The Fourcard Trick

(Featuring the Elmsley Count)

Effect: A packet of four cards is shown backs and fronts. The cards are seen to have blue backs and blank faces. One of the cards changes magically into a joker. Then the audience is asked to keep track of the joker in the packet, but the card eludes them. To make their task easier, the joker is turned face-up in the face-down packet; but when it is next checked, it has changed back to a blank card.

The blank card is turned over and all four cards are shown to be face-down. Yet, when the packet is spread, the joker appears again, face-up in the position from which it has just vanished. It is removed from the packet and snapped. This causes the back of the joker to change from blue to red. After this bewildering series of changes, the joker is returned to the packet of blue-backed blank-faced cards and all is left for examination, for the cards are just what they seem.

Method: Despite the hundreds of packet tricks released during the past thirty years that rely on the Elmsley count, this original effect is as astonishing as it was in 1954, when Mr. Elmsley invented it. It is also a concise lesson on the versatility of the Elmsley count. Note, as you read the following explanation, that within this one trick Mr. Elmsley cunningly demonstrated the utility of the count forâ€”

a) counting four cards as four while hiding one surface;

b) displacing cards in the packet while seeming only to reverse their order; and c) effecting the transformation of a reversed card in the packet.

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