by Doug A
Last Update August 2006
Note: For an excellent buyer's guide to the Linking Rings, see the article by Joseph Capaul at Stevens Magic: http://www.stevensmagic.com. Click on The Feature Story link and then the March 2006 article.
The Chinese Linking Rings is an effect wherein the magician takes rings of solid metal, and is seemingly able to link and unlink them at will. Although the secret to the linking rings is fairly well known (inexpensive versions have been available for years in beginner's magic kits), the effect has remained a classic of magic and is still performed today. I can remember watching magician David Tallent (of Dollywood's Magic Shop) perform the Linking Rings, and even though I knew how the effect was done, I was still fascinated at how real the penetrations looked, and at the good choreography he presented.
The traditional Linking Rings effect uses a set of 8 rings, although versions have been performed with many different numbers, including routines using 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9 or more rings. Close-up magicians have gotten into the act and have made close up versions of the effect as well, using 4 or 5" rings.
While I will not reveal the secret to the linking rings here (you can easily search on the Internet if you don't already know it), many of the advances in the Linking Rings has been to find new ways of producing the "key" ring that cannot be detected or that will fool those "in the know". As alluded to above, however, I think that the best defense against this knowledge is a good routine.
Routines:Some of the older Linking Rings routines became known for the many "figures" that would be made with a set of 8 rings, such as The Rocking Chair, the Horse, and so forth. In today's TV mentality audiences, these figures can quickly become boring and should be limited in a modern performance of the Rings.
I would recommend skipping the cheaper versions ($10-20) of this effect. If you are going to perform it, you should use a nice set, which can be found for about $50 and up. It can be difficult to know what brand of linking rings you are getting, since most catalogs simply list the size and a price. I have a set of Bumper rings which were about $50 (from Denny & Lee's Magic Studio), and I can recommend them as a good starting set. The set of 3 locking rings from Houdini's Magic Shop available recently (1999) has been getting great reviews for a $50 set, though I haven't seen them. The Linking Rings reference page lists many of the rings currently available today.
Magic Home Page Magic Reference Page Magic Links