Picasso Aces

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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This is my approach to die Lin Searles "Ultimate Aces" plot, an ace assembly in which the backs of the aces contrast in color with the rest of the cards. When this routine was devised, I was familiar with only die Vernon and Kane versions. Since then, I have seen other fine solutions, notably by Bruce Cervon. However, this one is still my favorite. It first appeared in my 1979 booklet, Gallery.

You will need a red-backed deck, plus six blue-backed cards: four aces, plus two indifferent cards. Arrange the blue-backers in order from the top: face-up aces of diamonds, clubs, hearts and spades; face-down indifferent cards. This packet is in your pocket at die start of the routine.

The red-backed deck is set with the ace of hearts on top. Make sure that none of the other aces is among the top dozen cards, and that the duplicates of your blue-backed indifferent cards are also absent from die top stock.

When it is time to perform the routine, introduce die packet of cards from your pocket, stating that you will perform using aces with contrasting backs. The packet is spread as four, showing die face-up aces. Square the packet and obtain a break above the two bottom cards. Then take the packet into right-hand Biddle Grip, the right thumb holding the break.

The left hand picks up the deck, obtaining a left little-finger break beneadi die top card (the ace of hearts). The right hand deposits its cards on top of the deck, still holding the break below the top four cards, and picks up the ace of hearts below the right-hand stock. The left diumb now presses down on the top card of the right-hand stock (the face-up ace of diamonds), and the right hand draws away the stock while die left thumb retains the ace of diamonds atop the pack. Use the left edge of the packet to flip die ace of diamonds face-down, displaying its blue back-

Repeat these actions with the next card (the ace of clubs). When the hands come together to draw off the third card (the ace of hearts), the diree cards beneath the right thumb break are loaded onto the deck. A blue back will still show on top of the pack, so all looks fine. The ace of hearts is drawn onto the pack and flipped over. Then the ace of spades is flipped face-down on top of all.

Seemingly, the top four cards arc the blue-hacked aces. The true order is, from the top: blue-backed ace of spades, blue-backed ace of hearts, two blue-backed indifferent cards, red-backed ace of hearts, blue-backed ace of clubs, blue-backed ace of diamonds, balance of red-backed deck.

Deal the top four cards into a face-down pile on the table. The audience sees four blue backs and assumes these to be die aces just shown. A red back shows atop the deck, as expected.

Table the pack, pick up the dealt cards, square them and turn the packet face-up. The ace of spades shows at the face. Deal this onto the table, turning it face-down. The ace of hearts now shows at the face, reinforcing the idea that you still hold the four blue-backed aces.

Flip the packet face-down and deal the three cards into a face-down row, left to right, above the tabled ace of spades.

State that you will put three cards onto each blue-backed ace. Hold die deck in your left hand and, with die right hand, apparently remove the top card in Biddle Grip. In fact, a block of three cards, squared as one, is taken. The new top card of die pack is now taken below the right hand's triple card, jogged to the left. The next card is taken below diese, jogged farther to the left.

You apparently hold a spread of diree cards (actually five). Push the spread packet square against the left thumb and unload the two bottom cards onto the pack. The right hand moves away with the top three cards (two blue-backed aces beneath a red). Place die three-card packet onto the leader card, the ace of spades.

The above actions are repeated, but this time you genuinely remove three cards, square them and drop them onto the blue card at the left end of the row.

Repeat this legitimate procedure, placing three cards on die card in the center of the row.

For the final time, as you apparendy remove die top card of the deck, take the top two squared as one, then the next and the next—so that you actually remove four cards. These arc squared and put onto die last blue-backer, at the right end of the row. The balance of the pack is placed aside.

Pick up the packet at die left end of the row. Remove the bottom card, displaying its blue back and referring to it as an ace. Put diis blue-backer on top of the packet, then cut two cards from top to bottom. (Thus, the blue-backer is now third from the top.)

Snap your fingers. Then perform an Elmsley Count, showing four red backs; the blue-backed ace has vanished. Turn the cards face-up and fan them, showing all indifferent cards. Place the packet face-up on the table, to the upper left of your working area.

Ask how many aces were in the leader pile. The answer will be one. Pick up the leader pile and perform an Elmsley or a Jordan Count, either of which will show that there are now two blue-backs in that group. Replace the leader packet in the leader position.

Pick up the center pile of the row. Remove die bottom card, showing its blue back. As before, cut die blue-backer to a position third from the top. Turn the packet face-up.

Snap your fingers. Then perforin an Olram Subtlety to show four red-backed indifferent cards, backs and fronts. As the cards are shown and dropped face-up to the table, the blue-backed indifferent card is casually dropped onto the face-up discard pile. The other three cards are tossed to die table. Now gadier diose three cards and slide them beneath the discard pile. Thus, the blue-backed indifferent cards lie at the face of this eight-card pile.

Pick up die leader pile, stating that there must now be three blue-backed aces there. Give the cards a straight count, legitimately reversing their order while displaying direc blue-backers. Replace this packet in the leader position.

Take the packet at the right end of the row. Remove die bottom card, as before—but this time you can flash the face, as it is die ace of hearts. Cut it to a position third from the top of the packet.

Snap your fingers. Then perform an Ascanio Spread, showing four red backs. Do not strip the double card from die spread. Leave it in place. Square die cards and llip the packet face-up. Do another Ascanio Spread, displaying four indifferent faces. The right hand strips out the double card of die spread (the ace of hearts squared behind an indifferent card) and drops it onto the discard pile. The other three cards are tossed one at a time onto the table. Slide these three cards beneath the discard pile.

Pick up die discard pile as you ask, "When we began, how many aces were in diis group?" Here, casually transfer the card at the face to the back.

The spectators will answer, "Three."

"That's correct—and as they've vanished from here, how many are now in the leader pile?" x^s this is asked, put the discard pile onto the table, face-down.

The spectators will answer, "Four." Pick up the leader pile and perform a Jordan Count, showing four blue backs. The last card of this count goes to the bottom.

Flip the packet face-up and fan the cards to display die four aces. Split the fan, taking the upper two aces into the right hand to display them further. Then take the right hand's pair below the two in the left hand. This brings the ace of hearts to the face in a casual manner.

The effect is over and you're ready to clean up. Square the ace packet and turn it face-down. Grasp die packet in right-hand Biddle Grip and obtain a right diumb break above die bottom card (the red-backed ace of hearts).

The left hand picks up die discard pile. The right hand gestures with its packet to the left-hand stock and, as the packets "kiss," the red-backer at the bottom of the right hand's stock is loaded onto die left-hand packet.

Openly place the right hand's packet below the left's. Then turn all the cards face-up and spread them to show four aces at the face.

"Remember, the aces have blue backs." As this is said, square the stock, obtaining a break below the card sixth from the face.

The right hand lifts away the six cards above die break—supposedly taking just the four aces, and the left hand does a wrist turn to conceal the lace of its packet. This is done to conceal the change of the card on the face of the packet. .As the blue-backed packet is returned to your pocket, you conclude, "xAll of diese other cards have red backs." In fact, this is so—you're left with a full pack of red cards, to do with as you see lit.

The gimmicked Ace Assembly commonly known as the "MacDonald Aces" (although it actually dates back to Hofeinser) provides an exceptionally strong piece of magic, as the use of double-faced aces allows for some very convincing vanishes. In the 1970's, T devoted a lot of time to working out variations. The following routine uses a trio of vanishes that I wrote up for the December, 1977 Linking Ring, and which 1 incorporated into a full routine in the Notions booklet the following year.

Unpublished, until now, is this routine, which combines the Ace Assembly with a particularly effective kicker. It was this latter element dvat led to the development of "Fluttering Hearts," explained previously in this collection.

You will need, in addition to a pack of cards, a standard MacDonald set (double-faced aces of hearts, clubs and diamonds, backed with indifferent cards) and three specific double-facers: an ace of spades backed with a jack of hearts, an ace of clubs backed with a queen of hearts, and an ace of diamonds backed with a ten of hearts.

At the start of the routine the legitimate ace of hearts is on top of the face-down deck, followed by the legitimate king of hearts. The third card from the top is the double-faced ace of clubs/queen of hearts, queen up. The fourth card is the double-faced ace of diamonds/ten of hearts, ace up. The four remaining double-facers are distributed throughout the balance of the pack, ace-sides down. Finally, place the nine of hearts ninth from the face of the deck.

Make sure that die real aces of spades, clubs and diamonds are eidier removed from the pack, or positioned near the top (so that they will not show up during the routine). Take the same precautions with the real ten, jack and queen of hearts, as well as the duplicates of the indifferent sides of the MacDonald cards.

Begin by holding the deck face-up. Run through the cards, removing the four aces as you come to them. These are, of course, all double-facers. Place the aces into a tabled row, with the ace of spades at the right end.

Square the pack and hold it in the left hand from below and die right hand from above, Biddle fashion. Riffle oft'four cards from the rear of the pack, taking a break at that location with the right thumb.

Say that you will work with the four aces, plus several indifferent cards. As you are explaining this, start drawing cards from the face of the pack into the left hand. Continue pulling cards from the face until you reach the nine of hearts. Take this card onto die left-hand stock and stop. Do not mention how many cards you are taking. The idea here is to remove exacdy nine cards, without the spectators observing the precise number.

State that you will place three indifferent cards onto each ace. As this is said, the hands come togedier, right over left. The contents of each hand "kiss" for an instant, and the four cards beneath die thumb break are allowed to drop onto the left-hand stock. As soon as diis happens, separate your hands. The left hands turns inward, as the right hand moves to the right to table the pack face-down. It is unimportant if the spectators catch a flash of die face of the left hand's packet before it is turned inward, as the change of face card (from the nine to the ten of hearts) is indiscernible with the cards in motion.

Take the packet face-down into right-hand Biddle Grip and, as you explain that you will place three cards onto each ace, catch a break above the bottom card of the packet and reverse this card with a Half-Pass.

Now, with the left thumb, draw off three cards and place them facedown onto the ace at the left end of the row. These face-down cards should be set down at an angle, so that at least the index of the ace remains in view, permitting the spectators to see each ace up to the moment it is vanished.

Draw off three more cards, placing them onto the next ace. Draw-off three more cards and put diem onto the third ace.

The cards remaining in the right hand are your original four-card set-up. Do a Hamman Count to display three backs, then place the packet onto the ace of spades.

Each of the first diree aces is now vanished from its respective packet. There are many MacDonald Ace vanishes in the literature; diese are ones of my own devising.

Pick up the packet lying on die first ace and turn die three indifferent cards face-up. Then pick up the ace and place it on top of all. Fan the cards to display them; then close the fan, turn the packet face-down and hold it in your left hand. Use a Double-Buckle or Pull-Down to obtain a break above the bottom two cards. The right hand reaches into the break and grasps the two lower cards, with die fingers on top and diumb below. Remove this pair, squared as one. Rotate the right hand forward, bringing the double card face-up. Then place it onto die left-hand stock, jogged to the right for about half its width. Clip the jogged double card in place with the left thumb.

The left hand turns palm-down and apparently deals the jogged ace to the table. In fact, a Downs Change is performed. In a continuing action, the remaining three cards in the left hand are spread onto the table, face-up. (The lowermost of these is the double-facer, indifferent-side up.)

Make a mystical gesture. Then turn over die face-down card, showing diat it is no longer an ace. Use this card to scoop up the other three. Square the packet, turn it face-down and place it onto the deck.

Pick up the second packet and turn the three indifferent cards faceup. Position the ace on top of all. Fan the cards to display them. Then close the fan, turn the packet face-down and hold it in your left hand. Use a Single-Buckle or Pull-Down to obtain a wide left little-finger break above the bottom card. The right fingers reach into the break and remove the card above the pulled down one, dealing it face-down to the table. To the audience, you have simply extracted the bottom card—the ace.

The remaining three cards are nowr turned face-up, using mv Clean-Up Display Move (explained in "Exitwist"). This results in your showing three indifferent cards. (The card in the left hand is the double-facer, indifferent-side up.) Table these cards.

Make a mystical gesture over the face-down card, then turn it over, showing that it is no longer an ace. Use this card to scoop up the other three. Square the packet, turn it face-down and place it onto the deck.

Pick up the third packet. As before, turn the three indifferent cards face-up and position the ace on top of all. Fan the cards to display the faces. Now openly reverse their order, bringing the ace to the rear of die packet.

Announce your intention to vanish this ace using just one hand (an appropriate touch, I think). Hold the face-up packet in your left hand, in a deep dealing grip. Move the left hand towrard your body and, as you do so, use the left little finger to pull down the bottom card at its inner right corner. Simultaneously, the forefinger curls under the packet and presses up at the center of the bottom card.

With a quick forward and downward motion, fling die cards onto the table. As you do so, push up sharply with the forefinger while tugging down with the little finger. Figure 64 exposes the action. This forces the bottom card (the double-facer) to flip over, its motion obscured by the cards above and the overall action of the toss. The diumh guards against the upper indifferent cards flipping over or out of control. As the cards land sinardv on the table in a spread, four indifferent faces are seen.

Gather the four cards (making sure the double-facer is not at the rear). Turn them face-down and place them onto the deck.

Pick up the packet lying on top of the ace of spades and hold it facedown in your left hand. You will now show these cards as the missing aces, apparendy displaying each card back and front.

The right hand deals the top card off the front end of the packet, swings it end over end and face-up, showing it to be the ace of hearts, then places it onto the tabled ace of spades.

The right hand returns to the packet and apparently deals the next card. In fact, execute a Necktie Second with a relatively fine brief: The left hand turns inward, as the diurnb draws back the top card slightly. The right thumb contacts the far edge of the second card and pulls it from the packet, swinging it face-up in a continuing action and displaying it as die ace of clubs. Simultaneously, die left thumb and forefinger guide the two cards in that hand back into alignment, as the wrist rotates forward to bring the double card back to a horizontal plane. With proper timing and fluid action, a back is seemingly seen on the ace of clubs just before it is dealt face-up. Lay the club onto the tabled aces.

The right hand grasps the left hand's double card at the front end, thumb on top, fingers below, and swings the squared pair face-up to display the ace of diamonds. Place this double card onto the other aces.

' I'he trick is apparendy over, but you are ready to spring your kicker. Pick up the packet of aces and obtain a break beneath the second card. Ask die audience if they'd like to see an extra trick with the four aces. 1 Iopefully, their answer will be encouraging. If so, proceed.

Redisplay the aces by taking the top two cards above the break, squared as one, into the right hand. (This is seemingly just the ace of diamonds.) Take the ace of clubs on top of that, the ace of hearts onto that, and the ace of spades on top of all. Square the cards momentarily, then respread diem in a wide fan, keeping the last two cards squared as one. You are still showing four face-up aces.

The right hand removes the first two aces (the spade and heart) and flips them over, face-down onto die left-hand stock. As the cards are turning over, die ace of spades is allowed to fall back into alignment with the heart; thus, when the pair setdes, only the legitimate back of die ace of hearts is seen. Square die cards, holding them in the left hand.

Make a mystical gesture. You will now use a sequence that displays the packet as a Royal Straight Flush in hearts while conveying the impression that the backs of all die cards arc being shown.

The right hand grabs the packet at the outer end and turns it over by rotating it inward. The right fingers now pull the top (face-down) card inward for about half its length, revealing the ten of hearts beneath. Use an A/C Alignment Move to push the top card back into line with the packet while jogging the ten of hearts forward. Extract the ten of hearts, dealing it onto die table.

Repeat the above actions, turning the packet over and pulling back the top (face-down) card to show the jack of hearts. Extract the jack via an A/C Alignment Move and deal it onto die tabled ten, overlapping it.

Repeat the same set of actions, producing the queen of hearts. Add it to die tabled row.

Turn the packet over again and pull back die top card, revealing the king of hearts. Extract die king, adding it to die tabled row. Turn over the final card, showing die ace of hearts, and place it onto the others.

This sequence must be done briskly, without hesitation. If you work slowly, it will simply look peculiar. Speed gives the actions a flourish quality, which justifies the peculiarity. Also, if it is done swiftly, the constant display of backs creates the impression that you are showing each card to have a back, even though you are doing nodiing of die sort.

The transformation of aces to a Royal Straight Flush is quite startling. It is also, of course, completely illogical, particularly as you are changing four cards to five. In "Fluttering I Icarts," I chose to deal with diis situation by putting it in the context of a guessing game. Here, I contend that no framing patter is necessary. I can assure you of diis from experience. Because the outcome is so unexpected, it essentially short-circuits the spectators' desire for logical consistency.

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