Only Child

Effect: In the introductory comments to "Between Your Palms" it was mentioned that Mr. Elmsley had, as have others, tried his hand at constructing a method for this effect that did not require a stranger card. Sometime in the early 1960s he devised the following solution, and in 1965 he added the finishing touches to it. All things considered, it is unlikely that a method using only an ordinary pack can ever equal the original, which so brilliantly exploits the addition a stranger card to the deck; but for those times when you are caught without an extra card—and, I suppose, for the incurable purists as well—this alternative Elmsley method runs its forebear a close second. The effect remains the same.

Method: No preparation is required. Remove any card from the pack, without showing its face. Ask someone to hold one hand palin-up and place the other hand palm-down over it. Slip the unknown card face-down between her palms.

Now have someone else freely choose a card from the pack and sign its face. While she is busy doing that, have two other spectators take cards as well. When the first card has been signed, have all three selections returned to the pack and secretly bring them together at an advantageous position for revelation. The revelations used for the two unsigned cards can be any that you favor. However, they must be plotted to facilitate a switch of one unsigned selection, once it is produced, for the signed card. Here is a simple, practical example of such a structure:

Fan the face-down pack and have the three selections inserted at different spots, managing the return of the signed card between the two unsigned ones. Close the fan, with the three selections still outjogged, and execute the D'Amico multiple shift, bringing them to the bottom. Briefly:

Hold the deck in left-hand dealing grip, selections outjogged for roughly an inch, and station the left forefinger at their outer end. Tilt the front of the pack down with a bit of a snap, causing the block of cards above the upper selection to slide forward and even with the outjogged cards. The forefinger acts as a stop for the sliding block. With your palm-down right hand, grip the balance of the deck by its inner corners and pull it toward you, Hindu-shuffle style, stripping out the selections and leaving them beneath the outjogged top block. Then complete the cut (and the shift) by slapping the right hand's packet square onto the left's. The three selections are now together at the bottom of the deck. (For fuller details, see Mario's Multiple Shift, p. 31.)

Follow this shift with a quick overhand shuffle, running the last few cards singly to bring the selections to the top. This reverses their order, but maintains the signed card between the other two selections. It is now second from the top.

Snap your fingers in a magical fashion over the deck and turn up the top card, showing that you have made one of the unsigned selections appear there. Turn the card face-down again on the pack. (For consistency, the actions used to turn the top card up and then down on the deck should simulate those used for a double turnover, for this sleight will be used in a moment to display the second selection.)

Remove the displayed selection from the pack as you ask, "Which of you chose this card?" As you look at the three persons who made selections, casually display the face of the card to them again. This second display silently establishes the honesty of your actions— though they should not be under suspicion—lulling the spectators into acceptance of them; an acceptance that will be abused during succeeding actions. Once the owner of the card has identified himself, slip it face-down between the first spectator's hands, below the unknown card already there.

Snap your fingers a second time over the pack and execute a double turnover, revealing the other unsigned selection on top. Turning to the spectator who took this card, say, "This then must have been your card." As you address him and await his confirmation, use these few moments of misdirection to turn the double card face-down on the pack and remove the top card (the signed selection). Slip this card below the pair held by the spectator.

At this point the spectator is holding three cards. The top card is unknown, the card placed there at the beginning of the trick. The middle card is the first selection produced. And the bottom card is the signed selection. The second unsigned selection rests on top of the pack.

Look at the person who signed her card, "That leaves yours. It is actually the easiest to find, as it has your name on it. Before I find it, let's recap." Turn to the spectator holding the three cards and ask that she separate her hands slightly, so that you can remove one of the cards. With your empty right hand, grasp the top card of the packet by its right side and draw it slowly and neatly from the spectator's hands, "I did find your card." Look at the person who took the second of the unsigned cards produced, and as your gaze diminishes attention on your hands, place the right hand's card on top of the pack. However, in doing so you execute an "interrupted top change":

Your right hand travels with its card, from the spectator's hands to the deck, which is held in left-hand dealing grip. As the right hand approaches the left, the left hand moves upward and to the right to meet it, lifting the front end of the pack and turning the face outward. Simultaneously, with your left thumb, push the top card of the pack widely to the right, as the right hand places its card squarely on top of the deck (see Figures 165 and 166).

Done smoothly and without hesitation, a perfect illusion is created of placing the right hand's card onto the deck in a rightjogged position. The illusion is further strengthened by the exposure of the face of the jogged card, showing the second unsigned selection (Figure 167, audience's view).

^ The actions of this switch are simple, direct and deceptive, as a few trials before a mirror will verify. Nevertheless, no attention is drawn to them; they are done nonchalantly as you address the spectators. The outward motivation for transferring the card to the deck is to free the right hand for its next task. If this casual attitude is convincing, the audience will take for granted the honesty of your actions. There must be no sense that you are dis-J playing the card on the deck. It is merely in view.

Without a pause in your actions, move your right hand back toward the cards held by the spectator as you say to the person who chose the first unsigned selection, "And before that I found your card." Grip the top card of the remaining two and slip it from between the spectator's palms. Carry this card to the deck and, once there, clip the jogged card under the right hand's card and separate both from the pack. This completes the interrupted top change. Toss the right hand's two cards face-up onto the table. These are the two unsigned selections.

Through this subtle series of actions you have disposed of the unknown card that was originally held by the spectator, and have cunningly substituted the signed selection for it. All that remains is to emphasize the idea that the first spectator is still holding the card that was given her before any selections were made or signed. Then have her turn up the card between her hands, showing it to be the signed selection.

Of course, more impressive or showy means can be used to produce the two unsigned cards but, as Mr. Elmsley observes, these productions are incidental to the main effect: the appearance of the signed card between the spectator's hands. Consequently, the preceding productions should be kept swift and uncomplicated.

The construction of this strangerless method is to be admired for its elegant simplicity and directness. The worth of the interrupted top change also will be appreciated. Mr. Elmsley recalls inventing this sleight while practicing the fadeaway card change from Expert Card Technique (pp. 80-83). Indeed, the arcing, upward sweeping actions of the hands used in the interrupted top change are exactly those described by Hugard and Braue for the fadeaway card change. This deceptive sleight should find ready applicability in many tricks, extant and forthcoming.

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