Effect: A shuffled deck is handed to two spectators, each of whom is asked to fan the deck, look over all the cards and think of one. So that they won't think of the same card, one thinks of an odd-valued black card, the other of an even-valued red card. The performer then gathers the deck, shuffles it, and divides it between the two spectators. He asks the first person to name the card he thought of. The performer picks up the half deck before that spectator and spells the name of the mental selection with the cards. When the last card of the spell is turned up, it is found to be the thought-of card.
The second spectator is asked to name her card and, when its name is spelled out with the remaining half of the deck, this mental selection too appears at the end of the deal.
Method: One of the greatest advances in spelling-trick methodology was made in the late 1920s by Stewart James. Mr. James conceived the idea of combining counting and spelling to designate the name of a card. He would count the value, then spell the suit. Nothing is lost in effect by doing so, and a good deal is gained in the ability to spell to any card named. Mr. James' trick, "Evolution of a Dream", depended on a simple but productive stack, in which each suit was grouped together in sequential order (ref, Stewart James in Print: the First Fifty Years, pp. 69-72). By spelling either from the top or the face of the pack, one could ar rive at any card on demand. During the following decades, many adopted or unwittingly reinvented this clever method; some attempted to improve on it, but few succeeded in bettering it.
One drawback to this stack was its obvious arrangement, which prevented the performer from displaying the faces of any cards but those spelled. The faro shuffle provided an excellent method of disguising the stack, and it is likely that this idea occurred to more than a few magicians, one of whom was Derek Dingle (see Kaufman's The Complete Works of Derek Dingle, pp. 169-170).
In the 1950s, when Mr. Elmsley was most deeply immersed in the exploration of the faro shuffle, he too struck on the idea of using the faro to conceal the James spelling stack. He also developed a variant stacking arrangement that simplified the spelling procedure while it eliminated the somewhat awkward practice of spelling from the bottom of the pack for certain suits. A price was paid for these gains. You could no longer spell every card in the pack. In fact you could arrive at only twenty. But Mr. Elmsley devised a presentation that obscured this limitation and seemed, at least superficially, logical. And that is usually all that we magicians can expect. Here, then, is the Elmsley treatment of Stewart James' "Evolution of a Dream".
Two ten-card sequences are constructed in the deck. One of these contains all the odd-valued black cards, in numerical order; the other contains all the even-valued red car ds, similarly arranged. The remaining thirty-two cards are random in their sequence, but must be properly distributed around the two ordered strings. From the top of the pack down the cards read:
7 indifferent cards
19 indifferent cards
2H-2D-4H^ID-6H-6D-8H-8D-10H-10D 6 indifferent cards
Once the pack is arranged as shown, note and remember the card twenty-sixth from the top. This will serve as a position check when, during performance, you must cut the pack in half.
Now perform two reverse out-faros—or three reverse out-faros, if you wish to give the pack an extra shuffle while you introduce the effect. For those unfamiliar with the reverse faro, it is simply the process of outjogging every other card in the pack, then stripping the outjogged cards free in a block and placing the two packets together. If, when you combine the packets, the original top and bottom cards of the deck are retained in those positions, it is considered a reverse out-faro. You can use reverse in-faros if you like, but you must remember the types of reverse faros you have made, so that you can undo them when faro shuffling the cards. Alternatively, you can give the stacked deck six out-faros before you start, if you plan to shuffle twice during the presentation; or five out-faros if you wish to do three shuffles in front of the audience.
In performance, ask for the assistance of two spectators and, as you arrange this, give the deck one out-faro shuffle, if you have provided for this with three reverse faros. Hand the deck to one of the spectators and explain that each of your two helpers is to look through the deck and think of a card. Because your stack is still two shuffles away from its original state, the cards have an entirely random appearance. (If you have any worries about the spectators not following instructions and possibly disrupting the stack, ribbon spread the deck face-up instead of handing it to them. However, if your instructions are clear, there should normally be no trouble; and making a mental selection with the deck in your own hands is extremely effective.)
"However," you caution, "it sometimes happens that two people will think of the same card, and while that is rather interesting in itself, it is not our current goal. So, to avoid such a coincidence, while preserving the privacy of your thoughts, would you please think of any odd-valued black card; and would you think of any even-valued red card. Do you understand?" If analyzed, this stipulation goes beyond the stated aim, as the coincidence could be avoided by having one think of a black card, the other a red card; or one an odd card, the other an even card. But if you make your request with an air of authority, and keep things moving, no one will think to question the logic. Also note how the choice of court cards is subtly eliminated, through a seemingly ingenuous phrasing. Much of public (aside from players of certain games such as blackjack) does not think of jacks, queens and kings having numerical values.
After giving the spectators a few moments, gather the pack and give it two out-faro shuffles, treating the shuffles as nonchalantly as the execution of a perfect weave permits. This brings the cards into arrangement. As you finish your shuffling ask your helpers if they have thought of a card. Scrutinize each of their faces, seeming to search for some clue to their thoughts. Then, with an air of deliberation, divide the pack in half, using your memorized check card to confirm the accuracy of the cut. Set the top half of the pack face-down before the spectator who is thinking of a black car d, and the bottom half before his companion.
Ask the first spectator to name the card he is thinking of. When he names his chosen black card, pick up the half deck in front of him and deal car ds face-down from the top into a pile as you count the value and spell the suit, including the word "of". For example, say he names the five of spades. You would deal one card for each word and letter: "One-two-three-four-five—O-F—S-P-A-D-E-S." Turn up the card dealt on the final S to show the five of spades.
Set down the balance of the packet, turn to the second spectator and ask her to name her card as you pick up the half pack in front of her. There Is now one small hurdle left to clear. All the suits but one deliver the correct card on the final S of the name. The one exception is hearts. If she names a heart card, the mental selection will fall on the carda/ïer the final S. If you perform the spellingwith unhesitating authority, this discrepancy will pass without question. But if this inconsistency bothers you, you must adjust the stack by disposing of one card. If you can execute a truly indétectable one-card pass, do so. A better option for most of us would be a rapid slip cut that sends the top card somewhere among the bottom six of the packet. But probably the best alternative is to deal two cards as one sometime in the middle of the spell. This technique is not that difficult and can be entirely deceptive.
One other way of overcoming this adjustment problem Is to eliminate the division of the deck Into halves. To do this, you must either edge mailt the twenty-sixth card from the top of the stack, or pencil dot it at the corners, so that it can be sighted in a narrow spread or fan. Now, spell to the black card, using the entire pack. After producing the correct card, drop the talon onto the dealt pile and pick up all the cards. As you replace the cards into left-hand dealing position, spread the top portion a bit. The marked card won't be far from the top. Spot it and, as you square the pack, rightjog the card below the key slightly. With the palm-down right hand, grasp the deck by its ends, concealing the jog, as you move your left hand from the deck to gesture toward the second spectator, asking her to name her card.
If she names a diamond, return the deck to the left hand and form a break above the jog. If she names a heart, form the break below the jog. Then either execute a pass or an open cut. In this fashion the adjustment for the second spelling is made.
One last comment: Some may think it a bit odd to count one card for the value of an ace, when spelling A-C-E seems the more obvious route. The situation can be resolved to an extent with a statement such as "The value of an ace is one," (dealing a card on the word "one"). Or you can spell A-C-E, and omit the O-F, proceeding directly to the suit (though this does create a small discrepancy between the methods of spelling the two selections). The problem can be completely skirted if. in your introductory instructions you state: "However, it sometimes happens that two people will think of the same card. The ace of spades and the ace of clubs, for instance, are quite popular. While that is rather interesting in itself, it is not our current goal. So to avoid such a coincidence..." Through this casual mention of the problem aces, you psychologically eliminate them from the selection group.
While the discussion of various aspects of this trick has been lengthy, the method is uncomplicated to learn and rewarding to do. To an audience, whether of laymen or magicians, the resulting effect is one of amazement.
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