June 4 1990

THIS TECHNIQUE was developed for my "Kannibal Kings" routine (see Stop Fooling Us!, page 11). It is based on an item titled "Cul-de-Sac," which appears in Ken Krenzel's Close-Up Impact! (1990, page 154). The broad method is Kens, the technique and application are mine. As a historical note, my treatment is more familially related to the Depth Illusion, popularly known as Tilt, than is Ken's. Nevertheless, my treatment would not exist without Ken's idea as inspiration. It is worth mention that in neither of Ken's methods is the card that vanishes actually between the cards from which it vanishes at the time of the vanish; it only appears to be. This guides the direction in which the performer concludes the sequence. (Ken causes the card to reappear, while in my sequence the vanish is seemingly permanent.) The condition employed in Ken's technique precludes showing the bottom of the enveloping cards immediately before the vanish while mine solidly supports it. In this respect, my technique expands the performer's options. It permits the bottom of the lower card to be shown until the last moment—the card that vanishes is actually sandwiched. If you're currently performing a Cannibal Card routine—mine or another, wherein the "missionary" is inserted crosswise between the Cannibals—try adding this sequence. If you're developing your own routine consider this vanish.

EFFECT: A card inserted crosswise between four others (only two are essential) is seen to vanish when it is pushed through the packet and fails to emerge from the other side. The packet is then shown to still contain only four cards. The inserted card has vanished completely.

SET-UP: After performing the now standard Mario Chewing Move (the comic action of bowing the cards of the packet in opposite directions and flexing

them open and shut to simulate chewing), allow the packet to close into the cross-formation shown in Figure 303. The right hand should be holding the packet as shown, effectively in Overhand Grip, with the missionary card protruding from both long sides. Obviously, if you are performing another effect (such as Elmsley's "Point of Departure" or an assembly-type routine) you may want to offer another reason for this configuration.

The left hand grasps the packet between the second finger below and thumb above at the near left corner. The right second finger and thumb then grasp the far left corner in the same grip (Figure 304).

Bend your right fourth finger in and under the protruding, crosswise card, contacting the underside (Figure 304 again). This position prepares you to lift the near end of the upper cards. All will appear normal from the front, and it is, but you'll actually set up a V-formation, a Tilt-like configuration.

Rotate the packet clockwise ninety degrees, bringing its long edges toward the audience. As you perform this rotation, your right fourth finger pushes the crosswise card up as it enters under it, much as it would if you were forming a fourth-finger wedge break (Figure 305). The crosswise card should not separate from the upper two cards. Your left fourth finger moves into the break so that the left hand assumes the mirror image on the left side of the packet to the right hand's grip on the right.

The first fingers of both hands extend to contact the sides of the protruding card and push it out until its near end is completely under the upper cards and within the packet (Figure 306).

Bend the wrists downward. When the hands have moved down until the bottom cards of the packet are parallel with the floor, move both first fingers to the far edge of the protruding card and push it flush with the front edge of the packet. It will appear to vanish (be digested) because it does not appear to emerge on the opposite side of the packet. This is due purely to perspective. From your view, the card clearly protrudes from the back of the packet (Figure 308, in which the angle of the lower cards has been exaggerated for clarity); but because of the secret angling of the cards in the packet, the crosswise card is invisible to your audience (Figure 309). Pause a moment to make a comment that highlights the vanish. In the Kannibal routine I say, "They're digesting their meal."

Bend your wrists upward to flash the bottom of the packet, simultaneously moving your fourth fingers back, allowing the crosswise card to slide off them. The fourth fingers will now contact the back of the crosswise card but are below the upper lengthwise cards (Figure 307, an exposed view). Don't hold this position for long.

NOTE: The angles on this technique are somewhat misleading. They are very similar to Tilt in the vertical plane but are more critical on the horizontal plane. Both hands screen the sides to compensate. A mirror will provide reasonably accurate feedback on the horizontal angles but not on the vertical angles. A video camera provides accurate guidance on both angles, but the errors in depth perception make the illusion appear less convincing than it is to the naked eye.

I have debated whether it is better to make the push fast or slow. In some applications, a slow dramatic push might make sense. In a routine such as the Kannibals, it would be, I believe, dramatically out of character. In my experience, a quick push followed by a brief pause produces a startled reaction. The spectators' minds reel and question what they are seeing. Continuing as I'll describe serves to confirm that what the audience has seen was a visual vanish. It is like seeing a special effect in a movie. Still, an audience has no frame of reference for what a vanish looks like, so it remains to be demonstrated that it has occurred.

Continuing—with the left first finger, apply upward pressure on the extreme front edge of the packet, to hold it closed. Release the right hand's grip on the packet and use this hand to gesture to the right. If there are spectators on your right side, keep your right arm between the cards and the audience. You may also turn the left hand clockwise slightly at the wrist. This helps to prevent the spectators from seeing the V-opening or the protruding card. The left hand still screens the left side of the packet.

With your right hand, regrasp the packet, assuming the same position as the left hand. Move the left hand away, turning the right hand counterclockwise at the wrist and exerting upward pressure on the front edge with the right first finger. This action parallels what you did on the other side.

As your left hand returns to the packet, place your left thumb on the front edge but extend your left: third finger under the protruding card and contact the right edge of the near corner of the crosswise card (Figure 310). Move your right hand forward and to the left. This causes the packet to rotate counterclockwise as the left third finger pulls the crosswise card by its edge, causing it to rotate clockwise. The packet will end up in an elongated condition with the vanished card heavily in-jogged but hidden by the left hand (Figure 311).

Your right hand squares the packet, clips it between its first two fingers and turns it face up, end over end, to assume position for an Ascanio Spread. When I'm performing the Kannibals, I say, "If the chef has done his job properly, if the meat is tender and juicy, you'll always hear—" Pause and pop or snap the packet—"a burp."

Finish by performing the Ascanio Spread to show that the card has vanished. (As I've discussed the technique for the Ascanio Spread at length in my Stop Fooling Us! lecture notes, page 18,1 will not do so here.)

NOTES: Practice the sequence for smoothness. The angles are not nearly as critical as they might seem, but there should be no fidgeting in the handling. Your grip changes must be sure and efficient.

This vanish demonstrates an odd phenomenon. While the event is clearly visual, a vanish ultimately occurs on an intellectual level more than on a visual one. This is true in spite of the fact that the vanish is recognized visually. I mention this because some people will not realize, react to or accept that the vanish has occurred until you perform the Ascanio Spread. You cannot count on a response until the moment the Spread is complete. It is as though the mind can't process the visual data, so it waits for intellectual confirmation. This can really mess with some people's heads. Don't be surprised if you hear a lot of comments about it from your lay audiences. It's great in the retelling as well.

a refinement for the bluff shift

May 7, 1991

ON Saturday, May 4, 1991, I had a brief conversation with Eric DeCamps. During that conversation, he described and demonstrated two versions of the Bluff Shift: he had seen Roger Klause perform at a then recent Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic. I found the "new" concepts Roger had incorporated into his handling of this venerable technique very interesting. It was during my experiments with what I understood to be Roger's ideas (see Roger Klause: In Concert, 1991, page 131) that I developed my own thinking. My modifications are, I believe, genuine improvements on the line of thinking fostered by Roger Klause. As my publisher, Stephen Minch, points out, Roger seemed unaware that lifting off no cards in the Bluff Shift was the original handling offered by Frederick Montague in 1928 (Westminster Wizardry, page 75). In a phone conversation in September 1998, Roger confirmed this was the case. He believed, with good reason, that the Bluff Shift, lifting one or several cards as cover, came from Tommy Tucker in 1936, as indeed it did {What Next!, page 24). Roger thought, however, that lifting no cards was original with him. Frankly, while I had long been aware of the idea of performing the Bluff Shift lifting no cards—having first learned it that way—I had not known its published origin. It is now noted for posterity.

Roger also believes, I think correctly, that his technique for creating a "persistence of vision" in the lift-off process is original with him. Whatever the exact details of Roger's contribution, he has clearly advanced the development of elements that significantly enhance the visual illusion created by the Bluff Shift, and he inspired my further analysis. Thanks Roger; had you not

accented the bevel and dribble actions, I would probably not have revisited this technique, and the fraternity would not have the improved tool I think this description records.


The Bluff Shift is usually used as a Pass substitute that controls a selection to the top or second from top of a deck. It is less frequently thought of as a variation of the Riffle Force, though it can be used in that way as well, forcing a card at any desired position. I will initially describe my technical refinements for the move as it is most often employed, as a Control. I'll then discuss its use in other applications. Since it will be described as a Control, we will assume that a card has been selected. The description begins as you prepare to have it returned.

Hold the deck in your left hand in what is called Erdnase Grip: the first two fingers on the front edge, with your left second fingertip very near the front right corner of the deck. Finally, put a pronounced front and right bevel into the deck, until the front edge of the top card aligns with the tip of your left thumb when it is extended along the left side of the deck (Figure 312). This position will vary slightly from hand to hand.

Turn your body slightly to the right, after which you twist at the waist, back to the left, just past center. This will give you a minor angle advantage in a moment. Curl your left first finger under the deck and slowly riffle your left thumb down the left, beveled side as you would when doing a Riffle Force. Ask the spectator who previously selected a card to call "Stop." Make a point of stopping exacdy where commanded. Use your left thumb to push the lower packet down, opening the deck.

Bring your right hand over the deck and place your second fingertip at the front left corner of the upper packet. The remainder of the fingers should screen the front edge of the entire deck. The left and right fingers adjust the cards above the point where you were stopped, beveling them to the left, before applying inward pressure to bevel them back toward you (Figure 313).

Several actions now occur simultaneously:

(a) The right hand slightly exaggerates applying the pressure required to lift and carry off the upper packet. Don't overdo it—which is a common "tell"—you should just add a little emphasis. The right hand actually lifts either one card or none and moves back toward you, coming to rest near your chest. The hand should be parallel to the floor. Many who use the Bluff Shift angle the hand downward heavily when holding one card. I assume this is to show as much of the back of the card as possible. However, it is unnecessary; and, to magicians, though not to lay people, it alerts them to the likelihood the Bluff Shift is being employed. It is your left hand that should tilt slighdy downward, not your right (Figure 314).

(b) At the same time your right hand rises, your left thumb relaxes, quietly closing its gap in the outer left corner of the deck.

(c) This is tricky to describe but easy to do, extend your left fingers above the top of the deck. The easiest way to clarify what you must do is to explain what it accomplishes. If you hold a deck in your hand with all the fingertips roughly level with the top, which is normal, lifting off a portion would leave a part of each fingertip above the top of the lower packet. Usually, we adjust our grip, without thinking about it, to bring the fingertips level again with the top. In this case, you extend your fingertips above the top, simulating their positions if a portion had been lifted off, as though you hadn't readjusted. Try the honest actions and you'll understand what you need to do.

(d) Finally, relax, allowing your body to turn naturally to the right as you extend the left hand for the return of the selection.

NOTE: Frederick Montague described the simulation of diminished thickness through the extension of the left fingers above the top surface of the deck in his description of the original Bluff Shift. Here we have embellished this illusion by adding a combination of bevels and a slightly rightward orientation of the body. The actions of the hands, reinforced by the visual cues, make the illusion quite convincing. It is possible and sometimes desirable to alter the size of the portion of the deck that you bevel inward. When you are stopped near the middle of the deck there is little point in doing so. The size of the back- and left-beveled portion dictates the size of the portion the viewers will believe remains. Thus, if you want to make it appear that a small packet has been lifted off, you would bevel back a large portion of the left hands cards. Conversely, if you want it to appear a large portion has been lifted off (leaving a smaller one in the left hand), you would bevel back only a small portion of the deck. As you practice the technique, you will find that once the thumb lets its gap in the deck close at the front left corner, the right fingers can easily adjust the number of cards they include in the beveled group.

Once the selection has been placed onto the left hand's cards you must convincingly simulate adding back the packet of cards the right hand supposedly holds. In fact, either one or no cards will be added back. The best illusion of this occurring is accomplished by combining visual and audible simulation with visual reinforcement. To accomplish this, the right hand moves to the deck as though it contained a packet of cards. The right first finger should be lightly curled above the card, or supposed card, the right hand holds. At the same time, the left hand moves sharply up toward the right hand. As the hands meet, the right first finger should solidly strike the top card of the deck. This produces a noise very similar to the sound of one packet being slapped on top of another. Here too, there is a tendency toward excess. Try actually doing it and you'll find it makes just a little noise. (In a noisy environment this touch is irrelevant.)

As soon as the hands meet, the right hand slightly lifts all the cards that you previously beveled back, unbevels them and slides them forward as a block. They end up in a slightly out-jogged position (Figure 315). Grip the deck between the right first finger at the left front corner and the right thumb at the left near corner. This causes the deck to form a diagonal

step as shown in Figure 316. Immediately raise the deck to the left fingertips and grip it at its sides, near the middle, between your left second finger and thumb. This pressure changes the step to what Mario has termed an X-step, and locks it. The step should be fairly pronounced, visible to anyone looking at the deck (Figure 317).

step as shown in Figure 316. Immediately raise the deck to the left fingertips and grip it at its sides, near the middle, between your left second finger and thumb. This pressure changes the step to what Mario has termed an X-step, and locks it. The step should be fairly pronounced, visible to anyone looking at the deck (Figure 317).

Pause just long enough to deliver some comment; then scrupulously square the deck. The selected card is on top or second from the top, depending on which version of the Bluff Shift you've executed.

NOTE: All this jogging and squaring can be dispensed with, but they wordlessly convey that there was something in the middle of the deck that could have been used to locate where the card was returned. At the same time, you don't want to suggest that you could, would or might need to do so. You are not thumbing your nose as though to say, "See what I can do." You are changing the moment when the spectators lose track of the card, thereby changing their perception of where they last saw it. If they notice the jog and step, they almost can't help but do so. Should they fail to see or appreciate these techniques, it costs you nothing. I might mention that many performers have taken to using a touch of Tommy Tucker's: They lift off a portion of the deck and dribble it back onto the remainder, leaving the audience with a last image of roughly half the deck being dribbled onto the selection. This is a useful ploy but far less subtle than the step, and probably excessive if the Bluff Shift is to be employed repeatedly. The technique described here offers an alternative that can be used in addition to or in conjunction with the dribble feint.

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