Jigsaws Don't Puzzle a Champ Like Ohio's Donna Klett
updated 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Though by no means loquacious on the subject of technique, Donna, if pressed, will reveal her solution to that age-old quandary: Should you look for the shape of a piece, or the color? Color it is, she says. But that doesn't explain her uncanny ability. A 10th grader in the gifted-student program at Stow (Ohio) High School, Donna says that, for her, "puzzling is just a hobby." She's been at it since she was 5 and began unjumbling wooden-block puzzles in the local library. She decided to turn pro, after a fashion, in 1985, when she, her mother, Evelyn, a secretary, and her father, Donald, an accountant, drove 200 miles to Athens for the nationals. They didn't even book a motel room because they never dreamed Donna would survive the first day and move on to the finals. She finished sixth that year and might have done even better except for opening-day jitters. "I was disappointed," she admits, "because I sort of choked out."
Painfully shy around strangers, Donna most loves to shoot hoops in front of her house ("I'm very bad," she says). But she also completes two or three tough puzzles a day (repeating some) and looks forward to defending her title next year. Just keeping her in puzzle fodder costs her admiring parents $200 a year, but that's nothing compared to the potential space squeeze it could cause: At this point Donna has 150 puzzles bursting out of her closet.