Think of a Card

David k\ns a pack of cards and holds it up towards vol. "Think of \ card, any one." You scan the faces of the cards noting that they are all different and settle on the Jack of Clubs. "Have you got one?" asks David. You have and he closes the fan. cuts the pack and places it on the table. You wonder how he plans to find a card that you are just thinking of. But it's too late. He already has it. "What was your card?" he asks. You name it. "Turn over the top card." You do. It's the Jack of Clubs.

Magicians have been finding thought-of cards for over four hundred years, ever since Reginald Scot explained how To tell one without confederacie what card he thinketh. In The Discoverie of Witchcraft (published in London in 1584) Scot explained how to determine which of three tabled cards a volunteer was thinking of. He was perhaps the first to point out that if the magician looked where the volunteer looked he might know which card was chosen. Over the years many different performers have developed the technique but the method remains essentially the same, observing the gaze of the volunteer. However, few performers have made the feat central to their card work in the way that David has. Watch him perform and you'll note that cards are rarely removed from the pack only to be replaced and then the pack shuffled. They are almost always thought-of and then produced in a manner as direct as their selection.

An early description of David's performance of Think of a Card can be found in Will Dexter's book Famous Magic Secrets (1955). In the chapter Meet The Magic Circle, he commented on David's ability to repeat the effect again and again, saying, "Even hardened veterans shake their heads in wonder. Yes, most of them know how he does it, but for the life of them they can't duplicate the feat every time as Berglas does."

This is because David's technique is very different from that of any other performer, enabling him to succeed where others fail. It begins with having the knowledge and confidence to know that no matter what happens he will always be able to find the chosen card. There are enough techniques around to find any card in the pack even if he has to physically look through the cards and cull it. This is important. David has complete confidence in his performance because he knows that if Think of a Card doesn't work he will always be able to bring the trick to a successful conclusion. He can always find the card. With that in mind let's turn to the technique itself.

It begins rather oddly, at least by the usual standards. Most magicians display the pack using a pressure fan. David does not. He holds the pack in the right hand and uses the left hand to fan the cards. The pack is held at the upper left corner between the right thumb and forefinger. The left hand comes palm up to touch the lower left corner of the deck and sweeps it up and around into the fan as shown in the illustrations.

The fan is not yet complete. The right fingers, behind the fan, pull the left end of the cards down and into the hand giving the fan the widest possible width and exposing every single card equally.

It is a very unusual way of making a fan and for most magicians would feel very awkward. The nearest analogy to it is making a face-up pressure fan in the left hand. It is, however, the fanning technique David uses for all his work. He evolved it himself and believes it owes something to him being ambidextrous. It has, as you will see, one great advantage when applied to Think of a Card.

David raises the fan until the faces of the cards are towards the volunteer who is standing next to him on his left. Because of the pressure of the right fingers the fan is slightly concave. It is held a little higher than the volunteer's eye level. David places his left hand on the volunteer's right shoulder. It appears to be a friendly gesture but it also ensures that David can control the volunteer's position. To repeat, because this is important, the volunteer should be standing next to the performer, gazing directly at the fan, which is held out with its face towards him.

David asks the volunteer to "Think of a card." He does, unaware that his gaze is being tracked. Older texts on conjuring make reference to the volunteer showing a loss in the intensity of gaze as soon as he has thought of a card. The theory is that the volunteer scans the cards until his eyes come to rest on the one he likes. His demeanour communicates the completion of the task. At this point the volunteer may even look away from the fan and await further instruction. David quickly notes the last point of interest in the fan and then looks at the volunteer. He doesn't want to be caught staring at the pack.

If the volunteer appears to be taking some time in making his choice, David hurries him by saying, "I lave you got one?" A card will be quickly selected and its approximate position can be noted.

"You've thought of a card," says David lowering the fan and turning it towards him. This is where the unusual nature of the fan pays dividends. The turning manoeuvre is entirely comfortable and brings the fan to a natural reading position. David looks down at the cards; specifically at the same area he believes the volunteer made his selection from. Focussing his attention on eight to ten cards in that section of the fan, David asks himself which of those cards has been chosen? Often one will be more prominent than the others, a single black among some reds, an Ace or a court card amid a collection of numbers. Almost any difference could separate ir from its neighbours and make it a likely target for selection.

He cuts the pack so that the prominent card is brought to the top. David's patter covers the cut as he asks the volunteer whether he can remember his card. The pack is now face up in his left hand but not squared. He deliberately pushes over the bottom three cards of the pack with his thumb. Similarly the top three cards are spread to the left. Looking down he can see six cards, all from the area where the volunteer made his selection.

He notes the top and bottom cards and gets a brief impression of the rest then places the pack face down on the table. He asks the spectator to name his card. In most cases it will be the card David also noted and is now on top of the pack. Sometimes it will be the bottom card. If not. it is nearly always one of the others and all are within a few cards of the top and bottom of the pack ready to be produced. The brief impression is usually enough to recall which of the six cards it is. David makes no attempt to memorise each card.

To recap: The selection is totally free and the sighting of the cards and the cutting of the pack are all done in an instant. It is so fast that David often repeats it with several spectators. What better proof could you have that the technique works?

Some people are more suspicious than others. They might try to put David off the scent, wary that he is somehow following their gaze especially if they have already witnessed the effect. For those people he has a wonderful ruse. He asks them to look at the cards and think of one. They do but they do it quickly in order to elude him. Having finished and

satisfied that he couldn't possibly know what they are thinking, they look straight at him. David says, "Have you got one? Please remember it." He looks towards the fan as he pushes it toward them. Invariably the volunteer picks up the cue and unwittingly glances at the fan once more to check that his thought-of card is still there. That's when David gets another opportunity to note the position of the card. It's a very cheeky bit of psychology.

Sometimes he won't wait for the volunteer to become suspicious. He will tell them to "Look at the cards. Start at the left and slowly look to the right, scan the whole pack. Just think of one of the cards on the way." At this point he probably doesn't have any idea where their mentally selected card lies. By asking them to remember it and persuading them to glance back at the fan he estimates its location very accurately and they arc none the wiser.

David doesn't restrict the choice of cards that the volunteer has but has found that this is possible simply by angling the fan one way or the other. When the fan is held straight the chosen card will almost always be selected from the highest portion of the fan, the middle of the pack. If angled towards the left the right hand portion of the fan becomes more prominent and vice versa if the fan is tilted the other way.

Several bits of business can be used when revealing the selected cards. Having asked the volunteer if he has thought of a card David adds, "You changed your mind didn't you?" The volunteer is amazed that he could know this, not realising that a hesitation in making his choice has disclosed the mental process he was going through.

Another way of building this into a miracle for the audience, and David uses this for the sheer devilment of it, is to say, "You changed your mind two or three times." The volunteer nods. "Would you like the first, second or third card." The volunteer and the audience is thinking he must know every card that was thought of and often applaud before the trick has gone any further. Usually the volunteer will name the last card he saw (probably the only one he can remember with any certainty*) which is just as well because that's the card David has cut to the top of the pack.

The big question for most magicians in tricks of this type is what happens when it goes wrong? It can happen. A volunteer may just dream up a card, without having seen it in the pack. If David is working with a stacked pack then this presents no problem. He can always cut to it. If using a borrowed and shuffled pack he will fan the cards again, this time towards himself, looking for the just-named card but looking for it in a particular way. He imagines just the index of the card because that is all that will be visible in the fan. He doesn't want to have to scan the cards looking for the card. I Ie wants it to jump out at him so that he can cut to it as quickly as possible without appearing to be searching for it and this process of mental visualisation makes it possible. He has demonstrated the technique to other magicians and they have been surprised when a named card has suddenly made itself visible in the fan. The key is to shut out of his mind all the other cards and focus only on the index corner of the card he is looking for. He holds the fan at a comfortable reading level and allows the card to present itself. People have similar experiences when familiar names seem to leap out of otherwise uninteresting text. They catch the eye and reveal themselves even when you haven't been specifically looking for them; this is also the principle behind speed-reading.

Another alternative that David uses is to turn the cards face up and spread them from hand to hand, saying, "I don't know where the card is but it must be somewhere in this pack." It's an obvious statement but covers the spreading of the pack. If he hasn't spotted the named card, he tilts the spread towards the volunteer. "What I can see you can see," says David.

The volunteer is looking at the cards that are being widely spread whereas David is looking at the cards that are about to be spread. He will see the named card before the volunteer spots it, particularly as the volunteer is looking at the cards upside down. David continues spreading, occasionally tilting the cards towards him and then back towards the volunteer when he has made sure that the named card has not been exposed. As soon as the card comes into view David pushes it under the spread and keeps his right fingers on its back to mark its position.

The rest of the pack can be spread freely and the volunteer allowed to see every card that passes. He thinks he's seen everything that David has seen and his selection never came into view. He's sure David couldn't know where it is and yet with a simple cut it can be brought to the top. If the volunteer did just dream up a card without actually spotting it in the fan, David now has a psychological advantage. The volunteer may be feeling a twinge of guilt, worried that a card he has just named might not be in the pack at all.

David also has a special handling with the giant fan, one that never fails to get a laugh of surprise from magicians w hen he presents it. He begins by taking the pack, dividing it into two halves and weaves them together using an in-the-hands faro shuffle in preparation for the giant fan. He then fans the cards using exactly the same technique described earlier. Turning the giant fan towards a volunteer he asks them to, "Think of a card."

Invariably the volunteer will think of a card in the upper tier of the fan. There are only 26 cards and they are spread in a much wider arc than a normal fan, making it much easier for David to spot in which section the thought-of card lies. David closes the fan and strips the half-packs apart. He knows the approximate location of the thought-of card and can reveal it using any of the techniques at his disposal.

He may repeat the effect, again weaving the cards and asking a volunteer to think of one. This time he will point out the two tiers of cards, saying, "You can think of a card in the upper or lower level." It doesn't matter which choice the volunteer makes, their gaze is easily-tracked and David can divine both the level and the location of the card. For the spectators the giant fan makes the effect seem more difficult and more spectacular but in reality it makes the task easier.

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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Responses

  • IMPI
    How do magicians know a card that is seen or picked by volunteer?
    15 days ago

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