Any Card at Any Number
This presentation has unquestionably achieved "legendary" status. It is an effect so impossible that it has had the best brains in magic scratching their heads in search of a solution. Some refused to believe the effect existed at all, that it was mere rumour, mis-reporting or perhaps even a hoax set up by the publicity master himself. In fact, the creation of the legend was a surprise even to David. He has been performing what is now widely known as The Berglas Effect fox many years, both on stage and in less formal settings, the routine evolving out of the clean and direct way he works with playing cards, using minimal handling to achieve miraculous effects.
It was the release of a Magicassette audio recording by Martin Breese (1976) that drew the attention of magicians to the routine and stimulated discussion. It contained a brief description of David's nightclub act (which took place at Caesar's Palace, Luton, 31st August 1976, on the night of the recording) and included his own summary of this neo classic:
I then went on to a card effect and probably. again, you noticed the difference. The card effects happen with the men on the stage and me off the stage. I get one man to point to somebody in the audience who calls out a card. Somebody else in the audience calls out a number. Someone else says from the top or bottom of the pack. When the man on stage counts to that number, somehow, the card is the right card in that position.
Later on the tape, David performed the effect for Martin Breese who on naming the Jack of Clubs and calling for the number nineteen was amazed to find the card at that very number. And that was after being given the choice of dealing from either the top or the bottom of the pack! The performance sent cardworkers delving into their libraries in search of similar effects. Erdnase had described an Any Card At Any Number effect in Expert At The Card Table but it was clearly different from David's own routine. It was Jon Racherbaumer, writing in his book.l/ The Table (1984) who dubbed the routine The Berglas Effect. The appellation has remained and the effect is considered in the same genre as Dai Vernon's Brainwave Deck and Ralph Hulls Name-O-Card, in which freelv chosen cards are revealed with the minimum of fuss. Ultimately, the conditions for The Berglas Effect seemed so impossible and so beyond the techniques familiar to cardworkers that many became convinced that there was only one
The Mind & Magic of David Berglas 527
practical solution: die pack was set-up in a known order and the person who called the number was a confederate.
(ins Southall was one of those that said so, publicly in The Budget magazine, an accusation that irked David. The chance for a personal demonstration came at the British Ring Convention at Hastings in 1970, where David was helping fill in time between the competitors in the Close-l p Competition. He found himself performing his brand of card magic at the very table where Gus Southall. who was a competition judge, sat. David asked Gus to name a card while another spectator called out a number. As usual the card was found at the selected number in the pack. The audience applauded and then David said, "Well, you know how that's done don't you? Gus is a stooge!" David looked directly at him, adding, "Aren't you?" Gus was taken aback and protested that he wasn't. "In that case," said David, "don't write it again." He never did.
It was obvious that this couldn't be the solution when other accounts of the effect began to appear. In the foreword to The David Berglas File, Peter Warlock, then editor of the New Pentagram, wrote the following:
David and / were returning from Holland after a television presentation, part of a series in which this Man of Mystery made himself a household name in that country. It's a short hop from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to London's Heathrow, and after ten minutes of flight David asked me to name a card. / named the Five of Clubs. little later he asked me to give him a number between one and fifty-two. / gave him twenty-two. Five minutes to touchdown, and he asked me to take a case containing a deck from a holdall that lay at his feet. He asked me to take the cards from the case and count to the number I had given him, namely twenty-two. This / did and with the instruction to turn over the card at that number, found\ just as you dear reader had already anticipated, the Five of Clubs!
The television series Peter referred to was Opus 13, which places this performance of Any Card At Any Number sometime in 1966. One might have thought that Peter's description would clarify some of the points but ironically this was not the case. Some magicians took the description too literally and assumed that the bag he mentioned played a part in the working. Perhaps, they suggested, it hid more than one pack of cards, maybe as many as fifty-two. The rumours and speculation continued as magicians struggled to fit each new description into some kind of model that would reveal the true secret.
Ten years after the performance that baffled Peter Warlock, mentalist Barrie Richardson was to witness The Berglas Effect for himself. He described the event in his book Theatre of the ,l//W(2000):
In May of 1911, I was visiting David Berglas in his home outside London. He asked me to name a card and any number under fifty. My reply was the Seven of Hearts and forty-two. He motioned me into his study and pointed to a deck of cards on his desk. He handed the cased deck to me. When I counted down to the forty-second card I discovered the Seven of Hearts.
The experience was chilling!
Three years later, Barrie met David again. They were driving around London, with David at the wheel, when he asked Barrie to name a card. He chose the Four of Spades. Then he selcctcd a number. "Twenty-five." David asked him to reach into the glove compartment of the car and take out a pack of cards. With a feeling of déjà vu Barrie counted down to the twenty-fifth card and there found his Four of Spades. Barrie has spent twenty-one years developing his own routines and theories about The Be/glas Effect. He says that if David ever reveals his own method, well, he just doesn't want to know. So Barrie, put the book down now!
Revelations: David has been asked countless times to explain the method behind The Berglas Effect and he has always declined. This was not to keep the secret from fellow magicians or perpetuate the legend. It was for a far more practical reason. The Berglas Effect embodies everything that makes David the performer he is. It is so finely tailored to his own way of working that it is doubtful whether he could ever describe the method so completely that some other performer could make it work for them. Anyone looking for a simple description will not find it here. But if you are looking for miracles, you might want to stay awhile.
To understand how the effect works it's important to understand the context in which David uses it. He has never performed card tricks in the standard way. He rarely has cards removed from the pack, returned and then the pack shuffled. He prefers to use his Think of a Card techniques so that cards are merely thought of. This is much more magical and more suited to his particular style. Instead of people taking cards, he fans the pack and they think of one. Fie might go to several different people and each of them merely thinks of a card. The methods are explained in the chapters on Think of a Card and Think of a Card Plus.
In an impromptu performance he will reveal the cards in quick succession; one might be reversed, another in his pocket, a third under an ashtray and so on. It is a routine he has been using for many years but it is not built along rigid lines. He will take advantage of the circumstances and environment around him. A card might find its way into a spectator's pocket, under their chair, inside a clock or outside a window. He's always looking for the most impossible effect and the fact that he knows ail the selected cards before he even attempts to reveal the first one, means that he has lots of time to set up situations in which miracles can occur.
It was a natural step to have people name cards rather than think of them. At an informal gathering, a dinner party for instance, he will start by saying, "We'll try something with cards and I'd like to involve as many people as possible." This is said before he has even taken the pack from his pocket (ideally he will borrow a pack). Then he'll point to a number of people, saying, "Mention a card to me. And you mention one, and you..." He goes around the table until each person, perhaps ten or twelve, has a card in mind. David memorises all the cards called out and can set them up for their revelation long before the effect seems to have begun. So by the time he has done a trick with the first card, he has already set up the second.
A simple version of producing the named card at a chosen number is often included in these performances. When fanning the pack he may spot that a named card is at the seventh position from the top of the pack. He will then ask someone to, "Mention a number to me." Most times the volunteer will select a number under ten. If seven, David will then ask them to remind him of their card. On dealing down to that number they are amazed to find their selection. They are particularly stunned because of the deliberate hands-off approach that David adopts. He conveys the impression that he has barely, some would swear "never,"' touched the pack. He thinks of it as "remote control magic" and that's the story audiences take away with them: "I thought of a card and a number and when I dealt down to it there it was. And he never touched the cards!"
The number seven is mentioned here purely as an example of a psychologically favoured number that most magicians are familiar with. If chosen it produces a wonderful, hands-off effect but it can't be relied on. Incidentally in David's radio shows he used a more reliable method of persuading the volunteer to choose the number seven. He asked them to "Give me a number between one and eleven." Perhaps because "eleven" rhymed with "seven," it seemed to work better than the usual manner of asking the volunteer to name a number "between one and ten."
Here is another example of a revelation that David has used. Let's imagine that a spectator calls out the Eight of Clubs and David knows that it happens to be eight cards down from the top of the pack. He immediately says, "Because you've chosen an Eight we are going to count eight cards down and the eighth card will be your card. Now if I had arranged the cards so that the first one was an Ace, the second a Two, the third a Three and so on, it wouldn't be very surprising if the eighth card was an Eight. But it's not just going to be any Eight. It's going to be your Eight, the Eight of Clubs." He asks the volunteer to pick up the pack and deal the cards from the top, one at a time. They are dealt face up onto the table as David counts aloud. Everyone can see that none of the dealt cards match the number being called. He stops the deal after the seventh card, reminds the spectators how extraordinary it would be if the eighth card was indeed an Eight, the Eight of Clubs, and then has it turned over. It's a very effective moment.
But let's say that the card does not already lie at the chosen number. It may be seventh from the top but the volunteer has chosen the number thirteen. David will surreptitiously slide six cards from the bottom of the pack and, while gesturing, casually put them on top. It is now the thirteenth card. The pack is placed on the table while he talks about something else. Then he'll say, "Just remind me, what was the card you thought of? And what was the number you wanted?" Again, they find the named card at the chosen number. And again, if performed correctly, the audience will forget that he had any opportunity to place the card there.
It is literally jazzing with the cards, thinking up spur of the moment effects and methods and implementing them in the best way possible given the circumstances under which he is performing. Sometimes the effects are as fresh to David as they arc to the audience. On other occasions, experience has taught him well-known routes along wiiich miracles can be found. The key is to locate the cards quickly and invisibly and set them up for their revelations using any viable means at his disposal. Many times David has tried to put together some guide as to his thinking, but the process is impossible to treat as a simple formula—just like any description put forward for the equally challenging and improvisational The Trick That Cannot Be Explained from Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Mage (1960).
As well as being able to perform The Berglas Effect with a borrowed, shuffled pack, David has also used a set-up pack, particularly for more formal occasions. Here, at least, we have a structure on which to hang our description. Using a set-up the named cards can be located incredibly quickly without David ever looking at the faces of the cards.
Using a set-up pack in a routine in which spectators are calling out cards has other advantages. Let s say that the pack is on the table and David hasn't touched it since he took it out of its box. Eight or nine people have called out cards and David has memorised them all. Not only that but because of the set-up he knows where each card lies in the pack. With eight or nine selected cards out of a possible fifty-four (the pack contains two Jokers) David is, as he says, "going to get lucky." One of those cards may be on the top or the bottom of the pack. Or it could even be in the centre of the pack where, as it happens, David could cut to it (more on that later). Any card that lay in those fortunate positions, he could reveal instantly.
In reality, if any of those lucky breaks materialised David would keep them to himself for now. They are the foundations for a miraculous finale, why waste them? Ideally he wants to begin the routine with a very strong revelation and finish it with a miracle. Obviously everything else in-between has to be strong too—in the eyes of the audience they should all be miracles—but the first and last revelations need to be stand-out items.
A set-up pack also makes it unnecessary for David to secretly count cards if he needs to cut a batch of cards, say, from the bottom to the top. Let's assume he needs to move twelve cards. He knows the name of the twelfth card from the face of the pack in his set-up so could fan the cards, spot that particular card and quickly cut the pack at that point. I Iowever, what he prefers to do is rely on his ability to cut to any card in the set-up with an error margin of one card either way. It's a skill that really proves its worth when applied to Any Card At Any Number. An obvious use of the technique in conjunction with a set-up pack is to cut a named card to the top. More interestingly the same technique can also be used to cut a packet containing a known number of cards. Effectively it means that any named card can be positioned quickly at any position in the pack. David says that the task of doing this is not as daunting as it may first appear. It is not difficult to estimate the centre of the pack or visually divide the pack into quarters. Even the beginner can estimate the position of any card in a set-up within six or seven cards. Getting that down to just one card either way is just a matter of constant practise.
One simple method of getting a named card to a chosen number is of particular use at the beginning of a routine. Let's assume that the set-up pack is on the table and David knows that a named card is at the eighth position. However, in this instance the volunteer has called out the number five. David immediately opens the case and slides the pack out into his hands, secretly pushing the top three cards back inside. This automatically puts the card at the correct number.
Up to seven or eight cards, from the top or the bottom of the pack, can be left behind without it being obvious. What is more, because he knows the identities of the cards, he can use this information to his advantage. For instance, one of the other named cards may mysteriously disappear from the pack and find its way back into the card case! And all without palming. The possibilities are endless.
At no time does David ever give away the fact that he has remembered the names of the cards the volunteers have called. They have been mentioned openly at the beginning of the routine merely by way of confirming their selection, for the spectators' benefit not his. Before a card is revealed he will ask the spectator to remind him of their selection, which implies that he hadn't heard it. With a set-up pack David has an infinite number of possibilities. Cards can be quickly culled, palmed and reproduced from his pocket or the card case. They can be loaded under ashtrays or into spectators' pockets, way ahead of their moment in the spotlight. And they can, of course, be counted to. He chooses from the options that are presented to him and hammers his way through the revelations one at a time, pausing briefly to point each effect before carrying on to the next. I hope that you are beginning to see a picture emerging.
One thing he doesn't do is spell the name of the card in order to reach it, as was the case in Ralph Hull's Name-O-Card. lie's always thought spelling tricks to be weak, especially when the spellings vary unnaturally. If, on the other hand, it is the name of a volunteer that he could not possibly have known, well, maybe he would use that. Generally though he thinks that revealing a card by spelling its name is to be avoided.
Now we come to the set-up itself. David uses a random stack that he has memorised. Many people have used stacks in this way but David has a major advantage with his technique and it is this: not only does he know the number of each card in the pack from the top but he also knows its number from the bottom. Furthermore he also knows its position from the centre of the pack. How this affects his routine will soon become apparent. David has several different set-ups. In one, each card is keyed to a number. When a number is named he instantly knows the card lying at that position. But in his other set-ups he uses key cards strategically placed throughout the pack. By way of a simple example, assume that every tenth card is an Ace (David's set-up is more subtle). If the number twenty-three is called the second Ace instantly springs to mind and the cards that immediately follow it can now be recalled. The twenty-third card is not far away and is soon identified. As unusual as it may seem to those who do not regularly employ memory techniques in their act, David says it works just as well as an arrangement in which every card has a key-number.
Now for that advantage we mentioned earlier. David uses a fifty-four card pack, including the two Jokers. At the centre of the pack is a bridge that he can cut to instantly. With a borrowed pack he prepares the bridge in full view of the audience while casually playing with the pack. First he springs the upper half of the pack, face down, from one hand to the other several times. This puts a slight downward bend in the cards. The lower half of the pack is turned face up before being sprung from hand to hand. This bends the cards in the opposite direction. Both halves are placed together leaving an enormous bridge in the centre of the pack. David riffles the outer narrow end of the cards from front to back to take out a little of the bridge. Then he turns the pack around and riffles the opposite end. The bridge is still there but it's now almost invisible.
If the pack is placed on the table, David can locate the bridge instantly by cutting the cards, his thumb at one long side, his fingers at the other. Now let's go through the dinner party scenario again. Cards have been named by the audience. David has memorised them all and he knows where every card lies in the pack. Not only could one or two of the cards be near the top or bottom of the pack but they could be located at or near the centre. He might be able to cut to a named card right now. Alternatively he could cut the pack knowing that this would result in one of the named cards being brought to, say, the seventh position from the top or bottom. The number seven is merely an example. There may be other significant numbers or positions that can be made to work for him. David will use whatever seems right at the time.
Better still, and this is the ploy that David uses most often, the spectator could cut the pack himself and bring a chosen card into a required position. Imagine that the named card is the twelfth card down from the bridge and that twelve is indeed the number that has been called. Having established that it would be a miracle if the card was at the chosen number he then adds, "Now if I dealt the cards you might suspect some kind of sleight of hand. Wouldn't it be better if you dealt them?" They agree that it would. "But to make it absolutely fair, cut the cards first." The pack is lying on the table with its long sides to the spectator. He wants the spectator to grip the pack at its long sides, that way they are more likely to cut to the bridge. He encourages them subtly, saying, "Just cut the cards about halfway, don't even think about it." The pack is divided into two piles and he directs the spectator to complete the cut.
"Now if you deal the cards, one at a time, and the twelfth card is the " he looks at the spectator to name the card. He repeats it for the benefit of everyone present and continues, "then that would be a real miracle, wouldn't it?" The spectator counts down twelve cards and, sure enough, the chosen card is the last card dealt. It is a miracle.
The ruse of getting the spectator to cut the cards at the bridge eliminates sleight of hand manoeuvres such as the Pass. It also maintains the hands-off appearance that David believes raises the routine from a clever card trick to a true impossibility. More importantly, the bridge means that David is no longer thinking in terms of one deck of fifty-four cards. He now has two packets of twenty-seven cards and that allows for many more possibilities. Let's assume that the volunteer calls out the number ten and the card can be produced at the tenth position. Now it may be tenth from the top or the bottom. It may be tenth above the bridge or below the bridge. All these positions are easily accessible without ever touching the pack.
If the spectator has to deal from the bottom of the packet, rather than the top, to reach his named card, David simply asks them to turn the packet face up and deal the cards onto the table. The handling appears natural and in the overall scheme of things, the card ends up at the right number and that is what matters.
Now factor in alternative handlings, for instance the spectator calls number six but the card lies at the seventh position. You will need to count down six cards and then turn over the next card to reveal the selection. It is vital that this out is set up properly before the deal begins otherwise the spectators will suspect something. David handles this situation by having the chosen number of cards dealt from the pack and then saying, "Now we have taken away the number of cards that you wanted, if the very next card were the card that you thought of, that would be quite fantastic, wouldn't it?" The spectator agrees. Only now does David ask them to name their card. They turn the top card of the pack over and it is theirs.
The two Jokers in the pack can also play their part in bringing a named card to a selected number. Let's imagine that the selection is one card further down than it ought to be but David knows that a Joker lies somewhere above it. The spectator deals the cards face up. On seeing the Joker, David casually says, "Don't count that," and, believe it or not, the spectator doesn't. The result is that the thought of card is found at the chosen number. In the some circumstances he would have both Jokers discarded during the count. What he wouldn't do is discard one and include the other. That would be too obvious.
You begin to see how the number of outs multiply. Some cards will be in more favourable positions than others but no card is unreachable. David's task is to manage the revelations so that he has the right balance between entertainment and mystification and starts and finishes with something really strong. None of this is easy. It requires an agile mind, lots of experience, a set-up that is second nature and a good false shuffle. That latter item is important but should be used sparingly. It is only used to eliminate any suspicion of a prearranged pack. David never begins a performance by shuttling the pack and will often perform two or three effects before employing any kind of shuffle.
I first met David Berglas at the British Ring Convention in Hastings in 1978. Bobby Bernard introduced me and I asked him about the routine 1 had heard on the Martin Breese Magicassette. "I'd love to see it." I said. I've no doubt that it was a question he heard often around that time. He was very gracious and promised that if he was going to perform it, he would let me know. I took it as a polite brush-off. But a couple of days later Bobby Bernard came rushing up to me and said that David was about to give a demonstration. It was late at night and I hurried along to the hotel lounge where a small crowd had gathered around a snooker table which David was using as an impromptu working area (I now know that this is his absolutely favourite "working" environment. A snooker table is the ultimate close-up mat. The cards can be spread widely and a large number of spectators can gather around, participate and see everything clearly. And the overhead light is always excellent!) It is impossible to recollect the effects he did that evening but 1 have one overwhelming memory and that is of being incredibly impressed.
I had never seen card work like it. There was none of the usual taking and putting back. Cards were thought of, cards were named. And then they appeared face up in the spread, under an ashtray, cut to with precision or bounced right out of the pack. One effect blended into another and everything had an air of surprise about it. He began with one pack of cards— and having spent some time with him I can now say that it might well have been stacked—but he also borrowed packs of cards from the crowd until he was working with at least five in total! The effects with each pack were equally impressive. I quickly forgot about trying to keep an eye on what 1 thought was the set-up pack. They might as well all have been set-up. Or maybe none of them were. There was no way of knowing.
It was a virtuoso performance but I (and probably everyone else), of course, had been waiting for Any Card At Any Number. David on the other hand, whether deliberately or not I do not know, had taken care that not one of us would be able to anticipate what he would do. He never describes the details of an effect for layman and he doesn't treat magicians any differently. The legendary effect appeared but in disguise and before we knew it a card had been named and someone had called out a number. The number was dealt to in the pack and, as expected, the named card was there. Quite how it got there I do not know. What I do remember is that the same number was dealt down to in all the remaining packs. And believe it or not the named card was at the same position in every single one of them!
Why do I tell you this? Well, to draw upon an old cliche, it's important to think of David's work in this area as the weaving together of a number of threads. He is constantly working with the spectators, the cards, numbers and everything around him. At some point, when he sees the right opportunity and knows he can play an effect for maximum impact, he begins to draw these threads together to form a picture. That picture is the effect. He teases the audience with it. suggesting that such a thing, if it were to happen, would be impossible.
What they do not know is that it has already been achieved and the revelation, when it comes, is always totally unexpected.
Time to consider another variable. In the examples we've mentioned simple numbers that the performer could somehow know in advance. What if the spectator names another number, one that the performer does not know in advance? What if they called out forty-two or twenty-three? The answer is, they can't. Or, at least they are dissuaded from doing so. This is one of the best-kept secrets of The Berglas Effect. David not only knows where the named card is in the pack, but he also exercises some psychological control over the numbers that are chosen. The numbers the spectator call are not chosen at random.
Let's assume that a known card is within ten cards of the top of the pack or the bridge. When he wants a number David says, "Give me a small number." He doesn't say anything about the number of cards in the pack. The spectator has no idea whether there is an upper or lower limit on the selection or how it will relate to the performance. 1 le simply gives a "small number" and David has found by experience that the answer is usually "three" or "four." He has enough confidence in this outcome to make it a vital part of his work. See his Newspaper Prediction for an example of the same principle.
If he wants a slightly higher number, he will simply say, "Give me a number." Six, seven, eight or nine might be called. Most people seem to interpret "Give me a number," as meaning between one and ten and it is rarely necessary to actually spell out the parameters.
A middle range number can be elicited by phrasing the question differently: "Give me a number, any number you like from one to fifty-four," adding in a lower tone of voice and almost as an afterthought, "...something in-between." This comes just at the moment the spectator is considering his choice and leads him to call out numbers in and around their twenties.
If a much higher number is required David will say "Give me any number, you can make it as difficult as you like." This will invariably lead the spectator into the thirties and forties. If a really high number is called, such as forty-two, he will say, "It'll be rather time consuming and boring to count to that number. Including the two jokers there are fifty-four cards in this pack, so the forty-second card is only twelve from the bottom. Let's count to that." This speeds up the presentation.
Knowing the precise location of the card in the pack, David can influence a spectator to call a number that is favourable. It may be one or two cards out but it will rarely be more than several cards away. And a few cards can easily be added or made to disappear before the pack is dealt. He may palm them away or shift them to the bottom of the pack. It would be wrong to do this and immediately count down to a named card. The audience would connect the naming of the number with David's handling of the pack. So he would put the effect on hold.
saving, "Please remember that number," and he'd reveal one of the other thought-of cards which he may already have spirited away much earlier and now lies in his pocket or on the chair that someone is sitting on.
Later, with the pack on the table, giving the impression that David has not touched it for some time, he would bring the number back into play and ask for the name of the mentally chosen card. When the card is revealed the audience will have forgotten that David ever had the opportunity to put it there. How could he? It wasn't even named until the pack was out of his hands.
Psychologically restricting the volunteer's choice of number is unique to The Berg/as Effect, difficult to put into print, yet vital to the working of the routine that has become legendary. It is phraseology, psychology and the management of volunteers, not sleight of hand that is at the heart of David's most famous effect. A good magician can make a named card appear at any number he likes using a Pass or a Deal. That is not what David is aiming for. He is psychologically leading the spectator down a path so that he will genuinely find his own card at his own chosen number. When that works smoothly the effect and the method become indivisible.
You can see that The Berglas Effect does not have a simple secret, a single method that once learned will accomplish the desired effect. It is first and foremost an approach that begins with David having in mind the kind of high impact effect that he wants to create and then using the tools at his disposal to produce it. I le begins every performance with a blank slate as it were. He does not know which effects he will bring about. If the conditions favour it and the audience seem receptiv e to it, then Any Card At Any Number may well make an appearance. But he doesn't forget that while magicians are intrigued by the complexities of these feats, laymen are equally impressed with other items, their thought-of card materialising in their pocket for instance. It depends on what is possible and how well it is presented. The magicians who have seen Any Card At Any Number are undoubtedly impressed. They have a memory of an impossible effect, from a card magician's point of view perhaps the most impossible card effect ever created. But even David can't tell you now exactly how he created the effect for each individual performance. It was the effect that mattered, not the method, and the memories of those he baffled tell you that he has certainly succeeded.
Having outlined the improvisational nature of The Berglas Effect it might now seem inconceivable that David would attempt to work the routine in a more formal atmosphere, on stage, in a nightclub or on telev ision for instance. And yet that is exactly what he does.
You'll find Any Card At Any Number mentioned in the chapter devoted to David's one-man show, Man, Myth & Magic. In performance he asks two gentlemen to come up from the audience to help him. I sing them as observers, David performs several card effects of the
Think of a Card variety. He is essentially improvising around a few well-proven sequences and it provides an effective card interlude before going into his memorised pack routine (Memories Are Made of This). However, during that time he will invariably perform a version of Any Card At Any Number. It usually goes something like this:
One of the gentlemen is asked to point to someone, anyone, in the audience and that person is asked to name a playing card. As soon as that card is named David is evaluating the possibilities. It may already be on top or near the top of the pack. It could be at or near the bridge. We've discussed some of these eventualities and any one of them can lead to a finish.
David may then ask the second gentleman to also point to someone else in the audience.
They are asked to call out a number. Knowing the location of the card, and choosing his phrasing carefully, David might persuade them to call out a very favourable number. If all goes well, the chosen card may already be at the chosen number! In a worst case scenario it is quite close and palming a few cards away as he hands the pack to one of the gentleman might be all that stands between him and a miracle.
It's important to give any effect the kudos it deserves so before the chosen number is dealt down to David will always explain to the audience why the card and number were chosen the way they where. "Now you may wonder why I asked for two gentlemen to come on stage and then point to someone else. Well, if I had asked these gentlemen to name a card and a number and we then found the card at that position, you would probably come to only one conclusion—that there was some collusion between us."
The pack is now on the table or in the volunteer's hands and this is the first time the intended effect has been announced. David doesn't want the audience to pass the routine off as some skilful card trick. This is an impossibility and he wants them to ponder the conditions under which it is performed. Also, they may genuinely have thought there was some collusion between David and the men onstage. By involving as many people as possible this avenue of thought is no longer viable.
He has been known to adopt a different approach if the first card called has not suited him. It may be a card that is difficult to reach or in a very "uninteresting" position in the pack, so he will have two more cards named to give himself more options. Upon hearing the first card and believing he can do better, he will immediately tell the spectator. "Remember that card." He asks the same spectator to point to someone else in the audience. David asks them to name a card too but before they do he turns back to the first person. "Don't forget your card." By making a feature of the unwanted card, he reassures the audience that this selection process is a structured one and he's not just going to have people continue to name cards until he finds one he likes.
Now the second person's card might be on top of the pack or somewhere equally prominent but it would be a mistake to stop here and reveal the card. The audience would sense something was not quite right. Instead he asks the second spectator to "point to a final person," which tells the audience that this process is about to come to an end.
With three cards named, David has more variables to work with. It's unlikely that he can't achieve a good finish with one of them. In this example he knows for sure that he can do something very strong with the second card. He now turns to one of the men on stage and says, "Three cards have been called. I'd like you to choose one." The man might panic because he can't remember all of the cards so David asks the people who named them to put their hands up. "One, two or three," says David counting them, "Whichever number you say, that's the card I will try and find." This is the first time the goal of the effect has been hinted at: he is going to find one of the named cards. He does not say how.
If the gentleman chooses the most favourable card then David will make the effect clear saying that he could have chosen either of the other two cards (naming them) but that he will now find the one just chosen. He may have a number named and work towards Any Card At Any Number or he may do something else entirely. The other two cards are never referred to again.
David could get unlucky and the first card called is chosen, in which case he is back where he started. At that point he might decide to change the effect and find not one but all three cards using the same improvisational techniques that he would use at a dinner party.
He never leaves the audience with the feeling that he couldn't have accomplished the effect had one of the other cards been chosen. Frequently he will actually find all three cards. First to be revealed is the chosen one. Then he says, "You're probably wondering what would have happened if you'd chosen one of the others." Quickly, by way of an answer, he will produce them bring the sequence to a satisfying close. "There are no bad cards," says David, "there arc just some that are easier to work with within the set-up. It also depends on how you feel and whether you want to do a little hard work. Usually I do the work!"
Often the first card called is the one David works with. Someone mentions a number and David inhibits their choice using the psychological techniques previously described. With the card at the right number he can now walk away from the pack and play the effect out properly, stressing how freely the card and number was chosen and that he hasn't touched the pack. Then he makes great play of the fact that one of the gentleman on stage, rather than himself, will now deal down to that number.
But he may, and he admits that this is sheer devilment on his part, ask another spectator to decide whether they want the cards dealt from the top or the bottom of the pack. This is a real gamble bur when it pays off the effect is worth it. If they choose the wrong option, he would never ask them if they want to change their mind in the hope of rectifying a wrong choice. This is not the routine in which to try this psychological ploy, especially as the other choices have been so clean.
What happens when the gamble doesn't pay off? Well, that depends on how it was set up in the first place. 1 le's just pointed out how much freedom the audience has had in choosing a card and a number and now someone else, not he, will deal the cards. Almost as an afterthought he asks whether they want to deal from the top or the bottom. If the spectator makes the wrong choice and. for example, they say, "bottom," when he wanted "top," he may just smile and reply, "Wrong choice! We'll count from the top!" The audience will think that the last choice was nothing more than a gag. Now he recaps again the name of the card and the number, regains the sense of mystery, the gentleman deals and the card is found.
We've mentioned earlier that it's difficult for anyone to deal and count from the bottom of the pack without it looking uncomfortable or suspicious. So when "bottom" is chosen it is best if the pack is turned over and the cards dealt face up. However, one ruse that David has used on stage enables him to have cards dealt from the bottom of the pack instead of the top without the audience realising it. Let's say, for example, the number called was fourteen and the named card was located fourteenth from the bottom. David has casually placed the pack face up in the middle of the table and asked one of the gentlemen to deliberately and slowly count the cards one at a time to the chosen number. Not everyone in the audience realises that they are dealing from a face up pack. When the card shows up at the right number they think it was fourteenth from the top of the pack, not the bottom. Some people might spot this but as the terms "top" and "bottom" of the pack are ambiguous and since David seems to be carrying on as if he knows what he is doing, they simply accept it. A freely named card turns up at the chosen number. That is what they remember.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.