The Cutting Edge

(A Vernon legacy by Roger Klause)

The following scenario reflects but a few fleeting moments in time. A time when camaraderie was enjoyed to the maximum.

Fellowship may be even more fulfilling when each participant shares a very deep love and devotion for their chosen pursuit. An everlasting friendship often yields treasured memories.

My truly gifted friend Michael Skinner, and I often reminisce and recount with great pleasure episodes from days of old. Our relationship began over twenty-five years ago and the saga of this initial encounter lies within the pages of "Roger Klause: In Concert."

Michael and 1 vividly remember " The Great Chase," a comedy of errors with a cast

of very famous characters, among whom were Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Danny Dew, Michael, Jerry Winn and myself.

Then there was the infamous "Midnight Movie," a slick piece of work played out by Michael and me in Hollywood many years ago.

Neither of us will ever forget the "Key-Ring Hoax" or the "Chinese Rice Faux Pas." Perhaps someday these episodes will taste the printer's ink, btit for the present, let us focus on "The Cutting Edge."

The year was 1991. Gathered around the breakfast table sat fotir long-time friends, devotees of the art of sleight of hand. Each had been a disciple of the greatly revered, and acknowledged grandmaster, the Professor, Dai Vernon.

During a brief lull in the conversation, as we each toyed with his own deck of cards and took long sips of coffee, I placed my neatly squared deck in front of the fellow on my left and made the following remarks:

"I know that you have made an exhaustive study of the practice of estimation and are very familiar with the published works of Mario and Steranko in this area."

With these words, I carefully cut approximately thirty cards from the top of the deck and placed them neatly beside the lower portion. I dien asked, "In your expert opinion, can yoti estimate the exact difference in number of the larger portion? In other words, how many more cards would you guess to be in the greater portion?"

After careful study, my friend replied, "I would say that there are seven or possibly eight cards more in the larger half."

When I posed the same question to die other two at the table, their answers confirmed the fact that diey were unaware of one of the Professor's closely guarded observations, a brilliant deduction never before disclosed to the fraternity at large.

You see, each of my esteemed friends and confidantes had estimated the difference to be an odd number of cards. One had said seven or eight, the others guessed six or maybe seven.

The Professor's very keen deduction allowed for the fact then when an off-center cut is given to a deck of any even quantity, the difference in number will always be even!

With a minimum amount of practice, one can determine the exact number of cards in each portion following an off-center cut.

If you estimate the difference to be one card, the correct amount is two. It follows chat if you guess the difference to be three, you can be certain the answer is four. If five, vou can count on it being six, and so on.

In order to thoroughly appreciate the Professor's contribution, execute an off-center cut and begin an in-the-hands Faro Shuffle. After the initial weaving of the cards, you will be left with an undisturbed block of cards on top. It now becomes mere child's play to estimate the exact number of cards above the interlaced portion of the deck.

Before squaring the cards, you are in possesion of some very useful information. You now know exactly how many cards are within each of the three divided portions of the deck: The cards held by the left hand, those held by the right hand, and the small block on top.

For example, should you estimate that there arc eight cards in the top block, then simple arithmetic dictates that the remaining portions contain twenty-two cards each.

The possibilities of this wonderful subterfuge are endless. I am quite certain that if Mario or Steranko had been aware of this principle, their works would have received much greater acclaim.

So, on that fine spring morning in Burbank, California, at the home of Larry Jennings, our host, Larry, Michael Skinner, and Allen Okawa each gained an even greater respect for the genius of magic's most gifted and benevolent practitioner, the beloved Professor, Dai Vernon.

How well I remember the great excitement and outburst of commotion following the disclosure of this principle to my three friends.

However, Larry's gracious wife, B. J., never looked up from the stove as she prepared breakfast for these four grown men who were acting like small children.

Little did she realize that "The Cutting Edge" had been the cause for all the great, excitement. As for me, I simply chalked up another fond memory.

Roger Klause July, 1994

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