The following is a close-up mentalism routine. The plot is based on an old children's game, known as "Paper-Scissors-Rock". I should mention that in Pallbearer's Review, volume 8, -#r4, Bob Neale detailed some lovely effects using this same game as a premise. The Neale material, however, is quite different in both effect and method from what I am about to describe.
The routine involves a set of cards bearing pictures, as shown in the illustration. (The observant reader will notice that the picture shows a pair of Zen Scissors; these are not strictly necessary. . .). The three items have a cyclical relationship, which forms the structure of the game. Each object can "defeat" one of the two othes, and can in turn be "defeated" by the remaining one. ROCK breaks SCISSORS; SCISSORS cut PAPER; PAPER wraps ROCK. The popular children's version involves "throwing" the choices, via hand gestures. By using printed cards, you explain to the spectator, you keep the players honest. After all, one can easily alter a hand gesture — but a printed image stays constant. . .
To perform this routine, you will actually require four cards — the three shown, plus a double-backed card. The three picture cards are marked on their backs. Also needed is a Himber-style wallet. In one side of this, place an envelope inside of which is a large piece of paper bearing the word "Rock". In the other side of the wallet is another envelope, the paper within bearing the word "Paper".
At the start of thfe routine, the double-backed card is in your lap or pocket. The three picture cards are in one side of the wallet.
To begin, openly remove the cards from the wallet. As you do this, briefly call attention to the envelope, stating that you will return to it later. CIosq the wallet and place it aside.
Showing the cards, discuss the rules of the children's game, and offer to play a version with the spectator.
Hand the packet to the spectator, allowing him/her to remove any one of the cards at random. From the remaining two cards, you take one. Naturally, as the backs of the cards are marked, it will be a simple effort to arrange for yourself to win, by picking the card bearing the picture that will "defeat" the spectator's choice.
Offer to give the spectator another chance, explaining that this time you will choose first. As this is stated, palm the double-backed card, and load it onto the packet. Now, mix the cards (without exposing the fact that there are four). Remove one card for your selection, placing it onto the table. Now, during the previous mixing you must arrive at the following situation: the order of the three cards you now hold must be, from the top: double-backer; "losing" card; remaining card. In other words, if the card you have tabled is the Rock, the order of the packet would be DB,S,P — for it would be the Scissors that you intend to force, to cause the spectator to lose to the Rock you initially selected.
The three-card packet (which the spectator believes to be only two cards) is held squared. Explain, "I have already made my choice. One of the two remaining cards in my hand will win over my selection; the other will lose. It's up to you to pick the right one. Which would you like — top or bottom?"
The spectator makes a choice. If "top", perform a Double Turnover to display the losing choice. Thanks to the double-backer, this single face up card can be dealt to the table, and a back still shows atop the card(s) in the hand, so f all looks fair. Turn over the initial card you tabled for yourself, showing your victory.
If the spectator chooses "bottom", openly transfer the top single card (DB) to the bottom. Now, turn over the top single card — again forcing the losing choice.
The above procedure will stand repetition, as the actions are reasonably consistant for the two situations. Thus, you can play the game several times, each time making your choice first, then having the spectator choose from the (apparently) two cards that remain. Similarly, you can let the spectator pick a card first, and then allow him/her to choose your card from the remaining ones — using the same technique just described to force (in this case) the winning card as the spectator picks for you.
After you have beaten the spectator several times, offer to explain how you are able to win every game. Say-, "It's really quite simple. . . I can beat you, for the reason that I always know which item you are going to choose. As I can accurately predict your selection, I thus am always able to know which item will beat you. Here — I'll prove it. In that envelope within my wallet I have made a written prediction, which will prove I know how to beat your choice. I want you to choose any one of the three items, verbally. My written prediction will take care of your choice!"
The reader may wonder how the two outs in the wallet will cover three variables. The answer is this: should the spectator choose "Rock" or "Paper", you will obviously open the wallet to the proper side and remove the prediction showing that you correctly forecast his/her choice. If "Scissors" is named, you will take advantage of the flexible interpretation offered by the verbiage in the preceeding paragraph. Say, "I knew you would say 'Scissors' — and, as promised, I made a written prediction of just the choice I would need to beat you!" Open the wallet to reveal the "Rock" prediction, thus proving your precognitive accuracy.
I might point out that the above routine is but one of several that I have developed along these lines. There are many other related routes. The reader may wish to consider variations allowed by making the extra card a duplicate of one of the pictures, rather than a double-backer. Also, by adding lapping switches, there are several interesting approaches possible. The routine just described is offered for its functionality; experimentation will lead to many other variations.
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