British jigsaw champion who has won crown seven times shares her secret tip for solving puzzles

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There are champions... and then there is the all-conquering Sarah Mills.

The mum-of-two from Taverham near Norwich is a multiple British champion - in the competitive world of jigsaw puzzling.

Fun fact: those who do jigsaws are known as dissectologists - and Sarah has dominated domestic dissectology for the last seven years.

"I've always done them since I was little... I just didn't stop," she said.

Dissectologists are people who enjoy doing jigsaws. The name is apparently derived from early puzzles which were made from printed maps - known as dissected maps

"My dad heard about the competition in its first year and he told me I should apply so I did. And I won. And I've been winning it each year since.

"I went along to give it a try. I wasn't expecting to win and I never expect to win each year since. I always think there's going to be someone there who'll beat me."

Her training is squeezed in around her day job as an insurance underwriter for Aviva.

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Sarah attributes her success to her love of art and numbers.

"I think there's part of my mathematical, logical brain that I use for work," she said.

"But then I also like art so it's combining the two - the pictures and the patterns. I'm putting colour together. Getting the same colours out and putting them together and finding patterns."

In terms of domestic title-winning legends, Sarah is in some refined company. In terms of all-conquering UK title winners she still has some way to go to overtake darts legend Phil "The Power" Taylor who took 16 World Darts titles.

But she is close to Scottish football giants Celtic and Rangers who have both won nine titles in a row - Celtic have achieved it twice. And she matches Sir Lewis Hamilton and Stephen Hendry for the most titles accrued.

The Covid lockdowns have prompted a puzzling boom, which might mean Sarah faces tougher competition next year.

For those who fancy a crack at the jigsaw crown, Sarah has some advice: do not start with the corners or edges.

In good company

"Definitely not. I'm not a fan of the edges. I leave those until the end when I have to," she said.

Instead, she favours focusing on the most-eyecatching element of the puzzle, and working out from there.

Unusual advice, but it clearly works - and Sarah has the titles to prove it.

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