Greetings from the Pabular staff and its readers to 'The Professor' on the anniversary of his eighty-fifth birthday.
In paying tribute to one who has been around so long and earned the respect and admiration of so many, everything that one can say has already been said. However, some of those whose contributions appear within did feel the desire to express their thoughts and pay their own personal tributes.
I have long been a devotee of the work of Dai Vernon, who is without doubt the father figure of modern close-up. It was the publication of the Dai Vernon Book of Magic that first turned me on to close-up some twenty years ago, as it did with so many others of my generation and subsequent ones.
It was not until October 1978 that I actually had the pleasure of meeting him face to face. I was giving a lecture at the Magic Circle and was absolutely shattered to find him sitting in the front row of the audience. This could have been an unnerving experience, but knowing from hearsay that the Professor is a kindly man, I took a deep breath and steamed in. At the finish, he was the first person to come forward and purchase some of my lecture notes. This says more for his good nature and generosity, than it does for my lecture. Afterwards he stayed behind and discussed some of the things in the lecture with me, thus proving that he really is always ready to help and encourage us lesser mortals.
Dai Vernon is one of thé great gentlemen of magic, and I am delighted to have met him and to have been asked to contribute a trick in his honour.
The first time Dai Vernon came to this country I was one of the many young magicians who gave him a standing ovation for the most perfect performance of magic my memory tells me I have ever seen — he was the Father Christmas of Magic — I wish him many Happy Returns.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Dai Vernon on several occasions and have the highest admiration for him. Whether beginner or expert conjurer, he always has 'time for you', and gives very sound advice on any magical problems you may have. He also has the ability to create an atmosphere of enthusiasm which I have not seen equalled by any other person. After a talk with Dai, I guarantee that even the most jaded of magical followers will go home and start practising. He is a kind and friendly man who has reigned at the top for a long time — long may he reign.
For our part we echo the above sentiments, and are very happy to have had the opportunity to commejnorate the event which we hope to celebrate in like manner for many years.
Among the foreign visitors to the capital recently was Rovi from Wales to lecture at The Magic Circle. He generously gave permission for us to publish any of his material we felt suitable for publication. The first one — a Book Test — appears herein. Later — in a nearby inn — he gathered a strong crowd of mostly non-magicians and really entertained them. Afterwards we chatted — and he remarked 'What's the use of small packet card tricks in that situation.' It was obvious — none at all.
Barrie Richardson from the U.S. was also there, making his annual visit an occasion which we eagerly look forward to. He too, entertained a group with a style completely different from the ebullient Rovi. Quietly he took command and entertained, again that word, for something like five minutes, with a trick everyone knows, the title escapes me, but some object appears beneath a handkerchief which no-one ever sees and finally disappears. The style adopted for this intimate occasion differed entirely from the dramatic one he uses when presenting his professional mental act at banquets and the like when his audience can number several hundreds. It was a real lesson in presentation, and a perfect example of the old, old saw — it's not what you1 do, but how you do it.
Kevin Davie arrived on an extended visit. Within a week was performing his ventriloquial act at the London Society of Magicians and getting the feel of our audiences — he found the audience responses different from those in his native South Africa. Excellent technique, the contrasting voices of his dummies very pronounced and effective. He has a batch of card material for us.
Brian Glover writes to say that there were a couple of Fre(u)dien errors in his trick 'The Red Aces' which appeared in the April issue — fourth line, first paragraph should read "will bring them third and seventh from the top ".
Second and third lines in the eighth paragraph should read "Likewise spell A.C.E.S. forming a separate pile". SORRY.
Some time ago it was mentioned in this column that T.V. was waiting for a personality to emerge performing close-up magic — or words to that effect. One has — we will tell you all next month.
This trick is a variation of one published by Dai Vernon in the original Jinx magazine. It is comparatively easy to do, free of setups or any angle problems and so useful to have at the back of your mind. How far back, depends on what you think of the idea after reading it.
Run through the pack and remove any seven spot, placing it face down onto the table. Explain that this card will help you with the trick, but take care that the spectators do not see the face of the card.
Ask a spectator to mentally decide on a number and say "Do not choose one that is above twenty as you have to remember the card at the position you decide on." Now show the cards to the spectator one by one from the top of the pack counting aloud as you do so, and request him to remember the card that coincides with his mentally chosen number. When he indicates that he has done this, replace the showi cards back on top of the pack so that the origina order of the pack is still intact.
Say you will mix the cards, and do so as follows. Undercut about half the pack, injog the first card pulled off and shuffle the remainder on top of the injogged one. Undercut at the injog, run six cards, injog the seventh and throw the balance of the pack oh top of the injogged card. Place the pack face down in the left hand getting a left little finger break below the injogged card, square the pack maintaining the break.
Think of the cards below the break as high. Askv the spectator to reveal his mentally chosen number. If it is above seven (higher than seven) you know you must use the 'high' section of the pack, so the break can "be released and forgotten. If it is below seven (lower than seven) you know you must use the 'low' section of the pack, so you must cut at the break, either as an open cut or a secret pass.
Have someone turn over the card placed face down on the table at the beginning of the trick and point out that you said it would help you. Carry out a little subtraction sum out loud by using the value of the seven spot and the spectator's number, taking the smaller from the larger, and then use this answer to count down from the top of the pack. When you arrive at the appropriate card, hold it face down for a moment before asking the spectator the name of his card, and then turn it face up to reveal it is correct.
Sometimes the spectator's mentally chosen number will not be above or below seven, it will actually be seven. In fact this will happen more often than not, and the phrasing of your request for a number near the beginning of the routine is designed to help this happen.
If he does say he thought of seven, have him turn the tabled card over to reveal that you have predicted the number he would think of. As he does this, side Osteal the card above your break into the right hand. Hand the pack to the spectator for a moment, asking him to hold it tightly. Reach into your inside jacket pocket and pull out the palmed card. Ask for the name of the spectator's card and show that it has jumped from the pack to your pocket.
In "Expert Card Conjuring" by Alton Sharpe, he described a Mario handling of Terry Guyatt's "Drunken Cut". The principle of this was new to me, for although I have met Terry Guyatt I had never seen him perform this particular move.
Although the routine was good, it did involve an elaborate setup. It was as an attempt to eliminate this setup that the following was evolved. In this presentation the setup is much simpler and the effect quite different. At first I was doubtful if it would fool everyone. In this I underestimated the subtlety of the Drunken Cut move. Having performed the routine for a lot of well-versed cardicians, I have been delighted with the results. Try it out, you will almost fool yourself!
Set up the pack, with four aces on the top and four kings on the bottom. The order is not important.
Ask a spectator if he knows how to play Irish poker. When he says no, offer to give him a demonstration. Place the pack face down in front of him and say "First you must give the cards an Irish shuffle." While saying this it is best to leave your hand resting on top of the cards as sometimes an impulsive spectator will pick up the pack and start to shuffle. Keeping a hold of the pack prevents this. "Do you know how to do an Irish shuffle?" you continue, without pausing. When the spectator says that he does not, tell him to follow your instructions. Here you release the pack.
Tell the spectator to cut the pack into two roughly equal piles. Then point to the original top half of the pack and have him turn it face up. Next have him riffle the face up and face down packets together and square the pack.
Now ask him if he knows the Irish cut. Again he says no, so again have him follow your instructions. Tell him to lift off about a quarter of the pack and place it on the table. Next have him lift off roughly the same number of cards and turn this packet face down (or what would be face down if all the cards were the same way round) and place it on top of the first packet. Next have him cut off a small number of cards and place these on top of the others without turning them over. Finally have him pick up all of the remaining cards and turn them over and put them on top of the rest. Then have him turn the whole pack over.
At this point you pick up the pack and say that in Irish poker the dealer takes the first five face down cards, while the other player(s) get the face up ones. Begin to deal the cards into two poker hands. If the first card is face down deal it to yourself, if it is face up deal it to the spectator. Repeat this until you have five cards each. Any superfluous face up or face down cards are placed aside. When the two hands have been dealt, tell the spectator that all he has to do, is to bet that his hand will beat yours.
As both hands will be completely random ones it is quite possible that it will. Here your acting is important. If the spectator gets the best hand, pretend that this was what you intended, to encourage him to play for higher stakes. If your hand beats his, let him think that you arranged it that way as part of the demonstration. Either way, collect up all the cards, mixing them face up and face down and drop them on top of the pack.
Now offer to show how an Irish card sharp cheats at Irish poker. Here you execute the Irish shuffle and cut exactly as the spectator did previously with two important differences. Firstly, during the shuffle take care not to disturb the thirteen or so cards on the bottom of the pack. Secondly at the completion of the cutting do not turn the pack over. Deal out the cards as before giving the first five face up cards to the spectator and keeping the first five face down ones yourself. Discard any superfluous cards during this deal as before. To the spectator's surprise he will get four kings in his hand. Ask him to bet whether or not his hand will beat yours. Whatever the answer turn your own hand over and show four aces.
The above trick is entirely self-working. Sometimes I vary the effect with the following addition.
At the beginning separate the four jacks, queens and tens. Place these in a block just below the centre of the pack. Usually this will mean that at the completion of the first demonstration, provided the spectator cuts slightly above centre, the face down hand will contain a full house or four of a kind or two pairs. This is by no means certain, but when it does happen the overall effect is considerably enhanced.
A few days after performing this effect I entered my local branch of W.H. Smith's chain of book shops to be greeted by one of the assistants "What about it now Rovi" — as he pointed to the shelves containing hundreds of books. Fortunately I was able to oblige this gentleman immediately, having (as I invariably do) a pack of cards in my pocket which is, apart from any book, all that is required.
The method used is simple and direct and while it is necessary to carry a few books with you when fulfilling an engagement if the effect is to be part of your regular routine, it is far more effective if performed with a book chosen from a number which you have not had access to previously. Let us assume that you are performing in a room in which there is a bookcase or shelf containing a number of books.
Commence by inviting any spectator to go to the bookcase or shelf and choose any book and let anyone shuffle the cards. Do not make a 'big' thing out of the latter. Get the cards back before your helper rejoins you with the book and run through them quickly, saying "I do not need the Joker." Ostensibly you are finding the Joker which you put in your pocket. Actually it is an excuse to get a pair, say two fives, sixes or sevens either to the face of the pack, or as I do, one at the top and the other at the bottom. With the pack held in face up position in the right hand Biddle fashion I push the bottom card to the right with the tips of the left fingers and then turn the pack face down by pushing it over with the left thumb. If the pair is brought to the face of the pack, turn the pack face down and with the left fingers push the bottom card to the right with the left fingers which turn it face up under cover of the pack and right hand.
It is of course possible to have the faced pair at the bottom set up beforehand, in which case it would not be possible to have the pack shuffled by a spectator. A casual false shuffle retaining the faced pair at the bottom of the pack would then suffice.
Take the chosen book from the spectator and make suitable comments re title, author's name, number of pages etc as you idly flick through the pages. During this apparently innocent action you contrive to note the first few words on the top line of the page which corresponds to the faced pair at the bottom of the pack. Let us suppose they are a pair of fives which would mean glimpsing the top line of page fifty-five.
Drop the book on a nearby table, hand the pack to the spectator and walk well away from both the book and the spectator. As an afterthought ask him if he is quite satisfied with his choice of book, if not, he can exchange it for another. That they never take this opportunity is probably because having an obviously free choice in the first place it seems pointless to change it.
You now instruct the spectator to place the cards behind his back, cut any number of cards from the top of the pack and put them face up under the bottom half, and then bring the pack from behind his back.
It is now important that you turn away making it apparent that you cannot gain any information as the spectator follows your instructions.
Continue by getting him to agree that he cut the pack at whatever point he wished and you cpuld not possibly know the names of the two cards which are now face to face. Still looking away ask him to note these two cards and if they are, for instance, a two and a seven, he is to turn to page twenty-seven or page seventy-two. Satisfy yourself that he clearly understands what is required of him and continue in the following vein. "Should by chance one or both of the cards happen to be a picture card please feel free to make it whatever number you wish. Should you have cut to an ace, you can count it as one or any other single number."
The above remarks impress the audience that the assisting spectator has a variety of pages from which to choose, but the one turned to will be fifty-five and you have knowledge of the first few lines at the top of this page.
Bring the effect to its climax by asking the spectator to concentrate on the words on the top line which you then reveal in your best dramatic manner.
The strong features of the effect are the free choice of book, which the audience, due to the presentation, forget that you ever handled. The direct method of arriving at a given page with the apparent options given to the helper when you are some distance from the cards and the book, and not even looking in his direction.
For many years the effect has been a regular part of my programme, and no doubt will continue to be so in the future.
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