As soon as I arrived at the studio I produced a sealed envelope and told the interviewer that it contained the phone number of a friend of mine, who is a well-known medium in his city. I made it clear that this city was more than five hundred miles from the studio.
Next I gave the interviewer a sealed pack of cards and told him I didn't want to touch it again. At my instruction he broke the seal on the pack, opened the case and removed the deck. He then threw away the advertising cards and jokers.
I turned my back to him at this point and told him to shuffle the deck. When he finished he gave the deck a complete cut, after which he took the card he cut to and placed it, sight unseen, into one of his jacket pockets. He next hid the deck in another pocket to prevent me from gleaning the slightest clue to his actions. Only then did I turn to face him again.
I asked him to open the sealed envelope I had given him and dial the telephone number he found on the card inside. The medium I had mentioned earlier answered the phone and proceeded to "crawl" mentally into the interviewer's pocket, after which he slowly and certainly divined the freely chosen card he had seen there. I'm uncertain how well this may read, but I assure you, the effect on the interviewer and his listening audience was everything I hoped for!
Readers unfamiliar with the Annemann trick mentioned above will likely guess that I used a version of Hilliard's telephone test. The plot is certainly the same, but the method is greatly simplified, for there is no complicated code. The simple truth is, the card is forced. The interviewer unknowingly forces the card on himself!
Having read the preceding entries in this chapter, this information will provide a great part of the solution. The deck may have been sealed, but that hadn't stopped me from carefully opening the bottom of the cellophane wrapper and loosening the tax stamp with a steam kettle. I then prepared three cards in the deck with Jontay ridging and marked their backs for easy identification. Finally, I neatly resealed the deck in its case and cellophane, taking care to leave no signs of tampering. I did all this shortly before the interview, so that the ridge work was fresh and, therefore, dependable. (If this proves not to be possible, I would recommend using Koornwinder gimmicks, which don't weaken with pressure.) You are by now familiar with the method of forcing one of these cards on an innocent assistant.
The next thing necessary was for me to learn which of the ridged cards had been taken. This I easily managed with another stratagem of Theodore Annemann's:8 After I told the interviewer to cut the deck, I deceitfully asked, "Have you done that?" and turned my head around for an instant—just long enough to see that a ridged card was on top of the pack and which of the three it was.
After that the interviewer put the card into one of his pockets and the deck into another. I now had only to code the selected card to my "medium". During this particular test, my accomplice was a friend, Ulf Boiling-Borodin, who is also an accomplished mentalist. There are a number of methods available for coding over the phone. Ulf and I took advantage of his distinctive name. The three force cards were the Jack of Hearts, Queen of Spades and King of Clubs. If the Jack of Hearts was chosen, the interviewer was told to ask for "Herr Boiling". If the selection was the Queen of Spades, he called "Herr Ulf Boiling". And for the King of Clubs, my medium's name was "Herr Ulf Boiling-Borodin".
A similar name code can be worked out to fit your assistant. Or you can instruct the interviewer to put the chosen card in a specific place: e.g., shirt pocket, trousers pocket or wallet. It is understandable that the medium to wish to know which pocket he must crawl clairvoyantly into. You can easily think of other simple methods for coding three cards.
"See his "Mystery of the Blackboard" in Annemann's Practical Mental Effects (1944), pp. 228-229.
I often leave the deck with the interviewer. I've never had one discover the ridge work in the cards. However, during such interviews, particularly ones in which listeners call in, many opportunities can be found to switch the pack for a normal one, if you think it necessary.
And that's the whole of it. Oh, I might mention that experience has shown this test to be effective on television interviews as well.
AÍp^a s^q^a^sa^^q^ow^^ now turn to a second possibility of employing ridged cards: the use of such a gimmick to force not just itself, but an entire bank of cards in a deck seemingly shuffled by spectators.
An alphabet deck is shuffled by spectators, then cut. The top six or seven cards cut randomly to the top of the pack are removed and one of the assisting spectators forms a word from these chance letters. Although the performer has not seen the cards and cannot know the letters in play, he is successful in mentally divining the word!
As you will by now have surmised, the word is forced, although no hint of this is apparent to anyone in the audience, including the assisting spectator.
Let's assume that the word in question is quick. Remove the following seven letters from the pack—q, u, i, C, K, i, x— and arrange them in a face-up pile on the table in the following order from face to back: x-i-c-k-u-i-q. The q is a ridged card with a marked back. You can use the Jontay method of preparation, using the outline of the q to camouflage the embossment, or you can make the card a Koornwinder gimmick.
This prearranged packet is turned face down and placed onto the deck, the ridged q-card on top. Slip the prepared deck into its case.
Remove the alphabet deck from the case and cut off the top third. This packet must contain at least seven cards, your stock. Hand the remaining cards to a spectator and have her divide them between herself and someone else.
Ask the two spectators to shuffle their cards, demonstrating with those you hold. Your shuffling, however, must be false. This is not difficult with so few cards. Simply overhand shuffle, running the cards singly; then repeat this quick running shuffle to return the cards to their original order.
Place your packet on the table and have the spectators set their shuffled packets onto yours. Then ask the two spectators to cut the cards once each. The second spectator's cut will most often bring the ridged card to the top. If you don't see its marked back, have them give the pack one or two more cuts until it appears.
One of the two spectators is requested to "Deal some cards onto the table." When he has dealt six, say, "That's fine," timing this so that he feels comfortable dealing a seventh card if he desires. Next ask him to construct a meaningful word, at least four letters long, from the dealt cards. Also let him know that he doesn't have to use all of the letters. With the cards you have provided, only one word can possibly be formed: QUICK. This word may be either predicted or telepathically divined.
Here is an additional idea: If you combine "Alpha" with a book test9, the result is extremely potent. You first have a spectator select a word from a random page in a book. This word is forced. Of course, the word you force from the book must be one consisting of letters that do not offer any possibilities for the formation of other words. Also, the force word should be a fairly obvious one, so that it isn't a challenge for the spectator to recognize it.
A second spectator is then given the alphabet deck, which he cuts in half. You take the upper half and false shuffle it, retaining the top stock. The spectator shuffles the rest of the cards. Next the cards are reassembled, his half pack on yours, and cut by the spectator, thereby restoring the stack to the top. Your unsuspecting assistant is now given the assignment of forming a word from the letters found on top of the shuffled deck. Those letters have been prearranged by you to form the word forced on the first spectator. The surprising result is that the word the second spectator forms is the identical word randomly chosen by the first spectator from the book!10
'See page 203-210.
,0To the best of my knowledge, this plot synthesis was first suggested by T. A. Waters in his trick "Pointalism", published in Grymwyr (1982), pp. 26-27; also see Mind, Myth & Magick (1993), pp. 274-276.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.