Prelude

Dear George Blake,

Thank you very much indeed for your kind letter. Do by all means publish the effect in "Magic Magazine".

As you seem interested in the mechanics of it—incidentally I leave any necessary naming to you—you may like to know how it came to its present form.

When I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Newcastle Convention (at the home of our mutual friend Jock Marsh) you mentioned that you had some unusual playing cards each of which had printed in the centre the name of another card. This immediately suggested to me that such cards could be used to locate each other. Then I experimented with a set-up in which each card bore a secret mark to indicate the name of the card next in sequence. (This might be a commercial possibility because it would make possible a virtually undetectable set-up without much memory work). I also tried nail-marking the cards to achieve the same result with a borrowed deck but this was too elaborate .

Another approach was the classical gambling one of memorising a bridge hand and relying on a large proportion of the associations being retained in the subsequent shuffle. This is practical but difficult. Then I thought of matching the cards value for value, and this was so simple that there it rests.

I enclose another routine which may interest you. I have shown it to a number of magicians and no one has ever been able to solve the working. It also uses the idea of the prearranged pack which can be shuffled. Incidentally if you think there is any interest in demonstration games, I have also solutions for winning bridge and pontoon.

With kind regards. Yours sincerely,

One of the classical methods of cheating at poker is the preparation of a 'top stock' or a 'bottom stock'. This consists of a series of favourable cards which the dealer manages to get either at the top or the bottom of the pack. Subsequently he deals these cards to himself or his confederate. Before attaining this happy state of affairs, however, he has two major hurdles to negotiate—the shuffle and the cut. Hence the ingenious efforts that have been made to smooth the path of dishonesty by palms and replacements, even more invisible passes, and so forth.

It occurred to me that these circuitous processes could be short-circuited if the entire pack consisted of a series of 'stocks'. Then no matter where it was cut, the dealer would simply take the cut off portion of the pack and deal the requisite number of hands, dealing his own hand from the bottom.

Very little reflection was needed to show that this would be of no use in an actual game of poker, for reasons that will appear later. However it gave rise to an interesting demonstration game of poker, in which the dealer appears to beat all the precautions taken by the spectators. The pack is shuffled and cut fairly, but still the dealer gets the winning hands.

SKULL SHAKERS—Continued.

I've purposely "dressed" this effect so that it doesn't look like a card-trick. But some of you are incorrigible. So by all means do it with playing-cards if you like, using court cards for Levante and Esme . As long as you make a point of using the Queen of Hearts to represent Esme. I shan't grumble; nor, perhaps, will she, And orovided you take good care to publicise the

"How's Tricks'* show and tell people they simply mustn't miss it (even if they've to steal the money to pay for a ticket) I'm sure the great man himself will be grateful, too.

By the way, if you go to see the show yourself you'll be able to tell the story so much better afterwards. And I'm quite sure you'll use the Queen of Hearts!

By Dr. J. SCOTT INGLIS

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