Snap Pass

Jon Racherbaumer

There always seems to be renewed interest in the Pass. The usual shop-talk about speed and invisibility engage cardmen, and variants continue to pop up from time to time. The prime movers in this department are Hugard, Braue, Vernon, and Marlo. The principle of the Pass— the action where halves of the deck are made to secretly transpose—seems to have originated at the gaming table. The first explanation was published by Guyot in 1799. Since then numerous attempts have been made to make the action imperceptible, noiseless, and smooth.

After Erdnase, Expert Card Technique marks a turning-point in the modernization of the Pass. In 1946, Hugard and Braue published The Invisible Pass. In those days, cardmen were interested in speed. Dr. Elliott reputedly could execute the Pass one-hundred and twenty times a minute. Paul Rosini claimed he could perform ninety-five Passes in a minute. There are only a handful of fast-Passers: Ken Krenzel, Howie Schwarzman, Derek Dingle, Steve Freeman, Bruce Cervon, Larry Jennings, Bill Kalush, Jim Swain, Richard Kaufman, and Doug Conn. So much for speed.

Deceptiveness is another matter. Erdnase wrote: "The shift has yet to be invented that can be executed with the hands held stationary and not show that some maneuver has taken place, however cleverly it may be performed." (My italics) Consequently, Passers learned about shade and misdirecting timing. Marlo added an important cover, the Wrist Turn. Students studied Hugard and Braue, then absorbed Vernon's touches from The Gen which were later republished in Ultimate Card Secrets.

It seems like Vernon and Marlo were reluctant to tip. They had been using their own approaches and refinements for a long time prior to their exposure. Vernon's approaches (as told to Lewis Ganson) are credited to others like Fred Black, Johnny Sprong, and Walter Baker. Marlo's influences, if any, are unclear. He obviously read everything germane to the Pass, but his methods are personalized with the Marlovian stamp of deep analysis and rigorous experimentation.

This variation is directly inspired by Marlo's exhaustive research on the subject of Passing. The only elements added are the one-hand action and its instantaneous, noiseless dynamic. These are trifles, but they undeniably enhance what the Wrist Turn already permits. Needless to say, the technique can be used as a direct Color Change instead of a secret shift.

Method: Hold the deck face down in the standard Mechanic's Grip. Your left pinky holds a break between the halves. Your left thumb should be against the left side of the deck. Your right hand grasps the deck from above and by the ends with its first finger curled on top. (Fig. 1)

Curl your left first finger under the deck, then the lower half is moved upwards to a perpendicular position alongside the right longitudinal side of the upper portion. This accomplished by straightening your first finger as your other left-hand fingers pull down and grab the lower half. This lower half is steadied and pinched between these fingers and the first finger. This action is the standard get-ready for the Hermann or Turnover Pass. There is, however, an important difference. Once the lower half is moved perpendicular, your left first finger stays between both halves at the outer right corner. It also firmly grips the upper half at the outer right side. (Fig. 2 , an exposed view with the right hand removed.)

Note that your left fingers hold everything in place and both halves are completely controlled. Your right hand merely provides cover. The next actions occur in a fraction of a second. Your right hand relaxes and raises slightly as your left hand does a quick Wrist Turn and turns palm down. When it turns palm down, your left thumb and first finger snaps the upper half face up as in a conventional Turnover Pass. This, unlike the Turnover Pass, is strictly a one-hand action. Important: Keep your left first finger between the halves. This prevents the halves from noisily slapping together after the instantaneous shift. At this point, the cards should look like Figure 3, another exposed view. Looking down on the face-up deck, the spectator sees neither the separation or your intruding first finger. (Fig. 4)

Your left hand then turns palm up with equal rapidity. This larger action covers your left first finger's removal from between the halves. When it is removed, it quickly moves to the upper end of the deck. (Fig. 5) This also aids in squaring the halves. The action of moving the entire deck face down literally moves the un-squared upper half towards your left first finger, which acts as a back-stop.

This one-hand Wrist Turning action is not misdirecting. In reality, it focuses attention to your moving hand and the deck. There is no shade. The action is excused as a magical gesture. If correctly executed, the shift cannot be seen or heard, and considering the time-factor, the notion of manipulation is easily ignored. Those suspicious, if anything, give you credit for superb skill even though they assume something tricky happened.

Use this technique sparingly and in the right circumstances. Do not use it as a control. There are better, move subtle techniques for controlling a card. As a Color Change, in an Ambitious Card routine, or in tricks that excuse a wrist-turning magical gesture, the Snap

Pass is apt.

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