Edward Marlo

This is not a Clock Effect, but the same basic principle is applied to make it work. The effect is an interesting change-of-pace from having to read many variations on the same theme.

This effect also apparently was the template for a trick called "Overkill" that was published in Close-up Fantasies - Book 1 (1980), pp. 73-76, and later reprinted in The Art of Astonishment - Book Two (1996), pp. 183-184. Wes Emberg and Allan Ackerman collaborated and ratcheted up the climax. The title of the trick is aptly named.

Requirements: A red-back and blue-back deck. Marlo liked to use Aristocrat and Lord Baltimore brands because their back designs provided a pleasing color contrast.

Set-up: Choose a force-card such as the Queen of Hearts. Place the Red-back Queen of Hearts twenty-first from the face of the Blue deck. Remove the Blue-back Queen of Hearts and place it in the Red card case. Then place the rest of the Red-back cards into the Blue card case.

Place the Blue card case and Red cards into your inside coat pocket, putting it temporarily out of play. Place the Red card case into a side coat pocket.

Method: Introduce the deck. Do not show the backs, but simply table the cards face up. Ask the spectator to cut off a small packet, which he should leave squared on the table in front of him.

Pick up the rest of the deck and say, "I need about the same number of cards, although I'll take slightly more to be on the safe side." Deal and count 20 cards one at a time onto the table, reversing their order. Do this quickly and in steps as though you were estimating the size of the packet and not the number of individual cards. Count off about 15, pause, deal and count 3 more, pause, and deal 2 more. The counting is done silently and should appear as though you are checking your packet against his packet.

Next deal the 20 cards from your left to right in a face-up overlapping row. Point out that you do not know how many cards he cut off. Add, "Whatever number you eventually arrive at, I'll count that number from left (point to your left) until we reach a card at that number."

Ask the spectator to count his cards. From this point, the effect is automatic. The eventual count will always end on the Red-backed force-card, which in this case is the Queen of Hearts.

Slide the Red-backed Queen of Hearts out of the spread, leaving it face up. Remove the Red case from your side coat pocket and shake it so that the card inside rattles. Continue; "Earlier today I placed a prediction card in this case."

Pick up the tabled Queen of Hearts from the spread and turn it face down, adding: "You chose the Queen of Hearts. The card in the case matches." Remove the card from the card case face up. Continue: "The odd thing, however, is that this card has a blue back." Turn the card face down, revealing its Blue back. Touch the back of the face-up spread with the right-hand Blue-back card and use it to flip over the spread, revealing Blue backs. Add, "...and all of these cards are blue!"

Pick up the remaining face-up talon and ribbon spread it face down, showing Blue backs.

The surprise here is clear and direct even though the effect is ambiguous. The prediction aspect is straightforward, but the different-colored-backs aspect can be interpreted two ways. Some lay people will think that you have apparently changed the color of the deck from red to blue, depending on how convinced there were that you were initially using a red deck. Otherwise, they will assume that the deck was blue at the outset and the only red-back card in the deck was the one chosen.

Since many things in magic happen invisibly, the results of many effects can be interpreted several ways. This is not important to entertainers because they primarily want to surprise and delight their audience through child-like fantasy. Those emphasizing the puzzling aspects of an effect must study the ambiguities of effects which will have a bearing on which method and approach you use.

Students can perform this effect without using a matching card. If so, merely disclose the chosen card as having a different colored-back from the rest of the deck.

April 7, 1968

At this point, Charles T. Jordan's effect, "The Contrary Clock," is worth mentioning. His version appeared in The Ten New Tricks Series: Number Four, titled, Ten New Prepared Card Tricks (1920) and features an interesting principle that may be applicable today. It is also the first effect in print to suggest the use of a chart—a circle drawn onto a square piece of stiff cardboard.

This is the Jordan effect:

Twelve cards are dealt face down into a clock configuration, using the cardboard chart as a guide. Each card represents an hour. The spectator thinks of an hour and notes the card occupying that space on the clock dial. The performer places a Joker in his coat pocket. The chosen card now apparently transposes with the Joker. The performer then removes the selected card from his pocket and the spectator turns over the card at his hour and finds the Joker.

Jordan's method required some preparation, but the overall effect is very clean. Remember, too, that the spectator turns over his supposed selection and finds the Joker. Secondly, the cards dealt onto the clock dial are dealt prior to the spectator thinking of an hour and no cards are cut-off or transferred during the procedure.


This extends inherent possibilities in "The Technicolor Hour" and introduces a prescient feature where the performer proves that he knew beforehand which hour would be chosen.

Effect: A card is removed from a shuffled deck and put into the performer's pocket. The deck is shuffled and someone is asked to think of an hour on the clock from one to twelve. The performer turns his back as an assisting spectator removes an equivalent number of cards from the deck and places them in a pocket.

The performer then turns around and deals twelve cards into a mock clock dial. That is, the cards are dealt in a complete circle at positions representing the hours of a clock. The performer turns his back again and the spectator looks at the card occupying the position of the chosen hour. He is then asked to gather all the cards making up the "clock dial" and shuffle them together.

The performer faces the audience and after a moment of concentration he names the selection. As a kicker, he removes the card previously placed in his pocket and asks the spectator to name the chosen hour. The value of the "prediction card" matches the chosen hour.

There are three significant features in this presentation worth noting: (1) The performer does not look at the faces of any cards during the presentation. (2) The cards composing the clock, the cut-off cards, and the talon are shuffled together by the spectator while your back is turned. This destroys crucial evidence. (3) The prediction card is previously placed in your pocket, yet it accurately forecasts of the freely chosen hour.

Requirements: A regular deck, plus its Joker.

Set-up: Arrange thirteen cards of mixed suits in numerical order from Ace to King. Place them on top of the deck and insert the Joker fourteenth from the top.

Method: Introduce the deck and table it face up. Perform a couple of Riffle Shuffles above the stack. Since you can see the cards during the shuffle, the Joker will mark off the stock to be retained and prevent you from accidentally mixing indifferent cards into the set-up.

Pick up the deck and position it from an Overhand Shuffle so that you can see the faces. Run off 6 cards, noting the sixth one, and then throw the balance of the deck on top. Run 7 more cards and throw. This maneuvers the noted card thirteenth from the top. Remember it.

If you prefer to Overhand Shuffle with the cards face down, simply undercut, run off 13 cards, injog, and shuffle off. Then complete the rest of the Jog Shuffle sequence.

Your objective is to put thirteen cards above your set-up and to know the thirteenth card. If you choose to shuffle face down, then note the thirteenth card when you spread the cards face up to remove the Joker. You will not have to count. As you locate the Joker and upjog it, the thirteenth card is adjacent (to the left) of the Ace in your set-up.

Remove the Joker without showing it and place it in your pocket. Say, "Before we begin, I'm going to remove a card which will later have a bearing on this experiment in time. I want you to think of any hour on the clock from one o'clock to twelve o'clock."

Place the deck face down on the table and turn around. Ask the assisting spectator to remove a number of cards from the top of the deck that are equal to the chosen hour. For example, if "three o'clock" is the chosen hour, three cards should be taken off the top of the deck. Tell him to place these cards in a pocket or out of sight. There is a logical reason for this action, which will be explained later on.

Once these actions have been carried out, turn around and face the audience. Take the talon and say, "A clock dial consists of twelve numbers or hours..." Quickly deal 12 cards face down to the table. Deal them one at a time, reversing their order. Place the talon aside.

Pick up the 12-card packet and deal them face down in a circle, beginning at the one o'clock position. Notice that the last card dealt (twelve o'clock) is slightly jogged inward. This serves to mark off the position of twelve o'clock and the audience unmistakably knows the positions of the other hours, moving clockwise from the jogged card.

Explain the representative clock dial and casually pick up the talon. Say, "When I turn my back I want you to look at the card occupying the position of your chosen hour..." At an opportune moment, secretly palm off the top card of the talon. Then drop the talon on the table and turn around. While the spectator looks at the card of his chosen hour, slip the palmed card into the same pocket containing the Joker.

Marlo used the top pocket of his shirt or jacket. When he placed the Joker therein, he left it protruding. When he added the palmed card at this step, he pushed the Joker into the pocket and left the palmed card protruding.

If you use another pocket and both cards end up inside and together, make sure you know which one is the palmed card.

Ask the spectator if he has looked at his card. Tell him to remember it and to gather all the cards comprising the mock clock. Say, "Shuffle all the cards together. In fact, shuffle them into the deck and destroy all traces of what has just happened. Place the deck in your pocket and add them to the other cards."

Turn around and face the spectator. Look at him and appear to be concentrating. Say, "Please make an image of your card in your mind." Name the force card glimpsed earlier. Pause a couple of beats and then remove the protruding card from your pocket (or the "palmed card" from inside your pocket). Hold it with its back to the audience and say, "Remember the card I removed before the proceedings? Which hour did you choose?"

When the chosen hour is named, disclose the "prediction card" and show that its value matches the hour.


The numerical set-up used in conjunction with the Clock Mechanics automatically puts a matching value-card on top of the talon after the clock-cards are dealt off.

If eleven or twelve o'clock is the chosen hour, the matching value-card will be a Jack or Queen. Explain to the audience that the Jack represents 11 and the Queen represents 12. This problem is overcome if you use Brand No. 500 playing cards, which have values up to thirteen.

If you like, eliminate the Joker and do not remove any card prior to the trick. You can still create a mental effect by naming the chosen hour. Instead of palming off the top card of the talon, glimpse and remember its value instead. Then name it after the selection has been announced.

If you want to do a conventional Clock Effect without the mental aspect or 12-card setup, you can start from scratch with a borrowed deck. The only preliminary action required is to get a known card 1thirteenth from the top.

This could be done by looking at the faces of the cards, but the following four Marlo approaches are better.


Have the spectator shuffle the deck. Take it back and explain how cards are supposed to be taken off the talon, a number of cards equal to the numbered hour. Say, "For example, if you thought of seven o'clock, take off seven cards."

Demonstrate by dealing seven cards face down to the table. Pick them up and replace them onto the talon, but in the process glimpse and remember the bottom card of this seven-card packet.

Perform an Oout-Faro Shuffle to further mix the cards and maneuver the glimpsed card thirteenth from the top.


This is the same as the First Approach except that the force-card is held out. Have someone shuffle the deck and then add the force-card to the top via a palm. Its advantage consists of avoiding a glimpse that Fast Company might catch.


After the spectator shuffles, glimpse the bottom card of the deck. Deal six cards face down to the table as per your ruse- explanation. Casually Overhand Shuffle the bottom card of the talon to the top. Replace the six cards on top and then perform an Out-Faro Shuffle.


This was Marlo's favorite. After the spectator shuffles, take back the deck, and glimpse the bottom card. Explain that you need twelve cards to make up a clock dial. Deal twelve cards face down to the table.

Ask the spectator to shuffle them. Demonstrate by shuffling the talon and maneuvering the glimpsed card to the top. Ask the spectator to replace the shuffled 12-card packet on top of the talon.

"The Predetermined Hour" was first published in KABBALA (Volume 1 - Number 1: September - 1971). It was later published in ON THE CLOCK EFFECT (1971), pp. 1213, and in THE UNEXPECTED CARD BOOK (1974), pp. 115-117. Marlo's original notes are dated April 17, 1968.


This is almost identical to Marlo's "The Predetermined Hour" except no set-up is needed. This makes it convenient to perform and its simplex procedure and method are meant for laypersons. Astute cardmen will be unimpressed.

Method: Have the deck shuffled and then hold it face down in your left hand. Make no attempt to glimpse any cards, but tell the spectator that you will use twelve cards, one for each hour on the clock dial.

Deal twelve cards face down to the table. Have the spectator take them for further shuffling. Put the talon in position for an Overhand Shuffle and indicate such a shuffle to the spectator. In the process, glimpse the bottom card of the talon and then shuffle it to the top. Table the talon and remember the glimpsed card. Suppose it is the Queen of Hearts.

Ask the spectator to replace his shuffled cards on top of the talon. Instruct him to think of an hour on the clock dial and then ask him to remove an identical number of cards off the top of the deck and place them in a pocket. Turn your back as this procedure is performed.

Take the talon and reverse deal twelve cards face down to the table, following the standard procedure to set the cards. Explain that these cards will make up the mock clock dial.

Deal the cards face up one at a time so that you will see when the glimpsed card is dealt. When it falls, you immediately know the spectator's chosen hour. After all twelve have been dealt into a face-up packet, say: "Before we start, I will remove one card from the deck."

Quickly spread the cards face up between your hands and locate a card with a number-value that corresponds to the chosen hour. Do not let anyone see this card. Place it in your pocket.

Make the mock clock dial in the outlined manner and ask the spectator to note the card at his hour. Then ask him to assemble the "clock cards." add them to the talon, and shuffle the entire deck. This is done while your back is turned.

The rest follows the basic routine. Name the selection and reveal the prediction-card from your pocket.

"Time For Laymen" was published in The Unexpected Card Book (1974), based on notes taken on May 2, 1968. It is a detailed rendition of the Fourth Handling of "The Predetermined Hour."

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