On the Svengali Deck

Svengali

By and large, magic forums are a constant source of annoyance and depression to me, paired with an uneasy feeling of waste, both of precious time and positive energy.

On the other hand, there is something new to learn or discover almost every other day, which makes browsing through various forums rather rewarding. For example, like many other majishuns, I had never heard of the fact, until recently, that the French call the Svengali deck “un jeu radio” because of the long and short waves on which radio transmission operates. And what became the “Stripper Deck” much later, started out as the biseauté deck, even in English (see Prof. Hoffmann‘s Modern Magic, for example). Not earth-shattering, but quite fascinating to learn, isn’t it?

Which reminded me of an alternative, unsuspecting Svengali Force I came up with many years ago. I guess it’s likely that others have had the same idea before me, but I haven’t seen it in print yet. Here it is:

1. Divide the Svengali deck into two packets by separating the force cards from the regular cards. Put the regular cards on top of the force bank, all face up.

2. In performance, casually spread through the different cards face up. Then turn the deck face down, cut it at the break and riffle shuffle (or, even better, faro) the two halves together, but without squaring them.

3. Instead, spread them into a huge, even double fan and have a spectator take any card. Naturally, he’ll pick one from the outer bank. It will be one of the force cards.

4. Square the deck and have the selected card replaced anywhere. With the two halves now neatly mixed into each other, you are all set to move into your Svengali routine.*

*If you don’t have one yet, make sure to check out the work of master Svengali pitchman Mark Lewis and his oldie-but-golden booklet, The Long and the Short of it.

Have fun exploring this idea!


For more Tricks & Ideas just click here!


 

The 60% Force

Having a spectator freely select one out of four objects gives you a chance of 1:4 or 25% that each single object is picked. By knowing which face-down card in a row of four is selected more often than others, you can increase the chances of having your “favorite” card picked to 60%. (You could call this a force, even though it’s not surefire.) This is the essence of a new piece of academic research by Gustav Kuhn et. al., which has just been published. You can read the abstract online here.

According to the paper, out of four cards, 60% of the participants in an experiment freely chose the third card from their left (or the second from the right–but I’m sure that you’ve already calculated that). Please enjoy my masterful visualization of this key finding:

Graph60%

Yet these participants felt that their choice was extremely free. They also underestimated the actual proportion of people who selected the target card.

(My guess would be that this result is partly due to the overwhelming majority of right-handed people in the world.)

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By the way, Matt Tompkins from the SOMA Committee keeps a constantly updated “Science of Magic Bibliography” with academic papers published in English since 1887 (which means that some important early German and French research on the psychology of magic is missing there.) And here’s a special on the topic from “Frontiers in Psychology” in free PDF format.

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Read more about the upcoming SOMA conference in London here.


 

Frühe Kartenzauber-Psychologie (2)

“Forcieren der Karten”

Während die Volte nur durch stete Übung erlernt werden kann, gehört zum Forcieren einer Karte erstens, gleich wie bei der Volte, grosse Übung, dann kommt es aber auch noch auf eine undefinierbare individuelle Auffassung des Ganzen an. Es muss vom Künstler ein gewisser unbemerkbarer Zwang ausgehen, so dass eine Person gerade die vom Künstler gewünschte Karte wählt oder zieht. Hierbei muss den Künstler nun im Wesentlichsten seine eigene Beredsamkeit unterstützen, ja, er muss den oder die Zuschauer quasi fascinieren. — Für Bühnenkünstler ist dies nicht allzuschwer, da bei diesen noch zu viele Äusserlichkeiten als unterstützende Momente hinzukommen; schwerer ist es schon im Salon; am schwersten aber im guten Freundeskreise, da hier jeder conventionelle Zwang aufhört und Zwischenfragen an den Vortragenden gethan werden, denen derselbe dann natürlich kleine ausweichende Scherze entgegenhalten muss.

F.W. Conradi, Der moderne Kartenkünstler (1896), S. 9

Mehr frühe Kartenpsychologie gibt es hier!


 

The Lorayne Force

Sculpture_FS_2

The late great Jay Marshall once quipped that all of Harry Lorayne’s works were in fact forcing books for the words I, me, and my.

As a test, I counted these words within the Foreword of Harry’s booklet, My Favorite Card Tricks. Now guess how many I have detected within that single page?

A:      9

B:     18

C:     27

D:     36

???

Answer: That’s right, there were actually thirty-six self-references (including a “we”) to be found.

Harry certainly is his very own force!