Hirokazu (or Hiro) is very well known for what I call his "offbeat" designs. Yes he does design regular looking and playable puzzles too such the well known Odd Puzzle, Alcyl, Tritalon and the Jam Series but he also has a hidden talent for coming up with unique puzzles that most would not imagine possible; that is using everyday objects like the zippers shown here and choosing non-typical materials such as cloth and fabric.
Many in the puzzle community will remember his extremely popular Square In The Bag which won the IPP32 Puzzlers' Award and his subsequent CorRECTly In The Bag. Amazing how he is able to think up such unusual and unique puzzle designs that actually work.
Zipper was Hiro's IPP36 exchange puzzle in Tokyo this past August. Made of two zippers joined together, the puzzle provides two challenges.
1. Completely zip up one of the two colour zippers
2. Zip up both zippers completely.
My puzzler friend Khuong An Nguyen has suggested that Hiro may have been inspired by or based his Zipper design on the "Mobius Strip". Click here to find out what this is...a rather interesting read.
The Zipper measures about 29 cm and comes with two seperate zipper pulls. My copy is a green-yellow version though there are other colour combinations for sale. Quality wise the zipper is above average as the two zippers are physically glued together and can come apart if too much force is used or if you try to peel them apart. The zipper itself has already been pre-twisted so it's not just a simple task of finding the opening ends and zipping them up.
For some strange reason in my search for the solution to the first challenge, I actually discovered and solved the second challenge. Physically as you examine the zippers, it does not look possible to zip both zippers together at the same time but in typical Hiro fashion, the solution is definitely out there and apart from eliciting my amazement, it's actually a pretty elegant solution in the final state.
From the puzzling perspective, Zipper is not a very difficult puzzle to solve but presents a challenge that requires some thinking and close visual examination. You must not allow yourself to think that it is impossible physically, which was my initial experience with CorRECTly In The Bag. Mentally reinforce to yourself that it is indeed solvable and there is a way to do it without resorting to force or tearing the zippers apart...You'll be surprised.
All in, a great (exchange) puzzle that is very far removed from the norm and Zipper can be enjoyed by both seasoned and novice puzzlers alike. In fact non-puzzlers will probably have fun with it too since some thinking out of the box is required as is typical of Hiro's puzzles of this nature.
Zipper is manufactured by DYLAN-KOBO in Japan. Currently it appears that the Zipper is not listed and available. Best to contact the site owner MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu). MINE ships internationally.