Written by Rafael Benatar
Inasmuch as «The Ambitious Card» is one of the best effects ever conceived with a deck of cards, this classic trick, in which a card repeatedly rises to the top of the deck, is a part of the repertory of countless magicians. On occasions, Juan finds himself in front of an audience that has already seen the trick, so he has worked out this version, based on an Ed Mario idea, but using his own methods.
Effect.—Two cards are placed in the center of the deck several times, and each time, they rise to the top together.
After having the deck shuffled by a spectator, place it on the table, with one of the long edges towards you.
Ask a spectator to cut the deck in half, and to give you the top half.
Take the cards in your left hand in dealing position, and with your right hand, pick up two cards as one, by their long edge, from the top of th$ packet on the table. Immediately snap them over, to show the face of the double card, subliminally accentuating their supposed singularity, as you carry them towards your left hand, ready for a Tamariz Turnover (see Notes).
Execute the turnover, leaving the top card out jogged about 3 centimeters from the outer short end of the deck. Let's suppose that the card showing is the seven of clubs, which is now squared up on top of the deck, below the outjogged card.
Repeat the operation, lifting two cards as one off the top of the packet on the table, snapping them over to show the face of another card, let's say the eight of hearts, and perform another Tamariz Turnover, leaving the card outjogged about one cm, this time (Fig. 1).
Take the two outjogged cards together, with the right thumb on the corner of the top card (the one that is outjogged only 1 cm.) and your right second finger directly below it, contacting the face of the supposed seven of clubs. Now, by pulling slowly to the right and backwards, clearly remove both cards from the deck, making them pivot around your left second finger (Fig. 2), and clearly place them on top of the cards on the table, so that each of them is slightly jogged over the short ends of the deck (Fig. 3).
With your right hand take the packet from your left hand and place it on top of the cards on the table, in line with the lower half of the deck.
Slowly square up the cards in the center of the deck, which are still sticking out, and, using both hands, jog the top card to the left a bit, and the second card to the right, so that they end up in the same position as the two cards that you placed on the lower half of the deck a moment ago.
Tap the top of the deck twice, and immediately place the tip of your left index finger on the jogged end of the top card, on the left side of the deck, and at the same time place the tip of your right index finger on the end of the second card, jogged over to the right (Fig. 4). Push down with both index fingers, as if you were pushing a button, making both cards tilt upwards (Fig. 5). Remove your fingers quickly, and let both cards flip over and fall cleanly to the table.
Pick up the deck with your right hand and place it in your left hand in dealing position. Pick up the eight of hearts from the table, and at the same time, get a break below the second card in the deck, setting up for a «tilt» (Fig. 6). Turn the eight of hearts face down and insert it third from the top (below the break), using the «tilt» technique (see Notes) so that it apparently enters in the center of the deck. Pick up the seven of clubs from the table while your left hand gets a new break beneath the top card (releasing the other break). As before, turn the seven of clubs face down and place it into the break, second from the top of the deck, using the «tilt». Once you have inserted the card you can release the break.
Again, tap the back of the deck twice and spread the two top cards to the right, as you ask, «If I do this... (tap, tap), What happens?»
As you finish asking this question, square up the two cards, holding them in Biddle Grip, and tapping them against the side of your left thumb, which remains next to the left long side of the deck. As soon as they are lined up, turn your right hand palm upwards and show the two cards as one. The seven of clubs will show.
To the audience, it looks as if you have squared up the two cards, and then lifted off the top card to show it. Actually, you show the two cards as one.
While you are showing the face of the seven of clubs, use your left thumb to get a break beneath the top two cards of the deck, either by thumb counting two cards, or pushing off two cards to the right and squaring them up again.
Your right hand turns palm downwards again, and takes the two cards above the break as one, below the seven of clubs, and in such a way that they stick out towards the left for half of their width, from the double card that's already there.
Now perform Juan's Doublets Change (see Notes), like this: Place the double card that you just picked up, the one showing the eight of hearts, back on the deck, outjogged half of its length. Place the other two cards, as one, on top of, and squared up with, the rest of the deck.
Your left index finger secretly pushes the eight of hearts back into the deck, under the cover offered by the indifferent card which remains out-jogged.
Simultaneously, your right thumb slides the top card forward, outjog-ging it slightly less than the other outjogged card. Strip out both cards as you did in Phase I, and in one continuous motion, carry them to the position shown in figure 8. Say that this time, you are going to place them even further down in the deck, as if this will make the operation more difficult for you.
Insert the cards in the lower half of the deck, separated by a few cards, introducing them into the short inner end of the deck, to imitate the inser-
tions used in Phase II (when you did the «tilt»), but this time, allow the right side of the deck to be seen by the audience before you finish pushing the two cards in.
Now repeat the actions you performed in Phase II, from the two little taps onwards, but this time, without tricks, without double cards. Both cards appear on top! As you show the overlapping seven of clubs and eight of hearts, do a longitudinal snap and rub the cards together a bit, to tacitly emphasize the fact that there are only two cards.
Turn the two cards face down, and using the procedure of your choice, secretly add a card above them (see Notes).
Hold the cards in Biddle grip, and square them up with the tips of your left fingers, several centimeters above the deck (Fig. 9).
Hold the three cards (supposedly two) squared up, with your left index finger and pinky at the outer corner, on the long side of the cards, to allow your right hand to release the cards for a moment and change its grip.
With your right hand palm down, take the cards with your index finger and pinky along the long edge of the group, near the inner corner. Your second and third fingers remain curled naturally, with their tips touching the back of the top card of the little packet, so that the ball of your thumb can contact the face of the bottom card of the three card packet (Fig. 10).
Your left fingers release the three cards and your right hand turns palm upwards, by turning to the right.
As your right hand completes its turn, your thumb pushes the card it is touching to the right. Your right index finger remains still, along the edge of the other two cards, pushing them softly against your pinky to keep them from separating. The two cards that show are the ones that have already risen several times. This grip on the double card allows you to rub the two visible cards together without revealing the indifferent card. To make a few casual little rubbing movements, all you have to do is move your thumb back and forth, and bend and extend your index finger and pinky (simultaneously or separately), or combine these two actions. Your second and third fingers do not participate in this action, but they can help the other fingers perform it smoothly.
At the same time, your left hand turns palm downwards, turning the deck face up. Your left thumb counts off 10-15 cards from the top of the deck, that is, from the bottom upwards, and stops.
Your right hand inserts the cards that you have just shown, face up, into the opening that your left thumb is holding in the deck (Fig. 11). Leave le cards outjogged about halfway. Turn the deck face down. Grip the acket of three cards as you push the two bottom cards in a bit (Fig. 12). Continue by pushing them the rest of the way into the deck with your left idex finger, under cover of the outjogged card. When they are flush with le deck, push a little further with your index Finger, until they are injogged bout one centimeter from the short inner end, along with all the cards eneath them.
Your right hand extracts the upper half of the injogged block, and drops on top of the deck, supposedly to bury the seven of clubs and eight of earts even further down in the deck than in the last phase. Pretend to ush in the outjogged cards (really just one card) squaring them up with he rest of the deck. If the audience is very close to you, it is a good idea o tilt the deck forward, so they can't see how thick (thin) the outjogged ard is (a single card that is supposed to be two cards).
Tap the deck twice, and repeat the actions of the last phase to show hat the two cards have risen again.
Place the two cards face down on top of the deck, and tell the specta-ors that this time they are going to do it themselves.
Extend your left hand, moving the deck towards a spectator and ask lim to turn over the top card and leave it face up on top of the deck.
Get a break below the second card, ready for another «tilt». Push the ace up card forward with your right thumb (it is one of the «ambitious» ards), leaving it outjogged. Lift the card with your right index and se-ond fingers, and immediately pass your thumb beneath the card. Your econd finger moves out of the way, making room for your thumb, and as
your thumb grips the card, you immediately turn it face down. Place the card into the deck, using the «tilt», so that it ends up second from the top, though it is apparently in the center of the deck, and release the break.
Extend your left arm towards a spectator seated to your right, and have him turn over the new top card, which is the other card that has been rising to the top. When your left hand begins its trip back to its normal position, in front of your body, place your right hand on top of the deck and hold the upper half in Biddle grip. Your left hand continues on its way without stopping, and your right hand remains immobile for a fraction of a second.
When the lower half, the half in your left hand, has moved a centimeter out from below the upper half, at the inner end, your right hand catches up to your left, and squares up the two halves. But before it does so, your right thumb makes contact with the top card of the left hand packet, and as you square up the two packets, pushes it, injogging it slightly. The action occurs in less than a second. The movement of the left hand is continuous, as if the right hand never touches it. Apparently, you simply place your right hand on top of the deck, as if it were a habit of yours, and make a small squaring up motion*.
Get a break below the SUP-2, ready for another «tilt». You can use your right thumb to help make the break when you reach for the top card. Take the top card, turn it face down, and place it into the break, just as you did with the other card. Release the break, and at the same time, tilt the deck to show what you usually try to hide when you do a «tilt», the inner end of the deck. The audience will assume that the card that is sticking out is the one that you just inserted. Finish pushing the card into the deck (in view of the audience). This not only makes this «tilt» more convincing, at the same time, it reinforces the cleanliness of all the previous «tilts» (see Notes).
Repeat the names of the two cards, tap the deck twice, and show that they are once again on top of the deck, using the same actions as in the previous phases.
Secretly add two cards on top of the two cards in your right hand (see Notes).
* This subtle method for injogging a card in the center of the deck is quite ingenious. It was discovered by Rafael Benatar, and is an improvement on the method I used to use.
With the four cards squared up in Biddle grip in your right hand, turn your hand palm upwards, showing the face of one of the two «ambitious» cards.
Carefully, but casually, take this card with the tips of the fingers of your left hand, which is still holding the deck, and hand it to a spectator. This leaves the other «ambitious» card in view, with the two cards that you just added on to the packet hidden behind it.
Bend your cards downwards a few times, by pressing the short ends together, as you ask the spectator to do the same thing with «his card», a verbal subtelty that helps to keep the audience from suspecting the presence of extra cards.
Once the spectator has bent his card, leaving a clean bridge in both «ambitious» cards, have him place his card on top of the deck in your left hand, face down. Meanwhile, maintain the packet in your right hand in motion, to hide its thickness. Place your three cards on top of the deck, on top of the card bent by the spectator.
With the deck in your left hand in dealing position, deal the top card onto the table with one hand. The card on the table will have a bridge. Place the new top card next to it on the table— both cards will be bent. This time, maintain a light pressure on the back of the deck with your left thumb, so as not to expose the bridge in the next two cards.
It's a good idea, when you deal the cards onto the table, to deal them to your left, to justify the fact that you placed them on top of the deck. Apparently you place them there in order to leave them further to your left— with your left hand! The deck was simply «in your hands at the time, though not in the way», but it had nothing to do with the action.
Take the deck with your right hand in Biddle grip. A slight pressure with your index fingers holds the bent cards flat against the top of the deck.
Your left hand removes the bottom third of the deck and lays one of the bent cards on the table on top of it, without showing the face of the card.
Grip the cards with your left hand in such a way that you are holding them by the sides, about two or three centimeters below your fingertips. Drop the lower third of the right hand packet on top of the cards in your left hand. Hold the packet in line with the lower packet with your left fingers, but slightly above it (1/2 cm) so that the bent card maintains its curve, and is visible between the two packets.
Place the card on the table on top of the cards in your left hand by picking it up with the tips of your right fingers.
Finally, place the cards that remain in your right hand on top of the cards in your left hand, leaving them slightly above the rest of the packet, as before. Hold them in place with your left fingers. Your left thumb and second fingers hold the top two cards, at the center of their long sides, maintaining them flat against the top of the deck. (Fig. 13).
Tap the bottom of the deck with your right hand. With the help of your left index finger, which is touching the face of the bottom card, and by releasing the pressure of your left thumb against the edge of the bottom packet for an instant, allow the two lower packets to join, making the bend in the card between them disappear.
Tap the deck a second time, making the curve in the other card disappear in the same way. Immediately remove the tips of your fingers from the edges of the top two cards, allowing them to instantly recuperate their curvature (Fig. 14). Pause, to allow the audience to assimilate the effect, and let the two bent cards slide onto your right hand, which turns them face up and shows them to the audience: the seven of clubs and the eight of hearts.
The two taps should be made in the same way as in the previous phases. You could also try to release the two cards one by one (if you fail, its no problem), so that the final rhythm is a regular 1, 2, 3, 4, like this:
1. Tap, bent card disappears.
2. Tap, bent card disappears.
Turn the deck face up and make a pressure fan, to show that no cards are repeated, and at the same time, to eliminate the bridge in the other two bent cards.
This routine, like the Ambitious Card routine explained in The Magic Way, is an excellent example of how to apply the «method of false solutions», explained by Juan in the same book.
To the layman it seems absolutely impossible (which it really is) that you can place a card in the center of the deck and make it rise, magically, to the top. Something in his mind, more or less consciously or unconsciously, tells him that there must be some logical way to create the illusion. But it would never occur to him that there are dozens of methods.
In routines like this one, in which the same effect is accomplished several times using different procedures, Juan gets the most out of the spectators' mental process: if the effect seems so impossible, the natural tendency is to believe that if there is a way to achieve this illusion, their must be only one way.
That's why each method cancels out whatever conclusions the spectators might have reached during the previous repetitions.
To lift two cards as one from the packet on the table Juan uses the method explained elsewhere in this book, in the routine «The Three Actors». The Tamariz Turnover can be found in the chapter on sleights.
The tilt: Hold the top card so that it is separated from the deck at the short inner end, 1/2-1 cm. above the rest of the deck, and flush with the rest of the deck at the outer short end.
Now you apparently insert a card into the center of the deck by pushing it in at the short inner end. Actually you place it SUP-2 (second from the top) and push it in with your thumb, simulating the action of really placing it in the middle of the deck.
There is a little book by Mario called Tilt, dedicated to the study of this utility move.
By using simple and obvious variations, you can place the card in different positions, according to your needs.
In the The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings this move is attributed to Dai Vernon, with a more eloquent name: The Depth Illusion.
The Doublets Change is explained elsewhere in the chapter on sleights.
To add a card on top of the two «ambitious» cards, Juan usually uses this method: Get a break below SUP 1 (the top card). Place the two cards in your right hand on top of the deck and square them up, adding the card above the break beneath them.
Pick up the packet of three cards in Biddle grip with your right hand and move them to the right. Place your left thumb on top of the packet and retain the top card, holding it back on top of the deck, jogged slightly to the right.
Place the next two cards as one on top of the jogged card, and place your thumb back on top of the little packet.
Holding back the top card with your thumb, remove the bottom two cards (as one) and pick up the card that is being held by the thumb beneath them, leaving it sticking out for half its width.
Now you can turn your right hand palm upwards to show the faces of the «ambitious» cards. This phase is an adaptation for two cards of an ingenious method for one card by Harry Lorayne.
This Lin Searles idea was published in Hierophant-Resurrection Issue, with the title, Tilt Bit.
To add two cards to the «ambitious» cards, turn the deck face up in your left hand and get a break beneath the two cards on the face of the deck.
Square up the two cards in your right hand on top of the deck and pick up the two cards above the break beneath them. Pause before you remove the cards, in case some observant spectator might have noticed the card on the bottom of the deck. Lift the four cards as two, as always, in Biddle grip, and with your right index finger, pivot them face down, around the axis formed by your thumb and second finger, leaving it in position to continue with the routine. At the same time, flip the deck face down with your left thumb.
You could also use John Mendoza's move — Throwing the Switch, which is explained in a pamphlet by the same name, and in the Magic Way, by Juan Tamariz, pages 171-173.
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