Len Belcher

D EADERS are probably aware that I am fond of taking old mathematical principles and and playing about with them in a search for new effects.

In almost all of them there is some particular step which because it is unnatural, or seems to the spectator to be unnecessary, breeds suspicion, and thus rules it out for the discriminating performer.

It seems fairly obvious therefore that if this step (since it cannot be eliminated) can be made to appear plausible and perfectly natural, we are well on the way to a whole series of fresh ideas.

May I illustrate what I mean by detailing to you such a process?

You may judge from the result whether the effort has been worthwhile.

Everyone, I suppose, is familiar with the principle underlying the old " Age Cards." A number of cards bearing various ages are handed to a spectator, and from these he selects the cards on which his own age appears.

The cards all have a numerical significance to the performer; he adds the values of the cards handed to him and thus knows the spectator's age.

It is virtually automatic : it is also very well-known, and would not deceive a babe in arms.

The inherent weakness, of course, is the use of cards in any case, coupled with the peculiar method of handling them.

We are thus faced with two problems; first we must have a plausible excuse for the cards, and secondly we must make the handling of them seem natural.

Now follows my solution. I decided to get away from the idea of age, and turn the effect over to the divination of a design : instead of having large cards, each carrying a number of designs I decided to keep the designs one to a small card, and to have these designs in sets.

I detail these sets here, using numbers instead of designs, in order to save time.

u

*

•k

—o

6

t

I

<t>

0

1

8

I suggest that the above set of designs might be used. They require practically no memorisation work as the designs from 1 to 7 are made to equal the number in qu estion, i.e. 1 is indicated by an oblong which looks like 1, 2 is made to look like an angular 2, 3 is a triangle, and 4 a foursided figure and so on. The extra numbers are based on the preceding seven numbers, additional lines or some ornament being added.—P.W.

I suggest that the above set of designs might be used. They require practically no memorisation work as the designs from 1 to 7 are made to equal the number in qu estion, i.e. 1 is indicated by an oblong which looks like 1, 2 is made to look like an angular 2, 3 is a triangle, and 4 a foursided figure and so on. The extra numbers are based on the preceding seven numbers, additional lines or some ornament being added.—P.W.

1

2

4

EXTRA

1 IE

2 2E

4 4E

IE 2E

3 3E

7 7E

7 7E

3E 4E

5 5E

6 6E

5 5E

5E

7 7E

3 3E

6 6E

7E 6E

Plus

Another

Plus A

Plus A

No. 1

No. 2

No. 4

Reference to this chart will show that the first set consists of eight different designs, plus a duplicate of No. 1; set No. 2 has eight different designs, plus a duplicate of No. 2, and so on. The extra set has only seven designs.

Before going any further let us follow the simple process of tracking down any particular design—for instance, 7E. It appears on the first set (mental total of 1.); it appears on the second (mental total, 1+2); it appears on the next (mental total, 1+2 + 4); it also appears on the last (mental total 1+2 + 4 = 7, and in this case 7E).

Take one more, say No. 5. It appears on the first (1)—not on the second (mental total still 1); it is on the third (total 1+4 = 5)— but not on the extra set, so it is No. 5.

So much for the mechanics. Now for the camouflage.

The order of the designs in any particular set is of no importance, but the order of the sets themselves is.

The performer asks for four spectators to assist him, explaining that he wishes to carry out an experiment in multiple concentration.

While the volunteers are coming forward he casually mixes the stack of designs with the false shuffle used for Jumbo Cards. The result is that the order remains undisturbed.

He has previously fanned and shown the designs, remarking that they are the type normally used in experiments in telepathy where the designs are duplicated in order to obtain data on such matters as frequency of occurrence.

The sets are then given out to the assistants (pencil dots on the backs will help here) no attention being drawn to the number of cards each one has. The performer merely says it will be easier to handle the designs if all are helping. This incidental explanation is never questioned : if the cards are of a respectable size it is so obviously true.

The assistants are mentally classed as 1, 2, 4 and Extra, and each receives the appropriate set.

Turning to the first, the performer asks him to select one of the designs, and then to collect up any duplicate from the other three.

As this collection is made the performer merely has to make his mental totals, and knows immediately what the chosen design is, but he says nothing as yet.

He instructs the first helper to lay out the chosen designs face up on a table while he, the performer turns his back.

Now all four assistants are to concentrate on the design, and then put the cards out of sight.

From now on it is largely a question of dramatic ability; for instance the performer can pretend to be confused—he looks the assistants over, and asks one of them to glance again at the design. Then it is revealed—as if the confusion had been removed.

An alternative presentation is to have each spectator in turn choose one of the designs in his set, and collect the duplicates of it from the others.

Under cover of writing the helpers' names down the performer keeps track of the four mental totals, and can thus reveal all four designs.—A truly satisfying climax to a mental programme.

A final glance at the sets of designs will reveal duplicates in the first 3 sets: these are necessary to account for the patter angle, and of course they must occur in the sets shown or the mathematical basis will be disturbed.

The detailing of this effect has perhaps seemed rather long-winded, but I was anxious to bring out a line of approach in devising fresh effects, rather than to give a bare description of yet another routine.

I hope I have succeeded in my purpose, and I hope, too, that the reader will have gained something more than a fresh programme item.

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