Study for Four Aces

,loscnbo^ mC greens Pmfessumal Cam Magic. It is obviously inspired by another of die great classics of canl magic, Dai Vernon* "Cutting dip Aces"." The ( lirist plot has been a part of my perfbmiing life for the past twenty years in various and increasingly complex versions. Here is the result, in the form of one of my most prized Ace routines.

While explaining how die magic artist uses studies in his work, the four Aces are lost in the deck and subsequendy located in four different and mast magical ways.

Constniction, Management and Saipt.

In order not to make an already extensive description more so, Tve opted, as an exception, not to give my hill script, but just die working Jump ahead to die Final Notes if you wish to gel some idea of my presentation

Ribbon spread die deck face up and push the four Aces forward, out of the spread. Without milking a studied action of it, arrange die Aces in a face-up row, reading from your left to right Cluhs-Hearts-Dia-monds-Spades. Set die Ace of Diamonds sliglidy askew while you place the odier Aces more or less straight. All of this must be done veiy casually. v_---

Actually, only the Ace of Clubs needs to lie in its specified place, the other diree Acts being interchangeable. However, I like to place die Ac-e of Spacks to die right, because it will be the first Ace to l>e produced; and having die most striking design, I feel it is die liest Ace to apjiear first. , '

As you look over the spread and remove die Acts, check to see whether there is a Seven near die visual center. If diere isn't (something that happens nirely), find the Seven ck «est l,. center ¡aid estimate how many cante have to lie cut from die top or die bottom to bring .t to the desired positioa ' .Jjl

Pick up die balance of the deck and hold it face up in ^ngpcrfk*;

can now cut die approximate number c.r cards necossaty to bnng the Sewn vou\-e not,,I can now can uic appn x routine a few times you will to somewhere near center. Unce you rum »

• c and will recognize that you have lots of leeway. For die pu iXJSe understand how it ^¡¡¡¡^ üie seven of Spades is somewhere near the middle.

ofüiise^lanaiion, e * _ iin|X)ltant that eveiyone in die audience is convinced tliat Explain that bef^^1'^^ ojdy to the deck Tb prove this you are going to spi^ there are four Aces anu i ^ ^ ^ no otlier Aces among them. What you do not through the cards, snw h ^^ according to secret criteria, into four packet*

Start by spreading the cards in groups of three. When you have eye-counted nine cards, separate diem from the rest and ask someone to verify, "There aw no Aces among these caixls, right?"

When he affirms this, you place the nine cards face down in a squared pile behind die Ace of Spades. Tb do this in an elegant way, first close the right hand's spread by butting its left side against the face of the left Iiand's packet.

Then flip it face clown against your outstretched left thumb, which catches the packet in a "tent" position above die deck


Tliis position Ls held for just the time it takes die right hand to take it into end grip.

The pac ket is then placed squan? behind the Ace of Spades. This sequence lias been described in detail !>ecause die same outward handling wiil now lie used in a less innocent way, thus the present procedures serve to set up a situation of conditioned naturalness (Volume2\ page 450).

Continue spreading the cards until you reach die Seven of Spades, Tiike Jill the cards above it into your right liand, still in spread condition, as you s^y, uAnd there ore no/\ces itirwiig these cruris either" You use a statement here rather dian a question because you want to speed things up, as it becomes apparent to the audience that showing die faces of die (arris is just a formality: There aren't going to be any odier Aces, or you wouldn't be showing die cards. As you move your right hand a bit forward and to die right, your left liand doses its spread of cards and, in the action, obtains a left little-finger break beneath die Sevan of Spades.

Flip the packet over to the left as you did die first packet But instead of stopping it in tent position on the left thumb, let die cards fcill square onto the face of the left hands packet

With your righ! hand, immediately g^sp all the cards above the break in end grip.

Simultaneously, turn your left hand back up and move it forward to straighten die Ace of Diamonds in the row.

^»it^grasSeS^Ï TTT* ** ^^ ,UUld «nains Immobile«

®d .ho packet steal in TeZLttT ' ^ 'hf> cha"*> < ™ h P^e 233) audience not realizing that the m i J. '"m O^-Mine 3, page 777), resulting in die iiHnuisit action {Volume 2 1^1*7,n*™ toUChed ^secret action isasecondaiy Ace not QrUy serras the main °fb,teifed l)-V a main action. Tlx- straightening of the one forget there was a Seven nn ,ir!' , ,bett)nies a Positive insertion that makes every-toto another card) P face ofthe ** hand's packet (which lias "transformed!

Now spread about l\alf tj i

Second from the fa. SZ your ^ as you look at anrl remember the samewVJùudkHheflRt 'and n^ i,? T™ Ls Slx of Cluba Tteat this packet the 1 ** " ^ down beliind the Ace of Hearts.

Now spread the cards left in your hands, which should lx> about a quarter of the deck, square them again and place diem face down behind die Ace of Clubs. ««»^square

II looks as ir you have casually cut the deck into four approximately equal packets while showing that then? are no Aces among diem. In reality, the packet behind the Ace of Spades contains exactly nine cards, the packet behind the Ace of Diamonds lias a Seven reversed on its face, and die packet beliind the Ace of Hearts has the Six of Clubs second Atom the face. Although it has taken a lot of space to describe and illustrate, these preliminary actions from the begjuroning to now liave been perfojmied briskly, consuming less tlian thirty see Hids. They can be easily made interesting by delivering a prologue as you take the Aces out and dien show tliat "iinlike Holhjwofxl Westerns, there is no fifth Ace "

"Now that it is dear that them are no other Aces, lets lose them (fuitefaiily in difl'nrnt parts of the deck." Pick up the nine^anl pile and fan it face down. Then insert die Ace of Spades, also face down, fourth from the face of the fan. lb avoid this becoming obvious, lift the fan to a vertical position, with the faces of the cards toward the audience, as you begin to insert the Ace between die third and fourth cards from the left.

Shuffling Cards Drawing

i wer die fan to a horizontal position as you tude the Ace to the visual center of the fan This will not change the numeric i>osition of ¿ e Ace in the fan, but it looks as if you have introduced the Ace centrally into the fan Sventually push the Ace flush; then dose fan and hold die packet face down m ded-ingpositioa

Take the Ace of Diamonds, flip it (ace down onto die ten-card packet held in your left hand and onto it dearly drop the pile that lias the reversed Seven on the bottom. Naturally, can* must be taken not to flash this reversed carcL

Similarly take die Ace of Hearts, flip it face down onto the cards you hold, then drop its pile an top of ¿ill. thus clearly buiying die Ace of Hearts.

Eventually take die Ace of Clubs, turn it face down onto iis pile, which still rests on the table, but leave die Ace outjogged for about lialf its length. Drop the balance of die deck on top. Approach the deck with lx>di hands and square die sides of die deck from front to back, as shown in die illustrations. This will cause the protruding Ace of Gübs to be pulled back and flush with the deck



Although lengdiy to read, the sequence of losing the Aces in the rWW tak«* i- .

seconds. I like to perform such functianal nha^thf. , ^ only abnul

, i t • Jllumil()naj pnases with a more acce eiated diytiimdianctfher phases whK-h are morP miportant in the perception of the audien«. I Iow^SSS never lx» saci^cecJ rorqweil. Tlip losing of the Aces is as dean as a wld^l^nonrtl^^dueto the genius of Mr. Chnst, the Ac« are ready ,f, be revealed in a most astxSS

Tills diagram shows the perfonning surface on die table, divided into different sectors» as is usually done on a stage. In small print is the terminology used in the dieater. The idea is tliat Sector A Is the most important, with the three Sectors B l>eing less so, and die two Sectors C lieing die least important.

Down left

Down center

Down right

Up left

Up center

Cr lip riitfu

Actions 111at are important for the audience are usually performed in Sectors A and B, while diose of less relevance are done in Sectors C (T, V and V mean lejl right and center, respectively). Secret actioas, if at all possible, should take place in Sectors ( \ This helps to cover die modus operandi while at die same time making the dramatic procedure clear and easy for the audience to follow. Let's use die looming rex-elation of the four Aces to study diLs concept. " rlYike die deck and place it face down in Sector BL Then perform your most magical gesture over the face-down deck, symbolizing the magical moment.

Riblxin spread the deck from left to right, revealing die face-up Seven of Spades in the center—in Sector A.

Using both liands, gather the canls above the faee-up Seven and place them fece up and squared in a pile to your right, in Sector CY. This Ls a secondaiy in-transit action, which visually frees the Seven and physically frees your right hand

Now use both hands to pick up the remaining partial spread and place it Wd lefchand dealing position. With your right hand, take the face-up Seven, explaining. 1Ins is the Maffic Seven... "As the left thumb pushes off the Seven, it naturally, Hish<* the for the width c >f its white border While die right luind displays tl ie Sevi n. the left die top c~anl back, allowing the left little finger to obtain a break l>eneaih it.

,n another in-transit action, the Seven is Led on top of the left liand's packet, not unite square with the rest of the cards, frreinji the right hand, which points to the î j)le indicating a diagonal line from Sectors ' ' ^ simultaneously, you finish the above sentence: " 1 will count seven cards hetv on the table.

The right hand grasps the two cards above the break as one in end grip, and places the faceup Seven with the secreted face-down Ace of Diamonds beneath it onto the face-up pile resting to your riglit in Sector Cr. This is interpreted as an in-transit action, which now allows you to go into (lie main action, which is dealing the first six cards into a face-i ip, overlapping diagorud line on the table. Thke the seventh card into your riglit hand and, going over to Sector A with it, turn it face up to reveal the Ace of Spades. Then drop it into Sector Br. When you place the double card onto the pile to your riglit, don't look at it; instead, look at your left liand and lean your body toward the left—the easiest way is to shift your weight onto your left foot, which can be done even if you are sitting

—. , UJ1«i onaKjy, topreparo for thenextphase. Fin* take the dwamaflv riiri *** {h;m P^e than far. up onto the pile in Sector (T, wh^t Seven o Spades atits face. Then drop the cardsstill m your left hand, also face ^ X of alL Finally, lake the deck and drop it face down into Sector Bl

T^ke the Ace of Spades and hold if lace up over the remainder of the deck. Bowing and relaxmg in- Ace in quick succession, make two circular movements over the deck, on.e raunterclc^kv^andonce clockwise: "The seamdAceisfound by slwersympfitky}' Drop the Ace of Spades hack into Sector Br, then ribbon spread the deck, revealing the • forx hi, , Ace of Diamond«) in Sector A

II is now necessary to cut the deck at the face-up Ace. Mere is an elegant way of doing it. Using both I lands, sqmrate the spread cards from the Ace and tiien kick the Acv fonrard a little by flicking its inner end with your index finger.

Tills constitutes a "strong moment" (Volume J, page 457). In the ensuing "weak moment", first gather the spread to your right, then use these cards to scoop up Hie spread on your left and hold the deck face down in left-hand dealing position As a checkpoint, you should find the Seven of Spades on lop of the assembled deck. Push the Act- of Diamonds aside, into Sector Br and on top of the face-up Ace of Spades, diagonal^ overlapping ii. so that 1k)Ui indices can lx> seen. These two cards Ix-gin to form a subtle pointer to Sector A ;uul Be, where the next revelations will take place.

Explain tiiat the next Ace must simply be called to make its appearance. This is why you are going to spell its name; because the magic is in (he name—««»oti est «men. Spell a-c -k as you deal one card for cad. letter into a facedown diagonally overlapping row. from outer left; to inner right, in Sector BL Use your right hand to push these three cards U^Irt toward the outer left, forming a pile Spell«>-F, dealing two cards in the same dlagc .ludly over ;,p, >mg configuration, and then square the cutis into a pile. Rnally spell < -M >** IuuhUIt« the next a wnv With voiir right index finger, tap die three piles, repealing. flvecaidsin f ^^ Zr the next caid of die deck, displaying die Ace ofQuCL of—-Clubs * ^ SSgu^on Of the cards at Bl and Br act as pointy to^?



You are still holding exactly diirty-nine face-down cards in left-hand dealing position (provided you are using a complete deck without .Jokers). The last Ace will be about one quarter from the bottom of the deck, and two cards below the Six of Clubs, which you initially remembered when you formed the packets. Spread a little more than half thte cards and briefly display tlieir faces by turning your right hand palm clown and dien palm up again.

Now transfer cards singly from die left hands packet to die face of the right hand's spread and quickly show die cards until you reach die Six of Clubs, which will lie one of the next few cards. '7lie last Ace is the Ace of Hearts and it must be somewhere in deck." As soon as you see die Six of Clubs on die face of the right liand's spread, look at the audience and take one more card, which wall be an indifferent one. The next facedown card is the last Ace. Remembering the second card before the Ace, radier tlian the first, makes your stopping of the display less abrupt and smoodier. (This is one of many details die great Juan Taniariz taught me in a different context, and that I apply here with his blessing.)

Replace the right hand's cards onto those in the left hand, maintaining a left UttMrtCer tinsik ix^veen the portona Then place die canls that were used to ^o^Z ^^ZZ

^i^l^V^^ t^ * ^ ^ am going to find the last all by yowW * fnan packets to the table, and after ydve'cut three and are approaching the break, tell him to stop you anywl »ere. You are hen* applying the packet f< >rei ?

explained in Volume 4 (page 799). Repeal the Ace of Hearts, holding it over Sector A Then drop it onto the other diree Aces and ribbon spread the remainder of die deck face up aor® Sectors CBC Spread the Aces in front of the spread, ending with an image similar to tku you created in the beginning. This is also die moment to deliver a final veriial flourish If you choose to adopt my presentation, discussed in the Final Notes, tills could simply 1 >e 14 study for four Aces and a deck qf cards."

Final Notes

1. Here are a few thoughts diat might serve as a guideline to creating your own script. As you consider diem, you will recognize one possible way of finding a personal and original presentation for ¿in otherwise standard effect. If we believe diat most of us in magic are not inventors who come up with entirely new and brilliant effects and concepts, we can still put a lot of ourselves into the study and performance of a piece by finding an original interpretation. Thus we may lie as artistic as an actor playing a part, which he lias not written, or ah interpreter of classical music who is playing a work composed by Beethoven

The presentational problem with any routine oi this type is, in my opinion, how to frame the repetitive nature of the process. To us as niagicuuis, finding four Aces in four different ways is interesting to a spectator it may be less so. So I set out to think about other juts and sciences, and to see if they abo use dils concept of appealing die same thing with slight variadoas. Very soon I hit on the cornet of studies, which Is something artists in odier arts use in one way or another.

So in my presentation 1 start by mentioning tluit all arts know the concept of studies. A |>ainter will make several drafts, sometimes using different tedv niijues, liefore approaching die final painting. As an example, I mention P&blo hcassos famous jiaintiiig ¿Yw/rcs (Studies) from 1020, which can tie seen in the Musee Pica««) in Paris. If you tan find it, show a |**>tcanl or a laser print of the iiainting. I also like to mention die Museo Picasso in Baavlona, where one room has the finished painting on one wall, while the other three w ;dls display ¿ill die studies he did liefore getting t'> die filial punting This by die way, left a lasting impression on me when I visited ihislieautiful little museum, and created a new approach to study and practice.

In music, for example, a study Is a shorter piece, conceived to pradice digit ill dexterityto overeome tedv nical difficulties. Bertini. CJementi and Cruupagnoll wrote studies, lisa and Chopin wrote ¿irllsUc studies, * milled concert studies, m*mt tobeperfUniecL

iSi.luuhlendtomakeasome times very asihetic sequent.

rsingtlusidcaasathomolinksn^c to Zer arts and creates, m an .nte -

ligentaudteno^ahiglfe^eaabmvYou tare therefore created for yourself the resjKjnsibility oipeOmmg beautifully and artistically.

Oil occasions, I have used a pianist to accompany my performance. While he played excerpts from Chopin's pianoforte studies, I performed the routine described above. Personally f think it effective to say sometliing from time to time during the performance, and not just to do it silently to music; bul this is a matter of taste, as I can easily imagine a performer using an elegant style while perfonning in pantomime to piano music, as soon as the Aces haw been lost in the deck.

2. Tlus is, in my opinion, a very demanding routine. While them is no difficult sleight-of-hand beyond basic card lian-flling. there are several aspects tliat need unilerstanding and careful interpretation There are several functional procedures tlial can by their nature 1» tedious, such as the showing of the rants at the beginning and the counting and reassembling of the tank 'lb maintain interest, such phases need to

!* mxvM * a brisker rtiythm, while important phases, such as those lead-u«K ,he ""Nation of die next Ace need to be interprets with more poise'

Saying something iascirvuing in keening with the theme' and ItxiWng ai ti'e audience during these moment Z

helps maintain interest and coaches th emotions.

a Notice the carefully crafted aivhitec-tune of iittransit actions, which have been created within die structmv of die routine to envelop each secret action and make die method impen-etrable to die audience's perception

4. I originally lx»gan practicing a l>asic version of tliis routine to study the concepts of jointing (Volume 2} page 438) and stage management, while tiyingto consider die close-up surface as a stage. On tliis topic I liave gone into detail in tills description, with die hope that you will assimilate diis knowledge and use it from now on in your work There art4, however, fundamental differpnees between the stage and die table. One such difference concerns methods for die direction of attention. On stage you go center up or down stage when you want to draw attention to something In close-up die direction of attention Is more flexible and is guided by means of the focus and emphasis the performer creates, as if he were using a lamp to shed light on specific areas, radier than ahsolute physical spaces. Nonetheless, as is the case in this routine, certain areas of the table can be established as diose where important things take place (Sector A and sometimes Sector B), and other areas merely seem to have an auxiliary function (Sector (' an<I sometimes Sector B). You will notice how all Ace revelations take place in Sector A, while the cards (apparently) not needed arv placed in Sectors B and C; and how secret actions hapi>en in the sectors tliat are of less relevance u»the audience. I would also like to draw your attention to how the sectors an* used in a sequence of increasing strength for the actions, to build interest

5. If, for some reason, you don't like taking the Aces out Of die deck just to lose them again, you might veiy well perform an effect dial ends with a production of die Aces, and only tlien go into the perfonnance of the present piece. Using the presentaiion above, however, Pve newr had anyone (pies don die logic of the routine»

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