Sunday, August 22, 2010

Raynaly's Any Card At Any Number

Despite its recent popularity Any Card At Any Number (ACAAN) is not a new plot. The version described here is that of Edouard Raynaly who described it in the January 1908 edition of L’illusionniste magazine. I found it on the Ask Alexander database among Jean Hugard’s files.

Hugard translated a lot of Raynaly’s work and some made its way into his magazine. Indeed there is a description of this particular Raynaly effect under the title of Coincidence in Hugard’s Magic Monthly for October 1955. I offer it here purely as a reminder than many a good trick remains hidden in print. I think it’s a real gem.

EFFECT: Two decks of cards are shown, both in their cases. A spectator is asked to choose one, drop it in the envelope and seal it.

He is asked to choose a number from 1 to 52 and write it on an envelope without showing anyone.

The performer approaches a second spectator, leans close and whispers something to her. ‘Did you hear me? Good. Keep it a secret for now. I’ll ask you about it later.’

The performer takes the remaining deck from the case, shows it, shuffles it and then has two cards chosen by a third spectator.’

‘You have two cards. But the lady here only has one secret. Give me one of the cards.’

The spectator chooses one of the cards and hands it to the performer.

‘What was the secret?’ says the performer.

‘The Five of Diamonds,’ answers the lady. The magician turns the chosen card over; it is the Five of Diamonds.

‘Before any of this happened you chose a number. What was it?’

The first spectator turns the envelope around. It has 23 written on it. He opens the envelope, takes out the cards and deals down to the 23rd card. It too is the Five of Diamonds.

METHOD: The method is very simple and also allows for a lot of variation in the way you play the routine and how you handle the revelation of the two secrets. The two decks of cards are stacked in an identical manner. And you know the position of every card in the stack. You can use a memorised stack like that of Nikola or Tamariz. Or you can use Si Stebbins and calculate the position of the card. You can even have a cue card hidden in the stack of envelopes you are using. It’s up to you. Here are the basic mechanics of the routine.

1: Pick up the envelope, open it and have one of the decks dropped inside. Seal the envelope and then take out a marker pen and hand it to a spectator.

Keep hold of the sealed envelope as you ask the spectator to choose a number between 1 and 52. You want him to choose a number worth counting to. So guide him a little with your instructions, saying, ‘Don’t make it too simple, don’t make it too high. Write it here, but don’t show it to the others just yet.’

This means you get a look at the number but no one else does. Later they might not remember that you saw the number at all. ‘Keep the number a secret for now,’ you say as you hand him the sealed envelope. Let’s assume the number is 23.

2: Pick a female volunteer and quietly whisper to her the name of the card that you know to be at the chosen number, for example the Five of Diamonds. Make sure she has heard what you’ve said. Tell her to keep the information a secret.

3: Take the second deck, open it and as you display the cards face-up to show them ordinary secretly cut the Five of Diamonds to the top of the deck. Turn the deck face-down, cut the Five of Diamonds to the middle and hold a break above it in preparation for a fan force.

4: As the spectator will be asked to choose two cards, this gives you two opportunities to fan force the Five of Diamonds. Any force will do, the fairest looking one in your repertoire. As long as the spectator ends up with two cards and you know which one of them is the Five of Diamonds.

5: Remind the spectator about the secret you whispered to the lady, saying, ‘She only has one secret but you have two cards. Hand me one of the cards please.’

If the spectator hands you the Five of Diamonds, refer to it as the chosen card and then have the lady reveal her secret.

If the spectator keeps the Five of Diamonds, call it the chosen the card and put the one she handed to you back into the deck.

Either way you finish by showing that the chosen card matches the card you whispered to the lady earlier.

6: To finish have the envelope turned around and the number revealed. The spectator opens the envelope, takes out the deck and counts down to the 23rd card to reveal a matching Five of Diamonds. An amazing coincidence.

NOTES: Raynaly didn’t use a force. He palmed two cards from the deck (one of them the force card) and then had two cards freely chosen. He then switched the two chosen cards for the cards he had stolen earlier. Old school skills that contemporary magicians might have trouble with.

What I like about this trick is that there are so many different ways to play it. It reminds me of the work of David Berglas. As long as different objectives are achieved (finding out the number, forcing a card) you can reach your goals in any order and reveal the coincidence in any number of ways.

Al Koran had a good way of sneaking a look at a number in his Headline Countdown (Al Koran’s Legacy). Don’t even look at the envelope while the spectator is writing down the number. But when it’s done, casually hold out your hand and take the envelope back, saying, ‘Sign your initials here.’ You draw a big circle across the flap of the envelope, getting a glance at the number in the process. Leave him signing his initials as you find a lady to tell your secret to. It’s bold but it works.

You don’t need to have two cards selected. One is enough but I think two give it that extra something that suggests freedom of choice on the part of the spectator. A relatively simple force is to cull the force card under the spread as you have a card pointed to. In apparently upjogging the pointed to card you switch it for the culled card. Continue spreading and have a second card pointed to. Genuinely upjog that card. Have the spectator remove both outjogged cards. It looks almost as clean as a fan force but is perhaps easier to do.

For the finale try first having the envelope opened and the card counted down to. Then with both cards face-down on the table have the lady reveal her secret. Turn over both tabled cards to show that they match. If you don’t like the idea of whispering to the lady, hand her a prediction in an envelope (from an index), write something on the palm of her hand or type something into her iPhone. There are many ways of dressing this routine up to suit yourself.

Finally, check out Al Baker’s A Card and a Number from Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (page 232). It’s a very similar method and well worth a try.