Stab In The Dark


OF ALL the card classics the most telling are those with a clear cut effect. Some represent straight-forward conjuring at its best, whilst a few give scope to the mental or psychic worker. One of these is the blindfold card stab. Many versions involve a number of cards being selected which, when the performer is blindfolded, are unerringly stabbed with the knife that he holds. The present version, a very simple version indeed, is only concerned with the losing and finding of one card. The total effect we have found always telling, the discovery of the one card being a true climax. The patter theme makes it a psychic effect.

The magician picks up a pack of cards which he casually shuffles; he talks of sixth sense and how he would like to try an experiment. He takes a knife from the table: it should be of the stilletto type and interesting to look at and handle. (The one I use at the moment is a Spanish product and is a miniature Toledo sword.) "The ancients were very learned when they sought truth in the breaking down of metals, for even within this sword there is a strange power, a power beyond scientific analysis. Would you mind, madam, taking this sword and pushing it into this pack of cards?" At this moment the magician hands the knife to a lady in the audience and fanning the pack of cards allows her to push the end of the sword into the spread. " Madam, would you like to enjoy the prerogative of your sex and change your mind? No! . . . Very well just look at the face of the card above the sword and then kindly autograph it for me; incidentally don't let me get a glimpse of the card!" The lady is handed a pencil so that she can write her name across the face of the card. Before she commences writing, however, the sword is retrieved and slipped into the outer breast pocket. The magician then walks back to his table as the lady writes. He faces front and says, " One thing that I wish to impress upon you all is that the lady allowed the sword to find a card. My purpose now is to show that under seemingly impossible conditions the sword will find it once again. But first we must lose track of the card. Madam I want you to put the pack into complete confusion by thoroughly shuffling the card you have autographed with the rest of the cards . . . give the pack your very best shuffle!"

The lady shuffles the pack and the magician steps forward first taking the pencil back, followed by the pack itself. " Madam, I still require your assistance so will you please step this way." The lady walks to the table with the magician. Placing the pack upon the table top, he then picks up a piece of cotton wool saying, " We now approach the most critical stage of the experiment for I have to fit myself to be responsive to the sword. / have to develop an extra sense! To achieve this, one sense must go, and the easiest is sight. Madam, will you tell the audience whether this pad of cotton wool cuts out all light!" The pad is lightly placed across the assistant's eyes and after an affirmative reply is removed. "Thank you!" There is a slight pause as the performer takes a folded silk handkerchief on which he places the cotton wool. He lifts them to a position where pad and handkerchief cover his eyes. To the assistant he says, " Will you please tie the ends of the handkerchief at the back of my head?" This is done.

" Ladies and gentlemen, remember what has happened. One of fifty-two cards has been decided upon by this lady who found that card with this sword." As this is said the right hand removes the knife from the pocket. " Through the medium of the sword I intend to find that card again." Turning his head in the direction of the assistant he adds, " To make my task as easy as possible will you cut the pack into three separate heaps." The assistant carries out the request. " Have you done that?" says the magician. With an affirmative reply, he extends his hand holding the sword. " Please guide my hand so that the point of the sword touches one of the heaps." The assistant does this. "No response," says the magician, "Just remove that heap and place the point on another. Far better, just remove the remaining heap." The magician now starts scattering the cards with the point of the sword and when they are spread all over the table he finally encircles them from above and lets the point of the sword fall and impale one card. He says, " Madam I am beginning to get an impression of a pattern, is your card a red card? . . . it is . . . good ... a heart . . . the nine of hearts . . . that is correct? . . . and is there a card on the point of the knife?" Again an affirmative. The sword is lifted so that the face of the impaled card, which is the nine of hearts, can be seen by the audience and at the same time the magician whips off the bandage covering his eyes. The lady is allowed to confirm that the card on the point of the sword is the one that she autographed.

The Requirements.

A pack of cards in which, say, the nine of hearts is a short card.

A silk handkerchief large enough to bandage the magician's head.

A pad of cotton wool measuring seven inches by three and a half inches. On one side of this is glued a piece of white cardboard the size of a playing card (see illustration).

A knife of the stilleto type.

A pencil.

The Preparation.

The short card is on top of the pack which is placed on the table together with the silk handkerchief, pad of cotton wool and knife. The silk handkerchief should be folded ready to make a bandage and the cotton wool pad should be cardboard side undermost. The pencil is placed in the outside breast pocket. A chair is placed on the right-hand side of the table.

The Presentation.

As in the description of the effect I have given a very detailed presentation, here I shall give just the bare bones of the means employed.

First of all you pick up the pack of cards and shuffle them, faces towards the audience but maintaining the short card on top. Near the end of his preamble, the short is brought to the bottom of the pack, the palm of the hand covering the short card. The pack is held in the right hand whilst the left hand takes the sword from the table. This is handed to a lady in the audience. The right hand now fans the cards it is holding and under cover of the spread the bottom card is slid along the fan so that it is positioned almost below the right hand side of the fan. The lady inserts the point of the sword into the pack and with the assurance that she is satisfied with her choice, you remove the cards below the knife with your left hand and at the same time square the cards above the short card which now becomes the bottom card of the top half, and apparently the one above the knife. This is a sure fire force based on an Hofzinser force and one which I have used for over thirty years, although the first time I mentioned it in print as a single hand force was in 1946. Since then, in fact quite recently, Jim Thompson gave quite a space to it in his Top Secrets of Magic. The packet with the card facing her is handed to the assistant and with a request that she autographs it you hand her the pencil and the remainder of the pack. Take back the sword and slip it into your breast pocket.

When the cards have been shuffled the pack is taken back and also the pencil. The pencil is dropped into the pocket and as you ask the lady to further assist you, the short is located and the pack is openly cut, bringing the short card to the top. Believe me, the openness of this action is proof against suspicion. The assistant returns with you to his table, the cards are placed down and the pad of cotton wool is picked up. In order to test the opaque quality of the wool by placing it over the assistant's eyes, the pad is taken so that the non-cardboard side rests against her face whilst the card is covered and masked by your hands. The pad is then taken away and retained by the right hand whilst the left hand picks up the folded silk handkerchief from the table. The cotton wool pad is laid upon it and when handkerchief and pad are lifted they are brought into such a position that the piece of cardboard goes across the bridge of your nose. However tightly the bandage is now tied the cardboard allows you perfect down the nose vision, which covers the whole of the table top.

The assistant cuts the pack into three heaps and you note where the top portion of the pack goes. Taking the sword from your pocket with the right hand, the assistant places the point on one of the heaps. As it would be poor psychology to find the card in the first heap indicated by the assistant, should the guiding by the assistant take the point of the knife to the heap which has as its top card the one autographed, you take care to guide the assistant so that it goes to another. This is no difficult task, for remember the word 4 Guide ' has been used. When the point of the sword finally rests upon the heap containing the chosen card and the two other heaps have been removed from the table, the cards are scattered around the table top, whilst you keep track of the autographed card. The sword is now encircled above the cards, ultimately falling and impaling the chosen one.

I should like the reader to note that in describing the use of the blindfold there has been no suggestion that it is being used to stop the performer seeing, i.e., I have heard magicians say, " Now so that it is impossible for me to see what is taking place, etc. . . . I'll allow you to blindfold me!" This type of statement is something like a challenge and so truly serves its purpose in sowing the seeds of suspicion.

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