by Stephen Minch
Ken Krenzel is well known as one of magic's finest technicians and a creator of ingeniously constructed sleight-of-hand routines. It has been seven years since his last book (Ken Krenzel's Close-up Impact!) was published. This new volume from Hermetic Press may surprise those of you who associate Ken only with knuckle-busting routines. There are some effects which will require considerable practice, but many of the routines replace advanced technique with the intelligent and subtle use of gaffs, producing routines in which the magic seems to happen in the spectator's hands.
The book begins with a Foreword by Ken. Two sentences in the opening paragraph sum up the approach of Ken Krenzel's Ingenuities. He writes, "Some of the most magical magic is the kind which happens in a spectator's hands." And he concludes the paragraph by stating, " Though I am a practitioner and lover of pure sleight-of-hand, I nevertheless believe that dexterity alone can sometimes be counterproductive to the performances of truly astonishing magic." Surprised? I was. But the majority of the 34 routines which follow are directed by these two premises.
The material is organized into five chapters, and the first, titled "Out of Hand" deals with routines in which the magic seems to happen while the cards are out of the magician's control. The opening routine, "Box Top," is fine example of this. If you're a problem solver, try to figure this out: Ken has come up with a way to do Daryl's "Ultimate Ambition" effect with a normal deck of cards. At the conclusion of an ambitious card routine the deck is placed into the card case, outjogged for about half its length. The spectator places the signed card into the middle of the deck. It is outjogged for about half its length. The deck is tilted so the spectator can see the face of the card, and the card and the deck are slid into the case. The card case is closed for a moment, and then opened. The deck is pulled out slightly, and the spectator removes top card. It is the signed selection. Ken's solution is truly ingenious, and while it will require some practice, it is not terribly difficult.
Also in this chapter are interesting approaches to the "Any Card at Any Number" effect, "The Open Prediction," and some sandwich effects in which the spectator handles the deck throughout the entire effect. While Ken's solution to "Any Card at Any Number" is not the ultimate version (the effect gets slightly convoluted), the method is interesting and requires neither memorization nor calculation.
Chapter Two is titled "Things Change" and it focuses on five methods for color change effects. Two of these appealed to me a great deal: "Sequence Mechanique" which uses Ken's Mechanical Reverse to excellent effect; and "It's a Wrap" in which a card rises from the middle of the deck to the top (while the deck is held face up). The interesting aspect of this is that when the card which rises is removed, the original face card of the deck is still in place.
"Escaping Cardville" is the title of Chapter Two, and it contains six non-card items. Of particular interest to me were "Pocket Passport," a version of copper-silver in which the final transposition happens in the spectator's pocket; "Flipperoon" which combines a gaff with a move of Looy Siminoff to produce a very easy and eye-popping version of the now standard "Coin Vanishes and Ends up on Top of a Chosen Card" effect; "Poor Miser," which is a wonderful scam to drop into the middle of your Miser's Dream routine," and "The Million Penny Mystery," in which an ungaffed pen goes through some very odd antics.
Chapter Four contains new work on some standard sleights and trick decks. Be sure to check out Ken's thoughts on the venerable Peek Deck, and his handlings for the Vernon "Simple False Cut," and the "Top-cover Dribble Pass." The book concludes with a chapter titled "Tall Tales and Short Cons." In this chapter you will find interesting "story" routines, many of which have a gambling theme. My favorites were "Cloning Queens" and "Fired Up," which is a streamlined version of Becker and Knepper's "Kolossal Killer." Again, none of this material is beyond the ability of the average card man.
Stephen Minch did the writing, and I don't need to say much more than that. He's one of the best in the business, and you will have no problem understanding his explanations. Kelly Lyles did the illustrations, and her work is also top-notch.
Ken Krenzel's Ingenuities is a surprising book, and when I say "surprising," I mean that it was a very pleasant surprise. The majority of the routines are well within the abilities of the intermediate level card man, and are structured to entertain and amaze a lay audience. I found some things that I'm going to use, and I think you will, too. Recommended.
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