Many Tekel

By Mark Strivings

Since we've just described an effect using a mene tekel deck I thought I'd give you some work on the subject that may (or may not) be of interest.

The classic mene tekel deck consists of 26 matching pairs of playing cards. They are stacked in any order, as long as the individual pairs are together. The deck can be cut as much as the performer wants and the integrity of the set up remains intact. You can do all kinds of marvelous things with this deck.

But there are a couple of inherent problems with this deck. The most immediate is that you cannot spread the deck face up and display it. The matching pairs are extremely obvious. This has been handled on a low level in 'A Work Of Art' by the reversed faces of the cards but that simply isn t possible with regular playing cards. P '

According to 'Encyclopedia Of Card Tricks' edited by Jean Hugard, the original decks d7de The°I cb " tshort principle and the deck worked -simii-to r H

deck. The matching cards were concealed by riffling the pack. This approach would cenainfy have some advantages and these are clearly lined out in the chapter titled "Magic With A M^ e-Teke

R r ^fJu" ?"ef ChaptCr in 'Greater MaSici staies ^ere that the deck was created by Burling Hull Hilhard a so gives the details about the long/short handling for the deck He a o gives some other ,deas for handling of the deck, including the basic concept behind A WorTof

Art , elsewhere m this book. Th.s reference is also very much worth checking ouL

l B?VT ff aS 1 Can teli • Ms type °f Mene Tekel Deck USIQg long and short cards has not specify made ^ ^ ^ ^ 3 ]ike ^ ^ " ^ L be

The next most immediate solution is to rough those parrs together and indeed that has been standard solution to this problem for decades. Also this deck can be somewhat easily constnTed

L" e in so many areas °f ma§ic'a soiuti- * -—- ^seUerr

There are times when it is simply not desirable to use a rough and smooth deck There mav be techmcal reasons why the cards all need to be 'loose'. Plus, a ro^gh and smooth deck /ooL Hk a rough and smooth deck, m that you only see 26 cards. I have never seen anyone who ci ht le a

Tcfrre T°f " SUCh 3 th3t y°U W°Uld be abS0lut^ that there" a "u d k her . The fact that you see different cards is really more of a subtlety than anything else You have to rely on your spectators assuming that there must be 52 cards there And of course , magician can spot a rough and smooth deck a mile away.

If you are familiar with my work, you know that I have several ways of working around this rough and smooth problem. But that is not necessary here. What I wanted was to be able to have^no rough and smooth at all. I wanted to be able to spread the deck and have it appear norm 1 I a so themJ^ ^^ !, T ^ §affed' bUt n° r°Ugh and Sm00th 0r an>' other alterations of the cards themselves is used. If you casually spread the deck it will appear to be a normal shuffled deck and you would swear you see every card (which, in fact you can). On it's most basic level, what makes this version of the mene tekel deck work is that there are matching pairs of cards, but they aren't side by side. This version uses groups of pairs of cards to make it work. There is a slight amount of very casual handling that needs to happen, but it passes without notice when done correctly. Not necessarily sleight of hand, just handling. Let me first explain how this works and then we'll go into the construction of the deck itself.

I've got a Many Tekel Deck in front of me and here are the top eight cards in order - 8C, 6H, 7S, 9S, 8C, 6H, 7S, 9S. Notice that the mate of each of the first four cards is four cards away, i.e., the mate of the 8C is four cards below it, etc. The deck is constructed of sets of eight cards like what you see here. So basically what makes this work is that the mate of any card is only four cards away, either above or below it in the deck. Does that make sense?

Here's how to construct the deck. It may sound complicated but stick with me. When everything is done, you'll have a potent weapon with which you can work miracles.

You'll need two matching decks of playing cards with the same color back. Take 24 (not 26) cards from either deck and shuffle them thoroughly. Take the same 24 cards from the other deck and have them available.

Now take the top four cards from your shuffled pack and the same four duplicate cards. Stack these duplicates in the same order and drop one packet on lop of the other. Repeat this same procedure for the remaining cards in groups of four cards. You will end up with six groups of cards, each comprised of two sets of four duplicates stacked in matching order. Stack these six sets of cards on top of each other. You end up with 48 cards altogether. That's close enough to a full deck. Nowr spread the deck in front of you with the faces showing. What you'll notice is that the deck looks remarkably normal. Yes there are very obvious duplicates. It helps when you already know they are there. Do not worry about this. There are enough cards showing that the dupes are never noticed.

Try this. Spread the cards from hand to hand and watch yourself in a mirror. You can do this in a fairly slow and unhurried manner. Believe me, in an audience of lay people (or magicians, for that matter), the duplicates will never be noticed and the deck will pass as completely normal.

For those who want to have a template to follow, here's the exact makeup of the deck I have in front of me, from the top down with each individual set of eight cards:

8C, 6H, 7S, 9S, 8C, 6H, 7S, 9S KS, 9D, 3D, 10H, KS, 9D, 3D, 10H 2H, 3Ss KD, IOC, 2H, 3S, KD, IOC

5S, 4H, JS, QC, 5S, 4H, JS, QC AC, 8H, 5D, QH, 4C. 8H, 5D, QH 2C, 7D, JD.6C, 2C, 7D, JD, 6C

I wanted to do the above so you could see just how normal the deck can look The deck is

j .- T^ the Cards in Sl!ch a wa>' *at you will know exactly where the duphcate o the selected card IS located. It will always be four cards above or below t e selected card. I use two markings that make this process unbelievably simple. HI explain exact y wha I do and you can adapt it to whatever you feel would work best for you. 5

First thing is to mark the cards so that you can tell which way is 'up'. This way vou can unnV U ^T* \ T?'jUSt 3 ^^ 1 USe Hdd the'deck oTe^ els are

Color in this while line

Next we'll mark the deck for the location of the mate of each card. This is extremely easv

Get your first group of eight cards. This is a set of four cards and then the same four cards again, each set in the same order For this example we'll use the first set of cards above - 8C, 6H 7S 9S 8C 6H, 7S, 9S. Keeping the cards facing 'up' (remember the end markup you just put on the card? Make sure that every card is oriented so that* mark is at the top of the card as you look at it), use your Sharpie" and color m that small white line on the upper blade. This is the line that extends from the center circle upwards to the right. Color in that small white line and that card is ready to go.

(greatly expanded and not even remotely to scale)

Color in this while line

(greatly expanded and not even remotely to scale)

On the next four cards - 6H, 7S, 95, 8C - you're going to color in the lower blade. This is the line that extends from the center circle downward and to the left. Do all four cards that way and keep them in order. Finally color the remaining three cards - 6H, 7S, 9S - filling in the upper blade. This is exactly the same as you did with the first card of the set, the SC.

Thinking of those cards which have the upper blade filled in as 'up', and those cards with the lower blade filled in as 'down', do all six sets of cards this same way. The top card is 'up1, the next four cards are 'down' and the final three cards are 'up'. Again, be sure that all of the cards are oriented correctly with the small marking at the top of each card facing the right direction.

You can now stack all six sets together in any order you like. As long as the eight cards within each set are in order and together, the order of the sets themselves is not important. The deck is now done and ready to use. Here's how it works.

As you recall, the mate of each card is just four cards away at any given time. Those markings that you just put on the cards will tell you exactly where that mate is. Let's try a small experiment. Be sure that the deck is being held in the 'up' position (the small marking on the outer end of the cards, assuming all cards are oriented the same, a simple glance at the top card is all you need). Cut the deck anywhere and complete the cut. Place the card you cut to off to one side. Now look at the center circle of the new top card. You have two possibilities at this point.

1. If the colored-in blade of that new top card is pointing 'down' (the darkened blade is the lower one, extending from the center circle downwards and to the left), the mate of the card on the table is the fourth card from the top of the deck. Check it out. Count down to the fourth card from the top without changing the order of the cards. It's the same card as is on the table.

2. If the coiored-in blade of that new top card is pointing 'up' (the darkened blade is the upper one, extending from the center circle upwards and to the right), the mate of the card on the table is the fourth card from the bottom of the deck. Check it out. Count up to the fourth card from the bottom without changing the order of the cards. It's the same card as is on the table.

If that card you counted to is not the same as the card you cut to at the beginning of this little procedure, you have constructed the deck wrong. Go back and try it again.

Now the big question is, what can you do with this special deck? The short answer is, a bunch! Obviously any routine where you need to know what card a spectator has picked without any force whatsoever and without the card being returned to the pack is a natural. All you would load it off «^^irZefc thror bottom °f ^deck a°d -- ^«-

obvious application oTthis thntque! KP"dm " ^ t0 Wal1«

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