George Woolven


How often do you attend a Music Hall or listen to the Radio and hear an old joke cracked, one that, you might term, has "grown whiskers"? You may be a bit surprised that the comedian has the nerve to perpetrate such a joke, one that you've heard many times before ! It might be that you've only heard it once before, but, in your mind springs the thought, "That's an old one. I've heard it!"

Yet, you must admit, even these old jokes still get laughs. Why? For the simple reason that they are still new to someone. Someone who laughs is hearing a joke for the first time! It may be old to you but it is new to them.

What on earth has this to do with magic, I can imagine you saying. Well, I think that the same results and the same reasons apply. I had this brought home forcibly to me only quite recently. In order to press home a point about something which was to follow later, I illustrated my remarks with a very old effect, and I was quite prepared to pass this by with the comment that "Of course, you all know that one" and proceed with my lecture, but I was rather surprised to receive expressions of dissent. Many of them had not seen the effect before, it was so old as to be absolutely new to them ! So I had to digress for a few moments and explain the oldie to quite a goodly number of young magicians present.

The moral in this being that, to the young, the old is often new.

That, therefore, shall be my reason for including the following effects in this month's "Focus On Magic", that and the fact that in the May issue, I gave you a version of the "Tramps and the Ducks", using matches, and, having just presented an effect with matches, it seems a shame to put them away without including something else worth while. Therefore . . .

Having shown the recovered 'Ducks' and the arrested 'Tramps', the performer takes up two of the matches, one in each hand, and discourses upon the apparent facility these 'sticks' have for penetrating or passing through each other. He illustrates this by placing a match in the crotch of each first finger and thumb, the matches being, of course, at right angles to each thumb and protruding equally above and below the thumb.


Now, he explains, he is about to take each match by the opposite finger and thumb and pull one match through the other. Very deliberately the left finger and thumb take the right hand match by the two ends, and the right finger and thumb takes hold of the ends of the left hand match. WITH A VERY EASY GLIDING MOVEMENT THE TWO HANDS ARE SEPARATED AND THE MATCHES APPEAR TO GLIDE ONE THROUGH THE OTHER.

To illustrate how magical this is, a willing spectator is asked to take two matches and instructed by the performer, to follow his (the performer's) movements. Both do exactly the same things, both placing matches in the crotches of the thumb, both take each match by the ends and by opposite fingers and thumbs and both draw the hands apart. At least the performer does, concluding with a match between each finger and thumb tip and hands wide apart, but the spectator finds his matches refuse to 'penetrate', his first fingers and thumbs are 'linked', and the only way he can get the hands apart is by allowing one of the matches to fall.


Still holding his own two matches at the tips of each finger and thumb (to give you some idea of the position at the moment, the right finger and thumb and match, if looked down upon would resemble a large capital letter "D", and the left hand position would resemble the same except that it be in reverse) the performer offers to show clearly what happened.

The left hand mafch is held long ways on to the audience, and vertical, the performer standing half left in order to show this to advantage. The right hand is held out towards the audience, with its match still between the thumb and first finger tips. The palm is upwards and the match is horizontal.

With an arc-like movement of the right forearm, the right hand match is tapped at right angles across the vertical one in the left. Suddenly, the two matches seem to penetrate one another and it is seen that actually the performer's thumbs, fingers and matches are linked, just as were the spectator's fingers when he tried to pull the matches apart.

Having shown the position clearly, the performer now carries out the operation in reverse A gentle tug or two, a slight tapping of the two matches together, crosswise and, suddenly the two hands come apart, yet it is clearly shown that each holds a match, by the ends, between the tips of the finger and thumb.

Hearing, or pretending to hear, some comments to the effect that the match-heads have something to do with the mystery (such comments do come occasionally, for spectators know that match-heads can become sticky) the performer, taking a small pair of scissors from his pocket, removes the heads from the matches.

In spite of this, he is still able to link the matches just as easily as before, and with one or two demonstrations he takes from his pocket two tiny glass rods, stating that he used to perform the effect using such glass rods, but he was always afraid that spectators would "see through" the trick ! With glass rods, however, it won't work, he says.


Getting the two rods into position shown before with the matches, that is, at the tips of each finger and thumb, he explains that it is just impossible to knock two glass rods together and expect them to penetrate—like that. Whereupon it is shown that the rods have actually linked.

Ignoring this, he goes on to say that it is just as impossible to unlink them—like this, and it is shown that the two rods are now apart again. All the time he is saying that it is not possible to do it, he is doing it, which causes a certain amount of amusement.

Really, he explains, what I use the rods for is this, and placing them in the crotches of the thumbs, he takes them by opposite fingers and thumbs, right under a spectators nose, separates the rods slowly, and hands them to the spectator, for him to try.


Briefly, then, the above routine consists of:

(1) Placing two matches in the thumb crotches and pulling them apart by taking them in opposite fingers and thumbs.

(2) Two matches are handed to a spectator, for him to try the same thing resulting in him still having the matches locked.

(3) Although doing (apparently) the same thing, the performer's matches are unlinked.

(4) Offering to show how this happens, the matches, held at the tips of the fingers and thumbs are gently struck together, crosswise, when they are seen to 'penetrate' and become locked.

(5) By an opposite process, they are unlinked.

(6) In case the spectators suspect some 'sticky' business with the match-heads, these are removed but still the performer can link and unlink the sticks.

(7) With the aid of two glass rods, although the performer states that it is impossible to do it with glass, he links and unlinks them just as with the matches.

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