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After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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In late 1974, I was in Chicago doing a trade show when I had the opportunity to get together with a devoted local amateur with whom I'd met previously, while he was visiting New York. His name is Mike Kozlowski (best known for his manuscript, The $100 Bill Switch). During our session he showed me an idea he said Al Schneider was experimenting with and asked my opinion. I suggested that the idea seemed a good one but that only experimentation would prove how good. That idea, which I dubbed "The Intention Force" in my notes, has been in my arsenal ever since. The effect in which I most often use it is included here for the first time. I almost didn't include it in deference to the idea and its creator. Though it had been well over twenty years since I learned of it, it still had not been published. Fortunately, I've was able to arrange a conversation with Al Schneider, whom I've never met, during which he gave me his blessing in releasing the idea. I've avoided using the effect around magicians; but, at the right time, for a group of intelligent lay people, using the approach I'll describe, it is a heart stopper. Even if the Force doesn't work, this effect comes about as close to mind manipulation as mental magic ever appears to get.

You must be seated for this effect. You will need a full deck without a Joker. A

j Joker would allow a potentially inconvenient choice, were the spectator to think

| of it, and is, therefore, best not included. The deck need not be in any order and,

¡ therefore, can be genuinely shuffled by you or a spectator. While the shuffling is

¡ being done, patter about different people giving off unique vibrations with their j voice that are as good an identification as fingerprints. Upon return of the deck,

1 spread through it looking for a group of seven to nine cards of one color with

¡ one card of the opposite color in the center of the group. If you fail to find such

| a group, which is probable, create one.

¡ There is almost always a group of at least three cards of the same color together

| in the deck. Almost as often, there will be a four-card run of the same color, f (If not, the approach I'm about to detail will allow you to create such a group.

I Essentially, you just up-jog the cards that don't belong in the group.) The

| naturally occurring or created three- or four-card group and the contrasting card to the right of it form the core of the stack. Cut the contrasting card to the face, leaving whatever cards you've up-jogged in place. Now spread the top cards of the deck. Within the top few cards there will be a mix of cards of both colors. Up-jog those cards of the same color as the card on the face of the deck. You will rarely have to up-jog more than three or four cards before achieving your goal. Next spread through the deck until you locate the mate of the card on the face and up-jog it also. Strip out the group of up-jogged cards and table the deck.

The stack is in but not yet positioned, and you're holding a small group of cards in your hands. The idea conveyed to the spectators should be that you've narrowed the possibilities down to these few. Tabling the deck at this point shifts the focus off it and, therefore, away from the utility of a stack. The notion is that if you haven't yet decided which card to predict you haven't set up anything. This subtle logic is probably missed by most spectators, but it's an easy way to arrange this type of stack and the subtlety allows me to feel I've been conscientious in the construction.

Look at a spectator who is sitting exacdy center, or slightly to your right of center, or slightly left of your center, in that order of preference. (These positions relate to the optimal use of the Intention Force, which I'll describe shortly.) Ask the spectator to state his or her name, city of residence and occupation so that you may hear the person's voice vibrations. (You can ask for other information if you want to have fun with it, but do so tastefully.) From the group you hold, remove the mate to the contrasting card in your set-up and place it face down slightly to the right and about ten to twelve inches from the table edge, with one end of the card turned toward you.

NOTE: If you're working at a small table, when you remove your prediction and set it down, place it in front of you. You'll use a different technique at a small table, so the long edges of the card should run parallel with the near edge of the table. The near edge of the card should be at least two to three inches from the table edge but, depending on angle considerations (discussed later), not more than six inches.

Insert the remaining cards of the small group you hold into the middle of the tabled deck, then cut the deck below center, which positions your stack above center. This should appear very casual; it is not a secret move and you're not trying to prove anything. Your patter during this process should be similar to the following: "There are some things I do as a magician that are scary. I almost feel as if I'm tampering with primeval forces. This may frighten you too. You'll know if it frightened you because you'll want to deny what you've seen. You'll try to tell yourself it's a fluke, an accident, a coincidence—but a part of your mind, the part that knows, will know."

Turn the deck face up and pause. Indicating the card you've placed on the table, say, "By the way, that's a prediction." You can also explain that the card you removed seemed to give off vibrations compatible with those you detected from your assisting spectator and that you would like to try an experiment. Spread the face-up deck widely across the table so the contrasting card ends up slightly left of your center line. The spread shouldn't be particularly neat. The important thing is that most of the card indices show and it should be clear that they do.


Look at the assisting spectator, making eye contact, and gesture with your right hand as you say, as off-handedly as possible, "Just think of any card you see and look away." Coordinated with the word think, allow your right hand to drop so that it points toward the middle of the group of cards that contains the contrasting card. Allow your eyes to glance briefly at the Force card. Immediately lift your hand and look back at the spectator, re-establishing eye contact as he immediately looks up again, per your instructions. Don't wait! As soon as the spectator looks at the spread—by which time you should have completed the line—look at the spectator and state dogmatically, "You've got one! What is it?"

If the card taken is the mate of your prediction, your job is done but the effect continues to its predestined conclusion.

NOTE: The idea of incorporating a bold and direct (yet, in its way, subtle) gesture toward the card you intend the spectator to choose is the essence of the Schneider concept. The coordination of that gesture and the instruction to think of a card, together constitute the Intention Force as it was shown to me twenty-five years ago. Some of the details, including the arrangement of the single contrasting card in the middle of six to eight cards of the opposite color, and the instruction to immediately "look away," are discoveries I've made during my years of using it. Using all the little tips I've included in the description, I find the force works about eight out of ten times for lay audiences. I don't have a large enough sampling of performances for magicians to be definitive, but I'd estimate only three out of ten. It works better on women than on men, but all bets are off when the lighting is bad. I once did a hospitality suite for a company that had the misguided idea of making their room seem like a bar. The lighting was so subdued you could scarcely see beyond the light thrown off by the candles on the tables. I missed five for five that night, the worst run I can recall, before I pulled it from that evening's repertoi re. In sum, try it under fair conditions before deciding if it works for you. It has made performing this effect much easier for me.

If your Force card is not chosen, as the face-up card is being removed by the spectator, look for its mate in the spread. Usually, locating the mate is easy but every so often you'll have trouble spotting it. You'll need to be able to "vamp" while you look, as inconspicuously as possible, for the card. I'm naturally pretty good at dealing with such situations extemporaneously, but it's a good idea to script what you will say during such potential lulls. I'd suggest saying something about how the spectator could have named various other cards, even naming a few, but not the mate of their card. As soon as you spot the mate, end your monologue with something like, "...but you're happy with your choice." Write out five or six lines in your own style. That should be enough to cover you in the event of trouble.

When you find the mate, use your left hand to begin scooping up the spread from left to right. The left thumb should be above the spread, and the fingers below it. The scoop action should be performed in one smooth movement but without rushing. As the spread is being gathered, place your left thumb on the face of the card just to the left of the mate to the selection. A bit of practice will teach you how to time the action so it looks completely innocent yet allows you to "mark" the position of the card with your thumb. At the completion of the scoop, there should be two blocks, the top one jogged to the right of the lower one, the left thumb on the left side of the face of the lower packet (Figure 318). In a continuing action, allow the left hand to turn palm down. What was the upper block should fall face down onto the table. This should appear unplanned. The left thumb and fingers still hold a block. Turn the left hand palm up and take the block into dealing position, face down. With your right hand immediately reach for the face-down portion on the table, pick it up and deposit it onto the cards in the left hand. Since the cards will be unsquared, square them up. As you do so, palm the top card. (I use Vernon's Topping the Deck from Select Secrets, 1941, page 7.)

NOTE: Occasionally your thumb will land on the mate itself rather than the card to its left. To avoid a lot of fidgeting in an attempt to correct the position, before or after the scoop, use a Side Steal to get the card into your right palm (see the WJ Side Steal, page 181).

During this pick-up and squaring process you continue to patter: "Remember I told you this was scary? Every time I do it and it works, I get a chill. I believe I've controlled your mind." Here you can substitute, "I've predicted your actions," or "I've correctly read your vibrations." Add, "It doesn't feel like I did anything, does it?" Regardless of what the spectator says, continue, "I warned you that you wouldn't want to believe it. You did exactly what I thought you'd do."

rect, just push the prediction card to the spectator and have it turned over. '

If the prediction is wrong, extend your ¿¡Bffifc--- - ^'

right hand, containing the palmed card, ^

toward the tabled card, your fingers pointed toward the middle of it. Just as the hand is about to contact the card, straighten the fingers and bring your palm down over it so the far edge of the card is fully under the palm, but just barely so (Figure 319). With absolutely no break in timing, slide your hand forward as you extend your arm in a pushing action, releasing the palmed card. The palmed card will glide across the table to the spectator. Immediately open your fingers a bit. As you perform these actions, say, "Turn it over and look at it." As soon as the spectator reaches for the card you've pushed forward, sit back and relax. You can then slide your hands back along the table until the card under your hand falls into your lap. At no point should you attempt to palm the card. It can be done but it's an unnecessary risk when you're seated.

NOTE: The above described technique is heavily based upon Mario's Push Switch (Revolutionary Card Technique, Chapter 13: Card Switches, 1961, page 30), which I've used for many years. No one has ever had the slightest suspicion of a switch. Part of the reason for the success of the move is its boldness. The key is attitude. Not only must it be done casually but you must act as though the card doesn't matter because you already know it's right. There's no getting around it, this move is under extreme "heat." The audience knows the prediction card should match the named card. Few switch techniques would bear the level of scrutiny this one must. For more than twenty-five years, through many hundreds of performances, this one has passed through the fire. The first few times you do it, your heart may seem to seize in your chest. Confidence comes from experience.

This Push Switch is as fine a technique as I could want when working at a large table. That is not, however, always the situation. When I'm working at a small table, I use Mario's Kick-Off Switch (Kabbala, Vol. 1, No. 9, May 1972, page 67), which I'm about to describe with my own minor changes.

THE KICK-OFF SWITCH The first sit-down session I ever had with Ed Mario, in 1967, included a fair amount of discussion of tabled card switches, one of my favorite subjects. Among those he did for me was a technique he had developed in the mid-1950's. It can be done for one card or a complete hand, as in a Poker-deal effect. I'll describe it here with one card, as I use it in this effect. Those familiar with the original description may note some refinements I've developed through extensive use. Nevertheless, this is Mario's technique.

I prefer to place the card two to three inches from the table edge, but you can move it farther from the edge, depending on where your audience is seated relative to you. At two to three inches, you can be almost surrounded and still use it if you keep your left hand resting on the table, obscuring the left side view. If there is no one seated to your sides, you can safely move the card out about six inches or so from the table edge. I rarely have that situation, so I usually set the card at about three inches.

Your right hand has a card concealed in Full Palm. You can have the hand resting with the fingertips on the edge of the table or you can start with the right hand fully on the table, to the right of the card you intend to switch. Your right hand moves toward the tabled card, keeping the heel of the hand and the right edge of the fourth finger in light contact with the tabletop. Your fingers should be straight, as when reaching, which necessitates bending your first finger at the middle joint, to retain the palmed card. When your right hand reaches the tabled card, your right thumb should fall on the middle of the card back (if you were switching multiple cards you would have to contact the near edge). Two actions, both a bit unusual, now occur simultaneously. Your thumb flicks the card off the table, into your lap—and all four fingers bend inward over the palmed card to grasp it near the right end (Figure 320). It should appear that the action of the thumb was the start of its movement to the near side of the visible card and that the thumb then lifted that edge as your fingers slid inward onto the back of the card. At the same time, the card is hinged up from the table as though you were looking at a hole card (Figure 321).

There is a tendency to move the right thumb further under the hand than is necessary in preparation for the kick. You're only kicking the card a few inches; it doesn't take a great deal of force. Kicking the card too hard will only cause it to sail farther off the table before falling. That extra few inches are more likely to cause a flash than the space between your hand and the table edge. Practice kicking no harder than you must.

The illusion is best when the palmed card seems to appear at the fingertips. I find that you can sort of spring-load the palmed card by squeezing inward slightly with the first finger just before it straightens to allow the card to pop out, as the fingers move in. Don't make the mistake of lifting the hand too quickly. You should pause briefly, as though looking at the card, before the card breaks contact with the tabletop. This assures that the journey of the original card over the table edge will be screened by the arched hand and the switched-in card. If you're performing the technique at a greater distance from the table edge, or the angles are particularly difficult, you may find it helpful to move your right hand to the left as you apparently lift the card. You can now either sail the card onto the table face up, or you can place it back down on the table, face down, and slide it to the spectator, smiling and saying, "Take a look." You will find that the switch goes unsuspected.

NOTE: At some point during the five years I was using the first impromptu method, I started, intermittently, using the two different switch techniques in different circumstances. I think what prompted the change was finding myself working at larger tables at some times and smaller ones at others. At larger tables, the Kick-Off Switch, as good as it is, felt overly tight in terms of use of table real estate. This is, in my opinion, an issue worth further exploration, but I don't want to get side-tracked with it at this time. In any case, I began using the Push Switch. I hasten to make it clear that I remain as fond as ever of the Kick-Off Switch though I now reserve it for performances on smaller working surfaces. I can confidently attest that both techniques have withstood the test in the trial by fire.

Regardless of which switch you've used, don't be in a hurry to recover the lapped card. When you do, it's best to add it to the bottom of the deck as you slide the deck off the table. Don't be surprised if the audience doesn't applaud at the conclusion of this effect. The spectators' minds are reeling. You may need to encourage them with a remark like, "The applause should be deafening—unless you're too scared."

OBSERVATIONS: It would be very easy to allow fear to drive one to a "safer" technique, such as the Curry Turnover Change, as others have in the past. One can argue, rationalize and justify such approaches, but they can never seem as impossible. Remember, card cheats, with a great deal more at risk than a magic effect, have employed techniques like these for years. Most have made a living with them. There is nothing wrong with being frightened by these techniques. Still, if you believe, as I do, that we owe our audiences our best efforts, we should marshal our courage and go for it. Facing one's fear can only make one stronger.

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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