Volume 4 Number 3 November 1977

THE OIL AND WATER OF TAMARIX Described by Fred Robinson

The Oil and Water theme is undoubtedly a good one. A simple plot easily understood by audiences, not technically difficult to perform has made it a popular item with cardmen. Inevitably this has resulted in numerous variations of methods being devised, many of which have appeared in print, and so providing valuable study material for those wishing to present this effect.

Finding a method which fulfils ones own requirements is only the first step. There still remains the more important one, an entertaining presentation to lift it out of the puzzle class into an effect having a strong magical impact.

Those who have seen Juan Tamarix perform this effect will have seen it presented in a manner which creates the impression that one has seen something truly magical. On reading the explanation they will probably be surprised to find nothing particularly new in the methods used and therefore conclude that the originator's success with this particular effect is due to his particular style of performance which is lively and slightly more theatrical than that of the average performer. This is obviously true to some extent and applies to any trick with which a performer is successful, but underlying the particular style of Tamarix there is the real secret which enables him to make the Oil and Water seem to be really magical. More regarding this after the explanation.

The effect is performed standing and letters on sketch (1) refer to the positions in which the cards Eire placed during the routine as indicated in the text.

Run through the pack and seek out any four red spot cards of differing values from six to ten inclusive and not all of one suit. These should be dropped singly, face up onto the table to the right of centre at position 'C' narrow ends towards the audience.

Assuming that the values chosen are 6, 7, 9 and 10 run through the pack until a red eight appears. Cut the pack bringing it to the face. Next find four black spot cards, again not all of one suit and from six to ten inclusive placing one on top of the red eight at the face of the pack and drop the other three one at a time face up onto the table at 'A'. Take a break with the left little finger tip below the second card — the red eight as you square up the pack. Should one of the required black spot cards be immediately to the right of the red eight by cutting the pack and bringing this black spot to the face a move will be eliminated.

Keeping the pack in the left hand still holding the break call attention to the four? black and four red cards apparently unaware that there are only three black cards. At least one spectator will usually call your attention to the discrepancy, if not you notice? it yourself. In either case you apologise and with the right thumb at the inner end and fingers at the outer take the two cards above the break from the top of the pack and drop them as one oh top of the black pile as the left hand puts the pack on the table at position 'X'.

Should the two cards separate as they fall onto the pile the right hand remains over — not on — the pile providing cover until the left hand having placed the pack on the table comes back and squares up the four cards. Should the two cards fall perfectly square both hands should be brought completely away from the cards for a few seconds allowing the spectators time to see all is fair before squaring up the two piles, which must be done without removing the cards from the table, the right hand squaring the red cards using the tips of the thumb and fingers only, as the left hand does likewise with the black cards.

With the left hand pick up the face up black cards by the edges using the tips of the thumb and fingers. The hand is now turned palm up and the fingers opened wide allowing the cards to fall face down onto the palm (2). Next pick up the red cards with the right hand and drop them from a distance of three or four inches face down on top of the four? black ones in the left hand, still keeping it flat with the fingers spread apart.

The right hand now takes the top card from the left hand by pulling it back towards you with the fingers (3). Show it to be a red one and drop it face up onto the table at 'C'. Repeat the same procedure with the next two red cards. Take the fourth red card and show its face but instead of dropping it on top of the others push it under the right side of these three cards (4) scooping them up without allowing the fingers to come into contact with them. Cause the three cards to 'bounce' a little on the supporting card, which can best be described by likening it to the action used when bouncing a ball on a racquet. Do not make it into a juggling feat, just a couple of slight up and down movements and then let all four cards drop back on position 'C'.

As each card is removed from the left hand it will be necessary to close the fingers momentarily, but as soon as the card is clear the hand should be opened out flat with fingers apart.

Take the next three black cards one at a time and drop them face up in position 'A'. Do not open the fingers when taking the third one (it being necessary to keep the last two cards squared as one card). Take these last two cards and keep them squared up as one. Use this double card to scoop up the three from 'A' bouncing them a couple of times duplicating the procedure used with the red cards, but this time instead of dropping the cards onto the table they are tossed onto the open left palm again with the fingers of this hand spread open. Should the red card show when the cards fall onto the hand close the fingers immediately squaring the cards, but should it remain hidden allow the cards to remain for a moment before squaring them using only the left hand.


The packet of cards in the left hand, which the spectators believe to consist of four black cards, being unaware of the extra red at the bottom, is nOw positioned with the outer phalanx of the second finger at the outer right corner of the packet and the inner left corner in contact with the palm (5). It is now possible to move the third and fourth fingers away leaving the cards held between second finger and palm, enabling the right fingers to pull out the bottom card with ease and without fumbling.

The cards are now formed into a single heap of alternating red and black cards as follows.

Pick up the top red card with the right hand, thumb going on face and the fingers underneath the right edge and turning it back to spectators places it face down at 'B' long side parallel with the far edge of the table. During this action the left hand has moved bringing the cards it is holding from a position which the spectators could see the face of the top card to one in which they see only the edges of the cards (6). This angle makes it possible for the right fingers to pull out the bottom card in a perfectly natural manner and place it face down on top of the red card at 'B' without showing its face which the audience believe to be black, is actually a red spot.

The right hand now takes the second red card and places it face down on top of the two cards at 'B'. Meanwhile the left hand has turned so that the face of the black spot at the top of its packet can be seen by the audience. The right hand now pulls out the bottom card which the spectators can see is a black spot, and places it face down on the cards at 'B'.

As the third red card is taken and placed on 'B' the left thumb pushes the top card of its packet fractionally to left as in (7). This leaves the two black cards beneath it in alignment. These two cards are taken with the right hand and placed as one on 'B' by first bringing their long side edge into contact with the top card of that heap let the two cards fall as one without separating.

The remaining red card is picked up with the right hand and held above the cards at 'B' for a moment whilst attention is called to the remaining black card by moving the left hand and looking at the card and remarking, "This is a very important card." The red card is now allowed to fall on the heap and the left hand held palm down some twelve inches above the heap releases its black to complete the pile which the spectators believe to consist of eight alternating black and red cards. At no time when forming the heap should any reference be made regarding the colour of any particular card.

Remarking that the cards are now "like this" interlace the tips of the fingers as shown in (8). Note the thumbs are held down behind the fingers and not visible to the spectators.

Part the fingers and say "I will square up ,the cards." Focus your whole attention on the cards as both hands move slowly, very slowly towards the cards, and using only the tips of the thumbs and fingers slowly and meticulously square up the cards making the action seem to be of the greatest possible importance.

Once again interlace the fingers, this time deeply as (9) saying "The cards are now really squared like this, really and truly squared." Pull the hands slightly apart so only the finger tips are interlaced and 'wiggle' the first and second fingers of both hands referring to them as representing the top four cards.

Completely separate the hands and hold up the right extending the first and second fingers (the 'V' sign) saying "In the top four cards there are two red and two " Look at the spectators in a questioning manner and someone is certain to reply "black". Using this magical ploy is far more convincing than any manipulation could possibly be, to 'prove' that the four top cards are two red and two blacks.

Next pick up the cards and hold them in the normal dealing position in the left hand. Say "I am going to take the four cards from the top of the pack — and I really mean from the top." Push the top card over the side of the packet with the left thumb and the right in taking it snaps it up against the tip of the left thumb as you say "Really from the top." The next three cards are taken in the same way each going under the previous one keeping them in the original order, snapping and repeating "Really from the top." No attempt should be made either as they are being taken or before dropping them on the table at 'C' to square the cards. Such an action would not be in keeping with the presentation of the effect as a whole and may look a little suspicious at a time when you are stressing the fairness of every movement.

The right hand now takes the remaining cards in the same way retaining the original order but only really 'snapping' the first three. The last card being two taken as one the snapping is more of a gesture. Drop the cards on the table at 'A' and square. It is important to appreciate the difference in emphasis between taking the top four cards which is done very slowly and the bottom four/five which should be taken more casually and at a quicker tempo.

Call attention to the cards at 'C' and slowly square them up. Make the 'V' sign once more as you say "These four cards consist of two red

"two blacks". This time you smile and shaking your head say, "No." Interlace your finger tips and 'wiggle' the first and second fingers saying "When I do this something happens and the cards become like this." Suiting the action to the words release your fingers and rest one hand on the other with fingers closed and thumbs hidden behind the hands (10).

Pick up the four cards and turn them face up. Elmsley Count to show all four cards to be black. Climax.

The audience are now led to believe that they see the faces of all the cards as they dropped singly onto the table. After the Elmsley Count take the four cards into the left hand in the position shown in (6) and casually drop them face downwards on 'C' one at a time starting with the bottom card which being red cannot be shown. After this card is removed angle the packet so that the face of the top card can be seen by the spectators and also the two cards below it as they are removed.

You now pick up the red packet from 'A' and hold it face up in the left hand and show the five cards as four, all red spots as follows. The right hand when taking the cards one at a time reverses their order by taking the second on top of the first injogging as shown in (11). The next two are taken as one and also injogged, likewise the last card. The cards are now in the right hand as in (12). The cards are now cards and two

Again someone will say

transferred to the left hand and held as in (13). Without assistance from the right hand the left squares them by pushing with the index finger on the end of outer card until it is square with the card above it, and continues to push these two until they are square with the double. The outer end of the packet is now tilted allowing the top cards to slide square with the others.

Remarking that they might like to see it again show the red cards once more using the Ascanio Spread, which hides the black card, and in closing the spread move the double card J

bringing the black card to the fourth position from the top of the face up packet, and hold the (J3 packet as before between the second finger tip and palm (6).

Commence to make the alternating pile by taking the top card from 'C'. This time the cards from this heap are picked up by placing the fingers on the back of the card and the thumb beneath. Show it to be black and drop it face down at 'B' long side parallel to edge of table. Right hand pulls out the bottom card from left hand packet, not allowing its face to be seen at this stage hold it over the card at 'B' say, "This card goes on top — and when I say on top — I really mean on top — not here — here — or here." Coinciding with each time you say 'here' a corner of the red card is pushed under the edge of the face down black one for a fraction of an inch — first under the near side long edge — then under each end, and without pause after the last 'here' bring the card up over the black card again, show it to be a red one and place face down on top of the other as you say "Really on top." A second card is taken from 'C', shown and placed on 'B'

The right hand now pulls out the bottom card of the left hand red packet. This card being a black one cannot be shown so the packet is held edge on to the audience as it is being removed. As the card is being placed face down on the two at 'B' say "Really on top SURE."

By the intonation in your voice indicate that you expect an answer and someone to agree. This is an important piece of misdirection — the spectators minds being occupied as they watch to make sure that the card does really go on top, fail to realise that the face of the card has not been shown.

Next, take another black card from 'C', show its face, and drop it face down on 'B' saying again "Really on top." During the above action the left thumb has pushed the face card of its packet to the left, see (7) and relevant text.

The right hand pulls out the two bottom cards of the left hand packet as one, show the face and place it on the others at 'B', as you say "Really on top." 488

Right hand now picks up the last card from 'C', a red one which the spectators believe to be black and therefore cannot be shown. As the right hand comes away from the table call attention to the card in the left hand by looking at it and saying "This card is very important." This is emphasised by making a gesture towards the spectators with the right hand, holding the card at an single which almost, but not quite, allows the spectators to see its face. This casual, apparently careless, gesture is part of a piece of calculated misdirection. The minds of the onlookers have been conditioned into watching the cards being placed down in alternating colours without ever hearing the words 'red' or 'black'. They have been directed to making sure that each succeeding card goes on top of the preceding one thus causing them to pay a little less regard to the colour. Furthermore, having already seen three black cards removed from a heap of four previously shown to be all black it will not occur to them that the card held so carelessly in the right hand is other than black. Drop this card from the right onto pile and then hold the card in the left hand face down about a foot above the table and drop it on top of pile.

Remarking that the cards are now like this (interlace fingers as in (8) and not like this (as in (9). Disengage the fingers and move the hands towards the packet as though to square it, stopping within a few inches of it and slap the back of the left hand with the right suggesting that it is misbehaving by attempting to touch the cards.

Moving the hands completely away say, "If I touch the cards you will think I do something, So perhaps you will help me." The invitation is extended to a nearby spectator or your right. He is requested to square up the cards, slowly — very slowly as you mime how it should be done using only the tips of the thumbs and forefingers.

This piece of business if extremely important psychologically and should not be hurried. It is part of the build-up which will cause the spectators to believe when reflecting later that the assisting spectator actually mixed the cards. Therefore express dissatisfaction at the spectators first attempt saying "I mean PERFECTLY square."

When the squaring has been completed to your satisfaction say to the spectator "You did it yourself — Yes?" Next interlace your fingers tightly (9) saying "The cards are now like this — perfectly square." As you disengage the fingers to bring them into position shown in (10) you appear to have some difficulty in releasing the right little finger — just a little byplay. Saying "I will now show you the top four cards" move your left hand towards the cards and as it nears the cards repeat the hand slapping business and remark "No, it is better I do not touch the cards because you mixed and squared the cards — YOURSELF." The words 'you mixed' are not enunciated too clearly and 'squared the cards

— yourself' spoken loud and clearly and is designed to misdirect the spectators into thinking that the assistant did more than just square the cards.

You now move away three paces to the left of the assistant leaving him the centre of attraction (more build-up). Ask him to turn over the top card using only one hand. It is important to specify 'one hand' to prevent him from picking up the pack which would spoil the approach to the climax. As he turns the card "A red one?" you query. Request him to let the spectators see its face and place it face up onto the table.

You now say "Please turn over the next

— a black one." He will deny that it is a black one. It is at this point that the build-up towards the climax accelerates. Your attitude and expression is one of disbelief and bewilderment as you move two paces forward to look more closely at the card. Ask him to turn over the next card — a red one, "and the last one" you say. Immediately its face is seen to be red grasp the hand still holding the card between both your own to congratulate him saying "wonderful, wonderful, etc." Turn your face towards the audience requesting "Applause for the gentleman please — loud applause!" This 'business' having taken your assistant's attention away from the remaining cards it is safe to release his hand and join in the applause. As it dies down usher him gently in the direction of his seat.

That is, of course the climax of the routine. Pick up the remaining four cards and let the

audience see that they are the four black ones as you hold them face up in the left hand and pull out the first three singly from the bottom of the packet and drop them face up onto the four red spots — finally drop the last two as one. Although the spectators see the faces of the cards it should appear that you are just reassuring yourself.

A promise was made to say something about the real secret but if you have studied closely what has been written in the explanation there is little more to add — the effect is made magical by the use of misdirection using both speech and action and can be applied by anyone regardless of their style of presentation.

It has been left to the reader to fill in the patter, only the 'lines' which are an integral part of the presentation have been given.


Some variations on the 'magnetised' cigarette theme described in the October issue. It is possible to cause the cigarette to return without the help of a stooge. After blowing it away from you — not too far — leave the hand close to the cigarette as depicted in cover sketch last month, and by directing the air current onto the hand it will get behind the cigarette and propel it back. The hand should follow it giving the effect of the hand repelling it. This effect can be achieved in yet another way — not entirely impromptu — but worth the little trouble if you enjoy fooling fellow magicians. Fix a plate-lifter up your sleeve with the ball part under your forearm and pass the free end of the tube — you will only need a short piece — under your watch strap. Just squeeze the ball between your forearm and the table surface to provide the necessary current of air. By replacing the flexible tube usually provided with this gimmick, with a metal tube about six inches long, it will be easier to control, set up and get ready for action. To set up push it up the sleeve, ball end first and bring the free end of the tube under the watch strap with about one inch protruding. When required for use grasp this free end — with fingers belonging to the other hand, it's easier — and pull it into the palm.

To get the most out of this method it is best to wait until the interest — which you have started — begins to wane. Then do it — ONCE only. Magicians will be puzzled at the speed with which the cigarette moves and to repeat it would increase the chances of being detected. So do it once only and leave them guessing — there's always another day. -

Another variation is to blow down onto the cigarette from above, and by blowing slightly to the right of the cigarette it will move to the left, and vice versa.

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