Sunday, June 29, 2008


When looking for solutions to Fifty-One Faces North it is worth considering other tricks and seeing whether they can be transformed into something that resembles Stewart James’ creation.

In the Not The Berglas Effect manuscript I described the Will de Seive key-card (Greater Magic page 478). I was always impressed how Ted Lesley used this gimmick in his Kismet Connection (Ted Lesley’s Paramiracles) in which one of three cards is predicted. The same gimmick makes for an excellent version of Fifty-One Faces North. Essentially all you're doing is reducing the number of alternative predictions and giving the trick a different dressing.


1. If you want to stick closely to Stewart James’ conditions you would secretly prepare one of the cards in a borrowed deck during a previous effect. Knowing the name of the gimmicked card, King of Spades for instance, you write it down as your open prediction while the spectator is shuffling the deck.

2. Take the deck back and, as you talk, casually cut the deck to bring the gimmicked card to the top. And then cut it again to place it just above centre.

3. Place the deck on the table and tell the spectator, ‘I want you to reach out and cut the deck like this.’ You demonstrate by cutting a few cards from the deck and then replacing them. ‘But cut more than that. We want quite a few cards.’

4. Continue giving directions to the spectator, ‘Just cut. Don’t even think about it.’

5. The spectator cuts the deck and if things are working well he will have cut right above your gimmicked card. If the light is right, a glance at the raised back of the card will let you know that the trick has worked. Immediately ask him to turn the packet he has just cut face-up and drop it back onto the face-down deck and square the cards.

6. Tell the spectator to pick up the deck and deal all the face-up cards onto the table and let you know when he sees the King of Spades. When he has dealt all the face-up cards tell him to deal the next card face-down. This is your gimmicked King of Spades.

7. He now turns all the remaining cards one at a time and deals them face-up onto the tabled pile. Again the King of Spades does not show up.

8. Ask him to turn over the pile of cards and spread them across the table. The only reversed card turns out to be the King of Spades, the very card you predicted.

NOTES: You might be wondering what happens when the spectator doesn’t cut to the gimmicked card. Fortunately because you never told him what would happen, you can pretty much make anything you want to happen. The King of Spades is still gimmicked. If you ask the spectator to cut the deck several times he will at some point cut your gimmicked card to the top of the deck. When he does you shout out ‘Stop!’ You remind him that he shuffled the cards. He cut the cards. And that you made your prediction long before. Ask him to turn over the top card of the deck. He will be surprised that it is the King of Spades.

Alternatively, assuming the King of Spades is not among the face-up cards he has dealt to the table, you might risk the following. Ask him to cut the remainder of the deck a couple of times. If he cuts the King of Spades to the top, have him deal it face-down onto the tabled pile and then deal the rest of the cards face-up. You might get lucky a second time. If not, you can still find that gimmicked card any time you wish but once you start using different outcomes the more you lose sight of Stewart James conditions.

In The Mind and Magic of David Berglas I described how David uses a bridge in the deck to have a spectator cut to a force card. It is an old principle but David has huge success with it as does Chris Power who uses it in his close-up work. If you don’t want to work a gimmicked card into a borrowed deck, then the bridge is an equally good way of bringing about the effect.