October 17 1973 ALPHA

this is the type of effect that reads terribly but plays quite well. I suspect that "Out of This World," the wonderful Paul Curry effect, might have read as dull as this one does. If you've done "Out of This World," or any of its variations, you know how strong it is for lay audiences; so at least consider this effect.

What is offered here is based on the Stewart James (no relation) effect "Miraskill," which appeared in The Jinx, No. 24, September 1936, page 147 (it can also be found on page 102 of Stewart James in Print: The First Fifty Years, 1989). For those who have forgotten, "Miraskill" is usually presented as a prediction effect. Typically, the prediction is something like "You will have three more reds than blacks." Such a prediction always seemed too mathematical to me, and the usual presentation, unlike "Out of This World," is rather impersonal. The following approach addresses both these problems with the original, extremely clever, effect.

The treatment is based on a collection of old ideas and a few new ones that were put together at one of those long, late-night sessions we've all had at one time or other. Irv Wiener—one of the warmest, kindest, most genuinely lovable men I've met through magic, and a brilliant magical thinker—was my co-creator for this effect. Frankly, I've long ago lost track of who contributed what, but here it is.

EFFECT: The performer offers to bestow on the assisting spectator the power of divination. She is told she may accept or reject this power (though she really doesn't have a choice). Without knowing any more about the effect, it should raskill already be clear why this presentation is more emotionally engaging than the traditional one. From a shuffled deck, the spectator chooses about two-thirds of the cards. After making sure there is an even number in the chosen group, the spectator removes pairs of cards, segregating them into red, black and mixed-color pair-groups, until all the cards have been paired and sorted. Precisely as the performer predicted would happen if the spectator accepted the offered power of divination, there are exactly the same number of red pairs of cards as there are black pairs.

Have a spectator shuffle the deck and divide it into three packets of relatively equal size. Permit her a free choice of any two of the three packets and combine the two chosen packets into one.

Pick up the remaining third of the deck, which you explain you will count to determine if the other two piles contain an equal number of cards. You explain that you could count her cards directly, but you don't want to handle them. Also state that it will become apparent why an even number is important as the effect proceeds.

As rapidly as you can, silendy count the packet face up between your hands, slightly down-jogging all the cards of the color opposite the color of the card on the face. There should only be about sixteen to eighteen cards, so it shouldn't take long; but instead of counting in the normal manner, count as follows: Whatever the color of the card on the face, count it as one. Let's assume this card is red. If the next card is also red, the count becomes two. If, however, the next card is black, the count becomes zero. Let's assume the second card is red, so we've counted two. And if the next three cards are black, the count becomes one, then zero, then minus one. This procedure continues until the packet is completely counted. In short, you add one for each red card (that is, each card matching the color of the card at the face of the packet) and subtract one for each black card (each card opposite in color to the card at the face). With a little practice, the whole process can be done as quickly as straight counting. Remember, slightly down-jog all the cards of the color opposite that of the face card.

The count will yield one of three results: a positive number, zero or a negative number (n, 0, or -n). A positive number means more cards of the same color as the card on the face of the packet in means red in our example), zero means the same number of reds as blacks; and a negative number means more cards of the opposite color from that on the face of the packet (—ri). In our example, a negative number would indicate there are more blacks than reds. If the count is zero, proceed to Step 6. If the total is, for example, four, you must transfer four cards of the same color as the card at the face of your packet to the spectator's group. If the count was minus three you'd transfer three blacks. Perform a Strip-Out

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