ADAMATHICA - AN ACAAN FOR 1921

Often missing from a discussion of Any Card At Any Number is mention of a trick by Bertram Adams called Adamathica. He marketed it in 1921 as a set of instructions in hardbound form. He said he had 100 copies for sale and I would imagine it is quite rare. I found a set of instructions at Ask Alexander.

The effect is described as follows:

Spectator is asked to make a free mental selection of any card in a deck of 52. This selection is made purely mentally without reference to any deck, hence it is not forced in any way. The same spectator, or another if there be more than one, is now asked to name any number from 1 to 48. The spectator is then told that the card that he has mentally selected will be made to assume a position in the pack at the number mentioned. Through the entire experiment the performer does not see the face of the cards as they are handled face down.

Free selection of card. Free selection of number. And yet the mentally selected card ends up at the chosen number. Sounds impossible.

Unfortunately Adamathica is not the Holy Grail ACAAN that many are seeking. It was a version of the 27 Card Trick, a dealing routine using a full deck in which the mentally selected card to could be manoeuvred to a chosen number. In later advertisements, perhaps sensing some resistance to his mathematical creation,

It was a clever idea and if you’re interested in the mathematics of the 27 Card Trick you can find more in Martin Gardner’s invaluable Mathematics, Magic and Mystery where chapter three is given over to what is known rather amusingly as Gergonne’s Pile Problem.

THE TRICK THAT BAFFLED BABBAGE

EFFECT

‘As is well known, Charles Babbage was the scientist who invented the Difference Engine, a form of early computer designed to make calculations quickly. This was back in the 1820s when the idea of calculating machines was pure science fiction. He was inspired by in his work by an exhibition he saw of a mysterious automaton known as Von Kempelen’s Chess Player. It took the form of a mechanical man dressed in Turkish garb and would sit at a table and take on all comers at games of chess. It usually won. But it wasn’t the chess games that interested Babbage. It was a card trick that the automaton performed. Babbage couldn’t figure out how it could possibly work without some form of calculating machine being employed. And that’s the card trick I’m about to show you.’

^{th} position in the deck. The trick is entirely self-working and you don’t need to see or know any of the chosen cards to bring about the effect.

The method has two main elements. The first is forcing the total value of the four pocketed cards. The second is manoeuvring the selected card into the right position in the deck.

7 - 8 - 6 – 9 – 5 - 10 – 4 – J – 3 – Q – 2 – K – A – K – 2 – Q – 3 – J – 4 – 10 – 5 – 9 - 6 – 8 – 7 – 7 - 8 etc.

You’ll have two aces left over. Place these on the face of the deck.

Step 1: Tell your Charles Babbage story as you spread the deck face-up. The stack won’t be noticed. Then spread the deck face-down across the table and ask the first spectator to remove any four cards together. Except for the two aces on the face of the deck, he has a free choice. Ask him to put the four cards in his pocket for now.

^{th} from the top of the deck. I think that’s remarkable given that you’ve only dealt the cards out twice.