Tricks Accomplished By The Art Of Sound Reading

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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(1) Tapping Card Location

Three people devised this effect, Alex Elmsley, Jon Tremaine and myself. We were discussing sound reading and as a result of the conversation we devised the following effect.

A deck of cards is borrowed and given a mix. During the mixing you note the bottom card. You then proceed to do the Hindu shuffle, but hold a break with four cards on the bottom of the deck. The spectator calls stop during the shuffle and you show the bottom card which we shall say is the queen of hearts. As soon as you have shown this card and the spectator has been asked to remember it—you complete the shuffle and end by throwing the four "controlled" cards on top of the deck. By this action you have forced the queen of hearts and positioned it four cards down from the top. The deck may now be given a false shuffle or false cut before it is handed to the spectator. When he is given the pack he is told to deal cards face down from the top in a row on the table. After seven cards have been dealt, you stop him casually by saying. "I think that will be sufficient". Next you hand him a pencil and instruct him very clearly to wait until you turn your back, then to start from cither end of the row he likes and to tap on the cards with the pencil—two or three times on each card. You turn your back and wait. From the handling of the cards, you know that the queen of hearts is in the middle of the row of seven—from either end. However, you must stop him when he is actually tapping that card—and since he is allowed to tap as often as he likes it is not a question of counting but rather a matter of listening for the distinct "sound breaks" that occur as he stops tapping on one card and starts on the next. That is why it is important that he taps down the row without missing any cards. You listen carefully and wait until you have heard three breaks and the tapping which follows this must be done on the face down queen. WThen he reaches this card, you call—"tap that one again please*' (as though it mattered) and then say—"drop the pencil on that card please to mark it for a moment". You turn round, gather up the other six cards first —to make it less obvious that his card was central from either end, ask him to name the card "he thought of" (which you forced) and turn over the queen to show that it is his card.

The effect takes much longer to describe than to perform and it will withstand some pretty shrewd thinking before the means is discovered.

(2) Paranormal Precognition

This is a stage effect which presented well, will cause quite an amount of controversy as to the means by which it was done.

You require a fairly large blackboard, five cards with the designs mentioned on page 38 drawn on them, some white chalk and a table to rest the board on when performing.

Two spectators are asked to take part. One is asked to hold the blackboard upright whilst it stands on say a card table—with the edge facing the audience. He should be told to hold it firmly so that writing may be done on both sides at once. Next you take the five sign cards and show them to the audience as all different. You then hand them to the second spectator and give him a piece of chalk. He is then told to stand on one side of the board, whilst you go and stand on the other; the audience can see both of you.

You start by telling the spectator to take any of the five cards and to draw the chosen design in the middle of the board. Next he chooses another card and adds that design on top of the one he has just drawn, then another which he puts underneath—and drawn so that it just joins the middle drawing, then one more to his right (your left) and finally to his left. All designs have therefore been drawn in an order chosen by the spectator. When it comes to the last one which you know before he draws, draw it to the right and then stand back and give the final instruction. The complex structure of the finished drawing helps considerably to misdirect from the fact that only five designs were offered. In many cases your audience will presume by forgetfulness that you duplicated a compound geometrical drawing. Page 38 gives you all the information you need to know about sound reading designs drawn on a blackboard.

(3) A Pocket Trick

This is a very old effect which is still good enough to fool those unacquainted with the secret.

You have two small coloured pencils—say red and blue. One of them is hollow inside and has a small piece of solder or a little mercury in it. The hole is sealed at the end so that the fake pencil looks the same as the real one.' Both pencils are given to a spectator who is asked to drop any one into a matchbox (they just fit) and close it, then to hide the other one from view. You can always tell what colour is in the box simply by picking it up and turning the box the other way up. If it is the fake pencil, you will hear a little noise as the weight falls to the other end of the pencil—and you will get the feel of the impact—which although very little is easily detectable. With the genuine pencil nothing happens of course. It is considered necessary to use some misdirection when handling the matchbox so, if, when you turn round he has it in his hands, take it and place it on the table—reading as you do so; or if it is on the table, place it in his hands—reading again during the necessary movement.

(4) Clean Cut Card Trick

A deck of cards is fanned and a spectator told to look at any card he likes and remember it. He is then handed a slate and told to write the name of his card on it. You pick up the pack and remove one card, he then shows his slate and you show the card. They are the same. See page 38.


Touch Reading is the Art of gaining information by feel or sense of touch. The Art is used quite a lot by mentalists and magicians in one way or another —but it is not always recognised as being touch reading. A good example of this is, of course, the common pocket index for playing cards.

Since the basis of touch reading is the same in all cases, and the technique only varies, we will content ourselves with a selection of tricks which utilise the principle so that a fair indication of its value may be given.

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The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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