Like A Rolling Bone

Effect: The performer hands someone a die and asks that it be thrown several times to assure that it is normal. He then turns his back while he issues the following instructions:

"This time the throw counts. Please shake the die and toss it. I realize that there are still skeptics who might suspect the die is loaded in some way to come up with a special number only when I want it to. You and I both know this is impossible, but to avoid arguments, I want you to follow some randomizing procedures that would defeat any type of loaded die conceivable. Don't tell me the number you've just shaken. However, do do this:

"If that number is odd, tip the die forward, one turn away from you; but if the number on top is even, tip the die back, one turn toward you.

"Now turn the die forward once—then once to the right.

"If the number now on top is odd, tip the die one turn forward; but if the number on top is even, tip the die backward one turn.

"Turn the die forward once—then once to the right.

"Now look at the numbers on top and on the side nearest you. If those numbers are both odd or both even, tip the die one turn forward.

"Note the number now on top of the die. Whatever that number is, turn the die that many times, alternating the direction of the turns, first forward, then to the right, then forward, and so on.

"I think everyone will agree that I could have no idea what number is now up on that die. You shook it, you turned it randomly. I have had my back to you the entire time and I can have no idea what numbers were being turned from start to finish. I've asked nothing, you've told me nothing. Do you see my business card sitting on the corner of the table? What number is now up on the die? Four? Please turn over my card."

The spectator does so and finds written on the back of the card the number four.

Method: The die is unprepared, you truthfully have no idea what number is up on the die until the very last, and there are no "outs". This test can actually be done over the telephone with a borrowed die.

The number is forced. If you get out a normal die of Western configuration—that is, one spotted as shown in Figure 51—and work through the instructions given above, you must end with the four up. Here is an outline of the necessary moves:

1) Throw the die.

2) If the top number is odd, turn the die forward once: but if the top number is even, turn the die backward once.

3) Turn the die once forward, then once rightward.

6) If the numbers on the top and near side of the die are both odd or both even, tip the die one turn forward.

7) Using the number now on top, tip the die alternately forward and rightward that many turns.

The number now on top is four. Further, the number on the left side is five and the number on the near side is six. Thus, the numbers on all six sides are known to you at the end of the procedure. This knowledge may lead to further applications.

Here is an analysis of what takes place: At the end of Step 2 the far side of the die must bear an odd number. Step 3 moves that odd number to the left side of the die. With Step 4 the original odd number is maintained at the left side, and a second odd number is positioned on the far side of the die. Step 5 moves the first odd number to the top of the die, and the second odd number to the left side. Step 6 assures that the three odd numbers are positioned at the top, far and left sides of the die. And from this position the turns prescribed in Step 7 will always deliver the four to the top.

You can vary the outcome by reversing the directions of the turns in Steps 2 and 4. That is, if the top number is odd, turn the die

backward once; but if it is even, turn the die forward once. When Step 7 is completed, a six will be on top, a four on the left and a five nearest the spectator.

Mr. Elmsley suggests that if one went to the trouble of obtaining misspotted dice, on which the positions of the two and three were transposed, those dice could be handed to other spectators, who would work through the procedure along with the spectator holding the correctly spotted die. The misspotted dice will yield different end numbers, further convincing eveiyone that the outcome is truly random.

Those who enjoy such ingenious maneuvers as that just explained will be interested in a related idea by Karl Fulves: "Logic Dice" (ref. Pallbearers Review, Vol. 10, No. 12, Oct. 1975, p. 1058). And one last note: David Michael Evans suggests that an effective combination can be routined by first performing Bob Hummer's "Moon Die Mystery" (ref. Hummer's Three Pets or Fulves* Collected Tricks o/Bob Hummer, pp. 15-17), then "Like a Rolling Bone". Or, if working over the phone, begin with Henry Christ's "Tele-dice" (ref. Fulves* C/ose-up Folio No. 11, pp. 11-12), following with the Elmsley trick.

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