Now hear this, all you jigsaw puzzle lovers who have the patience to put together one of those 500- to 1,000-piece challenges: there’s a competitive tournament coming to town where you can put your skills to the test, with prizes going to the winning teams.

Local members of Phi Upsilon Omicron (Phi U), a scholastic honor society, are putting on the first-ever Jigsaw Puzzle Tournament here in Brookings. The event is being sponsored by the South Dakota State University Alumni Chapter of Phi U based in Brookings. 

The action goes from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Brookings First Lutheran Church Gymnasium, 337 Eighth St. The tournament is a team event, with four-member teams in one of two divisions.

There are two team-divisions: The Youth/Adult Division will have two adults and two youths (eighth grade or younger) per team; however, substitution of a third youth for an adult is allowed. The entry fee is $30. Each team will use an identical 500-piece puzzle.

The Adult Division will have four adults (eighth grade or older) per team. The entry fee is $50. Each team will use an identical 750- to 1,000-piece puzzle.

Difficult but doable

“The puzzles we’re picking out are ones that are really designed for folks to be able to do in an efficient way with a team,” tournament organizer Laura Jacobs, president of the SDSU alumni chapter of Phi U, explained. “We’ll pick out puzzles that you can easily sort and develop a strategy pretty early on.”

While the selected puzzles won’t be easy, there won’t be any of those 1,000 all-look-alike piecers that sat on the card table at grandma’s house for months on end.

“We want people to get done in the allotted time,” Jacobs said. Smiling, she added, “It won’t be a walk in the park. But they’ll be ones where they can establish a strategy and most of the teams will hopefully be able to get done in the four hours.”

First, second and third place will be determined by puzzle completion in the shortest amount of time. If puzzles aren’t completed in the four hours of time allotted, judges will determine finishing order based on a count of unattached pieces.

Jacobs is no stranger to competitive jigsaw-puzzling. She got the idea for staging a tournament here from her mother.

“Our family has always been a big fan of puzzles,” she explained. “This is something that my mom had heard of a while back. They actually do this as a fundraiser back home, in Rushmore, Minnesota.

“They do it for the Rushmore Booster Club. They’re on their sixth year. They’ll be doing their puzzle tournament this upcoming weekend. That’s where I got the idea. It’s something that I think is a little bit newer. It’s been successful for them with the small group of folks that have been organizing it, so we thought we’d try it up here.”

Any profits after tournament expenses will be used to support academic scholarships, professional development opportunities and community service projects by local Phi U collegiate and alumni chapters.

Deadline for entry in the tournament is this Friday, Jan. 25. Space is limited to 15 total teams, based on space – first come, first served.

Registration forms are available by visiting the Phi U Facebook Page:; by emailing PhiU or by calling Laura Jacobs at 507-370-1251.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

Contact John Kubal at

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