Effect: The deck is shuffled by two spectators. Each then cuts off a packet and counts the cards removed to establish a random number. The deck is reassembled and the performer displays the faces of a number of cards, while counting them aloud. The two spectators watch the cards as they are shown, and remember the cards that fall on their selected numbers.
The performer does not himself look at the cards as they are shown; nor does he at any other time during the procedure. Yet he divines the identities of each person's mental selection—without knowing the chosen numbers, without asking a question.
Method: Here Penelope's principle is applied to the plot of "Brownwaves III" (pp. 64-66). The result is a clever positioning of two cards for a subtle force. The first requirement is that you be able to cut the deck precisely and unhesitatingly at center. Therefore, a break must be formed below the twenty-sixth card of the pack. There are several ways this may be done. You can use a faro check to ascertain the accuracy of your split (see p. 301), then hold a break as the packets are placed together again. Or you can perform another trick that, within its procedure, allows you to count twenty-six cards (for a good example, see Expert Card Technique, pp. 397-399),
Ask two spectators to assist you. One should be at your left, the other at your right. "I want you both to help me: so will you each shuffle some of the cards?" Cut the cards at the break and hand each spectator half the pack. When they have finished mixing them, take back one half in each hand. During the trick you will secretly glimpse the faces of two cards; however, throughout the handling strive to give the impression that the faces are never visible to you.
"Now I want you each to cut off some cards. But to assure that you have different numbers, you should cut something less than half your packet." This is addressed to the spectator on your left. "And you should cut off more than half of yours." This, to the helper on your right. It is as you deliver these instructions that you obtain your first glimpse. As you tell the first spectator how many cards she is to cut, raise your left hand in an indicatory gesture, as if you were estimating something less than half the packet, as she must. Within this gesture, tip the inner end of the packet up just enough to allow yourself a glimpse of the bottom card (Figure 215). Remember it.
Let the spectators cut off packets as you have instructed. Then slip the remaining right-hand cards under those in the left hand. This buries the glimpsed card in the middle of the packet. No break is held.
Ask that each spectator silently count the number of cards she has cut, keeping that number a secret from you. As the two are busied with this task, casually give your packet an out-faro shuffle. (Here the weave must be started at the bottom for Penelope's principle to work with an odd number of cards missing; that is, the original bottom card must always remain on the bottom.) As you complete the shuffle, glimpse the bottom card and remember it as well,
"Each of you now has a number in mind; but the cards in your hands are physical evidence of those mental numbers. I want all the evidence destroyed." While you say this, casually cut your packet and complete the cut, taking a break above the original bottom card (the card most recently glimpsed). A quick and easy method of doing this is to form a break above the bottom card, using a buckle or pulldown, as, with your palm-down right hand, you grasp the packet
by its ends from above. Use your right thumb to retain the break as you swing cut the top portion of the packet to the left, taking it into the left hand (Figure 216). Then transfer the thumb's break to the left fourth finger.
Addressing the spectator on your left, say, "Will you drop your cards back in the middle of the deck?" Cut your packet at the break and hold out the bottom portion for the spectator to return her packet. Drop your top portion onto this, but let it fall rather askew. This nonchalant action creates a step at which you can form a break above the spectator's cards as you square the packet. (See Hugard and Braue's Royal Road to Card Magic, pp. 195-196, and Andrus' Andrus Deals You In, pp. 77-80, for subtler variations on this concept.) You must now shift that break downward one card. If you can, without hesitation, lift the necessary card while you square the packet, do so. Otherwise, when the spectator gives you her cards, push the top card of the spectator's packet slightly to the right as the left hand swings back to meet the right hand. Drop or dribble the right hand's cards onto the left-hand packet. Then, as you square the cards, push up with the left fingertips on the rightjogged card to form a break below it. Once the break has been shifted, cut the packet at that point and complete the cut.
One other course of action that can be taken is to cut at the original break, complete the cut, then shuttle the top card of the packet to the bottom with a double undercut. In the end, with any of these methods, the first spectator's packet, less one card, is now on top of the deck, and directly under her packet is the second card glimpsed. Also, thanks to Penelope's principle, the first glimpsed card is positioned at the second spectator's number.
Cut off at least two-thirds of your cards and have the second spectator, she on your right, replace her packet onto the lower portion. Drop the upper section on top of this, making it clear that all is above board. Without delay, say, "1 want you each to remember the card at your number. If you are thinking of one, you would remember this card: if the number is two, you would remember the second one; three, four, five..." Show the cards one by one as you count, taking them from the top of the deck and making it plain that you see none of the faces. Stop when you have counted about twenty cards and ask if each assistant now has a card in mind. The spectator on your left will be thinking of the second card you glimpsed; the one on your right, the first glimpsed card.
All you now need do is recap the procedure to emphasize the strictness of the conditions: the spectators shuffled the cards, it is impossible for you to know which cards they have thought of, you haven't seen the face of one card yourself, and so on. Then reveal the two cards in your most impressive fashion.
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