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Topic: Max Maven's Contimental.
Message: Posted by: Drewmcadam (Jan 30, 2002 01:55PM)
Ooops - got a problem with that... I was caught out: Cyprus, Sicily, Malta and Iceland are also in Europe! And if you go for Mainland Europe, there’s also Andorra to take into consideration. Anybody fancy re-writing the crib sheet?
Message: Posted by: Martino (Jan 30, 2002 02:34PM)
Don't forget Greece! I might just do a search on the net to find a bit of software to correct these "errors"! Anyone else found more glaring omissions. Why not email Max and tell him!
Message: Posted by: Michael Peterson (Jan 30, 2002 02:37PM)
Hmmmmmmm, I knew there was a reason I don't do that one. :bg:

As soon as someone rewrites the crib, let me know :rolleyes:

Message: Posted by: magiker (Jan 30, 2002 06:07PM)
I have never had a problem with that except that one time a women told me the country when I was on the second letter.
I have performed this about six times, but not performed it within the last six months.
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Jan 30, 2002 07:45PM)
Do an archive search in "The EYE" now that you're a member - we discussed this quite in-depth the last few weeks :)

Message: Posted by: saglaser (Jan 30, 2002 11:55PM)
I've done it once so I can claim 100% success in all the times I've performed it without ever running into problems :)

Of course, know I realize how fortunate I was that the participant selected Italy instead of Sicily.

If anybody has a revised crib, put me on the list of those who'd love a copy.
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Jan 31, 2002 01:09PM)
Keep in mind he tells them to think of a "place you might like to visit". I think that narrows it down to the more well-known countries. I'll concede that Greece IS a problem, tho.

I am currently working on an Excel spreadsheet that will generate a cribsheet for any list of words/names. (It's much harder than I thought originally!)
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Jan 31, 2002 03:29PM)
Doc Amazo,
If you do figure it out, please let us know... I'm quite intrigued in learning how to go about coaxing a computer to do it, as I've done it by hand and can't figure an easy computer based "formula".

That said, there is already a freeware program called "Peter's Progressive Anagram Maker". If you can't find it online, let me know and I'll post it when I get home and am on my computer (I'm at a friend's right now.) I'd still encourage you to continue with yours, though, because it's quite possible yours will turn out different sequences than Peter's, and I'm not always happy with Peter's (they often require 2-4 "no" responses to determine the choice, even when a list that only requires one "no" can be devised by hand if one takes the time).
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Feb 1, 2002 10:33AM)

I decided to get an exhaustive list of European countries and do it "right". Now I see why Max "ignored" the less popular ones!

It can't be done in 2 tiers (2 "no"s). I'm still gonna play around with defining the algorithm, though. (By the time I get it right, the Balkan countries will have all changed names again anyhow!) :lol:
Message: Posted by: Confusion808 (Feb 1, 2002 11:40AM)
I used to perform Contimental a lot. Something that always bugged me about the system was that it included Litchenstien but not Greece or Sicily!. Has anyone actually had Litchenstien come up yet?. I got around this by blowing the missing countries out of the water at an early stage.
"Name any country In Europe such as Greece,
Sicily etc...". From my experience this phrasing tended to push them towards Italy, Spain, or France (which are probably the most popular choices anyway). Another flaw I found with Contimental is that you have to go pretty far down the list before you get to the popular choices, whereas you could get Litchenstien on your second reply!. Could the order be changed or would this mess up the system? :confused:
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Feb 1, 2002 09:49PM)
Nope, the order can't be changed without messing it up. As for having to call off a long string of letters before getting to the hit, I think it works better that way. See my Visions column that'll go up towards the end of this weekend:

A part of the February column will be dealing with this sort of effect and how (or how not) to present it. As soon as I sign offline I'm going to put the finishing touches on it :)
Message: Posted by: Drewmcadam (Feb 2, 2002 09:50AM)

Nice idea, getting rid of the problem ones by naming them in the run up to the effect... Kind of like Banachek's name a simple geometric shape like a aquare - nobody is going to name the square after that... Nice thinking, I think you may just have found the solution there, matey!

I LIKE going further down the list, it convinces the spec that you really are getting the letters that are dancing around before their eyes.
Message: Posted by: Confusion808 (Feb 5, 2002 05:40PM)
But Drew, haven't you had the experience when You have hit and missed 4 letter like
A S P N?. At this point the spectators know that the country is S P A I N before you even finish getting the whole string of letters!. I feel that if the spectator can figure out the country before you can, that the effect will not be impressive as the word has been anticipated. If the spectator can get the country by elimination, then it only makes sense that the performer can too. What do you think? :confused:
Message: Posted by: Drewmcadam (Feb 6, 2002 04:34AM)
The first time I saw this performed, the spec actually did select Spain… and that’s why it worked so well. In my opinion, Spain is the best one they can come up with. Remember, you’re not “selling” this as being an exercise in elimination, you’re “selling” it as mind reading. Presented correctly, using the “jumbled lettering” scam, with a lot of "You’re visualising the letter A… correct?" And N, you can see the letter N… Excellent, that was clear… No D... hang on, you’re right, it’s the P again… Please, visualise it as brightly and as clearly as you can… and so on

<<I feel that if the spectator can figure out the country before you can, that the effect will not be impressive as the word has been anticipated.>>

On the contrary, if the spectators are “getting it” they’re thinking… Oh, my God, he can really do it. I like Max’s “twist” when he asks, “What country are you thinking of?” (Spain). He looks at what he’s written and looks crestfallen… “Not Switzerland, then?”

There is a moment of confusion, the spec’s are thinking, Hang on, it COULD have been Switzerland, and before they have time to recover, Max turns the board around and says: “Oh well, let’s go to SPAIN, then!”

Message: Posted by: fordkross (Feb 6, 2002 09:16AM)
There are a number of problems with linking anagrams in general and Contimental in particular. First most people can't spell. Second the method is obvious to many. Our audiences contain bright people. Contimental contains grey areas as to which countries. Save these effects for your magic club
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Feb 6, 2002 02:57PM)
I disagree. There are many people who know (or at least suspect) that one of the rings in a linking ring routine has a gap in it. Yet, I am able to entertain and fool them with it, and I use their assumptions against them when I lead them to believe this is the case and then "prove" that it isn't!

The same is true with this type of routine. If you are just calling out letters as though you are playing Wheel of Fortune ("Is there a "t," Pat?"), then in point of fact, you'll be fooling no one. But if you are "pulling" the letters out of the spec's brain with great effort--after all, if you could really do it, it would be very difficult, right?--and great showmanship, then this routine and others like it can be VERY effective.

I saw Maven perform this routine for an audience of laymen at Cactus Pete's in Jackpot, Nevada. It absolutely KILLED! People were gasping and turning to each other shouting, "No way!"

What it boils doen to is this: if you don't believe in the effect, it won't play for you at all. If you believe in it and present it properly, the audinece will be stunned. End of story.

PS- I have an "out" for those times when Greece or Sicily is chosen (never had Iceland, Andora or Malta chosen--I don't think most people in the states even know Malta or Andora exist, and they think Iceland is part of Canada!) I have a large opaque envelope that has been in plain view the entire show. Inside is a piece of cardstock. On one side is written Greece, on the other, Sicily. When they name one of these countries, I crumple up the paper I'm holding and say, "Well, I can't be right ALL the time!" Then as they start to walk to their seat I stop them and ask them to bring me the envelope. I say, "I CAN'T be right all the time!" Then as I slowly remove the card with the correct side showing, "But I was THIS time!"

Everyone thinks the whole "getting the letters" thing was a farce, and that I somehow knew all along which country would be chosen.

Works for me!
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Feb 6, 2002 04:42PM)
Just a note for those interested--my column, including the "mini-rant" on progressive anagram effects, is now up at [i]Visions[/i] at http://www.online-visions.com/sharedthoughts
Message: Posted by: Drewmcadam (Feb 7, 2002 05:28PM)
Well, I started this thread, and this looks like a good place to finish it – though the last word definitely goes to Mr Leviss for his excellent analysis of branching anagrams and the presentation thereof in his Things Are Progressing Nicely piece (see above for link.) Andy, you talk a lot of sense, my man.

And don’t miss the needle-tipped point at the bottom regarding spectators versus participants. Darn! All this time and I should have spotted that one myself!
Message: Posted by: Bambaladam (Mar 14, 2002 08:05AM)
I have a great out for when Sicily is chosen:

"No, think of a country, not a PART of a country!"

That leaves you with Greece in the envelope and you can hand out your prediction for examination.

Andorra, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland cause more trouble as they actually ARE countries.


Don't have a solutíon for them.
Message: Posted by: Marduke Kurios (Mar 14, 2002 11:28AM)
I have asked my participant to think of any larger country in Western Europe. Stay away from the Channel Islands as they're too easy for me to get. This works for me. (BTW - This seems to narrow the field a lot more and the audience is still amazed) The only time it hasn't worked was when the person picked 'Russia'. :huh: Go figure.
How was I supposed to know they mixed up the world while I slept!?
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 14, 2002 12:41PM)
I made up a revised contimental. I just added
Greece in what I think is a clever way...also Andora. I remember the first time I got caught with Andora, ...the scar hasn't heald yet. Also I'm not sure if the original one had London in it. If it did never mind. I'm not sure if this is allowed,but if anyone is interested I could email you a .gif file of my revised contimental. Just Greece, and Andora basically.
Let me know . Also let me know if this is allowed. I don't want to break any rules.
I e-mailed Mr. Maven a long time ago, and told him of the Andora addition...He said. "Nice".

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 14, 2002 12:50PM)
On a certain magic mailing list, I remember that one of the members once created a little computer program that you could type in a list of things and it would automatically create a branching anagram to use.

Unfortunately, I don't remember who it was and I no longer have the program. :(

However, I consider myself adept at creating these on my own. In fact, it can be a lot of fun.

It's not too hard once you follow a few basic rules, and of course the trick is to create a list that allow for no more than two 'nos'. But this is usually possible for most lists.

Tell ya what... if everyone's interested, we can put together a new list of European countries (that includes the ones that Max missed, and even the common non-European ones that people sometimes pick), and I'll go through the process for creating a branching anagram formula.

Then you'll be able to create your own formulas for your own lists...

Anyone game?
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 15, 2002 09:59AM)
Yes that sounds great. Do you want us to send the names of some commonly named European countries ?

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 16, 2002 10:55PM)

Let's put together the complete list of countries we're going to work with, including some of the commonly selected WRONG ones. :)

Anybody have the Contimental list handy? Please go ahead and post it. Then we'll need to add the 'missing' countries Andora, Cyprus, Greece, Sicily, Malta and Iceland. And just for fun, will throw in some commonly guess 'wrong' countries; Russia (and anything else that performers have occasionally gotten).
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Mar 18, 2002 09:37AM)
Albania Gibraltar Poland
Andorra Greece Portugal
Austria Greenland Romania
Belarus Hungary San Marino
Belgium Iceland Scotland
Bosnia Ireland Slovakia
Bulgaria Italy Slovenia
Croatia Latvia Spain
Cyprus Liechtenstein Sweden
Czech Republic Lithuania Switzerland
Denmark Luxembourg Ukraine
Estonia Macedonia United Kingdom
Europe Malta Vatican City
Faroe Islands Moldova Wales
Finland Monaco Yugoslavia
France Netherlands
Germany Norway Sicily

BTW, using the Maven "I'll even throw in Scandinavia" highly offended my Norwegian niece-in-law, who quickly pointed out that Scandinavia is a region of Europe...and they are just as "European" as the others!
Message: Posted by: fordkross (Mar 18, 2002 10:05AM)
On 2002-03-14 09:05, Bambaladam wrote:
I have a great out for when Sicily is chosen:

"No, think of a country, not a PART of a country!"

That leaves you with Greece in the envelope and you can hand out your prediction for examination.

Not to nit pick, but we're supposed to read minds not give geography lessons, theres no reason if you read minds why yucan't get Sicily

Andorra, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland cause more trouble as they actually ARE countries.


Don't have a solutíon for them.
Message: Posted by: nissemus (Mar 18, 2002 10:54AM)
Missing from the above list are England and Northern Ireland. Someone might also conceivably come up with Britain or Great Britain. And many people call The Netherlands "Holland".
Message: Posted by: Marduke Kurios (Mar 18, 2002 12:37PM)
I've thought of using a folded-up, colorful map of Europe with the exact countries I want them to choose from on it. It can be laminated and carried in the wallet. Does anyone else think this is a good idea or not?

Does anyone have a line on the anagram making software yet??

Message: Posted by: ddyment (Mar 19, 2002 01:19AM)
Back in 1998, Peter Lipp wrote a great progressive anagram builder program for Windows, and made it freely available. Just feed in the words you want, and it constructs a progressive anagram, using Maven's notation.

Don't know if he can still be reached at <plipp@iaik.tu-graz.ac.at>, but you can always try.

... Doug
Message: Posted by: Mr Amazing (Mar 19, 2002 10:00AM)
[quote]Marduke wrote:map... carried in the wallet...[/quote]
Aren't there some pocket calendars (not to mention PDAs) that have maps in them?

Using this idea you could perhaps erase the "difficult" countries so to avoid them being chosen.

The drawback IMO, though, is that you get away from the clean propless approach of the whole premise.

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 19, 2002 11:54AM)
Okay, before I start the progressive anagram creation process, I want to make sure we have as complete a list as possible. So far, we have:

Czech Republic
Faroe Islands
Great Britain
Northern Ireland
San Marino
United Kingdom
Vatican City

Have we missed any?

Also, as Nissemus pointed out, the Netherlands is also known as Holland. Are there alternate names for the countries listed that we should consider? For example, should we 'code' Northern Ireland as just 'North Ireland' or the Czech Republic as just 'Czech'?

Once we are all satisfied that the list is complete, I'll start the process...
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 19, 2002 12:09PM)
It looks great to me.
How are you going to do this again...?
You have a program? I can't wait,This will be fantastic.

Thanks Philemon.

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 19, 2002 12:19PM)
No, I don't have a program.

I'm going to do it the old-fashioned way; by hand (and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). And I'm going to explain the process step by step so that anyone who is interested can learn how to make their own for whatever list they decide to create.

However, now that I've said that, I realize this should probably go in either the "Secret Sessions" or "The triple dare!" areas. Would a staff member please kindly move it there?

Of course, that also means that you'll need to become a regular poster with at least 50 posts to access it... :devilish:
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 19, 2002 12:45PM)
Here is my 31st post. ......

Hopefully when I do get to the 50th post the post will still be there...? (Not a rhetorical question)


Sorry , I didn't mean to cuss.

Although technically "Dam" is not really a cuss word. I just looked it up.

dam1 dam,
noun an embankment to restrain water; the water so confined; a millstream (Scottish); a restraint (figurative).
verb transitive to keep back by a bank:

I retract my apology.

Message: Posted by: Mr Amazing (Mar 19, 2002 01:22PM)
[quote]Philemon wrote:
...should we 'code' Northern Ireland as just 'North Ireland' or the Czech Republic as just 'Czech'?[/quote]
Every alternative they may say ought to be coded, including misspellings. (Or can't we read those minds?)

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 19, 2002 01:34PM)
Alternatives definitely should be coded.

As for misspellings, that's going to be trickier. Luckily the progressive anagram technique is pretty forgiving for most misspellings, such as single/double letter errors or dyslexic arrangements.

But if there's an obvious 'alternate' misspelling of a country, it should be figured in.
Message: Posted by: nissemus (Mar 19, 2002 05:14PM)
Two more to add to the list: Georgia and Turkey.
Message: Posted by: saglaser (Mar 19, 2002 08:11PM)
In Max's presentation, he avoids the Eastern European countries for reasons which make a lot of sense -- both to the audience and to the mentalist. He asks participants to stay away from them because "they keep changing and nobody can remember the names anyway" which includes, of course, people have a hard time spelling them.

In an ideal presentation, there'd be a choice of any country anywhere, but that, of course, gets impractical fast so ya gotta draw a line somewhere. I rather think that Max was right to stick to Western Europe.

Still, if you can get all those into a manageable presentation, that would be both a useful and impressive achievement!
Message: Posted by: ddyment (Mar 20, 2002 11:34AM)
I predict that you'll find -- when trying to include all these countries -- that there are too many letter collisions, and a regular progrssive anagram will not be possible.

In fact, I'd be surprised if you could construct one from even the first *half* of this list.

... Doug
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 20, 2002 12:19PM)
Okay, it looks like we're ready to get started.

The first thing we need to do is take our list of 60 countries and break each name down to the pertinent letters; duplicated letters are eliminated and the remaining letters are arranged in alphabetical order (for ease of counting later).

Therefore, our list looks like this:

Albania ABILN
Andorra ADNOR
Austria AIRSTU
Britain ABINRT
Bulgaria ABGILRU
Croatia ACIORT
Czech Republic BCDEHILPRUZ
England ADEGLN
Europe EOPRU
Faroe Islands ADEFILNORS
Finland ADFILN
Georgia AEGIOR
Gibraltar ABGILRT
Great Britain ABEGINRT
Greece CEGR
Greenland ADEGLNR
Holland ADHLNO
Latvia AILTV
Liechtenstein CEHILNST
Lithuania AHILNTU
Luxembourg BEGLMORUX
Macedonia ACDEIMNO
Malta ALMT
Moldova ADLMOV
Monaco ACMNO
Netherlands ADEHLNRST
Northern Ireland ADEHILNORT
Romania AIMNOR
Russia AIRSU
San Marino AIMNORS
Scandinavia ACDINSV
Sicily CILSY
Slovakia AIKLOSV
Sweden DENSW
Switzerland ADEILNRSTW
United Kingdom DEGIKMNOTU
Vatican City ACINTVY
Yugoslavia AGILOSUVY

Someone may want to check my work for errors, before we proceed any further...

Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 20, 2002 12:27PM)

I had a dream last night, that you were going to do this.:-)

Seriously though.
Both my wife and I had bizzare dreams last night of
cruise ships, water , ocean, . I just say this because its pretty coincidental that I just found out you do oneiromancy.
Mine was of a cruise ship parked out in front of our street. The street was an ocean/sand bed. people walking around the ship with different vending boths on the water, and food stands. I was in my back yard worried that when the ship leaves it usually causes a wake and everyone on the neighbour hood gets upset about this. (water getting into the house, and stuff) After the ship left their was a wake of water running down the backyard and around the deck. I checked my house and as usuall their was no big propblem with the water in the house. I'm on top of a hill,..kind of.the back yard dose slope down, which explains for my high deck. Pretty wierd eh? Then again I bet you hear all sorts of wierd dreams from people.
(Side note we've been on two cruises so far)


Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 20, 2002 12:31PM)
Dream interpretations are $25. :devilish:

However, I'll give you a hint to help decipher your dream.

Water is often a symbol of our emotional state.


I'll let you figure out the rest of the dream.

And I'll post the next step of the progressive anagram process sometime tomorrow.
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 20, 2002 12:45PM)
Thank you Philemon.

I'm looking forward to the Progressive anagram. I take it this subject is not going to be moved ?
Very reasonable price. $25. Thank you for the hint.

Message: Posted by: Michelle Labonte (Mar 20, 2002 05:37PM)
Don't move this to the secret forum!! Please!

Besides, it would be rather silly to use this effect w/o actually having proper instruction to present correctly. . .
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 21, 2002 12:20PM)
Okay, onto the next step of our progressive anagram creation.

Because we want to generate as many 'yes' responses as possible, we're going to play the odds and select letters that have the greatest percentage of being correct.

So let's take a look at our list and find out which letter appears in the most countries. (This is where an Excel spreadsheet comes in handy.)

It turns out that the letter 'A' appears in 48 of the 59 countries. So if we make this the first letter we 'receive', we have a 81% chance of getting an affirmative response.

Now let's take a look at the 12 countries that don't have an 'A':

Czech Republic
United Kingdom

Again we look at which letter the majority of these remaining countries have in common.

It looks like 'U' is the big winner here, appearing in 7 of the countries. That leaves us with 4:


We repeat the process, but now we have three candidates; C, E and S. So which do we choose? My preference is to use whichever letter appears in the most countries overall, thus creating the psychological effect that many choices still fit the bill. 'E' appears in 28 countries total, so I would use this as my next guess.

If I got a 'no' on this letter (my third negative response), I would know that there was only one country that could possibly fit: SICILY, which is the only one on the list that doesn't have the letter A, U, or E.

So now the first 'branch' of our progressive anagram will look like this:

A - U - E Sicily

We're now going to do the same thing with the other three countries.

C, N, or S is our next option, and this time I would go with N, leaving Greece as the odd man out. So now our anagram formula looks like:

A - U - E Sicily
| .. | .. N Greece

(ignore the periods... they're just there to keep the formatting looking correct)

Now all we have left is Liechtenstein and Sweden. By using 'I' as our last determinant, we have the first part of our formula completed:

A - U - E Sicily
| .. | .. N Greece
| .. | .. I Sweden
| .. | .. Liechtenstein

So far, so good... now to do the countries that have the letter 'U', but we'll save that for tomorrow (unless everyone who's reading this understands the process and is ready for me to just jump to the end and complete the formula?)...
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Mar 21, 2002 02:02PM)
Personally I understood the formula when I had the sheet in front of me . From what I'm getting so far is ...3 "No"'s and its Sicily ?

Also from what I'm understanding in this is , we will get to the name of the country with 3 NO's in most cases..?. Thats not bad.
Thats still great. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Mar 21, 2002 02:22PM)
Correct... a 'no' response means you move to the right; a 'yes' means move down.

Sicily would be the worst case scenario with three 'no's in a row. All the others will have a least one 'yes' somewhere to break it up.

This is, of course, a great effect to do over the telephone, as you can put the 'cheat sheet' right next to it and just follow it along.