JULY 15, 2003
MY NOTES on this technique are not conclusive, but they suggest that I first became aware of this unique Bob Farmer equivalent to the Half Pass in April of 1997. Bob began circulating the sleight via private manuscript in mid-August 1995. At the time, I expected that Bob would publish the technique within a reasonable period. I'd then be able to apply it, with proper credit, in those effects to which it lends itself. Under that assumption, I began adding remarks within my notes that referenced Bob's technique. Here we are in 2003 and Bob has still not published the sleight, though he has clearly established it with a number of individuals. Bob has graciously given his permission to include the technique in these pages. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time Bob's Turnantula has been released to a wide audience. I am grateful to Bob for his generosity in allowing me to share this with you. You will find it easy to learn and execute, though you may have to resist an entrenched habit to make it fully deceptive. More important, you are likely to find yourself using the technique often and wishing it could be applied to more small-packet Half Pass situations.
For purposes of description, we will assume you have a packet of seven cards, the lower five of which are face up. In the apparent act of turning the packet from face down to face up, we will adjust this situation so that all the cards face the same way. The technique does not work as an all-purpose Half Pass but as a clean-up technique for secretly reversed cards, or when a presentational reason can be found for openly turning the deck or packet over. In other words, Turnantula might be called a Turnover Half Pass. It is natural in appearance and very deceptive. I'm not aware of much directly related history for this approach to the Half Pass. The Half Passes by Jim Patton and Bruce Cervon, described in Ultra Cervon (1990; see Chapter Nine, page 147) have a distant family resemblance. Also, Gordon Bean has pointed out that Paul Curry, in his effect "Face to Face" (Something Borrowed, Something New, 1941, n.p.) described a sleight related in concept, though not in action. It is the mechanics of Bob's technique and their integration with the turnover action that are innovative, not the action itself.
When you have rotated the lower cards as far as you can without your left thumb breaking contact with the left side of the packet, immediately press down with your right fingers on the front edge of the upper packet. This causes those cards to start to rotate end over end, around (Figure 297)
Begin with a fourth-finger break held above the five reversed cards and position your left thumb along the left side of the packet. Bring your hands together and, with your right hand, grasp the packet from above, your thumb near the near right corner, your second finger close to the far left corner and your first finger curled on top. Immediately slide the packet forward in your left hand until the near left corner of the packet contacts the deepest point in the fork of your thumb (Figure 295). This is the same position you would assume in preparation for an Erdnase Bottom Palm (Expert at the Card Table, First Method, page 86). With your left third and fourth fingers, pull on the cards below the break at the near end and twist your left hand clockwise at the wrist, causing the lower cards to swivel below the upper ones (Figure 296). Important: Do not change the plane of the cards as they move. This is counter-intuitive at first, since you are thinking of a Half Pass, but the plane of these lower cards does not change until much later in the action. (Bob tells me a lay person can learn this sleight perfectly within five minutes, but magicians take longer because they feel they need to apply the familiar actions of a Half-Pass or Pass. Don't do this.)
and then under the pivoted lower packet (Figure 298). From a spectator's perspective, this should appear as though you are turning over the entire packet. When the upper packet is at roughly a forty-five-degree angle to the lower packet—which still has not changed its plane—your right thumb releases its hold on the near edge and moves down toward the face of the lower packet (Figure 299). Only at this point does that packet change its plane, under cover of the upper packet, rotating onto its edge, as you pull inward with your right fingers, driving the upper cards far enough to the left to assure that the lower cards are obscured from your spectators' view as the packet continues to rotate forward in front of the lower packet (Figure 300).
You are about to perform the most delicate part of the technique, realigning the two packets. I find that the side of my left third finger and the flesh at the base of my right thumb provide sufficient alignment guides to allow the process to be completed. Depending on the size of your hands, you may find another finger better positioned to assist in pressing the packet against the fleshy base of your right thumb. When the packet is realigned, your right thumb presses on its face (Figure 301). Your right hand finishes turning the packet face up by turning palm up (Figure 302).
Turnantula is not merely a Half Pass; it contains elements of both a Half Pass and a Pass. Rather than reversing
the bottom portion of the packet, the top portion is rotated around it in the action of apparently turning the packet over. When done correctly, the illusion is perfect from every angle but your own. Bob observes that the actions create a very potent optical illusion. The technique will seem a bit busy when you first begin to practice it, but with work it becomes a synchronized series of actions that appear to be no more than turning over the packet. If the packet remains a bit messy as a result of the turnover, it is not a problem so long as the cards are aligned within the width of a white border. You may feel guilty about it, but it would occur, to some degree, if you rotated the packet legitimately.
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