Covering The Top Card Pass

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Edward Marlo - Jon Racherbaumer

The notion of using a top card or block of cards to conceal the pass-action is ascribed to Ellis Stanyon; however, Marlo was the first to painstakingly analyze its dynamics and submit expert technical variations. These notes appeared in the Linking Ring, The New Tops, Expert Card Conjuring, and the Hierophant. The most thorough treatment of the Stanyon Pass is explained in Marlo's Magazine - Volume 2 (1977). Not much can be added to these notes, but Roy Walton and Ken Krenzel have described the basic mechanics in their books. In all cases, including those described by Marlo, the passing section of cards is moved out and to the right, then is dragged or swung to the bottom. These dynamics require considerable practice to master in a quick, noiseless manner. Your left-hand fingers do all the work, which can be adequately covered by your right hand, but a great deal depends on the shape and size of one's hands, particularly the length of your fingers.

Several years ago, Marlo showed me his technical variation of the Tan Hock Chuan Pass. This pass, when done standing with spectators looking down, has a nice, easy deceptiveness. It is used to control a selection to the bottom. Briefly: The deck is held in a left-hand dealing position with a left pinky break held below the selection (which should be centrally located). Your right hand holds the deck from above and by the ends in a Standard Pass position. Your left first finger is curled under the deck, then it tips or pivots all the cards below the break to an upright, perpendicular position as in the Hermann Pass. Your right hand then releases a small block of cards from the bottom of the uppermost section. These cards, including the selection on the bottom, drop into your left palm. Then the perpendicular section is squeezed back onto the dropped section. The whole action is covered by the steadfast top block.

The following technical variation of Marlo's THC Pass is my way of doing a Top Card Cover Pass. Students with any-sized hands should find the action easier. You will have greater control over the moving sections and it much simpler to go up and inwards with the passing section rather than out and downwards. None of this would have happened without Marlo's expert guidance, so most of the credit goes to him. Putting it together is merely a student's exercise and should be construed as a tribute.

Method: Have a card peeked, release it to the lower section, then hold a left pinky break above it. Hold the cards as shown in Figure 1. Your left first finger should be curled underneath the deck. Relax your break as your left second and third fingers pull the lower section slightly downwards. (Fig. 2

Your left pinky moves under the section and curls inward at the lower right corner. Your left second and third fingers hold the lower section from above and your curled first and fourth fingers hold it from below. Now by gradually extending the fingers the lower section is pivoted upright into a perpendicular position. (Fig. 3)

The uppermost corner of the pivoted section should lodge itself between the third and fourth fingers of your right hand (at the large knuckles). The pivoted section should also completely clear the upper section and rest alongside. (Fig. 4- the position of the two sections when the right hand is removed.) Note that your left fist finger, once the lower section is properly positioned, moves between the sections and now holds the upper section at its upper right corner. (Fig. 5) This is important. At this point both sections are held securely in place and you have utmost control over either section. Up until now nothing has been done to set the top card which must remain frozen in place.

Consequently a slight break must be made between the top card and rest of the upper section; however, do not lift this top card with your right thumb and fingers. As in Tilt, maintain the frozen position of the top card by holding it between your right thumb and fingers. Angle the rest of the top section downwards, using your left first finger. (Fig. 6)

Once the top section is far enough down, your other left fingers curl inwards bringing the upright, perpendicular section downwards and inwards so that it moves onto the original top section. Notice that all the fingers involved cushion and control the cards, thus eliminating any noise. Figure shows the pass near completion. All that remains is to move your left first fingertip out of play, relax your left hand, and more or less cradle the assembled cards. Your right hand and its single top card moves imperceptibly downwards until everything is flush. Both hands can adjust the deck in the usual squaring actions. The whole business should take a few seconds. The selection is now second from the top.

January 22, 1979

Almost every cardman knows and performs the Charlier Pass. Most of the time it is done as an open flourish to cut the cards. It is also used to cut to a previously reversed card, bridge, or crimp. There have been attempts to invisibly perform the Charlier Pass invisibly, usually by raising your hand as the cut is made. Erdnase: "The performer now with an up or down motion, or swing towards the person..." Sometimes the action was covered by your arm as it reaches across and in front of your cutting-hand to pick up some poker chips, a cigar, or a card case. These type of concealments are frequently explained in pseudo-gambling demonstrations. Roterberg's New Era Card Tricks (1897) suggests shielding the action with the right hand, but this suggestion is not amplified and no specific technical details are provided. Perhaps this explains why cardmen have not considered this possibility and continue to use the Charlier Pass as an open flourish?

These techniques for performing the Charlier Pass have puzzled some of the sharpest cardmen in the country. They were privately taught to a select number over the years and it was conscientiously guarded and kept exclusive, with perhaps one exception.

Set-up: Secretly crimp the inner left corner of the bottom card. If you prefer, bridge the deck. The crimped card can locate a selected card or stack after a cut

Method: Suppose you have placed the crimped card above a selection and the deck is openly and cleanly squared on all sides. Hold it face down in your left hand in readiness for the Charlier Pass. (Fig. A)

Your right hand comes over to the deck to momentarily screen it. (Fig.B ) Under the cover of your right hand, your left hand immediately starts to perform the Charlier Pass, cutting at the crimp. (Fig.C ) Your right hand completely covers this action.

As the lower portion of the deck is moved upwards by your left first finger and past the upper half, your right hand changes position as though it was about to grasp the deck from above by the ends. (Fig.D )

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