December 27 2001 BETA

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

Get Instant Access

On december 22nd, in a brief but rich session, a serious, young card-worker, Rick Franceschini, showed me his handling of a well-explored plot, the card sandwich. To this plot, by virtue of method, he had added some interesting elements not otherwise possible with the same directness. I considered Rick's treatment immediately interesting, as I informed him, but somewhat flawed by his less than optimal exploitation of the features he had made possible. Thereafter, despite the season's festivities, I found my thoughts returning to these matters, which by now I saw as a challenge. The day after Christmas, I showed a number of solutions I'd developed to my good friend Eliezer Rodriguez. Guided by his feedback, I recombined the best of my ideas into one sequence. While this new construct depends heavily on presentation for its logic and power, it does so in a novel way. Thus, I will include significant portions of my presentation along with the handling, though some of the presentation flows from choreography rather than patter. Further, I should warn the reader, this is a technically demanding method, as was Rick's. The impact, however, is outstanding.

There are four major techniques employed in this moderately quick effect, and they happen in rapid succession, with little margin for error. You will perform a Gambler's Cop and Add Back, a D'Amico Spread, a One-Handed Glimpse from a Spectator Peek, and a One-Handed Middle Deal. If that's not challenge enough, the hands do not come together during most of the effect. Hang in there with me on this one; the pace may seem daunting.

EFFECT: After a spectator has been handed a pair of matching cards—we will use the red Queens—he is given the deck to shuffle as the performer takes back the pair. Then, while the performer holds the two face-up Queens spread in one hand, the spectator peeks at a card in the deck held in the performer's other hand. The performer immediately announces, "It's done!" On looking at the pair, a face-down card is seen to be trapped between the face-up Queens. The performer looks at the face-down card and announces the name. The spectator agrees that is the card he peeked at. The card is immediately withdrawn and handed to him to confirm it is his. Everything may be examined and left with the spectators.

SETUP: The deck you use for this effect must be in reasonably good condition. Openly remove a color-matched pair of cards. I prefer the red Queens but any color-matched pair may be used. This can be done openly, thus requiring no set-up, but the tempo of the effect is expedited if the pair has been located prior to your presentation.

As I perform it, the following opening lines are delivered with a clear sense of tongue-in-cheek. I think of these introductory remarks as somewhat like a Professor Harold Hill monologue in Meredith Wilson's The Music Man. I have resisted the inclination to employ the style even more blatantly, though some may be inclined to do so. I fear the effect would be diminished if framed within too strong a characterization. You begin, "You are about to witness an effect the likes of which you may never see performed again—not that you've ever seen it before. The reason is simple, the effect requires more hands than the average performer sports—that's two. As you can plainly see, I have no more than the customary number of appendages, but with your assistance, your kind assistance, I hope to work around this obvious shortcoming. If you will lend me your eyes, your ears and two of your hands, employing both of mine we will still be one short but I think—in fact I'm more than reasonably confident—we can work around this deficit, albeit with some loss of grace. If, I say, if we are able to get through the requisite machinations, you should witness a feat so astounding it will boggle the mind and dazzle the eye. Your grandchildren may hear tales of this event."

Hand a spectator standing in front of you one card of your pair to hold in each of his hands. Square the deck and steal the bottom card into Gambler's Cop. It doesn't matter what the card is but only one card should be copped and the deck should be moved toward the fingertips of the hand from which you deal. (For the sake of explanation, we'll adopt the common right-handed bias here.)

"I'm going to ask you to shuffle the deck, for which you'll need two hands, so I'll take the two cards you hold. You take the deck I hold. This won't be pretty but we'll get it done." As you are saying this, transfer the deck from your left hand to your right and, turning slightly to your right, reach forward with both hands toward the spectator. Look briefly at the spectator's right hand, then look at your right hand as you place the deck into the spectator's left hand. At the same time, with your left hand take the card from the spectators right hand, sliding it over the card hidden in Gambler's Cop. With your right hand, immediately take the second Queen from the spectator's left hand in the action of leaving the deck there, and transfer this card to your left hand, placing it under the double card it already holds.

NOTE: Depending upon the size of your audience and the distance between you and your spectators, the angles arising from the use of the Gambler's Cop may prove unworkable. Full Palm in the left hand obviously offers far less in the way of angle constraints and may be substituted. The change to Full Palm need have no significant impact on the handling of the impending Add-On, but it will in all likelihood make the sequence appear a bit more "cozy." You may also find the curvature created in the card will dictate the choice you make in the next sequence. 1 will trust the reader to balance the considerations and make the choices appropriate to the venue.

At this point, you have a few alternatives: You can square the three cards, taking them at the fingertips of your palm-down right hand, and perform a D'Amico Spread {ClassicalFoursome, 1956, page 8), showing what appears to be the two face-up Queens with nothing between them. Alternately, you can use Mario's Pivot Spread {Classical Foursome, page 22) to arrive at almost precisely the same position. Keep your right hand, with its two-card spread, held away from your body.

Extend your left hand, take back the now shuffled deck from your assisting spectator and maneuver the cards into position for a Spectator Peek. Explain that he is to "Push back the corner of the deck at one point and peek at a card." As soon as you've caught your break below the card, look directly at the spectator and ask, "Got it?" The spectator should look back at you to say, "Yes." At precisely that moment, spread the Queen packet, so the face-down indifferent card shows. Whatever response you get from your spectator, seemingly repeat, "I got it—look!" Your eyes should travel to the three-card spread.

Turn your left hand over, maintaining the break it holds and converting it to an inner right step. Point at the spectator as you catch a glimpse of the index corner of the card at the step (Figure 190), and say, "You've just peeked at a card—and one has jumped over." Look back to the spread as you maneuver your right hand so you can see the face of the face-down card between the Queens, but without exposing its face to the audience. As you see the card, casually name the card you just glimpsed and ask, "Right?" This

will stun many spectators because there is, from their perspective, no way you can know the card, never mind having caused it to jump across.

What you will do next is, in my view, the toughest part of this effect. You need to convert from the position in which your left hand is holding the deck to the position you require for the One-handed Middle Deal you will use. In the process, you'll need to convert the step you've been maintaining so you can deal the spectator's card. How you do this will, perforce, depend on which One-Handed Middle Deal you use. We will discuss those considerations in the next few paragraphs, but the action should simply look as though you remove the face-down card and hand it to the spectator. While this is not the only way one could reveal the identity of the card, it should be treated as though it were the most logical course.

MIDDLE DEAL CONSIDERATIONS: I use the Middle Deal described as "The Ackerman Center Deal (Modified)" in The Magical Record and Thoughts of Wesley James (page 75). This is a treatment of Allan's "Variation of the One Hand Center Deal" from his 1978 book, Here's My Card (page 101). In this instance, because only one Middle is dealt, the two techniques are essentially interchangeable. A key consideration, regardless of the technique chosen, is that the hand that holds the deck must be able to achieve the required grip without assistance from the opposite hand. It is also important, in my opinion, that the Deal be performed without a full wrist turn, though Rick Franceschini employed one in the version he performed. The reason behind my thinking is that it would be nearly impossible to perform a Wrist-Turn Middle under the prevailing conditions without flashing the break, unless the action is made quite broad, in which case it would become suspicious. I do not suggest this is universally true, but in this situation we don't have a completely conventional application of the Middle Deal. For these reasons, the demands of the Middle Deal here are greater than typical for Middle Deals generally or even for One-Handed Middle Deals.

I submit that the illusion to strive for is that the face-down card is slid from between the face-up Queens, and its isolation is apparently maintained by heavily right-jogging it on top of the deck. Carrying the card in this position toward the spectator will give you a brief moment to prepare for your Middle Deal, which, given the circumstances, must use a Buckle-out technique. An instruction directed to the spectator, such as, "Hold out your hands, both your hands!" will assure that you reach the target point for your Deal before your spectator is ready to receive the card. The Deal itself should be performed almost straight down into the spectator's hands, with just a bit of leftward movement at the end to make sure the dealing hand is clear of the dealt card at the completion of the Deal. This action may not come immediately, if you aren't accustomed to it. With practice, assuming you get enough kick from the left fingers and minimal friction from the packets, it creates an excellent illusion of the withdrawn card merely dropping into the spectator's hands with a light downward toss—a rather disarming look. Of course, the right-jogged card is pulled onto the top of the deck as the left hand turns at the wrist in the act of dealing the Middle onto the spectator's hand.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: While a wide array of handling variations would be available for managing the initial stages of this effect, I don't believe any would be significantly cleaner in appearance than that offered here. The options narrow once the spectator has peeked at a card, since only one hand is available. I believe the Middle Deal to be the most expeditious method of accomplishing the necessary result, though it is by no means the only method. With some alteration to the blocking and choreography, a One-Handed Pass could be used to reposition the peeked card. This would allow the use of a One-Handed Bottom Deal. While there would be much to otherwise recommend it, the difficulties of converting from a break below the selection to a break above the selection largely preclude the use of a Second Deal, Kardyro Change, Curry Change (and any of its variants) or, best in my opinion, Mario's Visual Retention Change (Hierophant, No. 5, 1971, page 239). It is interesting to me that while the younger generation of card-workers invests tremendous energy in laying claim to minor handling variations of overly familiar plots hung on questionable improvements, truly useful goals such as a simple, efficient way to establish a break above rather than below a spectator peeked card attract no attention whatever. I suspect this is a simple failure to apprehend those areas of the card-workers toolbox where the needs are most real; or perhaps such prosaic accomplishments are merely too unappealing to attract attention. In any case, we must await the day.

In closing, I don't imagine most performers will wish to end the effect as I do but, at my publisher's prodding, I'm including the closing monologue I use for the effect. It's delivered in the style and, loosely, the cadence of "Trouble in River City"—which is to say, as though you were rapping. It's meant to be fun, so have fun with it. "I know, I say I know your thought—you're thinkin' that's great, you're thinkin' that's fine, you're thinkin' 'that fool' [these last four words are delivered as an aside, as though they had come from a spectator]. Remember the Maine, like they taught you in school; remember Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule! Cause now ya got trouble—right here in [name of city ivhere you are] City! With a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for—Cool!" "Cool!" is delivered out of meter, in a style reminiscent of Oscar Brown, Jr. in his song, "But I was Cool," from his Sin & Soul album. For those unfamiliar with this piece, the best guidance I can give is that the word is delivered in an exaggerated and ironic style. If you decide you want to use this presentation, by all means check out the Oscar Brown, Jr. or Albert Collins versions of the song. The change of style breaks the character and ends the presentation. Your audience should be smiling; they've seen an amazing effect and a vignette that harkens to a fun theatrical piece.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment