Special Sub-Topic: Pick a Card, Any Card...
|Let's say a magician takes the stage, and makes the grand entrance to his act by "springing the cards." What are you watching him do?|
He's appearing to make the cards "jump" from one hand to another.. "Springing" is not a card trick per se, but an attractive flourish. Card magicians will spring the cards because of the impressive look of the move, and because it can create an impression in the minds of the audience that the magician is able to make the cards do anything he likes.
Some magicians eschew flourishes like springing because they don't want to appear skilled or polished at all with the cards. The reasoning goes that onlookers will be much more surprised at the results created if the magician doesn't appear "slick" or polished in his motions.
|After his entrance, the magician points to you, and asks you to join him on stage. He asks you, predictably, to "pick a card, any card." But unbeknownst to you, he "forces" a card on you. What has the magician just done?|
Caused you to unknowingly select a card of the magician's own choosing.. A force is one of the requisite moves of the card magician. There are dozens of forces a magician could choose from, ranging from the very simple to the ridiculously complex. But, once a magician knows the card that a spectator has selected, he can reveal that card in any number of ways--limited only by his own creativity.
|After you have selected and replaced your card, making sure it was placed in the very middle of the deck, the magician asks you to write down the card that you chose. He then hands you the deck, and asks you to find your card. You are unable to find it, however, because the magician "palmed" your selected card. What did he do?|
He hid your card inside the palm of his hand.. Palming is one of the most famous tricks of the card magician. Almost everyone has heard of card palming, and yet when done by a professional, it is nearly imperceptible even when one is looking for it. The magician in this instance might be preparing to "find" your card in your pocket, or in his pocket, or in your hair--or if he's creative, he might do something even more spectacular.
|After the magician discovers that your card was in his pocket all along, he asks your friend to come up and sign the face of a playing card, in preparation for an "ambitious card" routine. What is the effect that you will experience in this routine?|
The signed card keeps rising to the top of the deck, despite being repeatedly placed in the middle.. The "ambitious card" is a famous routine, and has dozens of methods and variants. All of these routines, however, center upon a card that mezmerizingly jumps to the top of the deck, no matter how many times it is clearly placed elsewhere. It can be a baffling trick, and in the hands of a good performer, a most entertaining one.
|The magician's next trick is a mystifying one--he never handles the deck at all, except at the very beginning of the trick, and again at the end. Despite this limitation, he is able to easily pull the chosen card right out of the deck. If only you had known that he used a "key card" in that trick, his feat might not have seemed quite so amazing. What did he do?|
Used the location of a known card in the deck to help find the location of another card.. A key card is an innocuous-looking card or group of cards used for measurement or location. In simple tricks, your card may be found right next to a key card, but to a magician with good mental faculties, it's an easy matter to find a card that is, say, seventeen cards below the key card. And who would think to look at a card seventeen cards away from the selection?
It's worth mentioning that you will almost never see a card magician willingly get any sort of gunk or stick-um on his cards. Very few things make good magic go bad as quickly as sticky fingers or sticky cards.
|The magician performs his next trick, and it is an absolute stunner. When it's done, you hear someone in the back of the audience mumbling the words "Erdnase" and "Bertram." What did you just witness?|
The card appeared to change into another card right as you were watching it.. The Erdnase change and Bertram change are two of the more famous color changes. The wonderful effect of these moves is that one card can change into another card in full view, right as you are watching. When they are skillfully done, the effect can be jaw-dropping.
|In preparation for his next few tricks, the magician announces that he is going to use a "false shuffle" and "false cut" for the next part of his performance. You are rightly suspicious, as you don't expect a magician to be broadcasting his upcoming moves. However, if he is telling the truth, what will he be doing?|
Giving the appearance of shuffling and cutting the deck, without actually doing so.. A false shuffle, or false cut, is simply a mechanism of appearing to shuffle or cut the deck while actually retaining the original order of all or part of the deck. There are several ways to shuffle or cut the cards falsely.
|The magician tells you to watch him cut the cards, and performs a very fancy, impressive-looking cut of the deck that you have never seen before. As he points to the other end of the table, where a different card deck has just changed into a live bird, you realize too late that the fancy cut was just misdirection. What is misdirection?|
Diverting the attention of the audience in order to perform a move.. Misdirection is typically a magician's best friend. Strictly speaking, a high percentage of card magic can be performed without any kind of diversion. That said, diverting the attention of the audience for a brief second can be valuable insurance for a magician, especially if he is performing a particularly difficult sleight or unusual move.
Misdirection can be accomplished in any number of ways. I myself have personally witnessed creative magicians use smoke, fire, sweeping movements, funny costumes, loud noises, attractive members of the opposite sex, animals, and--perhaps the most effective--humor. A good laugh can relax the gaze of even the most suspicious onlooker.
|After the magician takes care of the bird, he returns to finish up his act. As he is starting back into his performance, it occurs to you that the brief moment of chaos with the live bird would have been a good opportunity for the magician to switch to a trick deck. Which of the following might the magician choose?|
A marked deck.. There are several different kinds of trick or "gimmicked" decks, each of which can be used in varying situations. One of the more popular trick decks, a marked deck, has some sort of printing, ink, or mark on the backs of the cards, allowing someone in the know to read the cards instantly and inconspicuously. Another easy-to-use trick deck is a one-way deck. A one-way deck is any deck that is not symmetric--a card placed backwards into a non-symmetric deck is very easy to find. There are hundreds of other examples of trick or gimmicked decks, far too many to discuss here.
Trick decks are a mixed bag for a card magician. A magician that is overly dependent upon gimmicks simply needs more skill--an audience quickly catches onto, and won't appreciate, a continual switching of card decks.
On the other hand, the effects that a magician can achieve with a doctored deck far outstrip the effects that can be reached with a real deck of cards. Imagine, for example, if a "non-standard" card inserted into a deck could spontaneously combust--or were magnetic. Having possibilities such as these, while gimmicky, is often too crowd-pleasing for the magician to resist.
|As you suspected, the magician begins his grand finale with a different deck of cards than he began with. Still, you are just as delighted as everyone else when his deck, all except for the selected card in the spectator's hand, explodes into a burst of ribbons and confetti, leaving just one small sign that matched the chosen card--eight of diamonds--in the hands of the magician. As the audience is clearing out, you consider asking the magician about the switch of the decks that you think you saw. Will the magician be likely to admit that you observed his method?|
n. No, it's very uncommon for a magician to give away any secrets, even the smallest or most obvious clues. It's much more likely that he will skillfully change the subject--he might thank you for coming to the show, or make up an outlandish story to explain away his mistake, or even politely refuse to discuss his stage work. The primary reason for this is obvious--giving away his secrets would damage his livelihood. Personal pride, though, is another reason that you won't get much out of a magician--someone who worked so hard on a skill has at least some degree of personal investment in the effect it has. It's very gratifying to see your magic work, and it's humiliating when it doesn't. Being tight-lipped is partially just the magician's way of saving face.
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