An Interlude

This may be a good moment to mention one effect that David includes in his stage routine with cards that is absolutely devastating and direct. A card has been named by one of the volunteers on stage and David says to him, "In a moment I am going to ask you to walk up to the table and cut the cards like this." David demonstrates by cutting the pack into two packets. What the audience do not know is that he is cutting exactly at the named card. He can glimpse the face card of the cut portion to be sure he has hit it. The cut portion is placed on the table a short distance from the rest of the pack.

It is possible that he just misses the card but quickly dropping a card from the upper half or adding an extra one to it easily rectifies this. He doesn't make a big deal out of this or try to turn it into some covert move. I le just drops a card or picks one up. Like most of his work it is done in a casual manner.

Once the man understands what is to be done, David reassembles the pack so that the named card is now either on top or the bottom. Let's assume it is the bottom card.

David walks away from the table so that he is standing on one side and the man on the other. "Are you ready?" He asks. "Your job is to cut to the card you are thinking of. What was the card?" The man names it and David asks him to go over to the table and cut the pack. "Anywhere you like but don't complete the cut. Leave the two halves on the table. Good."

The man returns to his position a little way from the table. David walks over to the cards and casually crosses one half across the other. This is the old Crossing the Cut Force. However, his body shields the action from the audience. He does it quickly; walking in front of the table and towards the volunteer, as he says, "Let's just mark the cut like that."

"Why did you cut to that particular place?" says David before asking the volunteer to repeat the name of his card. I le then he reaches out to the pack, takes the upper half and raises it so that the face card is towards the man. "Is that your card?" he asks, not making any attempt to look at the cards.

"Yes," says the man, astonished.

David quickly turns the packet towards himself and the audience, apparently amazed at the volunteer's success. "Give him a big hand for being so clever!" The Cross Cut Force may seem an ancient bit of business but used in this way it is incredibly strong. A volunteer names a card and then cuts to it. You can't get much more direct than that.

In Conclusion

No explanation can ever cover the many obstacles and challenges that The Berglas Effect presents nor can it outline the many solutions possible. But within any improvisational work there remains a core structure to which the performer must return or risk losing sight of the effect and floundering amid a sea of methods all of which suddenly seem so far away when they are most needed—in performance. Knowing this David has always responded to challenges from fellow magicians in order to show that the effect is not accomplished through pure luck, psychological manipulation or other imponderables.

For the purposes of our explanation the structure begins when David gains knowledge of the cards selected by the spectators. He does it in the most direct way possible, by asking them to call out cards. Knowing their identities he can get to them in the pack (whether shuffled or set-up) long before anyone suspects he has done so. Only then will he have a number called out, psychologically pushing the spectator towards the location of the named card. Anything may happen along the way as the spectators' cards are revealed. All of it must be entertaining. All of it must be mystifying. But one of those events has become legendary and is known by magicians all over the world. It's called The Berglas Effect.

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