Friday, March 17, 2006

Jesse Demaline had some very clever effects in The Magic Wand magazine but his Sympathetic Cards from Pocket (issue 254) may have been overlooked because of a typo in the article. It’s an intriguing effect. A diabolically simple method. And holds lots of potential for individual variation. Read on.

Effect: Imagine having three cards selected from a blue-backed deck. They are free selections and you really have no idea what cards are being chosen. Meanwhile, a second spectator is shuffling a red-backed deck of cards. They hand it to you and you place it in your jacket pocket.

Now for the magic; you reach inside a remove a card from the shuffled red-backed deck. Amazingly, it matches the first selection. You repeat the feat, pulling out another card and revealing that this one matches the second selection. Finally, you pull out a third card. And yes, it matches the third selection.

Method: It's a great effect and not difficult to do but I bet the method will disappoint you. That would be a pity, because it really is such a good routine. Here goes:

It all depends on using a Mene Tekel Deck. I can hear half of you crying "No!" and the other half wondering what the devil a Mene Tekel Deck is. To be honest it's not much used these days. It is a gimmicked deck consisting of twenty-six different cards and their duplicates. The cards are arranged in pairs and the rear card of each pair has been trimmed a little shorter than its mate. It's similar in construction to the more popular Svengali deck. You'll find more about the Mene Tekel Deck in Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, if you're interested.

For this effect let's assume that the Mene Tekel Deck is blue-backed. The red-backed deck is quite ordinary and unprepared and is handed out to a spectator for shuffling. As that is done you bring out the Mene Tekel Deck and give it a few cuts. You can riffle spread the deck face up on the table if you want to show all the cards ordinary, or riffle through them as you would with a Svengali deck. After that you let the cards dribble from the right hand to the left and ask a spectator to call "stop." Stop the dribble action and thumb off the top card of the left portion of the deck and ask him to take it. That will be his selected card.

Because of the construction of the deck, it leaves a duplicate of his card on top of the left portion. Replace this packet on top of the right hand packet, bringing the duplicate to the top of the deck.

Now you go to a second spectator and have another card selected. Again dribble the cards from the right hand and into the left. Ask him to call "stop" at any point and offer him the card stopped at as before. This time you can't cut the deck to bring to the duplicate to the top. Instead, as you bring the right hand packet to the left, you simply thumb over the top card of the left packet and slide the right hand packet below it.

You don't need to make a move out of this. Just do it. If you want to cover it a little, turn to your right as you walk towards the next spectator and at that point ask him to look at his chosen card. As he does, make the move.

Dribble the cards again and ask a third spectator to call "stop." He does and is offered the top card of the left packet. Again, you bring the packets together and slide the new top card of the left portion onto the right portion as it is apparently replaced. If you've done all this correctly, you will have duplicates of each selected card on top of the deck. We're almost there.

Get a break under the top three cards of the deck and palm them into the right hand as you ask the spectator with the red-backed deck to stop shuffling. With the right hand, put the blue-backed deck down on the table. With the left hand, take back the red-backed deck. Transfer it to the right hand and place it into your right jacket pocket. Before the right hand comes out of the pocket, it leaves the palmed cards on top of the deck. The finishing line is in sight.

The rest is just showmanship. To produce the first spectator's card you pretend to fiddle around in your pocket and then bring out the third card down from the top. It's actually got a blue-back, not a red-back, so be careful not to expose it as you show the card and drop it face up onto the table. It matches the first spectator's selection. Similarly the second spectator's selection will be found second card down from the top. And the third spectator's selection will be the top card. Just be careful not to expose the backs as they are produced.

There's not really much more to it. By choreographing the effect properly you will make it easier for yourself. The three spectators who choose cards should be in front of you from left to right. Moving between them will help cover the repositioning of the duplicate cards. The spectator who shuffles the red-backed deck should be on your left. Moving towards him will help cover the palming of the duplicates. It also means it is natural to reach out to him with your left hand and take the deck back.

Final Notes: You can play around with different moves to get the duplicates to the top of the deck but I don't think it is worth complicating it too much. A simple modification you could make is in the loading of the duplicate to the top of the deck. Instead of just pushing the card over the side of the deck, to the right, pull it back with the thumb so that it projects an inch or so at the inner end of the deck. The right hand, now lying by your side, comes up towards the left portion of the deck, hits the injogged card and slides right under it as it is replaced on top of the left portion. It works smoothly and is well covered from the front if the left hand is held high and the deck tipped slightly towards you.

I did experiment with a Mene Tekel Deck arranged so that instead of alternating short/long the pairs alternated long/short. This meant that after a spectator had taken his selection, the duplicate was actually on the face of the upper (right) half of the deck. As the halves were brought together it could be loaded beneath the deck via the Ovette/Kelly move or one of the many variations such as that of Bruce Elliott's in 100 New Magic Tricks. Instead of the duplicates being top-palmed and loaded into the right jacket pocket, they are bottom palmed and deposited in the left. I'm not sure it was any improvement though.

Finally, you can dispense with the palming altogether if you just dip your right hand (and deck) into your right pocket as if opening it ready to receive the red-backed deck. Leave the duplicate cards behind. Put the blue-backed deck away and take the red-backed deck at fingertips and drop it into the pocket alongside the duplicates. The rest is as written.