Effect: Four or more spectators are each given packets of cards from a shuffled deck. They shuffle their packets mid remember the top card. They then gather the packets together, in any order, and give the combined cards a cut or two before returning them to the performer. Despite the difficult conditions imposed, on looking quickly through the cards, the performer is able to identify every selection made.
Method: The secret of this multiple card divination is cunningly simple. All you need know is the identity of the top six cards of the deck when you start. These can be any six cards in a memorized sequence (such as the Eight Kings or Si Stebbins systems) or any other cards you wish, like the ace through six of diamonds. Since only one card of the six will be seen by a spectator, an obvious grouping will not be discovered. Give the deck a false shuffle, retaining the top six cards; or palm off the stock, have a spectator shuffle the pack, and replace the palmed cards when he has finished.
Now hand out four, five or six packets, giving each spectator six cards. The size of the packets is not mentioned. Just casually push off the cards in groups and hand them out. The first person, of course, receives your six memorized cards. Set the unused portion of the pack aside.
Have each spectator mix his packet and peek at the card he has shuffled to the top. Then have one of them gather the packets in any order and give the lot one or two straight cuts before he hands the cards to you. If you like, you can give the packet a quick false shuffle at this point. The Char lie r false haymow shuffle is well suited to a small packet, and is particularly convincing.
Spread the packet, faces toward you. Working from the top to the face, look for one of your memorized cards. This first card is the top card of the first spectator's packet, and therefore his selection. Counting six cards farther in the spread gives you another selection. Indeed, every sixth card from the first selection is another chosen card. When you reach the face of the spread, continue the count from the face to the top, picturing the packet as an unbroken circle of cards, until you have located all the selections.
You can now name the first person's card without a question to him. Unless you were able to remember the order in which the packets were gathered, you will not be able to identify the owners of the other selections. However, a little pumping can quickly resolve the situation. Or you can simply remove all the selections from the packet, ask each person to name his card, and toss it face-up onto the table as it is called.
It is wise to reveal the selections in a sequence different from that in which they are ordered in the packet. This disguises their uniform distribution in the packet, and your counting to locate them.
A final note: In "Verbum Sapienti" there is described an entertaining bit of by-play (p. 54) that Mr. Elmsley uses to avoid any tendency toward anticlimax as the final selections are dealt with in a series of mental divinations. This same business can be readily adapted to "Multiple Mind Reading", and is worth your attention.
September 21, 1957
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