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Huw Collingbourne
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Devon, UK
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I wonder if anyone could direct me to a good description of how to perform this trick (the actual mechanics rather than the patter)? I can't find it in Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks, Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia, or Tarbell (unless it's hiding there by a different name).

Thanks in advance...

Best Wishes,
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Ontario, Canada
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You can buy this for about 5 or 10$ from most dealers.

Or purchase Daryl's rope video with his FISM routine. Part of his routine uses the Prof. Nightmare.

Richard Sanders uses three ropes and a baby. It's his version of the effect available on video.
It could be listed as Equal-Unequal ropes.

Once learned, a variety of routines are out there. Most recently, one was published in the "Magic" Magazine by David Kaye (silly billy).

Hope this helps,

Peter Marucci
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You won't find the Professor's Nightmare in most standard magic books because it is a commercial effect.

It was developed by Bob Carver from a two-rope routine by Hen Fetsch; Gene Gordon (one of the founders of the International Brotherhood of Magicians) came up with the patter that gave the trick its name. (It is more commonly known in Britain as Equal-Unequal Ropes.)

The rights are now owned, I believe, by Magic, Inc. in Chicago. However, Professor's Nightmare has the rather dubious distincition of being probably the most ripped-off trick in magic. Because it is so easy to make, it is usually made up with no credit or cash going to the creators or the current holder of the rights. But, then, what else is new in magic?

Peter Marucci
Dave V
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The cleanest routine I've seen is on the video tape "Million Dollar Miracles" by James Lewis.

I believe Michael Ammar also performs it with the same handling, at least he did the last time I saw him.

No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Andy Charlton
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Aldo Columbini's "Mama Mia Rope Trick" has everything, including, depending on the version used, two different Professors nightmares. One of which finishes with a full restoration and the rope given out at the end.

My favourite rope routine by miles.


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A very clever new version now out on the market is the one by Jari Santala called Magician's Nightmare. It must be your opener due to the set up, but you cleanly show three unequal ropes and stretch them into three ropes the same length and you can toss them out immediately.
I got it from Hank Lee. It comes with a CD that demos and explains the working.
Dr. Jakks
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I thought it was in Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia....
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There's a trick in Wilson's book called "Equal-Unequal Ropes" but it is not Professor's Nightmare. It's a completely different routine.

I did see the workings in a book (I think it was a book by Charles Pecor) where it was titled (appropriately and rightly) "Carver's Ropes".

I'll try and remember whick book I saw it in and post that info later.
Pick a card, any card...No. not THAT one...THIS one

Ray Banks
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Check out Aldo Colombini's site. He has a monthly tips section that shows a "shake out" cleanup (it's in his archives). PM me if you need more info.
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The book that Ray mentions is probably 'The Craft of Magic' by Charles Pecor, where it is called 'The Carver Ropes' (that's where I first learned it).

I've just got a very nice handling of the trick from Bruce Kalvers lecture notes, 'Perfectly Practical'. The moves are very open looking. Takes a bit of practice to get them smooth, but very nice.

He's at:

if you'd like to check it out.


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You can read about the Professor’s Nightmare in the following books:

Give a Magician More Rope

Magic from Havana

Yours faithfully

Smile Dan Kirsch Smile
steve proescher
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Virginia Beach
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If you don't mind videos, there are two great versions on two new vids. Paul Green does it with cut and restored on his new vid "In the Trenches". Jon Allen does it on his "Spectators don't exist". His false count will kill you.
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I found it in the Michael Laster book or something like that. It has a kid on it with cards.
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There's a shake-out ending, which he calls 'Freddy's Dead', in Jon Allen's Lecture Notes - The Director's Cut - but he doesn't describe the actual routine... OR his false count...
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The version I use is from "Magic of Micah Lasher". It lists at $16(US), but you can find it a little cheaper at Borders.

The book itself is a good value. I've found about 4 or 5 things that I want to use. You can order it "storebought" for about $3 or $4 (PLUS about $4 postage) from most any dealer.

I feel it's more fun to "roll your own".

Hope this helps.

"Pick any card. NOT that one!!!"
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There's a book by Bill Severn called "Magic with Rope, Ribbons, and String" that was published in 1982 by David McKay Co. It is a really good book and includes both method and patter for PN. In fact there's a whole chapter on "long & short."

I've had this book for a long time (I believe this is where I first learned PN) and I suspect it will be difficult to locate, but worth a try!

mike Smile
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johnpert mentioned the Silly Billy routine. I now use that one when I do children's shows.

For adults my patter is mainly repeating 'Ropes Do Not Stretch'! I have them examine the ropes a few times in between the 'moves'.

Works for me!
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I am trying to find Aldo Colombini's web site! I have been there before, but apparently forgot to add it to my favorites. I just ordered the Mama Mia Rope Trick. I heard it was good.
Burt Yaroch
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Scott Ocheltree
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I saw Aldo Colombini lecture last week and he did his version of the Professor's Nightmare where all three pieces of rope join back together at the end of the routine. It is a very powerful trick.

I have read ads for the Magician's Nightmare, the trick where 3 unequal ropes are made equal and handed out for inspection. My feeling is that this is a
"magician's trick" - that is, a trick intended to fool other magicians. A lay audience is not likely to find this any more amazing than the standard ungimmicked version. It is effect and not method that lay people see.

Aldo's version has the advantage of using ungimmicked rope and a kicker ending that is impressive to both fellow magi and the laity.

I also found instructions for the classic "Professor's Nightmare" without the traditional patter, in Tom Ogden's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic". I do believe he gives proper credit for its creation but doesn't indicate whether it is printed with permission.

This is actually a pretty good beginner's book. I found it at the local public library. It is also available through
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