for all the effort, published and otherwise, Paul Curry's "Open Prediction" plot and Stewart James' condition-defining "Fifty-One Faces North" have drawn from the fraternity, Mario's variation, the Spectator's Open Prediction (suggested obliquely in The Cardician, 1953, page 189, and directly in The Hierophant, No. 1, 1969, page 12) has elicited relatively little response. Normally, one might conclude this meant the variation was unappealing. In this instance, what I believe it means is that the variation is too challenging. I like a challenge, so here goes. It has a cocktail-party oriented blocking. As described it has seen perhaps fifty or sixty performances. The patter was transcribed from an audiotape created at a hospitality cocktail party for Miles Labs. It is a composite of three performances. Whatever you think of the method and handling, the presentation sets it apart as something special.
SET-UP: Begin with a deck in a memorized or calculated stack. I'm now using the Bart Harding stack (published as a monograph by Harding in 1962, later contributed to the December 1988 issue of The Magic Circular, Vol. 82, No. 891, page 246, and currently available from Alan Shaxon with his additional ideas and application). I prefer Harding's stack because it allows me to quickly calculate the position of any card from its suit and value. (I originally used the so-called Si Stebbins stack, from which such calculations are less easily made.) If you know another stack, feel free to substitute it. I don't advise sequential or new-deck order as they can't be easily destroyed by a brief shuffle performed by a spectator. (You'll understand why this matters as the explanation proceeds.)
I began my patter for hospitality-room groups, "By now you've probably figured out that what you're seeing are not just card tricks but magical vignettes featuring playing cards. This next diversion is unique. If you live a hundred more years—and I hope you do—and see a thousand more magicians—you hope you don't—you're unlikely to witness anything like this again. It highlights one of life's interesting conflicts: fairness and risk. As successful businessmen, I'm sure you'll understand."
"To begin, either one of us could make a prediction. Since I'm the performer, it would be expected of me and fair if I did it. Letting you do it is riskier and, therefore, more exciting; so you name a card. [Spectator does so,} Very good! But to be fair, I have to offer you the opportunity to change your mind."
After you learn the spectator's choice say, "King of Clubs [or whatever is chosen] it is." Using simple estimation, casually cut the deck, bringing the card to the bottom or very near it. Glimpse the bottom card and determine how far off you are. At the same time say, "Did you see that card or did you just think of it?" Displace the remaining cards to the top, bringing the predicted card to the bottom unbeknownst to your audience. Justify your brief look at the cards by saying, "You understand, it wouldn't be fair if you know where the card is. In fact, before you start, one of us should really shuffle the deck. I probably shuffle better than you do, which might increase the risk, but you might not quite trust me. I can't take that risk, so you shuffle—if you think that would be fairer?" Get the spectator to agree to shuffle.
Depending on angles, use a left-handed Gambler's Cop or Bottom Palm to steal the predicted card. Hand the deck to the spectator to shuffle. While he does so, put your hands behind your back and load the card, its face toward your arm, into your left sleeve.
NOTE: On one occasion I wanted to use this effect at a pool party, where a jacket would have been inappropriate. I wrapped two magnets in gaffer's tape and pinned one inside the back of my left trousers leg, at the height where my left hand hangs when relaxed. The second magnet adhered to the first through the cloth and I was able to hold out the card by trapping it between the magnets. Sliding it out when I needed it again was reasonably easy. File this away. You never know when it might come in handy.
Returning to the patter: "Now I could deal through the deck and look for the King of Clubs or I could let you do it. Which would be fairer?" The spectator should say himself. "Okay, you'll deal; but would it be fairer if you dealt face up, so everyone can see and keep things honest, or face down? You could miss it by mistake." Get the spectator to agree to face up.
6 "Turn the cards up one at a time and deal them into my hand." After about ten cards have been dealt into your left hand, interject, "Hold on a moment—as you're dealing through, I could tell you when you should stop, or you can choose when you should stop. One way or the other, somewhere along the way you should stop. Which do you think would be fairer? In this case, I think, fairer and riskier coincide."
7 While you're talking, drop your left hand to your side and add the sleeved card face down under the face-up packet (Figure 174). This sounds more difficult than it is. Try it a few times and you'll see what I mean. Square the packet before you allow the spectator to continue the deal. He will agree that he should choose when the deal should stop. Say, "Have it your way. Continue looking." Eventually, the spectator will stop. If he doesn't stop by mid-deck, encourage him to do so.
8 When the spectator stops, say, "To be fair I have to offer to let you change your mind. [Assuming he doesn't change his mind.] Deal the next card face down. [After he deals:] Before you continue, let's keep this one in view like this, where we can see it, just to be fair." Out-jog the face-down card on the packet.
9 Allow five or six more cards to be dealt, then stop the spectator again with, "You know what? Hold on a minute. Dealing one at a time is very suspenseful and all, but you've already made your choice. To save time, turn all the cards face up and give me four or five at a time, but look closely for the King of Clubs." The spectator will eventually run out of cards.
10 Indicating the out-jogged card say, "Neither one of us knows at this point if this card is the one you predicted or if there simply was no King of Clubs in this deck." Slowly rotate the jogged card out of the deck and hold it at your right fingertips. "You understand the risk here? If your prediction is wrong, you're gonna look kinda bad. But if your prediction is right, I'm gonna look very, very good. That being the case, which would be fairer: if I turn it over or if you do?" Get the spectator to agree to turn over the card.
11 Place the face-down card onto the face of the face-up deck, jogged to the right for half its width. Hold out your right hand to illustrate how the spectator is to hold out his.
12 "Hold out your hand." While you're doing this and he moves to comply, loosen the bottom card in preparation for a Bottom Deal. When the spectator has his hand out, execute a Back Right Bottom Deal with a full wrist turn, extracting the bottom card at the near right corner. In other words, hold onto the card you intend to deal with your right fingers and move the left hand away, turning it palm down as it leaves. Don't look at your hands and don't rush. Your patter, however, should continue quickly: "Keep your first finger on the card but don't look yet. I don't want to be too close when it happens." Place the dealt card onto the spectator's palm, gesturing with your left first finger to show how he is to put a finger on its back.
NOTE: The later evolution of my Back Right Bottom Deal, without the loosening or the Full wrist turn, appears in Piisteboard Perpensions (page 19). The earlier version, described above, is better suited to this effect but has less general utility. Habit being a powerful force, I still use the Back Right Take, as described, with the heavy wrist turn, but I no longer loosen the bottom card unless the cards feel notably sticky. The Daley Left-Take, Left-hand Bottom Deal, cited earlier, or the Jennings T.N.T. Bottom Deal from Dai Vernon's Revelations (1984, page ii) and The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings (1986, page 141) would serve almost as well.
13 As you step away, move your left thumb to the back of the reversed card on the deck. Pull that card to the left, riding it around the left edge of the pack (Figure 175) as you partially turn the deck face down in your hand. The action is like the beginning of a Hofcinser-Herrmann Pass: Your left fingers, at the right side, pull down on the side of the deck, rotating it until the side of the deck lies flat against the face of the reversed card (Figure 176). You can then pull the reversed card around the side of the deck, revolving it face up and sliding it under the face-up deck (Figure 177). Allow the deck to settle face up, back into dealing position (Figure 178). Performed as your hand falls to your side and as you make a body turn to the left it is well covered but it is not an invisible move.
Pretend the spectator has said something and respond, "You know, you're right, we both shared the risk, we should both share the reward. It's only fair." Turn the deck up where you can see its face. Look at the faces of the cards again as you approach your helper. "King of Clubs, hum." With a sense of trepidation, say, "Go ahead, look." As soon as the spectator turns up the card, give him the Queen Anne salute. In other words, drop to one knee and bow your head as though you were about to be knighted. It's a rather exaggerated bow that also shows humility.
NOTES: If you are performing walk-around and don't want to re-stack the deck after every performance, it takes only minor patter adjustment to convert this effect to a standard Open Prediction treatment. It works well in that form also.
If you are confident in your ability, you can do the effect without a stack. I have on occasion. As you start talking about making predictions, spread the deck between your hands, looking at the faces as if you're considering which card you might predict. When the spectator states his choice, pretend not to hear it. Actually, locate the card, get a break above it and perform a Turnover Pass as you drop your hands saying, "And your prediction is...?"
Execute a Top Palm and hand the deck to the spectator to shuffle. Do the Simulated Shuffle Palm Cover with your right hand a few times and conclude with a Palm Transfer to left-hand Gambler's Cop. (This sequence is fully detailed on page 188.) It is a pattern I use a lot, so I am confident of its deceptiveness. It appears to show both hands empty. Pick up the action at Step 4, placing your hands behind your back and loading the card into your sleeve.
There is a tendency to feel guilty when you deal the bottom card. The action is under surprisingly little scrutiny. Remember, the spectator thinks he's seen every card you're holding. As long as he's convinced your hands are empty except for the deck, a switch would explain nothing, so he's not looking for one.
This is one they'll talk about. After all, you told them how good it would be. Don't be surprised when they agree.
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