October 1966 ALPHA

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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IN 1958, Paul LePaul illustrated and published a collection of effects by Brother Hamman titled " The Card Magic of Brother John Hamman SM." This small booklet contains a largely overlooked routine, unimpressively titled "The Chameleon Colors" (page 37). By early 1966, when I began playing with the plot as defined by Hamman, most of those who had been intrigued by the broad effect had latched onto another version of this plot, which follows it in the booklet. This routine, a structural forerunner of Peter Kane's "Watch the Ace" and Frank Garcia's "Wild Card," is named "The Mystic Nine." I remained fond of Hamman's less elaborate "Chameleon Colors," which, as I see it, is more closely related to Dr. Reinhard Rohnstein's "Follow the Leader" plot but is better structured theatrically. In its Chameleon-Colors form, the plot is relatively little explored, but I continue to find its straightforward procedure and strong climax produce excellent reactions from lay audiences. I believe you will be likewise persuaded.

EFFECT: A deck is openly separated into a red cards and blacks. The black half of the deck is tabled while the red half is retained in the hands. The performer turns up one of the black cards on the table and deals a number of red cards onto it. After an appropriate magical gesture, they are shown to have changed, chameleon-like, into black cards. The process is then reversed: The red cards are isolated on the table while the black cards are taken in hand. A red card is placed face up on the table and black cards are dealt onto it. They change to red. These red cards are added to and mixed with the black half, causing all the blacks to change to red. The isolated red packet is then shown to have changed to black.

SET-UP: Arrange the deck from the top down, with all the black cards followed by all the reds, except for one black card second from the face. That black card should be the mate of the card at the face of the run of blacks (Figure 114). The black card second from the face should be crimped at the near end. The order of my deck as I write this is, from face to back: indifferent red card-Seven of Clubs (crimped at the near end)-twenty-five reds-Seven of

Spread the deck face up across the table, pointing out the separation of the colors but concealing the black card second from the face by leaving the last few cards at that end clumped together. Because the card that starts the run of blacks tends to draw the attention of the audience, it may be vaguely recalled by some. It is for this reason that you make the card second from the face the mate to the card that begins the run of blacks. As you'll see, if you use the effect with any frequency, it is a small detail; but it can be quite helpful with an observant audience.

As you pick up the spread, openly obtain a large break between the reds and blacks. However, in reality the break should be one card off. One card—in our case the Seven of Spades—should be above the break, although it is a black card. The arrangement of the cards in your hands will be, from the face: red card-Seven of Clubs-twenty-five red cards-Seven of Spades-break-twenty-four black cards.

We are about to execute what I refer to as the De-Flourished Ossip Slip Cut. Other Slip Cut techniques may work as well but I find this one reliable and particularly convincing in this context. Alignment reliability is a particularly important consideration when the deck is face up, and many Slip Cut techniques make it difficult to assure that the alignment of the slipped card is maintained. As you will see, this technique makes it easy to ensure such alignment. It is performed as follows:


With the deck in left-hand Dealing Grip, openly hold a break near the middle. In this circumstance, the break will be just below the Seven of Spades but typically you can just pull open the deck with your left fourth finger at any point.

Your right hand approaches the deck at the near right corner, with the thumb above and the first and second fingers below. The thumb should be poised to enter the deck at the point where the break is held. The fingers should appear to be ready to go below the deck. It should seem that you are about to take the lower, black packet into Pinch Grip (Figure 115). Neither the fingers nor the thumb actually enter the deck. Rather, just before the right thumb and fingers meet the deck, tip it back as you would in a necktie deal, and allow the right thumb to fall lightly on top of the deck at the near right corner, and the fingers to enter the deck at the break. Without pause, apply downward pressure with the left thumb on the face of the deck and draw the uppermost card and the lower packet forward and to the left (Figure 116), as is usual in a ^ ^ Slip Cut. As soon as the single upper card—a red one—has cleared the near right corner of the upper packet, tighten the right thumb's grip on the cards beneath it. This is the original upper packet minus its covering red card. Note that the black card second from the face (the Seven of Clubs), which now shows on the face of the right-hand packet, is the mate of the card on the face of the black section, the card that was at the division between the reds and blacks (the Seven of Spades). Thus, after the cut, should anyone happen to notice, the cut will likely appear to have been honest.

At this point, you will be holding half the deck at the tips of your right thumb and fingers and half of the deck in left-hand Dealing Grip. It should appear that you are holding the original upper red half in your left hand. Your right hand should appear to hold the original lower black packet.


Carry the right-hand packet to the table and lightly tap the left edge on the tabletop, then hinge the cards face down onto the table. It should appear that you have simply removed the black half from under the red half and tabled it. All appears innocent and fair.

NOTE: For many years, on Thursday evenings, David Ossip regularly visited Lou Tannen's magic store in New York City. This small-statured, kind and gentle man did only a handful of effects and routines, each with his own touches, each delightful in its way. He did each exceptionally well and engagingly. Among the techniques he devised and used was a flourish-like treatment of the Slip Cut, which was the key move in his favorite production of four Kings. I'm not aware that either his routine or his Slip Cut technique have been published, but Daves technique led to mine. While the Slip Cut technique described in the context of this routine is based on Dave's, it does not retain the flourish-like handling that defined the Ossip technique. In any case, I probably couldn't do justice to describing the manner of Dave's execution of the technique. I miss Dave, his impish performances and his enthusiastic encouragement. I have no doubt he's charming his heavenly audiences and I hope he is pleased by what he inspired.

To recap, the face-down tabled packet is, from the top down, the Seven of Spades, twenty-five red cards, then the Seven of Clubs. The packet in the left hand, which is still face up, has an indifferent red card followed by twenty-four black cards. Turning your attention to this left-hand packet, turn it face down and give it a casual Overhand Shuffle, maintaining the bottom card in place. As you're shuffling the cards, your patter should introduce the premise of what you're about to do.

With the right hand, remove the top card of the tabled packet, the Seven of Spades, turning it face up, and lay it on the table in front of you.

Deal five or six cards from the face-down left-hand packet onto the face-up black card. You have some flexibility in how many cards you deal and you should take advantage of this by allowing your spectators to help decide the number dealt. This adds room for some by-play and lends some credibility to the asserted logic.

Rub the face-down cards on the face of the black card as you comment, "If I deal red cards onto a black card, a strange thing sometimes happens." Turn the left hand palm down and use the extended left first finger as a stop to aid your right hand in picking up the face-down cards you've dealt. This will flash the red card on the face of the left hand's packet. Fan the right hand's cards as you turn them face up, revealing the change to black. Lay them face up on top of the face-up black card on the table. You continue, "They turn black."

8 Your left hand should by now have turned palm up again. With a Double Undercut, transfer the bottom card to the top as you place the packet to your left on the table, near its edge.

NOTE: You can, as an alternative, deal a Bottom on the last card, then change your mind and put it back on top of the deck. This will eliminate the need for the Double Undercut to bring the red card to the top of the packet. You could also shuffle the red card to eighth position from the top before you begin to deal. In using either of these approaches you'll lose the flash of the bottom card described in Step 7. Finally, you can execute a Side Steal to bring the bottom card to the top as you square the cards, before tabling the packet. This preserves the flash of the bottom card without adding a weakly justified rearrangement of the packet. The one thing you don't want to do is make it apparent that one card is being displaced, as this would tend to tip off the ruse being employed.

9 Pick up the tabled half deck the audience believes to contain all black cards. Square them and turn them face up. Pick up all the face-up blacks from the table, add them to the face of the packet and turn the assembled packet face down.

; Give it a brief Overhand Shuffle, maintaining all the blacks on the bottom.

10 Turn up the top card from the face-down tabled portion of the deck and place jc'/' i it in front of you on the table. It will be a red card, though the remainder of the packet is black.

11 Deal five or six cards from the left-hand portion onto the tabled face-up card. ¡Viij Again, the number is flexible, allowing for by-play. Say, "Remember, those cards y came from here." Turn the cards in you hand over and casually spread the first few cards, being careful not to reveal any red ones.

12 Perform the magical rubbing gesture you did in Step 7, then reveal the black V f cards you've dealt have changed to red. Allow them to fall face up onto the table and let the effect register.

13 Pick up all the red cards lying face up on the table and shove them, as a unit, 0 into the left-hand packet. This should appear a casual action but be careful not to push them into the bottom stock of blacks. As you square the packet, pick up a break above the black cards. This is facilitated by the crimp in the uppermost black one.

14 Shuffle the upper bank of red cards while maintaining the break above the blacks. If you use an Overhand Shuffle, this is easy. As you shuffle the cards, comment, "The strangest thing of all is that if you mix the reds in with the blacks, sometimes..." Square the cards and steal the blacks in Gambler's Cop as your right hand moves to the table, turning the packet face up. As you spread these cards, say, "...all the blacks turn red. This gives me too damn many red cards, a completely unacceptable situation. It's a good thing..." Slide the other packet off the table adding the copped cards below them, "...that all the reds turn black." Turn the packet face up and spread them below the spread of red cards. Accept your audience's approbation

CLOSING NOTES: I've developed and used other handlings for this routine at various times. I have elected not to include them. Each would appear essentially identical to an audience. The effect is simple for an audience to understand, but it is important that the isolation of the packets be clear throughout the process. If this is kept in mind, the audience's level of conviction about the composition of each half should be unambiguous. The greater the audience's conviction, the stronger the audience's response. Sell the cleanness of the handling and you'll be impressed with the response it receives.

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