Professor’s Nightmare Rope Trick- Complete Guide

I have been performing the Professor’s Nightmare Rope Trick for over 20 years. After trying out many versions and performing this trick thousands of times for real audiences, I have put together the simplest and absolute best handling. Here you will learn the Professor’s Nightmare in step by step details.


I order rope online from a site called Baronian Trading Company. You can check it out here. I like the rope to be 10mm with core. I take the core out of the rope which makes it more flexible and easier to work with. I tuck the ends in with a mechanical pencil. Or you can dip the ends in Elmer’s glue and let them dry overnight. Make the short piece 8″, the medium piece 29″, and the long piece 50.”

sleight of hand

I am right handed. If you are left handed switch the hands.

Professor’s Nightmare


“A long piece, a short piece, and a medium piece of rope.”

switch 3

Start with the 3 ropes in your left hand, left to right- medium, short, long. Pick up the long rope with your right thumb and 1st finger. Hold it up and display it. Display the short piece with your left thumb and 1st finger. Place the short piece on the long piece, the middle going on top of your right 1st finger in an X formation. Hold it in place with your right thumb. Let the bottom end of the short rope run between your right 1st and 2nd fingers.

Show the medium rope in your left hand. Relax your right hand down slightly, this is when you will switch the ends.


With your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd finger flip the end of the long piece toward you around the bottom of the short piece so they switch places. Fold the end down against the rope and fold the short piece up in half. Place the medium rope to the left of the other ropes. Hold the ropes with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd finger, your thumb conceals the loops. Straighten the ends and display the ropes, front and back.


“Just a stretch, and they are all equal.”


Clamp the rope above the loops with your right thumb and 1st finger. Keep your right 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers loosely curled around the ropes. With your left palm toward you, below your right hand, clip the end hanging down in your left thumb crotch and hold the ropes loosely in your left fist. Slide your left hand down the ropes, moving the clipped end, until the bottoms are even. Snap the ropes. Let go with your left hand.


“All the same length.”


Lift the rope on the left, the medium rope, with your left thumb and 1st finger. Slide it all the way up through your right hand and let the end come out. While showing this rope place your right 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers between the hanging ropes. Bring your left hand back down to the ropes.

  • Clip the ends, near the loops, between your left 1st and 2nd fingers.
  • Clamp the medium rope against your hand with your right thumb.

Close your left 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers hiding the loops and move your left hand up the same way you did with the 1st rope. Let the medium rope in your right hand slide along. Bring the rope all the way up through your right hand and let the end come out.

Move your left 1st finger under the ends. Place the last rope into your left hand to the right of the ropes and slide this rope through your right hand, like you did with the others, moving your left hand only.



“Just a wave, remember the small rope, the medium, and the long.”

Transfer the ropes to your right hand. Place your right hand onto your left hand with your right thumb and 1st finger slightly above. Make sure your right fingers are closed. Slide your left hand down and take over with your right hand. Slide your left hand all the way to the bottom of the ropes and stretch them. Place the bottom on the loops of the top ends pointing diagonally up and to the right.

Lift up the little piece of rope with your left thumb and 1st finger. Move it into the crotch of your left thumb. Lift the medium rope between your left 1st and 2nd. Hold onto one end of the long piece with your right thumb and 1st finger and let the other end fall. Display the ropes. Take your applause.


The Professor’s Nightmare Rope Trick, also called the 3 Rope Magic Trick, is definitely the best rope trick out there. It can be done close up or on stage, for up to 200 people, and you can perform it surrounded. This routine is perfect anytime, even when it is loud or people don’t speak the same language. Visual rope magic is fun to watch and gets great reactions.

All the moves here have been well thought out. They are clean, deceptive, and flow together nicely. Perform this rope magic slowly, smoothly, and confidently. You will get gasps.

PRACTICE: Spend time learning the moves, there is no time for fumbling. You need to know the routine and handling inside and out. The Ends Switch happens in the beginning while you are showing the ropes, before the trick has really started. It is the perfect time to do the switch, don’t make a big deal of it. There is no heat on you.

EQUAL ROPES: There are so many methods to show the ropes equal. I have played with them all and I truly believe the method above is the simplest, cleanest, and easiest. Just be casual and smooth and trust in the moves. Nobody is chasing you, they are enjoying the magic. When you show the 3 ropes do not count them, your spectators know there are 3 ropes. Just casually show them one at a time.

PRESENTATION: I have bolded the “patter” I use in this routine. As you can see it is minimal. I’m pretty much just saying what I do. I like my magic to speak for itself. I don’t like long stories or speeches during a trick, and neither do your spectators.

ROPE SIZE: You can make your set of ropes whatever size you want. The medium piece has to be half the size of the long piece + half the size of the short piece. If performing on stage you might want to make the short piece 10″, the long piece 60″, the medium piece 35.” Longer ropes are more visible on stage. Don’t go too small, make your ropes long enough so there is a distinct difference in the size of the medium and long ropes.

If you like rope magic check out Rope Magic Tricks- The Best Ones. There are some amazing rope tricks in there and you will learn how I get into the Professor’s Nightmare from one piece of rope during my routine.

It is always good to mix up your magic. Check out this Free Video and learn my favorite 4 Ace Trick. It is easy to do and guaranteed to amaze. I perform it all the time at my paid events.


Hi, I'm Matt Furman. I've been a full-time professional magician for over 20 years, ever since I left medical school to pursue my passion.

I have a ton of real world experience and I am constantly practicing and performing new mind blowing magic.