Solving Jigidi… Again

(Just want the instructions? Scroll down.)

A year and a half ago I came up with a technique for intercepting the “shuffle” operation on jigsaw website Jigidi, allowing players to force the pieces to appear in a consecutive “stack” for ludicrously easy solving. I did this partially because I was annoyed that a collection of geocaches near me used Jigidi puzzles as a barrier to their coordinates1… but also because I enjoy hacking my way around artificially-imposed constraints on the Web (see, for example, my efforts last week to circumvent region-blocking on radio.garden).

My solver didn’t work for long: code changes at Jigidi’s end first made it harder, then made it impossible, to use the approach I suggested. That’s fine by me – I’d already got what I wanted – but the comments thread on that post suggests that there’s a lot of people who wish it still worked!2 And so I ignored the pleas of people who wanted me to re-develop a “Jigidi solver”. Until recently, when I once again needed to solve a jigsaw puzzle in order to find a geocache’s coordinates.

Making A Jigidi Helper

Rather than interfere with the code provided by Jigidi, I decided to take a more-abstract approach: swapping out the jigsaw’s image for one that would be easier.

This approach benefits from (a) having multiple mechanisms of application: query interception, DNS hijacking, etc., meaning that if one stops working then another one can be easily rolled-out, and (b) not relying so-heavily on the structure of Jigidi’s code (and therefore not being likely to “break” as a result of future upgrades to Jigidi’s platform).

Watch a video demonstrating the approach:

It’s not as powerful as my previous technique – more a “helper” than a “solver” – but it’s good enough to shave at least half the time off that I’d otherwise spend solving a Jigidi jigsaw, which means I get to spend more time out in the rain looking for lost tupperware. (If only geocaching were even the weirdest of my hobbies…)

How To Use The Jigidi Helper

To do this yourself and simplify your efforts to solve those annoying “all one colour” or otherwise super-frustrating jigsaw puzzles, here’s what you do:

  1. Visit a Jigidi jigsaw. Do not be logged-in to a Jigidi account.
  2. Copy my JavaScript code into your clipboard.
  3. Open your browser’s debug tools (usually F12). In the Console tab, paste it and press enter. You can close your debug tools again (F12) if you like.
  4. Press Jigidi’s “restart” button, next to the timer. The jigsaw will restart, but the picture will be replaced with one that’s easier-to-solve than most, as described below.
  5. Once you solve the jigsaw, the image will revert to normal (turn your screen around and show off your success to a friend!).

What makes it easier to solve?

The replacement image has the following characteristics that make it easier to solve than it might otherwise be:

  • Every piece has written on it the row and column it belongs in.
  • Every “column” is striped in a different colour.
  • Striped “bands” run along entire rows and columns.

To solve the jigsaw, start by grouping colours together, then start combining those that belong in the same column (based on the second digit on the piece). Join whole or partial columns together as you go.

I’ve been using this technique or related ones for over six months now and no code changes on Jigidi’s side have impacted upon it at all, so it’s probably got better longevity than the previous approach. I’m not entirely happy with it, and you might not be either, so feel free to fork my code and improve it: the legiblity of the numbers is sometimes suboptimal, and the colour banding repeats on larger jigsaws which I’d rather avoid. There’s probably also potential to improve colour-recognition by making the colour bands span the gaps between rows or columns of pieces, too, but more experiments are needed and, frankly, I’m not the right person for the job. For the second time, I’m going to abandon a tool that streamlines Jigidi solving because I’ve already gotten what I needed out of it, and I’ll leave it up to you if you want to come up with an improvement and share it with the community.

Footnotes

1 As I’ve mentioned before, and still nobody believes me: I’m not a fan of jigsaws! If you enjoy them, that’s great: grab a bucket of popcorn and a jigsaw and go wild… but don’t feel compelled to share either with me.

2 The comments also include asuper-helpful person called Rich who’s been manually solving people’s puzzles for them, and somebody called Perdita who “could be my grandmother” (except: no) with whom I enjoyed a conversation on- and off-line about the ethics of my technique. It’s one of the most-popular comment threads my blog has ever seen.

14 comments

  1. Stan Stan says:

    Wanted to say I agree totally with your opinion of requiring cachers to solve a jigsaw puzzle just to find a cache — and these 520-piece monsters take hours (even more when they’re one color!!!). Also, I despise the fact that jigidi.com does not allow moving unsolved “groups” of individual pieces around the screen. Moving one piece at a time just to create a visual sorting pattern is a nightmare! Short of auto-solving, your technique has worked fine for me. I did have one problem with those tiles that were colored “blue” — just too dark to read the black row/column values. I changed the code to “dodgerblue” instead, and even though it’s close to the “lightblue” color, there’s still enough difference in hue to make it easy to distinguish between the two. Thanks for the code that makes this work.

  2. Euan Morris Euan Morris says:

    great idea but it is really only useful when you have a all one colour cache also sometimes it breaks and dosent show the lines in the pieces.

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      (replied by email with a suggestion)

  3. HOLLE HOLLE says:

    Bonjour. J’utilisais votre technique et tout marchais parfaitement.
    Ce soir j’essaye un nouveau puzzle, et je n’ai plus que les couleurs, les numéros ont disparus.
    Encore un détournement de la part de jigidi?

    1. christie christie says:

      I have had the same problem. Did you hear anything on this? It is doable; just wondering what happened to the number

      1. Mark Mark says:

        Same for me. I tried this a couple of weeks ago and it worked, with the numbers and colours. Tried it today on a couple of different puzzles, and whilst the colours change (which helps) the numbers are no longer there.

        1. Stan Stan says:

          Same here. It was working back in the beginning of May, then I went on a 3-week vacay to Europe. Was going thru some new caches in my area that popped up while I was gone, tried using the Java code, and the numbers had disappeared. The pieces now have some abstract patterns in different color groups — it still works, unless the puzzle is really large, then some colors/patterns tend to match others, making it a tad more difficult.

  4. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Having trouble with this script? I made an alternative that I think works better, but requires a tad more set-up.

  5. Fany Fany says:

    Thank you very much, Dane, perfect job again.
    Hopefully it will last for a while.

  6. Zimbaria Zimbaria says:

    Thank-you for your work with this DanQ! I have spent endless hours trying to get geocaching coordinates and finally tried to find a work around. I installed the alternative magic stripes script in violentmonkey. When I go to jigidi the violentmonkey icon by address bar indicates one script is running on the page but there is no sidebar. I don’t know where to change numbers and type to get the new puzzle columns. Can you assist?

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      @Zimbaria: Sorry; I don’t use this method any more (and I’m not able to share the method I do; it’s restricted to members of a certain forum), so I’ve not been maintaining the script. Good luck!

  7. Zimbaria Zimbaria says:

    Never mind my last post, I got it to work and YAY!! Thank you so much for this!!

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      @Zimbaria: glad you sorted it, and thanks for coming back to say so!

  8. Fany Fany says:

    Super beautiful work, thank you very much. 👍.

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