when Bill Simon mentioned "The Scarne Puzzle" in his 1949 book, Controlled Miracles (page 21), it is unlikely anyone anticipated where it would lead. It is doubtful anyone even noticed. When he published "Call to the Colors" in Effective Card Magic (1952, page 79), it aroused little interest because so few card men of that period could deal Seconds—not to mention Bottoms—well enough to use them under the conditions prevailing in the routine. Subsequently, when Mario explored the premise (Mario Magazine, Volume 2, 1977, "Bluff Call to Colors," page 226, and "Miracle Call to Colors," page 229) he spoke to a slightly larger audience, but still the plot generated little excitement. At about the same time, Martin Nash released his work on the plot, "Colors on the March" (Any Second Now, 1977, page 275). While it introduced a very clever new feature to the plot—dealing spectator-chosen patterns—it too garnered scant enthusiasm. More recently, René Lavand introduced his version via video, presenting the routine, for perhaps the first time, as "mystic and magical." It also appears as "Why Do the Colors Alternate Themselves" in the book Mysteries of My Life (1998, page 53). Others, too, have visited the plot. You may wish to take a look at Roger's Thesaurus (1994), which contains a treatment by Jack Avis (page 186), and A Collection of Drawing Room Deceptions (1999, page 202) for a Guy Hollingworth rendition.
My treatment may elicit no more enthusiasm than those before me; but it does address, if not solve, what I consider major problems with all the other works. First, I have eliminated almost all the Deal-Pick-Up-Deal sequences of the prior treatments. This practice clouded and diminished the effect. Second, I have endeavored to cloak the proceeding with a shroud of magic. (All other versions, with the exception of the Lavand presentation, appear as demonstrations of skill, a presentational approach I eschew.) How well I have succeeded in revitalizing this premise only time will tell. If it serves no other purpose, the effect is a fine etude for dealers. It allows the performer to practice dealing Seconds and Bottoms in one effect and to employ both normal and stud-style Takes. The tempo of the effect is similar to that of a Poker game and a single error will show up immediately. All in all, this new construct should add yet another argument for you to put in the time it takes to learn to False Deal. If you decide to, by all means review what Bill Simon has to say about dealing Seconds, and Mario on all types of deals. Both men reveal great wisdom.
EFFECT: With assistance from a spectator, the performer openly arranges the deck in alternating red-black order from top to bottom. He explains and demonstrates that neither cutting the deck nor dealing the cards changes the alternating condition. The performer allows that it can, however, be affected magically. Demonstrating that the cards remain in red-black-red-black order, he applies "a little magic." The cards now fall in red-red-black-black-red-red order. Applying a bit more magic, the cards come off in black-black-black-red-red-red-black-black-black order. Adding still more magic he deals four reds-four blacks-four reds-then, with more magic, five blacks-five reds-five blacks. Finally, only four cards remain undealt. He passes them through his hand in a last magical gesture and reveals them be the four Aces.
SET-UP: Remove two red cards and leave them in your pocket or in the card box. Set two black cards, followed by the four Aces in alternating color order, in a packet (mine are set up, from the top down: Black-Black-Ace of Diamonds-Ace of Spades-Ace of Hearts-Ace of Clubs) in your lap.
Have a spectator arrange part of the deck into alternating red-black order as you do the same with the balance. The last card of the sequence, the card on the face, should be a black card. While it is not mandatory that the spectator help you arrange the deck—you can do it all yourself—having a spectator help arrange the cards creates conviction on the part of the audience that the deck is truly in red-black order, as well as reducing the time necessary to set up.
As you slide the deck off the table, secretly add the packet from your lap to the bottom. You're about to lay in the stack right in front of the audience. You need to reverse the top pairing so that it is black-red rather than red-black. To make this adjustment, deal a Second as you apparently take the top card into your right hand, then take the next card under it. Lift the two cards, flashing their faces to the audience, as you say, "Remember, the cards alternate black and red..." Return the two cards to the top, then spread the deck face down between your hands as you add, "...all the way through the deck." Close the spread, forming a break below the top two cards.
"If I cut the deck, no matter how many complete cuts I make, the order is unaffected." Accompany this line with a Double Undercut, shifting the two cards from the top to the bottom. "And dealing cards doesn't alter their order either—-as long as I deal an even number." As you speak the preceding line, deal the top four cards to the table: Top-Top-Second-Top. Pick up these four cards, without showing them, and place them back onto the deck. Add, "As you see, once you put the deck in order, it's hard to take it out of order unless you shuffle-—or you can use magic. I promise I won't shuffle them, so only one thing can cause what you'll see, but don't ask me to explain it; I'm not sure I understand it myself."
Execute a Triple Turnover and deal the triple card face up to the table, as one. Be careful that the cards don't spread as you lay them down. The triple card will show as a black card. Deal the next card face up onto the triple card on the table. It will be a red card. Deal a Second, which will yield a black card. Add it face up to the tabled pile. The last card you deal comes off the top. It is a red card. You've dealt six cards as four, apparently in black-red-black-red order.
Turn the tabled cards face down and drop the deck on top of them. Pick up the deck and square as you repeat, "Remember, cuts and deals don't alter the redblack sequence in any way, but magic can." From the top down, the order of the deck is now: thirty-six cards in red-black order (eighteen pairs)-two blacks-four Aces-a black-two reds-two blacks-then red-black-red.
Say, "Without magic, because of the way we've arranged them, the cards would always turn up red-black-red-black." Deal the first four cards, turning them face up as you do so, and lay them on the table in a column from far to near, in an overlapping row on the left side of your working area. They will show as red-black-red-black.
Make a magical gesture (I pass my right hand dramatically over the deck) as you say, "If I only apply a little bit of magic, they turn up as red-red-black-black-red-red." The dealing pattern is Top-Second-Top-Top-Top-Second. Again, turn each card face up and form a column from far to near, in an overlapping row, to the right of the previous column.
Repeat the magical gesture as you say, "A little more magic causes a more marked departure. They turn up black-black-black-red-red-red-black-black-black." To obtain this pattern you must deal Top-Top-Second-Top-Top-Second-Top-Top-Second. Once again, turn each card face up and deal them into a column from far to near, in an overlapping row, to the right of the two previous columns.
Execute the magical gesture once again: "The more magic I apply the more drastic the departure from the red-black order. Now, they'll turn up red-red-red-red-black-black-black-black-red-red-red-red." The dealing pattern required to yield this order is: Bottom-Top-Top-Second-Bottom-Top-Top-Second-Bottom-Top-Top-Second. Create a column from far to near, face-up, in an overlapping row, to the right of the previous columns.
Perform the magical gesture for the last time. "It takes extremely powerful magic to accomplish the next departure. By applying strong magic they turn up black-black-black-black-black-red-red-red-red-red-black-black-black-black-black." To produce this sequence you must deal: Bottom-Top-Bottom-Top— Second-Bottom-Top-Bottom-Top-Second-Bottom-Top-Top-Top-Top. This last column is also dealt from far to near, in a face-up overlapping row, to the right of the previous columns.
NOTE: This last dealing sequence is the most irregular but each sequence must be memorized in any case. As you become more familiar with the workings of the method, you'll associate the pattern of reds and blacks with the dealing pattern required to achieve it. I endeavored to work out memory aids for the patterns but found them too slow and ultimately unnecessary. The best learning system for me was to write out the patterns on index cards and lay them in a row across the table. While I was learning, I'd leave the index card for a particular pattern written-side up. Once I felt I knew the pattern, I'd turn it down. I found I could still visualize the writing. Eventually, I didn't need the index cards at all. Actually, with the exception of the last five cards, the order is logical. I find that if I stop using the routine for a while, I will forget the patterns, but a few run-throughs bring the patterns back. That's the best advice I can give you on learning the patterns. It isn't nearly as difficult as it might seem.
You will be left with only four cards, the four Aces, in your left hand. Your patter line is, "To apply any more of this kind of magic could be hazardous to our health, but since I have only four cards remaining I can perform a minor miracle of a different sort. A simple pass through the hand and—instant four Aces. Pretty good, huh?" The pass through the hand is Vernon's Through-the-Fist Flourish (page 53). Deal the Aces in a face-up row across the table, near your audience.
TECHNICAL NOTE: I have not included suggestions for which deal techniques to use for the routine. As a practice routine, it doesn't much matter. Mix and match the techniques you want to practice. For performance, the Top, Second and Bottom Deal techniques should all look alike, but beyond that, use the techniques you know. I use my Sure Theory Second (Pasteboard Perpensions, page 28), dealt stud-style, and my unpublished treatment of Mario's Havana Deal, which is also a stud-style deal. The original Vernon New Theory Second and Mario Havana Deal can be used with similar results.
PRESENTATION NOTE: As stated, it is a challenge to present this routine effectively. My presentation and construction, as well as the Ace climax, greatly ameliorate the problems. They do not, however, solve them completely under all conditions. Apart from using it in your practice sessions, this routine is best saved for the conditions under which you might perform "Out of This World"—for what I call serious audiences. Under those circumstances, without undue distractions, audiences embrace it as a highly intriguing intellectual effect that is very special. The four Ace climax is truly startling. Try it; it's challenging at every level and in every way.
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