The Imp Of The Inverse

Effect: Here is another intriguing Elmsley experiment, demonstrated by him at a Saturday gathering with Jack Avis and other friends in the 1960s. The performer riffles through the deck until a spectator calls stop. The card stopped at is pulled partially from the pack and shown: the nine of diamonds. The performer slowly and fairly pushes the selection back into the pack, then gives the cards to the spectator. In the process he lets his hands be seen empty.

The performer snaps his fingers over the deck and tells the spectator to find his card and place it on the table. The spectator fails to do so, for the nine of diamonds is no longer in the pack. It is then produced from the performer's wallet, the closed card case or some other impossible location.

Method: In the November 1964 Magicana column of Genii magazine (Vol. 29, No. 3, p. 150), William Woodfield published a fascinating method for vanishing a card from the pack under extraordinary circumstances. Though not mentioned by Mr. Woodfield, this trick was L'homme Masque's "The Flying Card", from The Art of Magic (pp. 77-79). In that fine work the authors, Hilliard and Downs, suggested a more appropriate title might be "The Kinetoscope Card": and Mr. Woodfield's later title, "Kaleidoscopic Card", an obvious corruption of kinetoscope, provides a clear clue to his source.

Shortly after reading the Woodfield column, Mr. Elmsley devised an alternative method for the effect. L'homme Masque's trick exploited a novel image blurring principle that I've never seen used elsewhere. The Elmsley solution is as offbeat and clever in its own right as the original. It is founded on the idea of passing off the six of diamonds for the nine. This bold but effective swindle was invented by Edward Mario, and exploited by him in a trick titled "A Variation to a Sixy Effect" (ref. Ibidem, No. 15, Dec. 1958, pp. 9-10).

Prepare by taking the nine of diamonds from the pack and stowing it wherever you desire to produce it later. There will be a temptation to place it in some utterly impossible spot, but prudence suggests the choice of a believable location, such as the card case, under the close-up pad, in your pocket or your wallet. If the nine is produced from some clearly impossible place, spectators will cannily presume that it could not be the card previously seen in the deck. Dai Vernon's Too Perfect Theory is very much in force here.

When ready to perform, secretly locate the six of diamonds, position it a bit above center in the pack and form a left fourth-finger break under it as you settle the face-down deck into left-hand dealing grip.

Turn toward a spectator on your left and ask him to call stop as you riffle through the cards. Then perform a timed riffle force, stopping at the six of diamonds in the following manner: With the tip of your right forefinger, riffle up the outer right corner of the pack and watch the spectator's lips. When you see them begin to move, adjust the pace of the riffle to reach the break just as he utters stop. (Success with the riffle force is more a matter of timing than skill, and can be quickly learned with a little experience.)

Dig your right fingers into the break, at the same time turning a bit more to your left and raising the deck to a vertical position, outer end up and back broadside to the audience. Then pull the six of diamonds upward, upjogging it for roughly half its length. Say to the spectator, "I want you to remember the card you stopped me at.

I'll look at it too." Pinching the outer end of the card between the right thumb and forefinger, bow it backward over the end of the deck, until the index can be seen by you and the spectator on your left (Figure 111). You will both be looking at an upside-down index, and the 6 appears as a 9. "The nine of diamonds," you say to him, verbally reinforcing the optical illusion. (Note that a diamond card is recommended for this deception as diamonds is the only suit that has no rightside-up or upside-down orientation.)

Give him a clear look at the index, but don't prolong it; a second is a sufficient interval. Let the card spring straight again, bow it inward briefly to remove any crimp the outward bowing may have caused, then neatly push it flush with the pack. All actions must be open and painstakingly honest at this point. Give the deck to the spectator and let your hands be seen empty.

Now make some magical gesture over the deck and tell the spectator to remove his card and set it on the table. Of course he will not find the nine of diamonds in the deck. It seems to have melted away. Once he has convinced himself that it is gone, produce it from its hiding place, manifesting as much drama as is palatable.

On a bare reading, the passing of the six for a nine must seem perilously audacious. It is unquestionably bold, but it is also surprisingly deceptive. I have seen Michael Skinner and several other performers completely fool audiences of magicians and laymen with a trick of Edward Mario's ("On the Card to Case" In Mario's Magazine, Volume Four, pp. 14-15) that relies on this very principle. It is not a pipe dream.

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