THE principle upon which the following tricks depend first appeared in print in the Art of Magic in 1909, as set forth therein "the secret lies in locating the selected card by observing where the spectator breaks the pack." That is to say, when a spectator cuts the pack you estimate how many cards are in the lower packet. If you have beforehand sighted the bottom card it-follows that, no matter how many complete cuts have been made, if you again cut it to bring the sighted card to the bottom, you can divide the pack within a card or two of the spectator's original cut. How close you come to it will depend on the accuracy of your estimate. A few trials will show that the principle is not really difficult, particularly since all that is necessary is to come within a few cards of the right spot.
1. Tucker's Version
Any pack of cards shuffled by spectator, the bottom card sighted and the pack placed on the table. A spectator cuts freely and notes the bottom card of the packet cut, then replaces the cards, squares the pack and makes as many complete cuts as he pleases. Take the pack, run over the faces and find the key card. Supposing you estimated that there were twenty cards in the bottom heap after the first cut, then cut the pack two cards below the key and place these eighteen cards on the top. Put the next two cards from the bottom on to the top taking a mental note of what cards they are. The two shifts of the eighteen cards and the two cards from the bottom to the top are done under cover of the movements of running the cards fanwise as you pretend to search for the chosen card. Finally palm the bottom six cards in your left hand (Erdnase, p. 95).
You now control eight cards, two known cards on the top of the pack and six cards palmed in the left hand. The chosen card is named: If it is the top card turn it over; if the second make a double lift and show it. If neither of these is the correct card you say, 'Why, that card has been in my pocket all evening,' and reach into your inside coat pocket with the left hand to produce the card. Turn your right side a little to the front with the right hand assisting by holding open the coat, and under cover of this action spread the six palmed cards so that you can retain the one named and let the others fall into the pocket. It would be a very poor estimate that failed to get within eight cards of the original cut.
2. Abbott's Version. The Certain Card Trick
For this version only forty-eight cards are used. Ask a spectator to shuffle and then cut the pack. Performer meanwhile has an opportunity of glancing at the card on the bottom of the pack. Spectator is asked to hold the pack and peek at one card. Performer merely estimates the number of cards raised. He may lift twelve cards and your guess is thirteen, or again you may guess sixteen. In either case, divide your guess by six; for instance six into thirteen is two and one over, or six into sixteen is two and four over. Discard the number over. Spectator is directed to cut the pack as many times as he wishes, then to lay the cards, one at a time, face up, on the table (dealing from the top of the pack). When he has laid out a row of six cards, from left to right he is directed to lay out another row underneath until he has six rows of eight cards in a row.
Note the key card which is the card that you glimpsed at on the bottom of the pack. Note the row it is in. Suppose the key card is the J
of C and it is in the fourth row and the fourth card down, and the number of cards that you guessed was sixteen which as explained above gives you two. Add this two to four which totals six. Spectator is now asked which row his card is in. If his card is in the same row as your key card then his card is toe sixth card down from the top. If it is in a row to the right of your key card, then his card is the sixth card down in that row. If his card is in a row to the left of your key card row, add one to six and his card must be the seventh card down. Should your number be more than eight continue the count at the top again.
As WORKED by Mr. Downs: after locating the original bottom card, he cut the pack one card below it, palmed three cards off the bottom in his left hand and put the next card on top, sighting all five so that when the chosen card was named he knew whether to turn the top card, show the bottom card or pretend to draw the card from his pocket.
The trick can be done without resorting to sleight of hand. Suppose the spectator cuts, as happens most often, within a card or two of the center. When you take the pack back run through it with the faces towards yourself and find the key card. Cut the cards bringing the key card to the bottom, restoring the pack to the same order as when the spectator made his selection. Count to the twenty-third card from the bottom and shift them to the top. Glance at the indices of the next five cards, the original twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth cards, and memorize them, put one card out on the table face down, and the next two on the top, remembering the positions. Have the card named: if it is the one face down on the table, simply turn it triumphantly; if it is the top card, drop the pack without remark on the table card and turn the top card; if it is second from the top make a double lift; if it is the bottom card, turn the pack over and stow it and if it is the one next the bottom simply lift the pack, keeping it face down, draw back the bottom card, and pull out the next one.
A good variation is to sight the top card when laying the pack on the table for the spectator to cut, then when he has cut-looked at card and replaced the cut, let him draw out the bottom card and bury it in the pack. This will eliminate any suspicion that the bottom card is being used as a key, a stratagem that has become rather widely known even amongst laymen.
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