April 1 1976 BETA

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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I am far from the first to attempt to eliminate the use of gaffed cards from the celebrated "MacDonald $100 Routine" (More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, 1960, page 26). One might speculate that card aficionados began the effort to eliminate the gaffs the day after Hofcinser introduced the idea. Nevertheless, most published material on Ace routines using double-faced cards are more in the way of handling variations. My goal was to simulate, as much as possible, the types of vanishes found in most popular handlings but without recourse to gaffs. I was less concerned with the specifics of a commercial routine. The material that follows can be considered something of an academic exercise, for while it eliminates the gaffs, it uses a full compliment of duplicates. Except for the purist, this is not a particularly significant advantage. The techniques taught herein, however, are applicable to a broad range of routines of the type that have gained increasing popularity in recent years. The routine I included in my earlier book, PasteboardPerpensions (1990, page 44), titled "Undone Dukes," is an example of a Reverse Assembly that could make use of some of the vanish sequences explained here. Moreover, some of the techniques taught have more far-reaching application. Stated in another way, you may consider "April Fools Aces" a tray on which to serve up a collection of tools from which the card enthusiast may sample. Viewed from this perspective, I think you'll find this an intriguing routine.

REQUIREMENTS: Two Aces of Diamonds, two Aces of Clubs, two Aces of Hearts, one Ace of Spades and a deck.

SET-UP: From the top of the deck, Ace of Diamonds-Ace of Clubs-Ace of Hearts-Ace of Spades-talon-Ace of Hearts-Ace of Clubs-Ace of Diamonds.

1 = Openly remove the four Aces from the top of the deck and spread them face up 1 on the table.

2 . Casually remove twelve cards, one by one, turning each face up as you remove it, but allow each to flip face down as it falls to the table.

3 Spread the remainder of the deck between your hands and secure a left fourth-finger break above the bottom three cards (duplicate Aces). Square up, transferring the break to the right thumb.

4 ■' With your right hand above, drag the twelve cards off the table, adding the ; three Aces from the bottom of the deck; or, if you prefer and are familiar with 1it, load them as you place the deck aside, as in the well-known Vernon Transfer. 'J| (See Ten Card Problems by Vernon and Ross, 1932, page 16; Early Vernon, 1962, page 36; or, for a fuller description, Roberto Giobbis Card College, Volume 3, 1998, page 516).

5| Square up the fifteen-card packet in the left hand. Pick up the four face-up Aces | and turn them face down onto the packet, but maintain a left fourth-finger v| break. With your right hand, lift off the four Aces as a block from above and peel off each of the Aces onto the fifteen-card packet, reversing their order and out-jogging them for half their length. Lift off the four cards and place them on the table, then spread them. Finally, draw the top Ace (the Spade) back into Collector Ace position in the standard "T" formation.

NOTE: This sequence switches nothing; it simply arouses some minor suspicion as to whether the four tabled cards are the Aces. This is psychologically valuable later in the routine.

6 Spread the fifteen cards between your hands while commenting that these cards act as the medium for the effect. During the spread, in-jog the fourth card from the top. Close the spread and turn the packet face up, side for side. Lift the |gS jogged card slightly to form a right thumb break above the three duplicate Aces iijit and transfer the break to the left fourth finger.

f the packet into left-hand Dealing position, stealing the three duplicate Aces under it (Figure 20) and Sgi maintaining a fourth-finger break between them and the accompa-^M, nying indifferent card. This is a form of the Veeser concept. The

taking of four cards as one will probably be difficult and a bit scary at first. The alignment is critical, so bevel the packet forward and to the left before beginning to peel off cards. This is accomplished by pressing the left side of the packet against the left thumb, to produce the leftward bevel, and rocking the packet forward on your right thumb and second fingertip to produce a forward bevel. With the packet "bevel-squared" in this way the three-card thickness will be harder to detect even when screened by only a single card. A slight downward tilt of your hand limits the spectator's view to the face of the top card while obscuring the front edge. (See page 425 for details on alignment insurance in other applications.)

NOTE: I use the term "Veeser Concept" in what may be a slightly non-traditional way. I've discussed this in my previous book, PasteboardPerpensions (1990, page 4), but I'll briefly restate my usage here. Any technique that involves concealing one or more cards under one or more cards during the actions of a display or count is an application of the Veeser Concept. I use the term irrespective of what technique is used to enable or facilitate the action. It is clear that this definition, when used retrospectively, includes techniques that predate the Veeser declaration of the concept. As an example, the Hofcinser Under Spread Control (often referred to as the "Hofcinser Spread Cull") employs the Veeser Concept to conceal the culled card(s) once they have been culled.

Peel off the next card onto the left-hand packet (actually three Aces and an indifferent card). Finally, peel a third card onto the left-hand packet. Continuing, with the aid of the right fingers, square the six cards and secredy transfer the cards above the left fourth finger's break to the bottom of the right-hand packet, as exposed in Figure 21. Turn the left hand palm down as it moves to the left, spreading the three cards it holds face down. The status at the completion of the sequence should be: The left hand holds three face-down Aces, which the audience believes are three indifferent cards. The right hand holds twelve cards, which the audience believes to be nine. Place these three Aces onto the Collector Ace (the Spade).

Pull down on the bottom card of the packet and steal it behind the card on the face of the right-hand packet as you peel it into your left hand. Peel off the next two cards, one at a time, from the face of the right-hand packet onto the left-hand packet, then lever the left hand's cards face down and place these four, as though they were three, onto the rightmost Ace.

9 Repeat these actions (Step 8) again to place four cards as three onto each of the other single Aces in the row. This procedure isn't strictly necessary for the last packet, but is adhered to for the purpose of maintaining the precise appearance of the actions.

I now offer you two options:

(a) You can do the vanishes from the position you are in using the following set of Ace-and-Four-Card Vanishes or

(b) You can change the layout procedure, counting off nine cards as though they were twelve. Don't count them aloud. Stop two or three times during the count to make comments to the spectators. This is intended to prevent the audience from counting the cards. The addition of the three duplicate Aces allows you to place the three Aces on the Master-Collector Ace packet and still have nine cards left. This is what the audience believes, so you are in the position you should be. You can then put three cards onto each Emitter Ace packet and be set for the Ace-and-Three-Card Vanishes.

Of course, depending on your needs, you can mix and match these techniques to suit your preference and the size of the packet from which you need to accomplish the apparent vanish. In this routine you can also use whichever method you prefer on whichever packet you like. Let's assume you're working from left to right.

ACE-AND-THREE-CARD VANISHES Method 1—Beginning with the Ace on the bottom of the face-down packet.

1 Execute an Elmsley Count with the packet but don't place the last card onto the packet; rather retain it in the "originating hand." Rotate both hands palm down (Figure 22) to flash the faces of the cards (but concealing the top card of the left-hand packet, an Ace).

Rotate both hands palm up again. Push off the top card of the left-hand packet (an Ace) onto the table (Figure 23) and immediately drop the right hand's card on top of the tabled one.

The right and left hands move toward each other. The right hand then takes the bottom card of the two held by the left hand and moves to the right with it. Both hands rotate to palm down, briefly showing the faces of the cards they hold. They then rotate palm up and deal the right- and then left-hand cards onto the two already tabled ones. This sequence is Mario's Olram Subtlety.

NOTE: Owners of my earlier book, Pasteboard Perpensions, will recognize this sequence as a version of the Elmsley-Olram Vanish (page 45).

Method 2—Beginning with the Ace on the bottom of the face-down packet.

Reverse the order of the cards, simulating an Elmsley Count, and secretly in-jog the third card as you take it. Stop when you are holding the last card in the right hand.

Lever this card, the Ace, face up and place it squarely onto the packet. Form a break above the jogged card and transfer it to the left fourth finger as you square the packet.

Shifting its grip, the right hand now approaches the packet from the right near corner. The right fingers pass under the packet while the tip of the right thumb contacts the edge of the card above the break exactly at the corner. The ball of the thumb immediately moves down to grip the cards below the break. This causes the card above the break to buckle convexly (Figure 24). Using a combination of the spring tension in the buckled card (which propels the card forward diagonally to the left) and the right hand moving diagonally back toward the right, separate the packet from the single face-up Ace. It should appear that you have simply slid the bottom card from under the packet (Figure 25).

NOTE: The sequence just described, Step 3, is a useful idea that may also be used for false counting any packet where a block of cards must be removed in the first take-action. I call the concept the Edge-Off Block Control. From this concept grows not only the Edge-Off Displacement used in Step 3, above, but also a technique allied the Edge-Off Count, which allows the counting of more as less by hiding the extra cards under the top card of the packet. In the situation in which we find ourselves in Step 3, one could just peel the card into the left hand but using the Edge-Off technique obscures where in the packet the Ace is actually being positioned.

4 Bring the hands back together, placing the right hand's cards onto the one in the left hand. Don't make an issue of how many cards are being placed onto the Ace. The audience should believe the Ace is being buried face up in the packet, second from the top. That's all that matters.

5 Give the packet a Jordan Count and turn the last card face up on top; it will be an indifferent card. Using a Block Push-Off or Buckle, turn over three cards as one, apparently turning the indifferent card face down.

6 Spread the packet revealing an indifferent card face up second from the top. Take the face-up card from the spread into your right hand while your left hand squares the remaining three-card spread. Perform the Olram Subtlety as in Method 1.

METHOD 3—An Ace is on the bottom of the face-down packet.

1 Perform an Elmsley Count, forming a fourth-finger break above the lowermost two cards in the process. Turn over two cards as one, showing the Ace apparendy on top of the packet as it should be. You should retake the break as you turn the two cards face up.

2 Perform the Edge-Off Displacement as described in Method 2, Step 3, but buckle and remove two cards.

3 Perform another Elmsley Count, out-jogging the face-up indifferent card, and complete the count.

4 Do a Pull-Down on the bottom card of the packet (the Ace). Next, using the right first finger and thumb, with the thumb above, pinch the back right corners of the two face-down cards Ot^

and pull them inward slightly, keeping the face-up Ace at the bottom of the packet stationary. As the two cards are drawn back, you will reach a point when the face-up out-jogged

card can be gripped by the left thumb on the left edge, the left second finger on the right edge, and the left first finger at the front edge (Figure 26). Once this grip is obtained, it is a simple matter to slide the face-up jogged card and the face-up Ace into perfect alignment as you draw the two face-down cards diagonally inward and to the right.

NOTE: The sequence described in Steps 3 and 4 of this method constitutes a technique I call the James Alignment Move. It has many other applications beyond that just described.

5 Lever the two face-down cards face up onto the left hand's face-up card(s) and immediately push the face card of the left-hand packet into the right hand. Turn the right hand's card face down in the right hand, then flip the packet face down using the left hand alone. Perform the Olram Subtlety apparently showing all four cards. This is based on Jonathan Townsend's combination of the Broken Elmsley Count and Olram Subtlety, which I call the Townsend Count (see Apocalypse, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 1989, page 1590).

Method 4—This technique begins with the Ace on the bottom of the packet and employs the Broken Elmsley Count.

1 Perform an Elmsley Count to reposition the Ace third from the face. If you wish, you may form a fourth-finger break below the top two cards during the count, execute a Double Turnover, retaining the break under the double card, then turn the double face down again. This shows the Ace on top immediately before the vanish. In either case you now turn the packet face up.

2 Do a Broken Elmsley Count as follows: Count the first two cards in the standard manner, switching on the second card. Turn the two cards held by the left hand face down and immediately spread and drop them.

3 Count the right hand's two cards fairly into the left hand. Turn them face down, spread and drop them as well.

ACE-AND-FOUR-CARD VANISHES Method 5—Begin with the Ace on the bottom of the packet.

1 Do an Elmsley Count but don't place the last card onto the packet. Instead, turn both the card in the right hand and the packet in the left hand face up.

2 Push the card on the face of the left-hand packet to the right and take it onto the card in the right hand. Continue by pushing off the next card from the face of the left-hand packet and taking it onto the right hand's cards. Finally, take the last two cards as one onto the right hand's cards. (The Steranko Move—Genii, Vol. 27, No. 3, Nov. 1962, page 127—is a nice touch here.) Apparendy the Ace has vanished.

NOTE: I've come to realize that the technique I use when the Steranko technique might normally be applied is slightly different from and more reliable than the original. The count proceeds as usual, pushing off cards one at a time, until only the last two cards remain in the left hand. Using the pad of your left fourth finger, press the two cards against the flesh just below the mound at the base of your thumb. This keeps them securely aligned. While maintaining this grip, curl your left first finger and thumb tighdy. This will allow you to pinch the card(s) between your left first finger below and thumb above, near the front left corner. You now have four contact points on the card(s): your first finger and thumb at the front left (two points), your fourth finger on the right edge, and the base of your thumb against the inner left corner (Figure 27). You will now make it appear that you are straightening your first finger and thumb to move the double card, as if pushing it to the right. However, you actually pivot the card, maintaining the two near-end contact points while straightening your first finger and thumb (Figure 28). You add to the illusion by moving the right hand's cards, still in spread condition, past the right edge of the double card and press it with your right second finger and thumb to the underside of the fan (Figure 29). You can then safely release your left hand's hold and carry the right-hand spread away. Properly timed it appears that you have pushed the right-hand card out to your fingertips, as in the original Steranko Move, then taken the card into the right hand.

Drop the entire packet onto the table with an air of casualness.

METHOD 6—Begin with the Ace on the bottom of the face-down packet.

Reverse the order of the cards, simulating an Elmsley Count. During the count, in-jog the third and fourth cards, which you push off as a block (as one). Stop when you hold the last card in your right hand.

Lever the card face up onto and square with the packet, showing the Ace. Form a left fourth-finger break below the jogged cards as you square the packet.

Bring the right hand to the right near corner of the packet and execute my Edge-Off Block Displacement as described in Method 2, page 32. Figures 24 and 25 show the action. The right hand moves diagonally inward and toward the right, separating the two-card packet from the three cards topped by the face-up Ace. Bring the hands together to place the right hand's two cards onto the three in the left.

Perform an Elmsley Count, then turn the packet face up.

Holding the packet in Overhand Grip, use the left fingers to draw out the lower three cards of the packet while the right hand holds the top two cards squared as one. Place the double card onto the table and quickly follow up by dropping the other three cards face up onto the double.

NOTE: At the end of this sequence, the Ace has apparently vanished but is actually face down on the bottom of the packet. This can be useful in many situations, but if you wish to clean up the reversed Ace, proceed as follows: Instead of placing the double card onto the table, separate the hands, with three cards in the left and the double in the right. Flip the three left-hand cards face down, then drop the double on top of them. You're now in position to do an Olram Subtlety—or simply turn down the top card and drop the whole packet onto the table.

Method 7—The Ace is on the bottom of the packet.

Simulate an Elmsley Count, actually counting fairly, but form a fourth-finger break above the lowermost three cards as you do so. Turn over the last two cards as one, showing the Ace on top of the packet. Retake the break as you turn over the two cards.

Perform the Edge-Off Displacement, placing three face-down cards onto the face-up double card; then Elmsley Count the packet, out-jogging the indifferent card.

Perform the James Alignment Move (see Method 3, Steps 3 and 4, page 33).

Turn the three cards held by the right hand face up and count them onto the face-up card(s) in the left hand.


After having vanished the three Aces, turn over the Collector packet to reveal the four Aces to have cleanly arrived there.


Depending on which vanishes you elect to use, you may have the apparently vanished Aces back on the face of each Emitter packet. If such is the case this allows an immediate Reverse Assembly, though an extra card (or two) in the Collector packet would make the display of that packet more convincing after the reversal. If you elect not to do a Reverse Assembly, there is little to do but stack up the tabled, face-down Emitter packets and place them, jogged to the left, on the Collector packet. Pick up the whole group and, as you square it, use a Gambler's Cop to steal the duplicate Aces of Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds from the bottom of the packet. Drop everything else onto the deck, giving it its correct complement of cards. You can go south with the copped cards at your leisure. It's probably a good idea to ask a friendly nearby spectator to shuffle the cards, so that the distribution of the Aces is disguised.

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