You ought to know who Newell Unfried is, but in case you don't, this will give you a clue as to his work. You can find Newell at Hollywood Magic when he isn't swamped performing. Newell is a retired CEO and long time student of Eugene Burger. I met Newell many years ago in Chicago. His thinking impressed me then, as it does now. Newell has completely knocked out some of the best card guys in magic with this particular effect and method. Many have been waiting to see how exactly Newell has pulled off what seems a complete impossibility. Newell would not tip this before, but we will here. I say "we" as Newell was kind enough to ask me to work on this with him -after he had already put in much work of his own. The trick is based on Wonder Words, my own "Southwest Miracle", and some work by Docc Hilford as well. It took a couple of years, but I finally added my finishing touches to Newell's applications, and the result has startled many. I am very pleased that Newell asked me to play along on this one! Newell performs this effect, as do I. So do other names you are likely to know very well. They won't say where they got it. Now you will know. Here it is for your own use at last.
The performer brings two spectators on stage. One will serve as a psychic. The other spectator serves as an impartial referee to the proceedings. A blue deck is removed from its case and shown to be thoroughly mixed. All fifty-two cards are present. It is placed back in the blue box and never again touched by the performer. A red deck is shown. All fifty-two cards are present and displayed to the audience, and the referee. The referee, the psychic spectator, or any other member of the audience may shuffle the red deck. The psychic is told that she will be asked to choose both a card and a number from one to fifty two. Any one of the fifty-two cards in the red deck may be touched as they are clearly displayed in a face up fan. The psychic spectator states to the referee the name of the card she has removed. There is no force. No rough and smooth, Svengali deck, etc. She is then asked which number she chose. She states for example fourteen. The referee removes the cards from the blue card case and counts to the fourteenth card. It is the spectator's chosen card. Recognize that any one in the audience may serve as a referee or psychic. No card force is used. Each time the effect is performed a different number and card can be named.
You will need two new decks. Newell uses a red and blue Bicycle deck. Place the blue deck in a memorized stack sequence. Newell prefers Docc Hilford's stack, but the Osterland or Aaronson stack would work too. While this is not entirely necessary, it is a good safeguard, as you will see shortly. This assures that when the "psychic" spectator names a card, you already know the card's number in the stack. You know this way that the number stated during the routine is indeed the correct one, before opening the blue deck as a climax. Place the red deck in the same stack sequence as the blue one. At the bottom on the face of each red card write, "You chose the number_". Fill in this blank with the number that matches this card and its position in the blue deck. Do this for each card.
Write with a red Sharpie marker on the black card faces and a black Sharpie marker on the red card faces. This provides important contrast, enabling the spectator to see the written number on the card without hesitation. Take an Exacto knife and make a small scratch mark on the back of cards. Place your mark consistently at the top outer end of the card opposite from the printed information on the other side. Now you know the orientation of the cards from the back. This will be important in displaying the cards in a fan as randomly mixed, while not revealing the secret writing at the bottom of each card.
Two randomly selected spectators are brought on stage. Newell uses the numbered paper balls over the head. A brief opening statement is made which sets the spectator to be aware that he or she is in on something later. Newell's phrase is similar to my "Southwest Miracle". As the spectators come forward to help I say, "They're not going to believe what is about to happen". The blue deck is opened and then false shuffled. Newell does an Elmsley false overhand shuffle or his own fine stand-up in-the-hands false riffle shuffle. If you feel bold, you could do a deck switch after the referee legitimately shuffles the blue deck.
It is important here to do some sort of convincing false shuffle. Without it, the spectator being cued is likely to consider that she was just a "stooge". Applying my "dual reality" ploy, both words and actions need to make sense. With this deck being shuffled, the spectator later is likely to think that she chose a card with a number by her own doing, and somehow, that matched the way that I shuffled the cards ahead of time. It is as if I made a prediction by controlling the cards in my hands as I shuffled. This will be viewed as consummate skill at the least, whether the spectator believes it is telekinesis or not. From this spectator's viewpoint, they are observing a very unusual effect, one that should gain more prominence in magic and mentalism. It could be argued that what this spectator sees is a better effect than what the audience at large perceives. Both are quite strong of course. The point is that the performer must appear to mix or shuffle the first deck to make the dual reality ploy work.
These seemingly shuffled cards are now displayed to the referee who confirms they are in a mixed state. The referee returns the cards to the blue box and is asked to hold on to them and never let them out of his sight.
The red deck is next removed and is shuffled by the referee. "We need your energy and focus on this deck too" I remark. The word "too" suggests that the spectator had something to do with the first deck. It is likely that the audience will recall later that this spectator shuffled both decks. The words make sense hi the current moment as well, for the spectator has been told to keep his eye on the previous deck.
While the spectator may shuffle this deck thoroughly, the orientation of all the cards must remain proper. The shuffled cards are displayed to the spectators and audience via a fan. The cards appear to be in a random order. It is important that the marked end is up when the cards are fanned, to avoid exposing the writing at the bottom to the audience at large. The second spectator is told that they will choose "both a card AND a number". To everyone else who hears this statement it is assumed that each will be selected randomly and separately. However, the spectator will soon realize she is doing exactly as described. She is about to choose a card and a number at the same time. No one else will know the number is written on the card.
The deck is reversed and fanned exposing the numbers on the cards as they are shown to the second spectator only. "You will freely chose both a card and a number — any one you wish. They are all different, as you can see, yes"? The word "they" seems to indicate the cards to the audience, but to the spectator, it says that the cards and the numbers are different. I am also subtly asking if the spectator can see everything well. She will usually affirm that she can see, and that they are all different.
"Good, then choose a card and a number, it matters not if I see the card". Again, the words spoken to the spectator make sense to the spectator, but seem to indicate that a card only is being chosen from the audience's point of view. "Go ahead, take out any one, your free choice - can you do that? Excellent. But some people might say you are playing along. So I ask again, was this your FREE choice? Do you wish to choose another instead? You may change if you wish. Are you certain? I don't want to influence you! I do want to be clear that you are not just playing along, that we did not set this up in advance and that you have a totally free choice of your card and a number. Are you satisfied with that? Great".
You will note that this is a fine way to address any "stooge" assumptions by skeptical audience members. This little banter also helps convince the spectator that she is not hi on it at all. I actually make her insist that she is not in on this with me during this exchange. It works as it is done in a very non-threatening way. The spectator assumes I am just being dramatic. Her focus is on the selecting of a card, and whether or not I forced her to take it. This she must admit is all her own doing, and that all is fair.
"You have freely selected a card, and ... a number too? You have a card now and a number. What is the name of the card there? Good. What is the number you have? You are holding a card and a number now in your mind - in all of our minds. Yet, could I have known your freely chosen card, or where it would be hi the other deck well in advance1? Let us see if I have succeeded in accomplishing one of the greatest challenges of all tune. Referee, please open your box carefully"!
The words do so much more than provide mere drama. I restate that if I succeed in this, I am nearly a god. But I stop just short of being that blatant, so it goes by as theatre. My words tell the spectator and the audience just what they assume, and reinforces all points of view. My words link the card and the number so firmly together that the spectator cannot help but go with the number she sees written on the card. In fact, the last remarks help the spectator assume that the number on the card was a written prediction prepared well in advance! At this point, no one feels they are "in on it" but rather that they are all part of determining what has happened. It is the perfect set-up.
I take the red card and put it away with the rest. The referee removes the blue deck and counts down to the card at the number called out. I restate the impossibility of what is about to occur. When the referee turns the card over and shows the rest of the audience, stunned silence turns to screams and applause. When you do this, you will be considered among the most skilled performers of our age, without doing much at all. Now isn't that nice?
"During the past century, there have been several feats that have baffled the best minds hi our art. Much has been written regarding the miracle that you are about to witness. However, no one until now has performed it under the rigorous test conditions that I will impose. For this, I need a volunteer that will be selected at random. To do that, I have five paper balls that are numbered one through five. I will throw them over my back. You sir, will you name a number one, two, three, four or five. Will the spectator holding the ball with that number stand and join me on stage. And you sir, will you stand and join me now please". Seat the one who named the number as the referee, and the randomly selected spectator as the one who chooses the card and number. You need not use seating. However, there should be a simple table to allow the referee to count the cards later. Continue as previously detailed.
We both hope you will see that the real work here is the use of deceptive words, dual reality, and not at all an "instant stooge". In fact, if that were the case, other professionals would have discovered the secret long ago. They had no clue - until this revelation. My great thanks to Newell for sharing this true wonder.
Now you have some of my secrets, which I have guarded most jealously. You no doubt realize how some of these principles have fooled the wisest performer, as well as the discriminating layperson. To this day, some of my favorite bits are in this booklet and this series. I hope you will be as thrilled as I am with them, and do the material the justice and the practice it deserves.
Much of the material in this volume must be made or found to be completely appreciated.
I hope that does not keep you from discovering the real wonders contained in these slim pages. I know for a fact that if magic dealers were to sell these same items, there would be a great rush to buy many of these methods. As most of the items in this manuscript can be readily found, I hope you don't mind paying much less to get them this way.
If you like the contributions of some of my friends in this series, please let them know by getting to their shows and purchasing their releases to magic and mentalism. I know they will appreciate that, as I surely do.
This series is dedicated with thanks to Stevie, Roland and Rebecca for the Sorcerer coat, and for your prodding and inspiration, direct and indirect, to get this series to appear as if by magic. You know, it was. Thanks also to those friends who directly contributed to this series. 'Couldn't have done it without you! My deep gratitude to you all.
All manufacturing and publishing rights strictly reserved worldwide. No portion or concept, in whole or in part, may be transmitted in any manner or form without written permission from the author.
©2002 Kenton Knepper
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