Puzzles That’ll Hurt Your Brain

Image: Getty

If that regular old jigsaw puzzle is no longer cutting it, you’re in luck – there are plenty of options for those seeking a seriously mind-warping challenge.

There’s been a bit of a boom in the take-up of jigsaw puzzles as of late. A whole lot of enforced lockdowns and isolation leaves people with plenty of leisure time, and a puzzle can be a great way to flex your brain muscles even when you’re stuck indoors.

But there’s only so many times you can steal the kids’ 12-piece Paw Patrol set and make it entertaining. That number is basically one, by the way, and you probably need to be drunk or high as well.

Adult brains need adult puzzles, and there’s plenty of very basic, 500-1000 piece puzzles covering everything from classic art to Captain America to choose from.

But if you fancy something that’ll really get your grey matter straining, there’s a whole other category of deliberately brain-melting puzzles to throw your neurons at. We’ve selected a few below for your pleasure – or pain, depending on how good you are at sorting them out.

Also, remember when you’re done – if you get that far – that they’re astonishingly re-giftable items. Just because you’ve delved into a puzzle and solved its mysteries doesn’t mean that your friends or family can’t get equal enjoyment from it once it’s been properly mixed up again.

Editor’s note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic at the time of writing, local availability is quite limited, so you may have to include extra shipping costs and wait times on many puzzle products.

Here are a few to get you started:

Paul Lamond Games World’s Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle Dalmatians $45.94
I’m not sure if there is a governing body that can declare a given puzzle the world’s “most difficult”. But we are rather smitten with this puzzle, which features many, many good girls and boys smiling at the camera. It’s also double-sided, with the same image on the reverse side. Just don’t get lost in the tricky spots.

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in The Universe $30.21

There’s nothing that says you can’t learn a little while doing a puzzle, and this particular one will bolster your scientific know-how while you figure out how it all connects together. Thankfully while it’s describing atoms, the actual pieces aren’t quite that small.

The New York Times Hardest Crosswords Volume 1 $16.95
Not all puzzles need physical elements. If you prefer more of a lexical challenge, this collection of 50 crosswords from The New York Times will give you plenty to muse, ponder, study and marvel at. Just add a pencil and your brain, and you’re set.

Difficult Donuts Jigsaw Puzzle $27.59
It’s not just Homer Simpson who’s obsessed with donuts, right? You certainly will be if you choose to tackle this sweetly difficult puzzle.

Ravensburger The Bizarre Bookshop $31.51
Complex puzzles often use recurring motifs to add to the challenge, and in the case of this Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle, it’s in the form of a charming and genuinely odd bookshop stuffed with more books than you could read in a lifetime.

Beverly Micro Pure White Hell Jigsaw Puzzle $48.99
You know how with most jigsaw puzzles you concentrate on building up levels of detail in order to reveal the significant whole picture? This jigsaw puzzle is the exact opposite of that, and I’m pretty sure that the use of Hell here isn’t coincidental. Good luck, because you’re going to need it to get through this one.

Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims on Amazon.

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