The Day My Girlfriend Made Me Look Like a Complete Failure with a Puzzle

In today’s post, special guest Matthew Yeoman discuss the day he made a revelation about The Great Equalizer: puzzle games. Thanks for the great insight, Matthew!

On to His Post!

Hello to the Accessible Games readers. My name is Matthew and I’m the writer and researcher for We sell laser cut acrylic glass puzzles that have a strategy game twist to them. These puzzles relate to the subject of how my girlfriend made me look like a complete #fail…read on for my tale of woe and oh…

 The Day my Girlfriend Made me Look Like a Complete Fail with a Puzzle

Puzzle Fail on Left, Puzzle Win on Right

Puzzle Fail on Left, Puzzle Win on Right

Here’s the backstory: I’m a professional writer and a bit of a wordy know it all. Hey, I’m aware of my strengths and flaws! My girlfriend, Vanda, is from Mozambique and is a native Portuguese speaker who has been speaking English for around 2 years now. Our language skills are not on the same level, but we get along splendidly and that’s what matters.

This language skill problem has her deferring to and asking me questions all the time. I, the mighty wordsmith, published across the internet and in print, comes to her wordy rescue like every knight in shining armor ever has. Except with fewer swords.

One day, the CEO/President/Important Title of Puzumi sent me a copy of my favourite puzzle to play with and share with those around me socially. Our puzzles are pretty cerebral and not at all like jigsaw puzzles – another chance for the might of my mind to flex! Right? Ya…

 My confrontation with the puzzle

My favorite Puzumi  puzzle: Super Roundominoes

My favorite Puzumi puzzle: Super Roundominoes

I took the puzzle out of the box, put all the pieces all over the table that Vanda has in her living room and set about WOWING her with my awesome brain powers. Yes, this is what actually goes in my entirely too self-centered head…

Three hours later, with the fun of confronting a challenge had, I decided that I was not going to beat the puzzle that day. Meanwhile, Vanda had been pestering me for the last couple hours, while watching Portuguese soap operas, to let her help.

“No, you’re the smart Matthew, you’ve got this without help!” my brain cried.

At the end of those three hours I finally relented and let Vanda take a crack at it, smug in my knowing that she’d never be able to complete it as it was just too tough.

She took out all the puzzle pieces that I had put in, looked at the directions for the starting point (the instruction booklet gives you ideas and how to arrange the first few pieces because there are hundreds of possible solutions) and chose the same starting point that I had. She went about playing with the puzzle while I watched a TV show that was likely about cars, guns or soccer.

Vanda completed the puzzle in under 30 minutes.

#Fail, Matthew.

 What I learned from my fail

The thing about Vanda is that she grew up in Maputo, Mozambique where they didn’t have a Commodore 64, NES, Super Nintendo or Playstation 1-3 like I did growing up. What she had was family time where they put together puzzles – EVERY WEEK.

What I learned, once again, was that there is a much much bigger world out there than the little bit of knowledge I have. There are many more experiences and kinds of smarts, and it all came about thanks to a puzzle. I haven’t looked at Vanda quite the same since. I learned that I just happen to know things in the language that we share, and that she knows a hell of alot more than she is able to completely communicate.

I now think that the universal board games like puzzles, Monopoly, X’s and O’s, Checkers, Kerplunk!, Chess and nearly every other board game you care to name, can be a great equalizer for those who don’t quite speak the same language or who aren’t perceived as ‘equal’ in any other way. These games are, in a way, a language unto themselves which people share across cultures.

This, in my humble opinion, is the true appeal of board games as accessible games. The next time you meet someone who you can’t quite communicate with, challenge them to a game and see for yourself that we’re all equal when we’re all speaking a universal language.