Friday, March 17, 2006

Jesse Demaline had some very clever effects in The Magic Wand magazine but his Sympathetic Cards from Pocket (issue 254) may have been overlooked because of a typo in the article. It’s an intriguing effect. A diabolically simple method. And holds lots of potential for individual variation. Read on.

Effect: Imagine having three cards selected from a blue-backed deck. They are free selections and you really have no idea what cards are being chosen. Meanwhile, a second spectator is shuffling a red-backed deck of cards. They hand it to you and you place it in your jacket pocket.

Now for the magic; you reach inside a remove a card from the shuffled red-backed deck. Amazingly, it matches the first selection. You repeat the feat, pulling out another card and revealing that this one matches the second selection. Finally, you pull out a third card. And yes, it matches the third selection.

Method: It's a great effect and not difficult to do but I bet the method will disappoint you. That would be a pity, because it really is such a good routine. Here goes:

It all depends on using a Mene Tekel Deck. I can hear half of you crying "No!" and the other half wondering what the devil a Mene Tekel Deck is. To be honest it's not much used these days. It is a gimmicked deck consisting of twenty-six different cards and their duplicates. The cards are arranged in pairs and the rear card of each pair has been trimmed a little shorter than its mate. It's similar in construction to the more popular Svengali deck. You'll find more about the Mene Tekel Deck in Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, if you're interested.

For this effect let's assume that the Mene Tekel Deck is blue-backed. The red-backed deck is quite ordinary and unprepared and is handed out to a spectator for shuffling. As that is done you bring out the Mene Tekel Deck and give it a few cuts. You can riffle spread the deck face up on the table if you want to show all the cards ordinary, or riffle through them as you would with a Svengali deck. After that you let the cards dribble from the right hand to the left and ask a spectator to call "stop." Stop the dribble action and thumb off the top card of the left portion of the deck and ask him to take it. That will be his selected card.

Because of the construction of the deck, it leaves a duplicate of his card on top of the left portion. Replace this packet on top of the right hand packet, bringing the duplicate to the top of the deck.

Now you go to a second spectator and have another card selected. Again dribble the cards from the right hand and into the left. Ask him to call "stop" at any point and offer him the card stopped at as before. This time you can't cut the deck to bring to the duplicate to the top. Instead, as you bring the right hand packet to the left, you simply thumb over the top card of the left packet and slide the right hand packet below it.

You don't need to make a move out of this. Just do it. If you want to cover it a little, turn to your right as you walk towards the next spectator and at that point ask him to look at his chosen card. As he does, make the move.

Dribble the cards again and ask a third spectator to call "stop." He does and is offered the top card of the left packet. Again, you bring the packets together and slide the new top card of the left portion onto the right portion as it is apparently replaced. If you've done all this correctly, you will have duplicates of each selected card on top of the deck. We're almost there.

Get a break under the top three cards of the deck and palm them into the right hand as you ask the spectator with the red-backed deck to stop shuffling. With the right hand, put the blue-backed deck down on the table. With the left hand, take back the red-backed deck. Transfer it to the right hand and place it into your right jacket pocket. Before the right hand comes out of the pocket, it leaves the palmed cards on top of the deck. The finishing line is in sight.

The rest is just showmanship. To produce the first spectator's card you pretend to fiddle around in your pocket and then bring out the third card down from the top. It's actually got a blue-back, not a red-back, so be careful not to expose it as you show the card and drop it face up onto the table. It matches the first spectator's selection. Similarly the second spectator's selection will be found second card down from the top. And the third spectator's selection will be the top card. Just be careful not to expose the backs as they are produced.

There's not really much more to it. By choreographing the effect properly you will make it easier for yourself. The three spectators who choose cards should be in front of you from left to right. Moving between them will help cover the repositioning of the duplicate cards. The spectator who shuffles the red-backed deck should be on your left. Moving towards him will help cover the palming of the duplicates. It also means it is natural to reach out to him with your left hand and take the deck back.

Final Notes: You can play around with different moves to get the duplicates to the top of the deck but I don't think it is worth complicating it too much. A simple modification you could make is in the loading of the duplicate to the top of the deck. Instead of just pushing the card over the side of the deck, to the right, pull it back with the thumb so that it projects an inch or so at the inner end of the deck. The right hand, now lying by your side, comes up towards the left portion of the deck, hits the injogged card and slides right under it as it is replaced on top of the left portion. It works smoothly and is well covered from the front if the left hand is held high and the deck tipped slightly towards you.

I did experiment with a Mene Tekel Deck arranged so that instead of alternating short/long the pairs alternated long/short. This meant that after a spectator had taken his selection, the duplicate was actually on the face of the upper (right) half of the deck. As the halves were brought together it could be loaded beneath the deck via the Ovette/Kelly move or one of the many variations such as that of Bruce Elliott's in 100 New Magic Tricks. Instead of the duplicates being top-palmed and loaded into the right jacket pocket, they are bottom palmed and deposited in the left. I'm not sure it was any improvement though.

Finally, you can dispense with the palming altogether if you just dip your right hand (and deck) into your right pocket as if opening it ready to receive the red-backed deck. Leave the duplicate cards behind. Put the blue-backed deck away and take the red-backed deck at fingertips and drop it into the pocket alongside the duplicates. The rest is as written.

Monday, March 13, 2006

So Special
Effect: This is an ambitious card routine using five cards. One of the cards repeatedly rises to the top of the packet. Finally it demonstrates its prowess by penetrating up through the entire deck.

Method: Packet Elevator tricks are not new but this has the distinction of using the double deal as the crux of the method. I was prompted to dig this out of the notebooks after reading Peter Duffie's book Card Conspiracy, where you'll find a number of routines using this sleight. The basic handling is also described in Hugard and Braue's Expert Card Technique, though with a full deck rather than a packet.

Begin by having five cards selected from the deck. Upjog each card as it is pointed to and then strip the five selections out.

Put the deck aside, but within easy reach, and spread the five selected cards between the hands and ask the spectator to choose just one of them.

Give him a pen to sign his name across his selection.

As he signs the card, make a Half Pass of the lower three cards of the four card packet that you are still holding.

Take the pen back and put it away. Then take the signed card and place it face up on what appears to be a face down packet of cards in the hands. You are holding the cards in the left hand dealing grip which is perfect for the double deal.

"The fact that you chosen this card from all the rest gives it a sense of pride. Really. It thinks it's special. Let me show you what I mean."

You apparently turn the signed card face down but in reality you execute a double deal, turning the top and bottom cards over as one. This puts the signed card second from the top.

Remove the top card with the right hand and with the left hand thumb push over the new top card of the packet. Don't spread the packet or you will expose the reversed cards. Now put the 'signed' card below the top card of the packet and square the cards up.

"Let me try to put your card second from the top."

Snap your fingers, do a dance or whatever else it takes to 'make the magic work' and then turn over the top card of the packet to reveal that the signed card has returned to the top.

"You see, it just won't settle for second spot. Thinks it's special. Got to be number one. Let's try again."

Execute another double deal as you apparently turn the signed card face down on top of the packet. Remove the top card face down in the right hand.

"This time we'll place it third from the top."

The left hand thumbs over the top two cards of the packet, again being careful not to expose the reversed card. Place the 'signed' card under the thumbed over cards, pause so that the spectator can appreciate the situation, and then square the packet. Snap your fingers and flip over the top card to show that the signed card has once again returned to the top.

Incidentally, all the turnovers should look alike. Don't use one handling for the double turnover and another when you are flipping over a single card.

"Okay, here's a toughie. This time it goes fourth from the top."

Execute a double turnover to flip the signed card face down. Remove the top card and this time place it fourth from the top of the packet. There are no more reversed cards so you can spread the cards widely when you do this.

Another click of the fingers and you can turn the top card over to show it is the signed card.

"Now this is difficult. Five cards, never been done. Watch."

Genuinely turnover the top card and then place it to the bottom of the packet. You spread the packet to show that it is really being placed there.

To get the card back to the top you execute a double turnover as you apparently flip the top card over. This leaves a face up card hidden under the face up signed card sets you up for the finish.

"Amazing. Almost don't believe it myself but your card can do even better than that. Look."

Execute a double turnover of the top two cards of the packet. Deal the top card, apparently the signed card, face down onto the table. Drop the rest of the packet face down on top of the face down deck which you put aside earlier. Pick the deck up and dribble it face down onto the table 'signed' card.

Ask the spectator to tap the top card of the deck and turn it over himself. He should be surprised to find that it is his signed selection.

And that's it!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Straight to the Point
I think it was Bob Ostin who first showed me how effective this trick could be. You've probably even read it. It is described under the title Round and Round and can be found in Chapter Five of The Royal Road to Card Magic, but it seems to have been overlooked by almost everyone.

The original made use of the Glimpse but that is not used in this version. The mechanics of the trick are almost childish but the timing and presentation turn what is really a very obvious ruse into a real baffler.

Begin by having a deck of cards shuffled and then five cards dealt face down onto the table. Ask a spectator to pick them up and mix them. Tell him to make sure that no one sees any of the cards. When he has finished shuffling, ask him to look at the top card of the packet, remember it, and replace it. You can turn aside while he does this. You want to make the most of the impossible conditions under which this location trick takes place.

"Okay, now put the cards behind your back. You're thinking of a card and I now want you to think of a number too. A simple number from 1 to 5. It's a free choice: 1,2,3,4,5. Chose any one of them and think of it. Got that?"

"I'm going to turn away while you do the next bit because I don't want you to think you're giving me any clues as to what is going on. You're thinking of a card. And you're thinking of a number. Now, whatever that number is, I want you to move that many cards from the top of the packet to the bottom. Do you understand?"

Repeat the instruction if he doesn't.

"Do it silently and slowly so that no one here could possibly know whether you're moving five cards or just one. Let me know when you've finished."

The spectator moves his cards and tells you when he has done.

"Okay, I'm still not looking at you. Will you place the cards face down into my hand."

You extend your hand behind you and take the packet of cards. As soon as you have them, turn to face him, keeping the cards behind your back.

"What I'm going to try and do is imagine I'm you. I'm going to try and imagine I'm thinking of a number and thinking of a card. The same card that you're thinking of."

Look him in the eyes and pretend to concentrate. Really you reverse the order of the cards behind your back and then move two cards from the top of the packet to the bottom. It doesn't matter if anyone sees you moving cards around. You're trying to imagine that you are him so it's reasonable that you will be duplicating his actions.

Suddenly, pretend that something is wrong. Something is not quite right. Turn away from him and hand him the packet of cards behind your back. You've still not looked at any of the cards.

"No, sorry, it's just not happening. Take the cards again. Put them behind you're back. Really think of your card……… Okay. That's it. Now think of your number again. And move that many cards from the top of the packet to the bottom. Do it slowly, do it quietly, don't let anyone know how many cards you're moving. Let me know when you've finished."

He tells you he has finished. You turn around but don't quite face him. Instead you extend your right hand and hold it palm up in front of him.

"Good, now take the top card bring it out and hold it face down above my hand. Keep the other cards behind your back."

He brings the top card out and holds it above your hand.

"Don't let me touch the card."

You don't look at the card either while he is doing this. But you do appear to concentrate and finally, say, "No. Throw it on the table. That's not it."

Ask him to take the next card from the top of the packet and hold it face down above your hand. Concentrate again and finish by saying, "No, that's not it either. Throw it on the table."

He takes a third card from the top of the packet and holds it above your hand. If he's followed the procedure correctly, the third card will be his selection. Trust me, it works. It'll always be the third card down in the packet. Finish by saying, "That's it. That's the one. Would you call out the name of the card you are thinking of?"

He does and you turn to face him. "Turn over the card." He'll be amazed to find that it is indeed the one he has been thinking of.

If you want to short cut the trick even further, ask him to think of the number first and then look at the five cards. He then remembers the card lying at his number from the face of the packet. This way he only moves cards from the top to the bottom of the packet once during the routine. It's a strong trick. You never looked at the cards, you never asked him for his thought of number, and you never touched the cards after he took them back. It's almost a miracle!

Final Notes: Want to tell him his thought of number too? All you need do is nail nick or crimp the top card of the packet before you hand it back. When you come to the revelation, have the third card, his selection, placed aside. Make it clear that's the card you are getting psychic vibes from. But just to make sure have the fourth and fifth cards brought out too, one at a time. You don't get any vibes from them so they go onto the table with the others. I should mention that the discards are dealt into a pile.

Now ask him to name his thought of card. He does and you have him turn that third card, the one placed aside, face up. It is his. He thinks the trick is over. That's your chance to glance down at the cards on the table. When you spot the crimped/nicked card, you can work out the thought of number because it will be that number of cards from the top of the packet. Don't forget to factor the third card into your calculations. Have the spectator concentrate on his number and reveal it in your best Dunninger manner.