Tuesday, July 09, 2002

The publication of Stewart James’ long awaited solution to 52 Faces North in The Penumbra magazine has reinvigorated interest in this problem and Paul Curry’s Open Prediction. I’ve had a number of stabs at this, most of them prompted by Karl Fulves’ booklet on the topic. Here’s one from the notebooks circa 1979. Apologies if anyone got there first.

You need a double-faced Joker. Joker on one side, King of Spades on the other. Trim it to make it into a short card. Take the real KS from the deck and replace with the short double-facer, Joker side up.

Begin by spreading through the deck and pushing out the Joker. With a felt-tipped pen openly write King of Spades across the face of the Joker. As this is being done have a spectator shuffle the deck. Show the prediction. Then ask the spectator to put the deck face down behind their back. They may cut it again if they wish.

Hand them the Joker face up (be careful not to expose the reverse side) and ask them to slide it face up into the middle of the face down deck. Then they bring the deck foward, face down.

Tell them to deal cards, one at a time, face up onto the table. Stop them when they come to the face up Joker. Remind them of your prediction, which is scrawled across the face of the Joker. The Joker is dealt face up onto the tabled pile.

"You placed the Joker next to this card, let's leave it face down for the moment." Have the next card dealt face down on top of the Joker. They deal right through the rest of the deck turning each card face up as you say, "Stop when you get to the King of Spades." They don't find it. Remind them of the one card they left face down.

Take the deck, square it, turn it face down and riffle spread it across the table. This is the spread used in conjunction with a Svengali deck. Because the KS is a short card it is revealed face up in the middle of the spread. It also hides the real reversed card.

To clean up, just turn the pack over and remove the Joker and put it in your pocket. Turn the reversed card over without revealing its face. Virtually self-working, shuffled deck and for the most part the spectator does all the handling. I've seen worse!