The Red And The Blue

Effect: Two decks with contrasting backs are introduced and a spectator is offered a free choice of either. He removes any card from his face-up deck and hands the card to the performer. The performer does the same, handing a card to the spectator. Both performer and spectator place the foreign card each has been given into his own deck.

The performer now makes a magical gesture over the decks, causing them to change color. When the spectator examines his deck, its backs are now the color of the performer's pack—and the deck the performer holds is the color originally held by the spectator. Only one card in each still stands out. The spectator's chosen card has a different colored back from the rest of the performer's pack, and the performer's selection is found to be at variance with the spectator's pack. Both decks are unprepared and can be examined.

Method: The color-changing deck effect first appeared in 1916 with Charles Jordan's marketed trick, "Speaking of Pink Elephants!" (ref. Jordan's Ten New Prepared Card Tricks, pp. 16-19, or Fulves' Charles T. Jordan: Collected Tricks, pp. 198-199). Mr. Jordan credited the plot to William McGrew. Arthur Finley and Henry Christ were other early experimenters with the premise; and in 1944 Paul Curiy and Oscar Weigle developed one of its finest versions, which they published in a two-trick manuscript titled Sealed Miracles 1,

This trick of Mr. Elmsley's can be presented either as twofold color-changing packs or as a two-deck transposition. There is no sleight-of-hand, and only two normal decks are used to achieve an exceptional piece of magic,

A minor bit of preparation is necessary: place one card from the first pack on top of the second pack, and the duplicate of that card, taken from the second pack, on top of the first. For this explanation, assume one deck blue-backed, the other red, and the two cards exchanged to be queens of hearts.

Introduce the two decks, removing them from the appropriate colored cases if you like, and set them face-down on the table. Because the top cards have been secretly traded, the decks are perceived as contrary to their true colors.

Ask a spectator to name the color of the deck he wishes to use: red or blue. Let's say he asks for red. "Red? Are you sure you want the red deck? You can change you mind and take the blue if you like. Have you any par ticular reason for choosing red? All right, red it is." This line of commentary is used not so much to emphasize his freedom of choice (though that is a secondary benefit of the stratagem) as it is to stress the apparent color of the deck he will in a moment be handling. As I had reason to mention in Volume I of this work, in color-changing deck tricks, one inherent problem is that of impressing on the audience the color of the pack without prematurely disclosing the impending effect. This is Mr, Elmsley's solution.

Place the indicated deck in front of the spectator, turning it faceup. Take the second deck into left-hand dealing position, holding it face-up also. "That leaves the blue cards for me." With your right hand, undercut roughly half the pack, Hindu shuffle fashion, and briefly turn the hand palm-up, exposing the blue back one last time. Then drop the right hand's packet face-up onto the left's. This buries the blue-backed card in the middle. Lay the face-up pack before you on the table.

"I want you to do exactly as I do. First, spread your cards out so that you can see them all." In accordance with this request, pat your own cards, pushing them into a spread, or row. Do not ribbon spread the cards in the skillful manner we magicians are accustomed to using. Remember that the spectator must imitate your example, and if he attempts a ribbon spread, it can cause unwanted delay and diversion.

"Now choose any card you like and push it from your spread like this." In illustration, you spot the odd-backed card in your pack, the queen of hearts, and push it forward toward the spectator. Do not yet lift it from the table. Let it lie flat.

When the spectator has pushed out one of his cards—let's assume it the ace of spades—explain, "I'll take your red ace of spades and put it on the face of my pack," While saying this, pick up his card and, as you mention its back color, take a casual glance at it, letting no one else see the blue back. Having miscalled the color, drop the card face-up onto the face of your spread.

"Now you put my queen of hearts on your pack; and, remember, my card is blue, right?" This prompts him to check as he picks up the card. When he has set it onto his spread, continue, "Square up your cards on the table..." Push your spread together, in example, and leave the deck on the table. Wait until he has done likewise. "... and now cut my card into the middle." Give your pack a straight cut and let him do the same.

"You chose the red cards. But now watch!" Snap your fingers over the two decks, or make some other magical gesture. Then turn your pack face-down on the table, exposing its red back. "Now I have the red cards and you have the blue."

The spectator should need no more urging than this to turn his pack over, and most often, when he sees the blue backs, he will begin to spread the cards. You do the same with your deck, as you say, "But of course there is still an odd card in each pack: the cards we exchanged. Your red ace of spades now has a blue back..." Take the single blue-backed card from your spread and flip it face-up to show its face. "... and my blue queen of hearts now has a red back!" This cues the spectator to check the red-backed card in his pack. Climax.

Because one of the decks is in the possession of the spectator throughout the trick, and because there is obviously no chance for manipulation, this effect has exceptional impact. Notice, though, how the packs are kept on the table. This method of handling serves to stop the spectator from inadvertently exposing the backs of his cards. Such accidental exposures will happen all too frequently if the car ds are taken into the hands. However, if you are working for only one person, you can allow him to hold his pack throughout the trick. If the effect is properly presented, there is no reason he should wish to turn the cards over before the proper time.

For other ingenious approaches to the color-changing deck effect, see "A Strange Story" and "Ambitious Stranger" in Voiume I (pp. 401 -404 and pp. 299-305 respectively).

February 1985

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