Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Trick That Can Be Explained

EFFECT: Spectator shuffles the deck while performer takes a small envelope from his pocket and places it on the table. The spectator is asked to cut the deck into three piles and then choose one of them. The top card of the chosen pile is turned over; it is the King of Spades. The envelope is opened. Inside is a playing card. It too is The King of Spades.

METHOD: This is nothing more than a simplification of Ted Lesley’s excellent Kismet Connection, a marketed trick that you will also find explained in Ted Lesley’s book Para Miracles.

When I first saw Ted perform this trick I thought immediately of Dai Vernon’s The Trick That Cannot Be Explained. To my mind Ted’s use of the Will de Seive gimmicked card meant that the Vernon effect was at last within the reach of ordinary mortals. Anyone could shuffle the deck, cut it and you had a chance of predicting the identity of the top card. This is because it is very likely that the Will de Seive card will be cut to the top.

As mentioned before on this blog the Will de Seive gimmick is a card that has a slightly raised centre portion. It is described in Greater Magic. A good way to make the card is by pressing a small coin, the size of a quarter, onto the face of a court card. If you shuffle this prepared card into the deck you will have no problem cutting the card to the top of the deck. The raised back creates a natural break. Even better, if a spectator is asked to cut the deck, there is a very good chance that they too will cut the prepared card to the top.

For this trick you need two prepared cards: the King of Spades and the King of Clubs. Both cards are marked on the back so that you know one from the other. In the envelope you have a King of Spades with the same back pattern as the deck you are using. This is all you need to perform a very reliable version of Vernon’s miracle.

HANDLING: Give the deck to the spectator and ask him to shuffle it. Take out the envelope and place it on the table. When the spectator has finished shuffling tell him to place the deck on the table. Look at the back of the top card. If either of your gimmicked cards is there you can proceed straight to the revelation.

If the King of Spades is on top you say, ‘You gave the cards a good shuffle? Good. Because this morning I also shuffled a deck of cards. And I placed it on the table. And I took the top card. I didn’t even look at it. I promise. And I put the card in that envelope. Turn over the top card of the deck. What is it?’

The spectator turns the card over to reveal the King of Spades. ‘Okay, now reach inside the envelope and remove the card. Turn it over. Let’s see if I’ve been lucky.’ It’s the King of Spades, a perfect match.

Now for the second scenario. Let’s assume that the top card of the deck is the King of Clubs. In this case you alter the patter slightly, saying, ‘You gave the cards a good shuffle? Yes. Good. Did you notice anything odd about the deck? No? Well, there’s actually one card missing. Because this morning I also shuffled that deck of cards. And I placed the deck on the table. And without looking I took the top card and slid it into this envelope. Let me show you.’

You open the envelope at fingertips and slide the card out face-down onto the table. ‘They say like attracts like. Let’s see if that’s true.’ Turn over your prediction card to reveal the King of Spades. ‘Will you turn over the top card of the deck?' They turn over the top card and discover the King of Clubs, the mate to your card. A spooky coincidence.

To clean up put both cards back on top of the deck, palming away the duplicate prediction King of Spades and returning it to your pocket as you put the envelope away. If you don’t want to do any sleight of hand, it is easy enough to steal the card away under the envelope as you chat to the spectators.

MORE HANDLING: Of course the spectator won’t usually shuffle one of the gimmicked cards to the top. You will know the situation as soon as he puts the deck on the table. If no gimmicked cards are there, ask him to cut the deck and complete the cut. This gives him another chance of bringing a gimmicked card to the top. If that happens, proceed as described earlier.

If there is still no gimmicked card on top, ask him to cut the deck into three piles. This gives you a couple of more chances of him cutting a gimmicked card to the top. As soon as you see that one of the piles has a gimmicked card in position, use Equivoque (Magician’s Choice) to force that pile.

This is actually the best outcome. The spectator has shuffled the deck, cut the deck, divided it into three piles and then chosen one of them. It looks like he has made a lot of choices. This makes the prediction look all the more impressive.

If you are unlucky enough not to find either of the gimmicked cards on top of any of the three piles, then this is definitely not the day for you to go gambling at the race trick. But you can still bring the trick to a successful conclusion.

You now cut each pile once and complete the cut, saying, ‘Okay, you’ve shuffled and cut, now it’s my turn.’ Having a more delicate touch than the spectator you will have no difficulty in bringing one of the gimmicked cards to the top of one of the piles. You might even bring both of them to the top of different piles. Use Equivoque to force that King pile, saying, ‘You have one more decision to make.’ Finish by revealing your prediction. It’s still a very strong trick.

Do check out Ted Lesley’s original handling. It takes a little more preparation but it is very good. When Ted rediscovered the Will de Seive gimmick I think he found one of the best devices a card magician could ever hope for. It makes absolute miracles possible.

NOTES: Nikolai Friedrich gave a good tip on the Will de Seive gimmick in his Sympathetic Decks routine (Genii, December 1997 ). Make the card it into a short card. It increases the chance of it being cut to when required.

Here is a photo of a young Will de Seive taken from The Conjuring Record (August, 1914).