Prediction By Proxy

Effect: The effect is similar to that of "Penny Wise". However, in this version an audience member makes her prediction without the prompting of the performer.

Someone is asked merely to think of any card in a standard pack, barring the joker. A shuffled deck is then run through, faces toward the spectator, for her to remove the card she has mentally chosen. She lets no one see this card. This, the performer tells her, will be proof of her prediction.

The deck is shuffled again, while the first spectator points to someone else in the group. That person is asked to choose a card at random from the deck. This selection is turned up so that all can see what it is. The first helper is then asked to show everyone her prediction. The two cards turn out to be perfect mates.

Method: This spectator-assisted prediction is made possible by the combination of a cyclic stack with a faro shuffle. The deck must be arranged so that the cards of each mate-pair are exactly twenty-six apart. That is, if one red five is on top of the deck, the other red five is twenty-seventh from the top; if a black king is second from the top, the second black king is twenty-eighth, and so on. Any of the standard cyclic stacks, like the Eight Kings arrangement or the Si Stebbins system, fit this requirement. Or you can divide the deck in half, with one card of each mate in each portion. Then shuffle one half, and arrange the other half to match the random order of the shuffled cards. This gives you a subtle sequence that only the most painstaking examination could detect. However, the more patterned sequences are just as serviceable here, as no chance will be given for the order to be studied.

Begin by asking someone in the group to play the role of a psychic. She is to think of any card in a deck of fifty-two (no joker) that comes to her mind. As this is arranged, you may casually false shuffle the pack or simply give it a series of straight cuts, preserving the cyclic order of the cards.

When the spectator says she has a card in mind, hold the deck with its face toward her and ask her to pick out her mental selection as you spread through the cards. Caution her not to let anyone see what card she has taken. Run the car ds from left hand to right, at moderate speed, while you turn your head aside. Stop the spreading when the spectator reaches to remove her card, and separate the spread at that point, aiding her in the removal. Then, as you drop both hands, place the right hand's cards under the left's. In doing so you cut the deck at the point where the card was extracted. This secretly brings the mate of the chosen card to a position twenty-sixth from the top of the pack.

You can now apply Penelope's principle to arrive at the mate. Set the pack face-down before the second spectator and have him cut off a small packetâ€”less than half. Ask him to count the number of cards he has removed, and while he is doing this, you give the balance of the pack an in-faro and set it face-up on the table, (If you find you have an odd number of cards, always weave so that the top card becomes the card second from the top.) When he has finished counting his cards, tell him to count down that number in the faceup portion to arrive at a completely random card. When he does so, he will stop at the necessary mate to the first spectator's prediction, providing you with everything you need to conclude the effect successfully.

For an application of this method to a coincidence effect, see "Pother" in Volume I (pp. 331-332).

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