Endless Chain (also known as Pricking the Garter, Chain of Chance, Fast and Loose, and Loopy Loop) is a gambling scam. A loop of string or chain (sometimes a necklace) is laid upon a table in a figure-8 pattern. The spectator is shown that if a finger is placed in one side of the figure 8 and the chain is pulled, the chain will come free, but the other side catches on the finger. The spectator is instructed to pick a side that will catch the chain, but fails every time.
This is a very old scam. It was published as a magic effect in Conjuring for Amateurs by Ellis Stanyon in 1897 as The Garter Trick and later popularized by George Blake in 1949 when he published it as "Loopy Loop."
Books Devoted to the Endless Chain
- Notes on Fast and Loose, by the School for Scoundrels. Covers history of the game and psychology of the moves as performed on the street by grifters. Includes three different Fast and Loose exhibition routines, including the famous Jules Lenier version.
- The Loopy Loop - A Treatise on the Endless Chain by George Blake (1949)
Routines in Books
- A Ray of Magic, by Jimmy Ray, The Magic Figure 8 (1980)
- Ken Brooke and Friends, by Derek Lever, page 95, The Endless Chain (1986)
- Tricks, Tips & Routines, by Phil Matlin, page 15, The Endless Chain (1991), first released by Perfect Magic as separate manuscript with chain, circa 1980.
- Natural Selections, Volume II, by David Acer, Endless Chain: The Finger Ring Subtlety, a subtlety with corresponding presentation that can be integrated into existing routines to negate the possibility of audience concluding that, once a spectator has put a finger in one side of the figure 8, the magician simply pulls the chain from a different point to achieve the desired result. Also provides opportunity for an additional (magical) climax. (1999)
Routines on DVD
- The Chain Gang, by Marc DeSouza (Camirand Academy of Magic). Commercial handling and presentation for the classic con, intended for audiences rather than players (or "marks"). The routine is presented as a history of the game. Also teaches Ken Schwabe method for laying out the chain (the Double Throw/Double Catch variations).
- School For Scoundrels: Fast and Loose, by Chef Anton and Whit Haydn. Gives instruction on the basic moves and psychology behind the School for Scoundrels approach to Fast and Loose (a.k.a. the Endless Chain), including a magical ending called "The Drop Off Knot."