Article on the Fast & Loose, Chain of Chance, or Loopy Loop

by Doug A. Contact: magicref (at) (replace (at) with @)

Last Update: 12 Jan 2011; corrected spelling of Whit Haydn's last name, Sorry Whit!

Loopy Loop is known by quite a few different names, including: Loopy Loop, Figure Eight, the Chain Swindle, Chain of Chance, The Endless Chain, Pricking the Garter, On the Barrelhead, and probably others.

In this ruse, an operator throws down a chain or a string that has been connected at the ends to form a circle. The chain is thrown so that it forms a figure 8, and the victim is shown that when their finger is put into one or the other loop of the figure 8, and the chain is pulled up, one side will trap or catch the finger, while the other side will release it. Although it always looks like a 50-50 bet, the catching of the finger is always in the control of the operator.


This effect can be presented with the spectator as the "sucker" who always loses, but these types of challenges don't always go over so well as part of a magic show. Thus, many presentations are styled as either a gambling demonstration, or otherwise structured to take the heat off the spectator always losing.

The show Scam School (with Brian Brushwood) hosted episode 22 (Aug 2008) featuring The Endless Chain. You can find it here: (search on Fast and Loose)

Pete Biro has a short article on Stevens Magic Emporium:


Most coverage of this effect includes just the basics. Out of the routines listed on the Reference Guide, the following are some of the best:

1. School for Scoundrel Notes on Fast And Loose by Whit Haydn. See an excerpt here:
These notes and the accompanying DVD provide very thorough coverage and are probably your number 1 source.

2. George Blake's Loopy Loop. An older manuscript, but pretty detailed.

3. Will Ayling's The Endless Chain. Another older but good manuscript.

4. Marc DeSouza's The Chain Gang DVD, which presents the effect as a history demonstration.

5. Christopher Manos: The Great Chain Con. Supplies a good and inexpensive chain along with good instruction.