## Failure

Effect: Someone is handed the pack to shuffle while she thinks of a number between one and ten. Then, while the performer turns away, the spectator notes the card that lies at her mentally chosen number.

When she is finished, the performer takes the deck from her and shuffles it to destroy any possible clue. He then asks the spectator to concentrate on her number, and while she does this he quickly removes a card froin the deck. This he places face-down on the table.

She now concentrates on her chosen card. Again the performer removes a card from the pack. The spectator is asked to announce the number she mentally selected. The performer turns up his first card. Its value—often—matches the spectator's chosen number. She then names her thought-of card. The performer turns up his second card. It—always—is the selection.

If your self-esteem can endure the possibility of a minor failure to achieve a major success, proceed.

Method: Once the spectator has shuffled the deck, thought of a number between one and ten, and noted the card at that number, take the deck from her. Give it a brief false shuffle, retaining the ten-card stock intact on top. As you finish the shuffle, glimpse the bottom card and cut about fifteen cards from the bottom to the top of the pack. This places the stock just above center in the deck and bestows a convincing appearance of fairness.

Ask the spectator to concentrate on her number. Counterfeit a seizure of telepathy and search quickly through the pack for the first seven you can find, while keeping the faces to yourself. Remove it and lay it face-down before you on the table. The only caveat here is to shun any seven lying among the ten cards of the selection bank.

Express some uncertainty about the accuracy of your choice, but press onward to the more taxing task of divining the card itself.

Square the pack and request that the spectator shift her thoughts to the card she noted. Run through the pack again, spreading from the face. This time locate your key card, which you know lies approximately fifteen cards from the top. You also know that the selection bank rests directly in front of it. Having found the key, silently count three cards backward, toward the face of the pack; that is, count three cards into the selection stock. Downjog that third card.

Continue to count in the same direction to the seventh card of the stock and remove it from the deck. Lay this card face-down beside the first tabled card. Close the spread into the left hand and turn the deck face-down there. Square it, pressing down with the right thumb on the injogged card as you push it flush, and form a left fourth-finger break above it.

You have just committed yourself to a calculated guess—a very sound one. You are gambling that the spectator thought of the number seven, a common choice when one is restricted to numbers between one and ten. However, should your subject prove stubbornly independent, you have also prepared a means for salvation.

Cleanly place the second tabled card square onto the deck. Lay the first card over that. Remind the audience that the card now on top represents your guess at the mentally chosen number. Ask the spectator to reveal to everyone the number she selected. If she says "Seven," turn up the top card, then the next, and join in the general amazement at your extraordinary fortune.

This is the most pleasant of possible outcomes, and it will occur far more often than one time in eight. Yet, what course do you take when a less welcome choice of number has been announced. First, you gracefully admit your failure to receive the number telepathi-cally. "That's a pity. I got only a vague impression of a number and I wasn't at all certain it was coming from you."

As you deftly wriggle from your predicament, use the time gained to adjust your fourth-finger break, if necessary, moving it below the selection in the deck.

The break has been created just below the second card of the selection bank. Through the old ruse of asking for a number between one and ten, you have prevented the spectator from thinking of the first and tenth cards. If the number chosen was two, the break is retained without adjustment. If it is something other than two, you must pull down with the tip of the left fourth finger and riffle off the necessary number of cards to arrive at the selection. The absolute worst circumstance is that the number nine is selected, in which case you must riffle off only six cards. Remember, you have removed the seventh card of the stock, and therefore must skip seven if you riffle to the eighth card or the ninth.

Having moved the break below the selection, you now perform Bill Simon's cover for the side steal (ref. Effective Card Magic, pp. 112-114): While steadying the deck from above with the right hand, dig the tip of the left fourth finger into the break and push the card above it about an inch to the right. This is the standard preliminary for the side steal. With the left fingertips, push the card a bit farther to the right (Figure 52, exposed from beneath), until you can grip it firmly between the tip of the right fourth finger and the heel of the palm.

With your left thumb, push the top card of the pack about an inch to the right and grasp it between the right second finger, which is at the outer end, and the right thumb, which stretches across the inner end. The top card should lie half under the right palm and half exposed [Figure 53). Move the right hand a few inches to the right, carrying the top card away and stripping the selection from the center of the pack (Figure 54, left hand moved to expose the condition of the cards). This is performed as an indicatory gesture as you say, "The top card was my guess at your number."

Set the card back onto the deck, while secretly squaring the stolen card below it. Turn up the top card and display the seven.

"I got the feeling you were thinking of seven. I was obviously on the wrong track," Toss the seven aside.

"However, my impressions of the card you were thinking of were very clear. I had one chance in ten of hitting your number. The odds of picking your card are one in fifty-two. But people often find it easier to project an image than they do an abstract concept like a number. What card did you think of?" This barrage of rationalization is aimed toward the balloon of your failure, with the intention of bursting it with the more impressive success of having found the card. Very fairly take the top card of the deck into the right hand and wait for it to be named. Then dramatically turn it up.

With a little prompting you can be almost invariably assured of having someone in the group admit they had thought of the number seven. Suddenly it becomes clear. Their thoughts overwhelmed those of the spectator and led you on a false path. However, it may be best to let the matter be, allowing it to sink into the sea of forgetfulness.

Note that Mr. Elmsley cuts the selection bank to a deeper position in the pack, as explained above, to aid in the execution of the covered side steal. The sleight is more difficult if the card to be stolen is too near the top,

June 12, 1953

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