on Oct 3 i.e. 40 hrs.

In Section 2, again there were prominent areas: Sea Water, Rainbow, House, Balloons, Coral, Celestial Bodies, Water Splash, Tiger, Eagle, Jumping Dolphin, Spiky Fish. Due to exhaustive sorting and the high morale from the success of Section 1, we wrapped up this section in 35 hrs. by 7:30 AM on Oct 4. Like before, we had opened Section 3 the previous night itself, at 10:30 PM on Oct 3.

In Section 3, there were Boats, Sea Water, Underwater, Pink Sky, Black Sky, Supernova, Birds and Coral Reef. Due to the large water content and relatively thin attendance, this turned out to be the most time-consuming section. The whole team felt that Section 4 was the toughest therefore we set aside almost all resources for Section 4, leaving just 2-3 folks on the remaining area of Section 3. This also contributed to Section 3's long duration. In deference to the Lost City in Section 4, we opened it at 1:30 AM on Oct 5 and put maximal resources on it. Section 3 eventually finished in 41 hrs. at 3:30 PM on Oct 5.

FIRST TO COMPLETE IN INDIA.Section 4 comprised of Pink Sky, Black Sky, Boats, Sea Water, Underwater+Lost City, Planets & Celestial Bodies. We did extensive 2nd level sorting of the Underwater+Lost City pieces on the basis of shape into no less than 46 categories! As we were building on top of another section, shape was a big guide for us. Additional sorting by shape only accelerated the placement. We split up into 3 groups, each targeting the sky, boats and lost city respectively. Sea water content was high (10+ rows) so once the sky was finished, those folks moved over to the water area. The extra effort, preparedness, caution and of course enthusiasm paid off -- we wrapped up Section 4 at 8 AM on Oct 6 i.e. in 31 hrs. Ironically, this turned out to be the quickest section.

We started at 7:22 PM on 1st Oct. and finished at 8:05 AM on Oct. 6 for a total clock time of 108 hrs. 43 mins. This included all breaks but work never stopped on the puzzle. At times we were down to 2-3 folks but the hall never emptied.

Overall, there were several techniques that helped us to solve this puzzle. I'm mentioning some prominent ones here: 1) Exhaustive sorting - FIRST TO COMPLETE IN INDIA.This is a must and saves a lot of time later on. We did not spend a lot of time sorting Section 1, but soon realized our folly and spent much more time in the initial sorting when doing the other sections. Individual objects were identified and their pieces were separated upfront so that some people could get to work right away on those pieces. 2) Repeating pattern - As Scott Slater observes on his website, each piece repeats every 37 pieces horizontally and every 27 pieces vertically. This helped us a lot in difficult areas like sea water, pink sky and lost city. 3) Section repeat - Complete sections are cut in the same way. So we were able to build Section 2 on top of Section 1 and Section 3 rotated 180 degrees on top of Section 2 and so on. This helped tremendously throughout. 4) Piece shapes - Some pieces have pointed grooves, either incoming or outgoing or both. Such pieces are far fewer in number than their "regular" counterparts and once placed correctly, aid a lot in reducing the piece count as well as sometimes joining crucial "floating" groups.

All said and done, it was a highly enjoyable and memorable experience. As brought up during our correspondence, Royce has a long association with Adobe Photoshop so it is only apt that a team from Adobe has taken up the challenge and completed the loop. Our collective thanks to Royce for creating such a masterpiece and to Educa for bringing it to the masses.

Best regards,

Jigsaw Enthusiasts @ Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd.
I-1A Sector 25A, Noida, Uttar Pradesh - 201301, India.

The Jigsaw Enthusiasts are:
  • Aditya Nagpal
  • Akash Agrawal
  • Akulaa Jain
  • Amit Vats
  • Ankit Bal
  • Ankur Seth
  • Anurag Sharma
  • Atul Agarwal
  • Chaya Joshi
  • Kapil Mohan
  • Mayank Gupta
  • Namrata Pande
  • Poonam Ohri
  • R Sai Venkatesh
  • Raghavendra Kumar Pandey
  • Rahul Anand
  • Sankalp Agarwal
  • Siddharth Chadha


NOIDA PLUS: A record put together

DAINIK JAGRAN: सबसे कम समय में हल की सबसे बड़ी पजल

INDIAN EXPRESS: Adobe employees assemble 24000-piece puzzle, set record

MAIL TODAY: Engineers crack a jigsaw in a jiffy


Update 14 October, 2008
We're going to be featured as a top story on the company's (Adobe) intranet.
To date almost 25 different news channels and newspapers have featured us.
Relatives of various team members have called them from far and near to congratulate them. We feel like mini-celebrities ;-)


Update January 2009
The completed puzzle is now framed and hanging on the wall in the reception area of Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd in Noida, New Delhi, India.

Here are some pics of the team posing with the mounted puzzle. A few of us couldn't make it, so there are 14 in the pics instead of 18. (Click to enlarge images:)

Framed with Certificate         Framed with trophy

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