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Table of Contents

A Preface by Roberto Giobbi ............................................................ .................................................... 10


Foreword by Aurelio Paviato .................................................................................................................... 16

Chapter One: The Ascanio Spread and its Variants


The Ascanio Spread and its Variants ................................................................................................. 23
The Ascanio Spread - Standard Handl ing ................................................................................... 24
Rotating the Fourth Card ............................................................................................................................. 31
The Vertical Spread ........................................................................................................................................... 32
The Ring Finger Grip ...................................................................................................................................... 33
The Three-Card Ascanio Spread ........................................................................................................... 35
The Teneri fe Spread .......................................................................................................................................... 36
The Palmas Spread ............................................................................................................................................ 38
The Palmas-5 Spread ....................................................................................................................................... 41
The Vegas Spread ............................................................................................................................................... 42
The Vegas Spread Vari ation ....................................................................................................................... 42
The D'Amico Spread Ascanio Style .................................................................................................. 45
A Word on the Spreading Actions ...................................................................................................... 47

Chapter Two: The lay-Downs and their Combination with the Ascanio Spread
The Burning Double ........................................................................................................................................ 51
The Studio Lay-Down .................................................................................................................................... 52
By the Waist ............................................................................................................................................................ 53
The Rubbed Lay-Dow n ................................................................................................................................. 54
Rubbed and Overl apped ............................................................................................................................ 55
The Scattered Lay-Dow n ............................................................................................................................. 59
The In-Transit Lay-Down ....... ,..................................................................................................................... 60
Petal Pickin' ............................................................................................................................................................ 61

Chapter Three: Early Versions


Earl y Versions ......................................................................................................................................................... 65
Oil and Water Featuring the Ascanio Spread ........................................................................... 66
Father Ace and Sons (Version 66) ....................................................................................................... 93
Father Ace and Sons (Version 67) ....................................................................................................... 102

Chapter Fo ur: His Mentors


Mentors .................................................................................................................................................................... 111
From One Packet to Another ................................................................................................................... 11 3
O il and Water ....................................................................................................................................................... 11 6
Bang! Four Aces .................................................................................................................................................. 120
From the Pocket of One Spectator to that of Another ....................................................... 123
Chapter Five: His Comrades
H isComrades ....................................................................................................................................................... 131
One in a Billion. Dany Ray ...................................................................................................................... 132
A Card Control. Fu Manchu ................................................................... ............................................... 138

Chapter Six: Ascanio on Mario


Ascanio on Marlo ........................................................................................................... ................................ 143
A Marlo Effect ...................................................................................................................................................... 144
The Torn and Restored Card of Marlo and LePaul ........................................................... 147

Chapter Seven: Beloved Favorites


Beloved Favorites .............................................................................................................................................. 165
If You Don't Pay Attention... .................................................................................................................... 166
Aunt Enriqueta's Aces .................................................................................................................................... 171
The Trick I Would Show Dai Vernon ............................................................................................... 183
Sleightless Oil and Water (or so it seems) ................................................................................. 194
Aces with Love ............................................................................................................................................... 207

Chapter Eight: Other Favorites


Other Favorites ................................................................................................................................................... 237
The Wriggling Aces ......................................................................................................................................... 238
Don't Blink! Revisited .............................................................................. ................................................... 248

Chapter Nine: Two Classics


Two Classics ........................................................................................................................................................... 257
A Baroque Transposition ............................................................................................................................. 258
The Mechanical Strength ofThought ............................................................ ............................... 261

Chapter Ten: Minor Masterpieces


Minor Masterpieces ........................................................................................................................................ 275
Dolores' Trick ................................................................................................................................................... 276
The Pathology of Cards ................................................................................................................................ 280
X-1=0 ....................................................._................................................................................................................... 285
Triumph .................................................................................................................................................................... 288
Eight-Card Oil and Water .......................................................................................................................... 294
The Nine Facts ................................................................................................................................................... 300
Antagonistic Aces .............................................................................................................................................. 303
A Hunger for Dreaming .............................................................................................................................. 307

8
performers such as Juan Tamariz, Camilo Vazquez, and Jose Carroll, to name
just a few-the group was about to be treated to the explanation of the trick
just performed. Or perhaps I should say: Arturo de Ascanio gave an academic
talk on the scientific and artistic structure of a piece (to borrow a Hofzinser
expression). It slowly dawned on me why the trick just performed was a pi('>ce
de resistance. Arturo explained to us every movement and each word that he
used in the routine, why he did this rather than that, where you had to look
and where not to look and, above all, for how long. He also discussed when
to tighten and relax your body, and even at what angle the feet (which were
under the table!) should be positioned. I immediately understood that the
impression the trick just performed had made on all of us was, clearly and
without the shadow of a doubt, due to the understanding and conscious
applicJtion of the underlying cJuses. Need I say I was impressed?

Actually Arturo's version hJd no longer anything to do with Daley's


originJI version. Obviously the concept proposed by the originator remained,
but Arturo 's scientific analysis and artistic interpretation elevJted it to J new
height and brought it into another dimension.

Listening to the explanJtion of a trick by Arturo is like reJding


philosophy. It's not just Jbout content and it's not just about form. It's Jbout
something intangible created as J product of the two: about a third dimension
that creJtes depth and instills life to an otherwise flat picture. He makes you
stop and ponder Jbout notions thJt are fundJmental, and not only Jbout
magic. I loved listening to Arturo when he talked personally and also to read
whJt he wrote as this gives me a chJnce to stop Jnd follow my own thoughts
that were triggered by Jn utterance of his.

TJiking <md listening to Arturo's explanJtions of a sleight or a routine


made you slap your forehead again and again Jnd once again Jnd made you
think: "This is simply brilliant and brilliantly simple: How is it possible that
nobody up to now has been able to put it that way? " This has never
happened to me with any other mJgician I have listened to, with the possible
exception of Juan Tamariz. This is not to say that there arc no other magic
geniuses around- there were Jnd there still are, of course. How fortunate are
we to have had Dai Vernon, Tony Slydini and Albert Goshman. And how even
more immensely fortunate am I to have had the privilege of listening to their
wisdom and seeing their art performed. But none of them had Arturo's ability
to be broad and deep, and at the same time speak consciously and precisely
about all those aspects that make a person a genius: a discipline, an art, Jncl
at the sJme time J science.
diiicrencc between the talented professional and the genius of Arturo. And
this is good enough to make good artists.

Over two decades have passed in which I have learned to appreciate the
d('pth of Arturo's genius. In 1gg_s the jornadas Cartomagicas de El Escorial
took place as they do every year. The famous Alex Elmsley was the guest of
honor. Nobody will ever forget the moment on Sunday morning when Arturo
gave his traditional personal performance which this time included some of
Elmsley's most brilliant conceptions: All Backs and Ambitious Stranger which
arc, indeed, described in the third volume of The Magic oi Ascanio. To those
who saw the performance nothing needs to be said; to those who didn't see
the performance nothing can be said. Arturo's analysis of presentation,
construction, technique and handling of these two themes had given birth to
two completely new routines. At the end two masters shook hands in mutual
respect.

When French writer Andre Gide said: "/ like only the uniinished-
hccause I can complete it." he certainly did not mean Arturo's work, which is
finished to the nth degree. Arturo never cared for quickies. He periormed
opulent masterworks that required time and an attentive audience.

I do not merely speak for myself, but for a fairly large group of people,
specifically for those of the Escuela Magica de Madrid, when I say that Arturo
has shifted paradigms; he has remolded and, what is more, created new
beliefs concerning magic. Sometimes by the sole usc of a specific word he
has opened the door to a new concept. What is amazing to me, is the fact
that many of these concepts were not invented by him, but he saw them, took
them, named them, arranged and rearranged them, and built them into a
castle, a solid castle into which others were generously invited in to share his
insights-and it turned out that this cJstle WJS the JCJclemy of the art of
mJgic. These extraordinJry books Jre the blueprints of this unique building.

For all who speJk Jnd reJd Sp<tnish Jnd for those who have been around
Arturo for J shorter or longer period, what I wrote is blatantly obvious. (I
cajole myself into the illusion thJt the only thing I did WJS to put it in better
words than most hJve done in the past-Jnd with this I reveal J healthy
portion of Ascanian immodesty which influenced me, too).

Arturo is the fJther of a new kind of magic. He is Jt the base of the


constructivist magic pyramid (to borrow a term coined for magic by Juan
The Ascanio Spread and its Variants
The Ascanio Spread is a modern move of proven utility, devised by Arturo
de Ascanio. It allows you to show four cards (or three) while concealing one
or more extra ca rds. This is accomplished through an exceptionally loose and
clear handling, seldom seen in card magic. Arturo, after being awarded First
Prize in Card Magic at FISM in Amsterdam, partly due to this move, offered it
to the magic community.

He described it for the first time as an introduction to his Wriggling Aces


in the January issue of 1/usionismo N° 251, in 1971. The original name of the
move, (still in use and widely known in th e Spanish-speaking magic
community) is El Culebreo, which can be translated as The Wriggle. The move
became known worldwide as the Ascanio Spread, which is the name Fred
Kaps gave it.

Along with the Elmsley Count, this move is one of the tools which have
contributed the most to strengthen packet tricks or tricks using a small
number of cards.

Since Arturo kept devising new handlings for the Ascanio Spread through
the years, we shall offer here an in-depth study of the Spread and its
variations. We' ll begin with the regular version, whose constant application in
Ascanio's routines is an excellent example of its many uses. We will be
referring you to the illustrations for the tricks in question for a better
understanding of the various techniques.
The Ascanio Spread- Standard Handling
This sleight was submitted for publication at the same time to 1/usionismo
(the magazine of the Sociedad Espanola de llusionismo), to Le Journal de Ia
Prestidigitation (magazine of the French A.F.A.P.), and to M.U.M (magazine of
the S.A.M. in the United States).

Through extraction by the left forefinger


A packet of apparently four cards is held by the ends, by your palm-up
left hand, with one of the long edges toward you. Using both hands, the cards
are spread in a loose and somewhat elastic fashion, as they are careless ly
made to rotate and slide among themselves, to be shown as only four cards.
The cards are kept in motion up to the moment when they are resquared. It is
unthinkable that the magician could be keeping any control on the cards, or
that the handling could have been thought out and choreographed, or that
one of those cards moving so loosely cou ld be a double. And yet the
technique is fai rl y simple and easy to execute.

Before delving into the study of the move and to make it easier for you to
follow the explanation, pick up the five cards that are to be shown as four.
The card to be kept concea led is in the third position. To make the
explanation clearer we will refer to the top card as card 1. The second and
third cards from the top, which are .t o be handled together as a double will be
referred to as card 2. The next card wi II be card 3 and the one on the bottom
will be card 4.

a) Spreading the four cards


1. The left hand holds the 5-card packet face down in an almost horizontal
position, with one of the sides towards you . The packet must be perfectly

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and tightly squared. The left thumb rests against the left short edge of the
packet while the tips of the middle and ring fingers hold it at the opposite
short edge. The left forefinger is curled underneath, with the nail in
contact with the bottom card.

2. The right hand squares the packet by the sides, with the thumb at the inner
long edge and the middle finger at the outer, sliding along those edges
once or twice. During these actions, the tip of the right forefinger lightly
sl ides along the back of the top card. The right thumb and middle finger
end up holding the packet by the long edges, close to its right end (Fig. 1).

3. The left hand moves away for an instant. Then the tip of the left ring finger
makes contact with the right half of the face of the bottom card. The right
forefinger rests lightly against the same spot from above. Fig. 2 shows a
view from below. As the hands separate, the left ring finger slides card 4,
disengaging it from the rest of the packet, which remains perfectly
squared. Card 4 is moved inwards as well as to the left, enabling the left
thumb and forefinger to effortlessly make contact with the inner left end
of the packet, near the outer left corner (Fig. 3).

4. The left thumb now rests on the left end somewhat firmly to keep the
packet squared th roughout the disengagement of card 3. At the same
time, the right thumb and middle finger open slightly at their outer joints
to relax their grip on the bottom ca rd of the packet and grip the upper
cards more fi rml y (Fig. 4). This allows the left forefinger, which cu rl s
sli ghtly, to slide ca rd 3 to the left without disturbing the squared
condition of the right-hand packet (Fig. 4).

5. To separate the last card, the left thumb alters its position, leaving the left
end and resting flatly on the left half of the back of card 1 (Fig. 5). Once

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there, the thumb retracts, sliding card 1 to the left while the right
fingertips briefly curl so their tips point against each other (Fig. 5),
relaxing the pressure on card 1 and gripping card 2 more firmly. Once
card 1 is disengaged, the left thumb draws it inward while the right
middle finger stretches and the thumb swivels to the right while the right
hand moves forward with card 2 (the double), bringing it to a somewhat
diagonal position (Fig. 6). The four cards are now spread.

To review the order in which the left fingers perform their actions. The ring
finger begins by disengaging card 4. Next, the forefinger does likewise with
card l. The thumb follows immediately with card 1. The double card
continues to be lightly but securely held by the right thumb and middle finger.
Although the spreading of the card has a sequence, it should be carried out
with such smoothness and continuity that the cards appear to be spread in a
single action in a casual and unplanned fashion. Without pausing, the spread
cards are then displayed loosely and in motion, which is what prevents the
onlookers from suspecting the existence oi any secret action (in accordance
with the disarming looseness concept). The movement is lively, undulating
and wriggly, hence the Spanish name Ascanio gave it.

b) The wriggling action


6. Starting from the position shown in Fig. 6, the left thumb, sliding card 1,
darts forward to a position in front of the left forefinger. The left middle,
ring and little fingers slide card 4 inward, and the left forefinger, in
contact with the underside of card 3, draws that card slightly inward. In
other words, card 1 moves forward through a broad movement of the left
thumb while cards 3 and 4 move inward through a much smaller action
of the left fingers (Fig. 7).

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26
7. While the left fingers move as described, the right hand moves card 2,
starting from the position seen in Fig. 6. The right middle finger curls
inward and the right thumb moves from right to left, causing the
double card to pivot clockwise from the position shown in Fig. 6 to
that in Fig. 7.

Keep in mind that the actions described in paragraphs 6 and 7 take place
simultaneously, and are coordinated so that when card 1 reaches its forward
position, card 2 should be pointing at 11 o'clock as seen in rig. 7, which
shows one of the extreme moments of the Spread. Note that the movement of
the double card is quite simple and short, and the double is always held by its
edges. Although this doesn't do anything disarming, it goes unsuspected by
blending into the whole combination of wriggling cards.

At this point, it is advisable to make a brief pause to mark the ending of


the display.

In certain cases you may want to display the spread cards in a fan held by
the left hand. To reach that configuration, keep the leit-hand cards still,
while the right hand places card 2 in a position parallel to the other cards,
or pushes it between cards 1 and 3. The right hand then moves away and the
cards are displayed in a fan in the left hand as seen in Fig. 8.

8. From the position shown in Fig. 7, the cards are brought to the opposite
configuration, into a more extreme position than that shown in Fig. 6. To
do this, the left thumb moves inward in a swift motion (sliding card 1,
which is the one that moves the most) to a position in front of the left
little finger. The other left fingers slide cards 3 and 4 slightly forward. As
this happens, the right middle finger stretches and the right thumb moves
to the right, making card 2 swivel counter-clockwise from its 11 o'clock
position to that of 7 o'clock (Fig. 9). Figs. 7 and 9 show the two extreme
positions.

c) Squaring up
9. From the position of Fig. 9 you proceed directly to square up the packet
to conclude the move. To do this, the left thumb moves card 1 forward,
and the right hand, at the same time, brings card 2 forward so it points to
a 9 o'clock position (Fig. 10).

It is often necessary to change the position of the double card in the spread,
for example from the second position it occupies to the third position
(between cards 3 and 4). The ideal moment to do this is when closing the
spread, through a small rocking motion of the right hand. That hand first
moves inward to disengage the double from its second position, and then
moves forward again to insert it at the desired position, usually between cards
3 and 4. If this is done during the wriggling action with the cards in motion,
the displacement goes unnoticed.

Now the right hand releases, for the first time, its grip on card 2, moving
away for an instant, to adjust to a palm-down position and retake the
packet from above. The left side of the right little finger, at the outer joint,
makes contact with the edge of the right end of the double card, pushing
it to the left. The right middle and ring fingers stretch completely and grip
the cards by their outer side, as the right thumb does likewise at the inner
side. The right forefinger is curled, in readiness to rest its nail on the back
of the packet.

As this happens, the left fingers set the cards moving in a mild wriggle up
until the last moment. The right fingers, which are straddling the cards,

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28
square up the packet somewhat irregularly. The cards remain held for a
moment by the right middle finger at the outer side and the right thumb
at the inner (Fig. 11 ).

With the cards thus held, the left hand can change its grip. That hand
leaves the cards for an instant and comes back palm up from below (Fig.
11). The left thumb is at the left end and the middle and ring fingers at the
right end. Each hand runs its fingers along the respective ends and sides
to square up the packet and conclude the maneuver (Fig. 1 ).

The Ascanio Spread is not a strictly precise series of at lions. It's a I ively and
dynamic maneuver that comes out a little differently every t1me, much like a
dant:e. Therefore, the petrified positions shown in the drawings shouldn't be
taken as frozen positions but, rather, as pictures of the hands in motion.

f · · the r'ght forefinger


This is an interesting variant of the move described in which the fourth
card is concealed, instead of the third, counting from the top of a face-down
5-card packet. The handling is similar to the one described, and the overall
appearance of the maneuver remains the same. Proceed as follows:

1. Carry out the actions described in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the standard


version to arrive at the position shown in Fig. 3.

2. The left forefinger remains motionless, without extracting any cards.


Instead, the left thumb rests on the back of the top card and moves it
forward and to the left (Fig. 12).

D
3. Now the right forefinger comes into play by coming into contact with the
back of the second card that has been exposed, and pushes that card to
the left w hil e the right middle finger and thumb maintain the double card
in perfect alignment. The left forefinger receives that second card and
contro ls it during the next wriggling action (Fig. 13).

Once the cards are spread, if you're familiar with the standard version,
you' ll find it easy to wriggle them a bit (as described in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8)
and square up (paragraph 9).

Keep in mind that the double card wi ll now be card 3 in the 4-card
spread, so the card concealed is the fourth from the top of the 5-card packet.

The move is actually very simple and within anyone's reach, despite the
detailed explanation that cou ld make it seem otherwise. The audience only
sees four cards in motion that open and close, in about a second, like a
restless accordion.

Practice it with the goal of achieving that sensation of casual elasticity,


making the cards open and close in harmony, as if controlled by an inner spring.
Remember, as Ascanio used to say, that a true master is not the one who can do
difficult things, but one who can do the simple things exceptionally well.

30
Rotating the Fourth Card
This is a slight, airy, and graciou s action that brings the cards smoothly
and effortlessly to a vertical position after a Standard Ascanio Spread. After a
Standard Ascanio Spread ending w ith the cards in a fan (Fig. 8, p. 27), the
right hand leaves the cards for a moment and regrips the three upper cards
from the front, thumb on top and fingers below and, upon moving away,
rotates them clockwise, bringing the right ends towards you, leaving the
fourth card in the left hand in a somewhat awkward position, in the inner part
of the hand, over the tips of the middle, ring, and little fingers. The left thumb
is rested right next to the outer long edge, near center. The forefinger stretches
so its tip makes contact with the underside of the card, just behind its index.
By cu rling the forefinger and stretching the middle finger, the card is made to
gracefully rotate cou nter-clockwise with an end toward you. Now you can
readily place the three right-hand cards onto the left-hand card . Leave the
cards on the table or proceed as the routine requ ires.
The Vertical Spread
The most obvious variation of the Ascanio Spread is the Vertical Ascanio
Spread. It shou ld be pointed out that by "verti ca l" we are referring to a
position in which the ends of the cards are parallel to the table edge (if you
were sitting at table), although the cards are still held in a more or less
horizontal plane.

The packet is held face down in dealing grip in the left hand. The right
hand takes them from above by the ends, near the right sides, with the thumb
at the inner end and middle finger at the outer end. The curled forefinger rests
on the back of the top card (see Fig. 306 of The Wriggling Aces, p. 244). The
left forefinger slides card 4 to the left. The left thumb is placed against the left
edges of the cards, squaring them if necessary, and the middle finger, in a
continuing motion, makes contact with the face of card 3, sliding it also to
the left. The tips of the right thumb and middle finger open slightly, easing the
pressure on the edge of card 3 to faci litate that action. Lastly, the left thumb is
rested over card 1 and slides it also to the left w hile the tips of the right thumb
and middle finger curl slightly inwards to ease the pressure on the top card,
allowing it to ride to the left easily.

With the four cards thus spread, all that is left is to make them wriggle a bit.
To do that, the right hand carries the double inward and outward, swiveling it to
the left and to the right whi le the left thumb slides card 1 back and forth over
the others. The fact that the bottom two cards barely move is disguised by the
overall maneuver. After moving the cards about for a moment, carry the right-
hand card to the left and leave it among the left-hand cards. Square the cards
with the right hand and leave them in the left hand, in dealing position.

Needless to say, the variant of pushing w ith the right forefinger also
app li es to this vertical grip. All the comments made about the Standard
Ascanio Spread are appli cable here.

32
The Ring-Finger Grip
Let's say you're holding, in left-hand dealing grip, a 5-card packet
consisting of the four face-up Aces and a black face-up card in the middle.
The black card will remain concealed throughout the maneuver.

Begin with a Vertical Ascanio Spread and, once the cards are spread, the
right hand carries the double card to the left, bringing its inner left corner into
contact with the base of the left thumb (Fig. 14).

The double card is brought conveniently forward to enable the left ring
finger to hold it, locking it into that position by a light pressure on the right
edge, near the inner corner, towards the left. The right hand moves away (Fig.
15) while the double remains firmly held in the ring-finger grip. The left
thumb rests on the face of the top card while the middle and forefinger of that
hand are in contact with the underside of the bottom card. The little finger
remains free.

Now the cards can be moved as follows: The left middle finger and fore-
finger, in contact with the underside of the bottom card, by curling and
stretching make the two bottom cards move sideways, back and forth (Fig.
16). The left thumb does the same with the top card, shifting it back and forth
(Fig. 1 7).

The movement of the thumb and that of the fingers should be in opposite
directions so that when one moves to the left the other goes to the right. At
any given moment cards are seen going in both directions.

The gripped double remains motionless during this seem ingly careless
rubbing action. That's the basic action but it seldom stops there. There are
various paths to follow as will be seen in the next chapter as well as in the
context of various Ascanio routines. Generally, some of the left-hand cards, in
their casual-looking motion, can be taken by the right hand (Figs. 16 and 17).
This is an action of great beauty and with an unprecedented looseness. The
left hand may be turned during the action to show the backs of the cards in
motion.

34
The Three-Card Ascanio Spread
So far we have dealt with a spread in which five cards are shown as four.
We will now describe a handling for showing four cards as three. The card to
be concealed is the third from the top of the 4-card packet, which begins in
the left hand, in face-down dealing position. The right hand takes the cards
from the left hand by the ends from above, close to the right corners, the
thumb at the inner end, middle finger at the outer (see Fig. 306 of The
Wriggling Aces, p. 244).

The left thumb makes contact with the back of the top card, near the
center of the left side. The left forefinger does the same, at about the same
spot, from underneath, and pulls the bottom card to the left. The ball of the
thumb, resting over the edge, helps keep the other three cards in alignment.
Without a pause, the ball of the thumb rolls slightly to the right and then
slides the top card also to the left. Three cards are thus displayed in your
hands (Fig. 307 of The Wriggling Aces, p. 244). The right hand, which holds
the double, rotates these two cards as one alternatively clockwise and
counter-clockwise in a rocking motion while the left thumb and forefinger
slide their cards back and forth in opposite directions.

From there, the right hand can move to the left to butt the double card
against the base of the left thumb. Once there, the left ring finger can assume
its position at the right edge of the double, near the inner corner, and lock the
double into ring-finger grip. The right hand moves away and the cards can be
moved in all directions by the left fingers, apparently with total freedom. The
left hand may turn to show the other side of the cards as thi s happens.
Ascanio referred to this one-hand rubbing action as "Frotis."

l
The Tenerife Spread
Ascanio came up with this handling in an airplane, on his way to Tenerife
(his second home, in the Canary Islands), where he was to give a lecture
during the Easter holidays in 1977. As a tribute to the local magicians, he
gave the move the name of that wonderful island.

Begin with a 5-card packet face up in dealing position, and hold them
also with the right hand from above by the ends, with the middle finger at the
outer end and the thumb at the inner end (see Fig. 306 ofThe Wriggling Aces,
p. 244). Do a Vertical Ascanio Spread to show those cards as four. As part of
the same action, bring the double card forward, jogging it forward and to the
right for more than half its length (Fig. 18).

The left thumb applies pressure on the face of the top card. The right
thumb moves away from the double card and the middle finger makes it pivot
clockwise 180° around its inner left corner, which lies under the ball of the
left thumb, to arrive at the position shown in Fig. 19. In a continuing motion,
the right middle finger taps the double forward from the inner edge, and
brings it into alignment with the other cards to conclude the sequence.
Ascanio found the following applications for this beautiful move:

A. As a variant of the Standard Ascanio Spread. Since in any vertical version


of the spread it appears impossible that a double card might do its little
stunt without splitting, the spread earns some points. Also, if at the end
you push the double forward diagonally to the left (right after the moment
shown in Fig. 19), you can readily peel all four cards, taking the bottom
card and the double in the left hand and the other two in the right. Place
the right-hand cards over the left-hand cards and square up. The double
card is thus transferred from the second to the third position from the top.

36
B. As a follow-up to the Tenerife Spread, you can do the Scattered Lay-
Down (p. 59) to leave the four cards separated in an irregular row on the
table. Unbeknownst to the spectators, one of them (usually the second
from the left, is a double).
The Pal mas Spread
After devising and christening the Tenerife Spread, Ascanio thought the
magicians of the Gran Canaria island would become jealous, so he promised
himself that he would name his next version of the Spread Las Palmas (the
capital of Gran Canaria). So the move about to be described had a name
before it was invented.

To better follow the explanation with the illustrations, set the cards as
follows, from the top down, all face up: 8H, 1OD, 1OS, 9H, 9C, and 1 OH. You
will be showing the four red cards and concealing the two black ones. Before
describing the whole series of actions, let's see what it is about:

The Basic Move


You hold six cards in your left hand. Get a break between the third and
fourth cards and transfer the break to the ball of the right thumb.

1. Hold the cards as shown in Fig. 20.

2. Bring the whole packet to the left so that its inner left corner buries into
the base of the left thumb. The left middle finger stretches underneath and
lays its tip against the right edges of the cards below the break, next to the
inner right corner (Fig. 21 ).

3. The right hand moves to the right with the cards above the break while
the left maintains its grip on those below the break. The upper 3-card
packet separates from the lower describing an arch so that a "V" shape is
formed between the two as in Fig. 22, where the left thumb has moved
away to let the grip of the left middle finger be clearly seen, but actually
the thumb should be resting over the inner right corner. As you can see,

,J

38
the basic action is pretty simple, and combined with the Vertical Spread it
is very effective. Once you have mastered the basic move and the Vertical
Spread, you are ready to tackle the Palmas Spread.

T m:1s Spread Proper


The six cards are held in the position seen in Fig. 20, with a break under
the top three cards. Make a 3-card Vertical Spread maintaining the break
between the two doubles to arrive at the position shown in Fig. 23. As you
can see in that illustration, the positions of the right-hand cards in relation to
the left, is the same as in Fig. 20.

Without pausing, perform the basic move with the right-hand cards. In
other words, the right hand moves the two doubles to the left, sliding them
between the 8H and the 1 OH, until their inner left corners bury into the base
of the left thumb (Fig. 24, which is equivalent to Fig. 21 of the basic move).
The tip of the left middle finger immediately gets hold of the lower double by
resting against its right edge, next to the inner right index (Fig. 24). The right
hand then moves to the right, holding its double and placing it so as to form a
"V" in relation to the card it has just released . The left thumb stretches at the
same time, carrying the 8H to the right, to the vacant space in the middle of
the "V" (Fig. 25, which matches Fig. 22 of the basic move). Fig. 26 offers a
view from below.

In Fig. 25, the black cards are concealed under the 1OD and 9H. Observe
that there is a double elastic motion of the cards:

• The ca rds begin together (Fig. 20).


• They expand (Fig. 23).
• They are brought together again (Fig. 24.
• The cards finally expand more widely (Fig. 25).

The looseness that the move allows makes the presence of extra cards
seem impossible.

The Pal mas Spread Variant


Although the difference between this handling and the Palmas Spread
proper is minor, we will describe it briefly. You hold six face-up ca rds in your
left hand, with a right-thumb break under the third card from the top.

You are about to show these cards as four, concealing the third and fifth
ca rds from the top. Take the packet from above in the right hand by the ends,
near the right corners, middle finger at the outer end, and thumb at the inner.
Begin by sliding the top and bottom cards to the left with the left thumb and
forefinger while the right hand moves to the right with two double cards with
a thumb break in between. The right hand now changes direction and moves
to the left until their cards meet the palm of your left hand, at about the base
of the left thumb. The lower double is left there, held in ring-finger grip. The
right hand moves again to the right, holding the upper double. You will be
displaying four cards, with two extra cards concealed below two of them.

40
The Palmas-5 Spread
This is a 5-card version of the Palmas Spread. In this case, the card to be
concealed could be the third or the fourth from the top, depending where the
thumb break is obtained at the start.

a Concealing the fourth card


With the cards face up in left-hand dealing grip, obtain a break with the
right thumb under the second card from the top while you take the cards with
the right hand from above by the ends, middle finger at the outer end, thumb
at the inner, next to the right corners. The left thumb and forefinger slide the
top and bottom cards to the left. The right-hand cards are immediately carried
to the left and the double is gripped into ring-finger grip. The right hand
moves back to the right with the top card of those it held. Thus you have
displayed four cards, concealing an extra card as the lower card of the double
that is held in ring-finger grip.

b Concealing the third card


Here we can use the preceding explanation with slight variations. With
the cards face up in left-hand dealing grip, get a right-thumb break under the
third card from the top as the right hand takes the cards from above as
described. Now the left thumb and forefinger slide the top and bottom cards
to the left. The right hand moves to the left in a continuing motion. In this
case the single card at the bottom of those held by the right hand is the one
that is left in ring-finger grip, while the right hand moves back to the right
with the double. The lower card of the double is thus concealed throughout
the maneuver.
The Vegas Spread
This sleight was a great hit when Ascanio first lectured in Las Vegas in 1982,
hence the name. Let's say you hold five or more cards face up in dealing posi-
tion. These cards are to be shown as four, concealing the middle card or cards.

Begin with a Vertical Ascanio Spread, but don't spread the cards too
widely. During the spreading action, use the left thumb to outjog the top card,
and also jog the double to the right. The left thumb holds the cards in that
position (Fig. 209 of p. 190) against the fingers that are underneath, while the
right hand lets go for a moment to alter its grip. The right hand turns so its
palm points to the left and straddles the double between the outer joints of
the forefinger (at the outer end), and little finger (at the inner end), next to the
right corners. The right thumb, from above, holds the top card against the
double, which will be protruding forward and to the left (Fig. 210, p. 190).

The hands now separate, the left hand holding the two lower cards and
the right with the double and the top card. Without pausing, the right thumb
rubs the single card back and forth against the double, which remains in
alignment due to the straddle grip. The left hand cards are rubbed in the same
way (Fig. 210, p. 190). As always, these actions are brief and casual-looking.
It shouldn't look as if you are trying to prove anything.

The Vegas Spread Variation


This is a very interesting handling of the Vegas Spread. Begin with the cards
face up in left-hand dealing grip (Fig. 27). Take the packet with the right hand
from above, by the ends, the middle finger at the outer end and the thumb at
the inner, near the left corners (Fig. 28). Turn the packet face down to the ri ght,
pivoting it on its right edge and, in the same action, shift it diagonally forward
and to the right so the left hand ca n grip it by the inner left corner in the

42
Ascanian three-finger grip, thumb on top, forefinger and middle finger below
(Fig. 29). The right hand still holds the packet by the right corners.

The right thumb leaves the cards while the right middle finger pivots all
the cards except the bottom one, about 45° to the right (Fig. 30). The right
hand then takes the pivoted packet by the outer end, the thumb resting on the
back of the top ca rd. The right forefinger and little finger immediately straddle
the packet by the sides and the middle and ring fingers rest on the face of the
bottom card (Fig. 3 1).

D
From there, the ri ght thumb slides the top card forward, making it rotate
clockwise slightly, thus exposing the second card (shown face up in Fig. 32).
The left thumb sl ides that card to the left hand (Fig. 33) as the hands separate.
The right thumb pushes the top right-hand card forward and rubs it back and
forth on the double. The left hand, at the same time, performs a simi lar
looking action with its two cards (Fig. 34). The right forefinger and little finger
move in consonance while straddling the double as if holding it between
chopsticks, and keeping it in secure alignment. It looks as if you are simp ly
moving the four cards freely. Place the right-hand cards on top of those in the
left hand (or vice versa, as required) and square up.

44
The D'Amico Spread Ascanio Style
This can be regarded as an Ascanio Spread in which three or more cards are
shown as two. It is a variation on the wel l-known D' Amico Spread, which
originally appeared in Mario's Classical Foursome. [Trans lator's note: Ascanio
liked to call this move, for amusement only, the D' Ascanio Spread.]

Start with three face-down ca rds held, by their long edges, at the left
fingertips. The palm-down right hand takes the cards at the inner end. The
thumb rests on the face of the bottom card, at about the center of the inner
end, while the forefinger and little finger stradd le the packet by the long
edges, in contact with the respective inner corners (Fig. 337, Dolores' Trick,
p. 278).

The left fingers maintain the cards squared. The left thumb is at the left
side, the middle and ring fingers at the right, and the forefinger at the outer
end. The right hand takes the cards from the left and turns them, clockwise,
face up to show them. As this happens, the right thumb slides the bottom card
to the right, passing it over the tip of the forefinger (Fig. 338, p. 278). The
double is straddled between the forefinger and little finger. This grip is simi lar
to the one described for the Vegas Spread, except that here the cards are held
longitudinally, near the inner end. As you turn the right hand palm up, the top
card covers the right edge of the double and the placement of the right
forefinger. The right thumb is now able to slide the top ca rd back and forth a
couple of times, finally sliding it inwards and to the left and, without pausing,
the forefinger and little finger, straddling the double, move forward together
so the double passes under the top card (Fig. 339, p. 279).

Square the cards and turn them face down onto the left hand. You have
gracefu lly shown two face-up cards in a lively motion while you actually hold
three or more. In any case, any extra cards concea led are also straddled
between the forefinger and little finger during the spread.

The D'Amico/Ascanio Spread- First Variant


This is a simpler way to do the move. Start, as described, with the cards
face down held at the left fingertips. The right hand takes the cards from
above by the inner end, thumb on the face, middle and ring fingers on the
back. Before the cards are tu rned over, the right thumb moves the bottom
card inwards, disengaging it from the tip of the left thumb.

As the right hand rotates clockwise with the cards, the left thumb remains
in contact with the left edge of the top two cards, near their outer left corners,
making them pivot as one whi le the right hand turns the cards face up. You

45
will be showing a spread of two cards, the bottom of which is actually a
double.

The D'Amico/Ascanio Spread- Second Variant


Thanks to Miguel Gomez, who described it in full detail and kindly posed
for the illustrations, we are able to offer this variant.

Proceed exactly as described for the first variant up to the moment when
the cards are spread as two and move the left hand away (Fig. 36). As you
display the cards in that condition, position the side of the right middle finger,
near its tip, against the inner left corner of the double as shown in Fig. 35 in a
view from below. The cards are held by the right hand. The left hand is there
only to help spreading the cards: Although the illustration shows the double
being held between the thumb and middle fingers during the spreading
action, Arturo used to spread the cards with the thumb alone. After a brief
pause, the right middle finger pivots the double, rotating it clockwise under
the single card (Figs. 36, 3 7 and 38). If the grip of the middle finger is secure
enough, and you appropriately manage the pressure exerted on the cards,
you should be able to rotate that card back again under the top card, if you so
desire, for a graceful and disarming display.

46
AWord on Ascanio-Spreading Actions
These comments are applicable to all the versions of the Ascanio Spread.
The actions should never, by any means, have the appearance of something
learned or rehearsed. On the contrary, they should look like a careless,
improvised, and spontaneous way of showing the cards. Throughout the
Ascanio Spread, the cards are seen to slide back and forth, as if skidding upon
each other. There is no such rhythm or counting sequence like "one, two,
three, four." The cards are spread almost at once, in a wriggle, as the Spanish
name for the move suggests. The understanding of this concept is
fundamental for achieving the right motions and positions, but what matters
the most is your attitude.
The Burning Double
This is the method Ascanio used for tabling two cards as one. He
believed that placing the nail of the forefinger on the upper surface of the
double as it is laid on the table telegraphs the fact that some secret action is
taking place.

Take the double by the ends, with the middle finger at the outer end and
thumb at the inner, at about 1/4" from the tips of those fingers. Bring the hand
down to the table so the tips of the thumb and middle finger reach the
tabletop at the same time. At that very moment, release the double card and
withdraw the hand quickly, as if the table were burning hot. The cards will
stay in perfect alignment (Fig. 169, p. 169). Once you get the knack, you
should be able to do it at any pace.
The Studio Lay-Down
This is the technique Ascanio used for a long time in The Restless Lady for
laying four cards, the last of which is a double, in a horizontal row on the
table. Ascanio gave it that name because he thought of it as the fruit of an
artists' experi ments in his studio or workshop. Arturo later opted for another
lay-down that he felt more at ease with for The Restless Lady.

The five cards are held in left-hand dealing grip. Push the top card to the
right with the left thumb. Deal that card to the left end of the row in stud
fashion, turning it over w ith the right hand, which takes it with the thumb
below and the first two fingers on top and turns it over end for end. The next
two cards are dealt in the same way.

As the third card is dealt, raise the double to the left fingertips, thumb at
the left edge, forefinger at the outer ege, and middle, ring, and little fingers at
the right edge. The right hand then takes the double, as it did the single cards
but close to the center of the right edge, and confidently tables it at the right
end of the row. The left edge of the double contacts the table first. Once the
backs of the right fingers touch the table, the card is released while the right
hand continues its path to the right.

As you table the double, you should either be doing someth ing else with
the empty left hand or verba ll y ca lling attention elsewhere or talking of
something else. With that, you are taking the heat off the double by applying
misdirection in the second degree as explained in Volume 1 of The Magic of
Ascanio (pp. 64-65). If the double is not in perfect alignment, hold your right
hand in front of it in accordance with your presentation to afford some cover.

52
By the Waist
Let's say you have five cards in your left hand and you are about to show
them as four and lay them in a somewhat unsquared condition on the table.
Let's assume that the cards are face up and that all of them are black spot
cards, except for the third, which is red.

Perform a Standard Ascanio Spread to show four black cards and, as you
wriggle the cards about, transfer the double to the face of the packet. The
right hand leaves the cards for a moment in a simi lar conditi on to that shown
in Fig. 302 of p. 241.

The right hand takes the cards from above, thumb at the center of the
inner long edge and middle finger at the opposite edge, at the waist of the
cards, so to speak. The nail of the forefinger rests against the face of the
double (Fig. 11 , p. 29).

The cards thus held are laid by the right hand flatly on the table, with
apparent carelesness, almost dropping them. The cards are not squared but
simply left there so three or four cards are seen . The technique is very secure
and casual looking.
The Rubbed Lay-Down
This lay-down sequence is a basic move on which the following variants
are made.

With five ca rd s in your hand s, sta rt by doing the Ring-F inger Grip
Ascanio Spread as described in the previous chapter.

Once the double is securely locked in the Ring-Finger Grip, the ri ght
hand takes the bottom card of the spread, which the left forefinger has pushed
to the right (Fig. 217, p. 197) and drops it to the tab le from a height of an inch
or two, in front of your left arm.

In keeping with the theory of In-Transit Actions, the right hand tables its
card in order to be free to take the next one. The left hand conti nues the Frotis
actions, rubbing the cards irregularly back and forth. The doubl e, locked in
position by the ring fi nger, appears to be moving with the other card s. If the
card being concea led is not reversed, you may turn the left hand over during
the process and let their backs be seen, which looks particularly convincing.

These are some of the things you could do. In this case, however, you
may simply perform sl ight Froti s actions while the ri ght hand tables the first
card and comes back to take the next one from the left. The right hand now
takes the double by the ends, in position for the Burning Double as described
above.

The other ca rds are automatica lly shifted out of the way by the mere
action of taking the double, as if they were not even there. Using the Burning
Double technique, table the double a couple of inches to the ri ght of the first
card (Fig. 2 18, p. 197).

As you table the double, your attention is already directed to the next
card that you are about to take. The left hand, in its continuing Frotis actions,
makes the bottom card project to the right for the ri ght hand to take it, w hich
it does, and drops it to the ri ght of the other two. Then it takes the last card,
turns it over end for end in a little flourish, and then tables it at the right end
of the row, about in front of your right arm, turning it over agai n bookwise to
the left.

The different way in which the double is tabl ed is camouflaged by the


context of the whole maneuver, which goes by in no more than six seconds.

54
First Variant
In this case, the double will be tabled third from the left instead of
second. Start as described above for the Rubbed Lay-Down up to the moment
when the right hand takes the bottom card from the left. In a continuing
action, take the top card from the left hand, which the left thumb has
conveniently pushed to the right during the Froti s actions, on top of the card
that is already in the right hand.

Each hand now holds two cards. Rub them a bit (those in the right
normally, those in the left through Frotis actions). Put the lower card of the
right hand on top of those in the left (under the left thumb), table the
remaining right-hand card at the left end of the row of four that is to be
formed.

Without pausing, the right hand takes the top card of those in the left and
tables it to the right of the first. Next take the double and do the Burning
Double, laying it to the right of the other two cards.

The right hand finally takes the last card from the left and lays it at the
right end of the row.

Rubbed and Overlapped


This could be regarded as a variant of the Rubbed Lay-Down but we shall
describe it separately due to its qualitative value.

It's quite similar to the first variant of the Rubbed Lay-Down, except that
here the second card is placed, rather than dropped, in a diagonal position,
somewhat rotated to the left, and th e n the double wi II be placed
overlapping it.

So, after tabling the first two cards, do the Burning Double, leaving the
two cards as one in a straight position (ends parallel to the table edge) so its
inner left corner overlaps the second card. Place the fourth card at the right
end of the row, relatively close to the double.

Without pausing, rest the tips of the first three fingers of the palm-down
extended left hand over the two cards on the left of the row and the tips of the
right fingers on the card at the right end. In a swift action, slide the two cards
at the left a bit further to the left and the card on the right slightly to the right,
as if adjusting their positions. With that action, the second card will be
removed from under the overlapping double and though the latter will move,

) )
it wi ll stay in perfect alignment. Nobody can suspect the presence of an extra
card. It's a beautiful example of disarming looseness.

Second Variant
Obviously, the same technique could be used when the double is laid
down second from the left. To do that, tab le the first card slightly diagonally
to the left (Fig. 275-278, pp. 224-226), then the double overlapping it (Fig.
276, p. 225) and the next two to the right to complete the row of four.

In this case, the left fingertips are rested on the card on the left end and
the right fingertips on the two cards on the right of the row. Separate the ca rds
as described, as if adjusting their positions.

In certain cases, although the double is laid down overlapping the first
card, the two remaining cards are placed each at one end of the row, so the
double ends up third from the left (Figs. 275, 276, 277 and 278, pp. 224-225-
226).

Third Variant- Rubbed, Overlapped and Shifted


This is another handling which Ascanio never performed in front of an
aud ience because he hadn 't yet brought it to the degree of assu rance he
would have hoped for.

Start by doing Rubbed and Overlapped as described above. Fig. 39


shows the way in which the double overlaps the card previously laid down
on the table. The other two cards are placed each at one end of the row.

Rest your fingertips over the cards as follows: left forefinger over the left
edge of the double, the other left fingers on the second ca rd from the left,
right middle and ring fingers on the card at the right end of the row (Fig. 40).

56
Both hands now move together to the ri ght. The left-hand cards are slid as
a un it w hile th e right fin gers slides the card at the right end in the same
direction (Fig. 41 ).

After havi ng moved a short distance to the ri ght, stop and release the
pressure of the left fo refin ger over the edge of the double. With the left
fingers, slide the single card (second from the left) to the left (Fig. 42). The
double should remain in alignment.

Fourth Variant - Rubbedwith Two Doubles


You begin with, say, six cards that you are about to show and lay dow n
on the tabl e as four. The cards concealed w ill be the third and the fifth from
the top. Through a Triple Buckle, get a break between the third and fourth
cards and do the Palmas Spread to show the six card s as four. O nce the
cards are spread, lock the lower double in Ring-Finger Grip. The ri ght hand,
gripping its cards by the ends (middle fin ger at the outer end, thumb at the
inner), remove from the spread the double it is ho lding (Fig. 165, p. 168),
and lays it on the table through the Burning Double technique (Fig. 166, p.
169).

This is an in-transit action done in order to take the next card from the left
hand, w hich is the corresponding main or fin al action. As thi s happens, the
left fingers perform Froti s actio ns, rubbin g the single cards back and forth
around the doubl e that is locked in place by the ring f inger.

After having tabled the first double, the ri ght hand takes the bottom left-
hand card (which has been conveniently pushed to the ri ght in coordinated
actions), by the ends from above. Drop that ca rd to the right of the first
double (Fig. 167, p. 169).
In a continuing action, take the next double with the right hand by the
ends and lay it to the ri ght of the last ca rd , using th e Burning D o ub le
technique (Fig. 169, p. 169).

Take the last card from the left hand, turn it over gracefull y with the right
fingers and conclude by laying it down at the right end of the row by turn ing
it again face up, this time in book fashion.

58
The Scattered Lay-Down
Start with a 5-card packet in your hands, all face up. The third card will
remain concealed during the process. Do the Tenerife Spread, which ends by
pivoting the double clockwise to arrive at the position shown in Fig. 19 of p.
36. The pivoted double is held in place solely by the two cards that surround
it, shown in the illustrations as the AS and 3S. Take those two cards as they
are with the right hand, thumb above, forefinger and the first two fingers
below, with the double trapped in between. Both hands travel, separating
slightly, as in a gesture, scattering the cards in an irregular row on the table,
with apparent abandon. What actually happens is that the right hand,
carrying its cards in the configuration described-which Ascanio liked to call
the Slippery Pincers-tilts inward during its path to the right until the inner
end of the double makes contact with the table top. Without stopping, the
right hand continues its forward path as the fingers relax the pressure to allow
the double to fall to the table disarmingly, in perfect alignment. The bottom
single card is dropped carelessly to the right of the double, followed by the
remaining right-hand card. As this happens, the left hand drops its card to the
left of the double.

All the actions following the Tenerife Spread are blended into a single
continuous gesture.
The In-Transit Lay-Down
Begin with a Vertical Ascanio Spread and, after the cards have been
wriggled a bit, the right hand carries the double to the right as it is held, and
tables it as per the Burning Double, doing so in-transit, in order to remain free
and take the next card from the left hand. The remaining three cards are taken
in Biddle Grip from the left hand, one at a time, and dealt on top of the
double, in a pile (Figs. 240, 241 and 242, p. 206).

60
Petal Pickin'
This sequence is basically the same as the above, except that here the
double is dealt at the end. Begin with a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread. The
right hand takes the bottom two cards, which have been conveniently pushed
to the right during the left-hand Frotis actions. After briefly showi ng two cards
in each hand, leave the bottom right-hand cards on top of the left-hand cards.
In a continuing motion, leave the remain ing right-hand card on the table. The
right hand then takes the top left-hand card, which has been pushed to the
right on a Frotis coordinated action. Do likewise with the next left-hand card
and finally do the Burning Doubl e to leave the two cards as one on top of the
tabled pile (Figs. 235, 236, 237 and 238, p. 203).
Early Versions
Since the waters are clearer where the river is born, we will reprint here
three of Ascanio's classics just as he wrote them up, in his own words: Oil
and Water Featuring the Ascanio Spread and versions 66 and 67 of Father Ace
and Sons. This wi ll give us a view of the evolution of those routines when we
compare them to the later versions in Chapter Seven. Arturo was a great
magician and he could break down his tricks and analyze them in minute
detail like nobody e lse. So, dear reader, enjoy the routines and the
explanations of the master.

Oil and Water Featuring the Ascanio Spread was originally published in
the second volume of La Magia de Ascanio, which the EMM publi shed, in a
spiral-bound edition, in 1980. A few months later, an abbreviated form of the
routine appeared in Ascanio's set of lectu re notes El manejo de Ia carta doble.

Father Ace and Sons (Ve rsion 66) saw the light in the notes just
mentioned, which were distributed during Canarias 80, the Spanish national
convention that was held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Father Ace and Sons (Version 67) first appeared in the EMM Circular N°
71, in November 1980, and was later included in his lecture notes La
Psicologfa del Empalme, released at the Santander national convention and
later published in English as The Psychology of Palming.

6;
Oil and Water Featuring the Ascanio Spread
9-1 0 Cards Version
When Arturo first described his version of Oil and Water, he preceded the
explanation with the following introduction:

If we review the old books, we'll find a few tricks whose success has
stood the test of time throughout several generations of magicians. Those are
the classics that are still being performed today (albeit with a more refined
technique) and will continue to be performed in the future. Think of Cards up
the Sleeve, Two-Card Transposition or The Four-Ace Trick as examples.

Likewise, some of the effects created in our time will eventually achieve
posterity although, as someone has said, there isn't room for many. One of
those selected few that are destined to become classics is Oil and Water,
which seems to meet all the requirements.

To begin with, the premise is easily followed by the spectator: four red
cards and four black cards. Perfect. The cards are then alternated one at a
time: red, black, red, black. Up until now all is crystal clear. Suddenly, the
unexpected outcome arises: the cards have unmixed on their own accord and
the four red cards appear to have mysteriously separated from the four black
cards. They see the effect coming, but can 't believe their eyes when they see
it happen. On the other hand, the title is quite a find: Oil and Water clearly
describes the enigmatic resistance of the cards to remain alternated. As
everyone knows, oil and water don't mix.

Despite the fact that the effect is relatively new, it has already gone
through the treatment of many of the greats, who have generated a large
number of versions. Ed Marlo [who originated the premise], Dai Vernon, Bill
Simon, Hans Trixer, and Alex Elmsley are among the many who have
published their versions. Yet to see print are the substantial and revolutionary
twists that Fred Kaps and Channing Pollock have made to the Dai Vernon
version [included in this book], as is the ingenious climax of Fu Manchu for
the Marlo version. This is my attempt to add my voice to this distinguished
choir, and I hope the reader doesn 't find it out of tune.

The above paragraphs, written in 1960 1 have proved right. Oil and Water
has become a classic.

1. Extracted from Un )uego lnedito by Ascanio, 1/usionismo N° 180, February, 1960.

66
In fact, the voices of the above mentioned masters have evolved into a
massive choir of stars led by Juan Tamariz who-Ascanio assured and would
bet his right hand on it- is the world's foremost expert in this effect. So much
thought and wisdom have been invested in the effect that it's quite difficult to
add anything new. But, as Ascanio notes, he eventually managed to join that
choir. When he gained possession of his new weapon- the Ascanio Spread-
he soon applied it to this effect. What you are about to read is the result of
this endeavor.

When Ascanio published his version for the first time, he wrote: In order
to facilitate the work of my biographers (?) I can assure you that this version is
the result of a lengthy distillation process that is not yet closed and whose
milestones are:

- I learned a 9-card version attributed to Dai Vernon (I can 't remember


where !learned it from) .

- Upon reading Marlo's 70-card version, around 7957, I thought of the


presentation that I still use for the final phase (Don 't Blink) . Yet the routine
had two flaws: though the cards were alternated on a tabled pile at the start,
at the end they were interlaced in a fan (lack of consistency). Also, the final
display of the four red cards left much to be desired.

- Fred Kaps taught me his superb version with the Angular Turnover. This
improved the first phase of the routine but the structure of the trick and the
ending still had the same problems.

- I studied the phenomenal " fanned" version of Dai Vernon, also for ten
cards and was greatly influenced by it.

-At that time, around 1965, the [Ascanio] Spread was born. Its
possession and the quest for a consistent presentation brought about the
present structure of the routine in which the cards are alternated in a fan in all
three phases. The final display of the four red cards was still rather weak and
the Don 't Blink phase was only appropriate for fellow magicians who would
gracefully accept it out of gratefulness for the quality and originality of the rest
of the routine.

- Lastly, during the spring of 7979, after a search of more than twenty
years, I came up with the Palmas Spread that finally solved the final display.

- To be honest I should say that during the last period of this ongoing
process, in which many pieces have fallen into place, my efforts have been
encouraged by my desire to emulate juan Tamariz whose study of this effect is
admirable.

Mario's version can be found on p. 111 of the 1953 edition of The


Cardician. Vernon's version comes from Lewis Ganson's Dai Vernon's More
Inner Secrets of Card Magic, p. 20. Tamariz's handling follows the structure of
the Kaps-Pollock version, enriched with Juan's personal and exquisite details. 2

In this routine Ascanio used nine cards (one of them an extra card) and
performed the first two phases with them. For the climax of the third phase he
loaded another extra card, hence the title 9-1 0 Cards Version.

The third phase, however, is optiona l, and it demands certain performing


conditions that are not always available, such as sitting at a reasonably high
table with no spectator at the sides, so Arturo often left it out. Despite this
fact, the routine stands without it and looks complete with the first two
phases only, which can be performed standing or at a lower table, as well as
surrounded.

Preparation
The starting point to begin the performance is:

a. You hold a face-up packet consisting of nine cards, four of which are red
and five are black, arranged as follows, from face to back: black, black,
black, black, red, red, red, black, red. Use high spot cards (Ascanio used
values from Eight to Ten of each color).

b. If you are going to do the third phase, have an extra black spot card
trapped behind your left knee or in the left groin, face up, in readiness to
be loaded when the time comes.

To arrive at that starting point you may proceed as follows: as soon as you
finish your previous trick, spread the deck face up in your hands and look for
a high black spot card. Palm that card off in your left hand and, during those
moments when people are sti ll commenting on your last trick, load it behind
your left knee while appearing to adjust your trousers. Spread the cards again
and cut another black card to the back of the deck. After a brief pause and
with a more attentive audience, open ly find four more black cards and add
them to the back of the deck. Find four red cards and add them to the back of
everything.

2. See The Magic Way by Juan Tamariz, Frakson Books, 1988.

68
Spread those cards while holding the deck in your hands and slip one of
the black cards to the second position from the back of the deck. The nine
cards will be in the order indicated above. Close the spread procuring a
pinkie break between those nine cards and the rest of the deck. Cut at the
break and leave the bulk of the deck aside. Needless to say, you may use any
other procedure that gets you there. Turn your body somewhat to the left,
while remaining seated. This position will facilitate the execution of the first
two phases as well as the subsequent load of the card from behind your knee.

First Phase
We will describe a complete model of the patter for the routine. This is
done to stress the clarity of the procedure rather than for the patter itself. Try
to adapt the patter to your own performing style without altering the
psychological effectiveness of the patter given.

1. This is one of m y favorite tricks. Better pay attention b eca use I'm sure
you'll/ike it.

With these words, deal the four black cards, one at a time and at a
deliberate pace, to your left, in an unsquared pile. With the same deliberate
rhythm, deal the four red cards to your right, also in an unsquared pile. This
time, however, you do a Double Push-Off on the third card, so the extra black
card remains concealed beneath it. [For an excellent description of the
Double Push-Off technique, see Dai Vernon's Inner Secrets of Card Magic, by
Lewis Ganson, p. 86.]

As far as the spectators are concerned, the trick hasn't even begun. Laying
the cards on the table goes by as a mere step in setting the stage. However, it
puts you ahead for what is about to come. The audience sees you lay four
black cards to one side and four red cards on the other side in two casually
unsquared piles, as you handle the cards loosely and unhurriedly.

This is what Ascanio called "working before you begin," a parallel


principle to the one he called "working after you finish" which always gave
him-he said- an intimate thrill.

2. What happens when you mix oil and water?

(Let the question sink in, and wait for the spectators to answer). Right.
They don 't mix. There is a moment when they appear to mesh but then, the
oil mysteriously rises to the top and the water goes to the bottom b y itself. ..
or the other way. I always forget. The same happens with these cards. As you
say this, or something similar, don't do anything with the cards.

(,C)
3. Here are, in fact, four oily black cards.

Take the pile of black cards face up in your left hand. Now that there is
no extra card, do an Ascanio Spread to show them unmistakably as the four
cards that they are, and lay them on the table where they were. Ascanio used
to finish this display of the four cards with the technique he called Rotating
the Fourth Card, described on p. 31.

4. And here are four watery red cards.

Take the face-up pile on the right and perform a casual-looking Ascanio
Spread to show it as consisting of four red cards. Upon closing the spread,
transfer the double card to the face of the packet. Turn the pile face down and
transfer it to the left hand, which takes it, still somewhat unsquared, in
dealing position. The concealed black card is now fourth from the top.

5. Here is the oil...

Dig with your right fingers amongst the black cards that are spread on the
table while the left hand squares the red packet completely.

6. . .. and here is the water.

Do Ascanio's Loose Display, proceeding as follows:

a) Holding the cards face down in your left hand, transfer the three top
cards to the right hand without altering their order. The right hand holds
them for a moment in a fan.

b) Rest the tip of your left thumb against the left edge of the double card,
near the outer corner, separating the double from the palm and raising it
to the fingertips.

c) Both hands rotate inwards to show the faces of the cards they hold. The
right hand is thus showing a 3-card fan while the left shows a supposedly
single card. The left forefinger is extended as shown in Fig. 43 to allow a
better display of the face of the double. After briefly displaying the cards
in this position, the hands turn back to their former positions and
continue with the next step, without pausing.

d) With the cards face down again, the bottom (leftmost) card of the right-
hand fan is transferred to the left hand, where it is held in place by the
left thumb, overlapped to right of the double, which is now being held

70
between the left forefinger (resting against the right edge) and the left
palm.

e) Both hands turn inwards once again to display the faces of the cards, now
showing two cards in each hand as seen in Fig. 44. A good grip on the
double allows you to lightly rub the single card against it, while the right
hand does the same with its two single cards.

To perform this Loose Display correctly you should convey an impression


of weightlessness.

The cards are in the hands but not actually held. It should appear as if
they are alive and free to go wherever they want, without being manipulated
by your fingers. Although the procedure has been broken down in steps, all
the actions are blended into one lively whole.

7. Keeping the cards in a lively motion, both hands turn to bring the cards face
down again and the right hand places its cards on top of those in the left.

Let's mix the oil and the water together. Square the packet, procuring a
break under two cards, as you turn your body somewhat to the left and
proceed, without pausing, to fan the five cards as four using Ascanio's
Pinkie Fan, as follows:

a) The right hand holds the top two cards as one (a new double) from above
by the ends, middle, and ring fingers at the outer end, thumb at the inner,
forefinger curled on top, with its nail on the back of the double.

b) Carry the double to the right as the top card of the fan, separating it
slightly from the other cards. This allows the left thumb to push the next
card to the right.

""'1
c) The right hand, in a return path, sets the double card as the top card of
the fan being formed, overlapping the card pushed by the left thumb as in
Fig. 45. That card is then gripped by the ends, as the second card in the
fan, between the right middle finger and thumb.

d) The right hand carries its cards (the double and the single that follows it)
to the right, allowing the left thumb to spread another card (four cards are
now seen in a fan). As the fan is being completed, the nail of the right
thumb, resting against the inner end of the last card, pushes the whole
fan forward, as the left thumb retracts, staying out of the way (Fig. 46).

e) Once the cards have been fanned and shifted forward, the left thumb is
rested onto the inner left corner of the double to hold it in place. The
right hand, still holding the cards, adjusts the position of the double so its
inner right corner rests against the tip of the left little finger. The right
hand moves away, leaving the fan in the left (Fig. 47), and adjusts the
positions of the cards a bit, touching only the three single cards. By
moving the left thumb and little finger as a unit you may also manage to
move the double slightly and loosely for a little convincer.

The action of fanning the cards, simple as it is, also calls for a sensation
of weightlessness, and should be supported by the last action of the
Loose Displ ay to avoid any suspicions about the fact that the cards being
fanned are not quite the same ones shown earlier. Avoid any cramped
position of the hand holding the fan. Ascanio admitted he could not
avoid it himself at first, but practice always triumphs.

8. To do that, we insert a black card between the red.

72
The right hand takes one of the black cards from the table, turns it face
down and inserts it between the first card of the fan (the double) and the next
one, leaving it protruding for about two-thirds of its length.

9. Another black card.

Take another black card, turn it face down and insert it the same way
between the second and the third cards of the fan.

10. The third black card.

Insert the third black card between the third and fourth cards of the fan.

11. And finally the fourth one. We'll put it here to keep it separated from the
other black cards.

Put the fourth black card under the last card of the fan , holding it
between the fan and your hand (Fig. 48).

12. As you can see, the mix could not be more perfect. We insert them all the
way: one, two, three, and four.

With the tip of your right forefinger, push the first black card flush with
the fan (Fig. 49).

Do the same with the second, third, and fourth cards. The eight cards
(Fig. 50) will now be forming a somewhat irregular fan. Move the right hand
away for a moment to clearly display the situation.
13. And we simply close the fan.

Rest the right edge of the double against the outer joint of the extended
right forefinger and, with a circular motion of the left hand, close the fan to
leave the cards in an unsquared packet (Fig. 51). This is a dangerous moment.
You should convey the impression that you have nothing to hide. Any action
such as using all the right fingers to close the fan, hiding the fan from view, or
squaring up the fan carefully, are likely to arose suspicion. Take the cards in
their unsquared condition from above between the right thumb at the inner
end and middle finger at the outer end. The right hand now carries the cards
slowly towards the center of the table and leaves them there, still unsquared.
Move the hands away, turn them palm up and carefully square the packet
with your fingertips.

14. So the cards are now alternated: red, black, red, black, red, black.

To underline the alternated condition of the cards, Ascanio used the


following gesture: he held his hands as shown in Fig. 52 and started
alternating the fingers of both hands, first extending the left little finger and
resting the tip of the right little finger on it, followed by the left ring finger,
then the right ring finger and so on until all eight fingers are interlocked as
shown in Fig. 53.

Although these actions are timed to match your calling each color, you
don't begin saying " red, black ... " until the two little fingers are already in
place. As a result you will only call "red" three times and "black" three times.
This fact will go unnoticed but you will be conditioning the spectators' ears.
This will become important in a moment, as you' ll see.

15. You can see they're alternated: red, black, red, black, red, black.

74
Take the packet with the right hand in Biddle Grip and place it in the left
hand, squaring it briefly. The right hand noiselessly takes the top two cards as
one by the ends, and turns palm up to show the face of that double as you
call "red" (Fig. 54). Pause briefly, focusing on the color of the card (a final
action). Turn the right hand palm down again and, in a smooth in-transit
action, take the next card, wh ich the left thumb has conveniently pushed to
the right, under the double, with the clear intention of showing it (a final
action). Bring the right hand with the cards more or less in alignment to the
position shown in Fig. 54 as you ca ll "black," once again pausing as you
display the black card. Following the same procedure and with the same
rhythm, take and show (taking for showing) the next two cards. The left thumb
then pushes off three cards as one, which you take under the right-hand
cards. Bring the hand once again to the position of Fig. 54 as you say "red."
The right hand final ly comes back to take the last card, which is loosely
handled (without overdoing it) to convey the fact that it is unmistakably a
single card. This card is taken a Iittle overlapped to the left so when you lift
the right hand to show it, they'll also get a flash of the previous cards shown
and their alternating colors. Nobody wil l note that you have on ly shown six
cards instead of eight. In order to accomplish this sequence successful ly, keep
the following in mind:
Timing: In Ascanio's terminology, the action of taking the cards from the
left hand is an in-transit action that leads to a final action (corresponding to
the position shown in Fig. 54), to which you direct all your attention.

Rhythm: Impart an automatic-looking rhythm to the whole action: take to


show, take to show, take to show. The automatic rhythm takes the heat off the
smaller details.

Monotony: Speak with a monotone, as if taking for granted the color


sequence of the cards: red, black, red, black, blah, blah, blah.

Indifference: Assume an indifferent attitude, as if not being particularly


interested in what you're doing, as if you didn't need to check the color
sequence.

16. Well, alternated as they are (stress the words "as they are") ...

The right hand is still motionless in the positio n of Fig. 54, without
turning the packet face down again. Now the left hand slowly moves forward
as it tu rns palm down and takes the right-hand packet at the fingertips, then
turns palm up and drops the packet, now face down, into dealing position,
w here it is squared. Proceeding this way, the audience will be witnessing the
fact that you do nothing suspicious.

17. Let's leave over here, dealing always from the top of the packet, a red
card, a black card, a red card, and another black card ...

Deal the first four cards to your right, proceeding clearl y and deliberately.
Begin by pushing the top card to the right with your left thumb. Take this card
using on ly the right thumb (above) and middle fi nger (below), and drop it
flatly from a height of about 3 inches as you call "red." With equal clarity,
take the next card and drop it on top of the first, sayi ng "b lack."

Continue with the third (red) and the fourth (black). The w hole procedure
is ca rried out very slowl y but w ith a rhythm and above all with clarity, so no
one can later accuse you of having dea lt from the middle or anyth ing like
that. The cards are dealt in an unsquared pile and left like that.

18. And over here a red, a black, a red and a black.

Likewise, deal the supposedly four remai ning cards, one at a time, to your
left. So as not to emphasize the obvious, you can deal the cards this time at a
livelier pace, w ithout harming the clarity. The third card dealt w ill, of course, be

76
a double, which the left thumb has pushed off to the right. Here again, you may
drop the cards, even the double, from a height of 2-3 inches. The actions are
very disarming and with a little practice, the double will stay in alignment. The
resulting pile wi ll consist of four black cards with a red one in the center.

19. Up until now, everything is crystal clear, isn't it? But all we need is the
manual pendulum and...

Do your favorite magical gesture. Ascanio used to snap his fingers two or
three times, moving his hand like a pendulum from one packet to the other. If
you follow this course, stop when your hand is over the pile to your left.

20 . ... here are now one, two, three and the four black cards together!

Turn the packet face up and do an Ascanio Spread by steps, beginning by


separating the bottom card slowly and dramatically. Continue with the
second card, unhurriedly and with expectation, and finally spread the two
remaining cards loosely, transferring the double to the face of the packet.
Close the spread, leaving the cards somewhat unsquared, and table them to
your left (where they were) using the By the Waist technique (p. 53).

21. And here are, naturally, the red cards.

Take the cards on the right, turn them face up and perform an Elmsley
Count at the fingertips to show them as four red cards. As you put the last
card on the face of the packet, both hands grip the packet together as you
pause briefly to let the effect register.

Second Phase
22. Let's do it again.

The right hand immediately takes the back card of the packet, which is
black, and turns inwards to deal that card face down on the table without
exposing its face. This is a known strategy of Fred Kaps and Channing Pollock,
which Ascanio called the Angular Turnover, because of the apparently casual
angle at which the card is taken, which prevents its face from being seen
while you don't appear to intentionally conceal it. Though the mechanics are
quite simple, it calls for a certain rhythm and coordination. As this happens,
the left fingers spread the other three cards, allowing their red faces to be seen
(Fig. 55). The right hand returns to take the bottom card from the three that are
in the left and turns it face down like the first. This time, however, the face of
the card is seen by the spectators in its path to the table, where it is left
overlapping the first card towards the far side of the table.
The left fingers slide the lower card of the two it holds a little to the right,
and the right hand takes it and deals it face down overlapping the second
card towards the far side of the table. The last card is dealt in the same way,
overlapping the third as you say, Here are the red cards.

The cards are handled without pressure, almost jumping from one hand
to another and then to the tab le. The spectators get the impression of having
seen four red faces repeatedly and that they are unmistakably four. This loose,
light, and rhythmical sequence takes place wh il e the spectators are still
reacting to the first effect and you are taking a breath and beginning to
introduce the second phase.

23. Touch the backs of the three last cards dealt, pushing them forward
somewhat nervously, to leave the back of the black card uncovered (or maybe
slightly covered) in preparation for what fol lows shortly.

24 . .. .and here the black.

The left hand takes the black packet from above and turns palm up,
bringing the cards face down into dealing position. Do the Loose Display as
described in step 6 to show four black cards, fol lowed by the Pinkie Fan,
described in step 7. This time, however, carry the face-down fan towards the
center of the table, bringing it close to the cards that are there.

25. And now we'll insert the red cards amongst the black ones: the first, the
second, the third and the fourth.

The right hand takes from the table the card that is nearer, which happens
to be the only black card of the group. Lift that card and insert it between the
first card of the fan (the double) and the next one with a forward thrust,

78
leaving it outjogged for two thirds of its length (Fig. 56). Be careful with your
patter here and avoid calling it a red card, which could arouse suspicion.
Instead, call attention to the fact that you are inserting it very clearly, which is
an unquestionable fact.

Take a second card from the red pile and, without making any effort to
show its face, insert it between the second and third cards of the fan from
above. It is virtually impossible not to flash the face of that card (which is what
you want) during the action, even more so if you hold the fan horizontally.
Proceed in the same way to insert the third and fourth cards. The fourth card
may be casually shown as you put it between the last card of the fan and your
left palm. Carry this giant fan towards the left side of the table (Fig. 48).

26. We insert the cards clearly and completely.

Gently push each card into the fan as you did the first time (Step 12, Figs.
49-50).

27. And we simply close the fan.

Proceed exactly as in Step 13. Table the unsquared pile towards your left
and square up the cards, expectantly, using only your fingertips, with your
hands palm up.

28. Now they're unmistakably mixed. But if I snap my fingers ... this one is
black, and the next one ... is black! The next one is black too, and the last
one is ... black!

Pause to build expectation before starting to turn the cards over. Snap
your fingers (or make your favorite magic gesture) over the cards. Moving

y
deliberately, you now rest the tip of the left middle finger over the back of the
top card. The left thumb now lifts the inner end of that card about an inch.
Move the card thus held slightly to the left and begin to turn it face up,
pivoting it over its inner left corner, which rests against the table. Before
releasing the card, now held between the tips of the thumb and middle finger,
the thumb moves subtly forward, gracefully snapping the card off the middle
finger to the table, thus emphasizing the fact that it's a single card. After a
pause, turn the next card in the same way, dropping it over the first, without
covering it completely. After another emotional pause, turn the third card
and, with an air of finishing the trick, turn the fourth black card over the other
three. Move those cards about with the left fingertips and smile triumphantly,
acting as if the trick were over. By turning these four cards with the tips of the
thumb and middle finger and without lifting the packet off the table, an
optimal clarity as well as a good build-up to the effect is accomplished.

29. To tell the truth, I don't understand this myself.

Acting as if the actions that follow were hardly necessary, take the red
packet in the right hand and transfer it to left-hand dealing position. The
palm-down right hand takes the top card of the packet and deals it face up in
stud-fashion, turning it forward end for end and dropping it from a height of a
few inches to the right of the black packet, making it "bounce" against the
table so there is no question that it's a single card. Deal the next two cards on
top of it in the same way. As the third card is being dealt, the left forefinger, in
touch with the outer end of the double, pulls downward to separate the
double from the palm. The right hand takes the double as it did the other
cards, turns it face up, and uses it to scoop the three red cards from the table,
aided by the tip of the left middle finger. These cards are finally dropped flatly,
from a height of several inches, onto the black packet. The black extra card at
the bottom of this packet will merge with the black cards of the packet on the
table. This is the end of the trick, unless you want to continue with the
optional third phase. Should that be the case, it's time to load the other black
extra card from behind your knee. While the spectators enjoy their
astonishment after the climax of the second phase, drop your left hand to the
lap. Take the card from behind the knee and palm it face up in that hand, in
Gambler's Cop position.

The right hand gathers the cards on the table and drags them to the edge
of the table as if to square them between both hands. Meanwhile, the left
hand approaches that point behind the table edge from below. The right hand
continues its motion, sweeping the cards towards you, over the edge of the
table, dropping them onto the waiting left hand, which innocently and openly
squares them up. You now hold six face-up black cards at the back of the

80
face-up packet and four red cards on the face. The face up pile should end up
in front of your left shoulder at the end, in an optimal position to load the
palmed card from the knee, as described.

ThirdPhase. Don't Blink!


Appearing to toy with the cards, turn the 10-card packet face down.

30. I'll repeat it yet another time, but this time with the cards face up so you
can almost see how the cards unmix. It doesn 't really make any difference
whether the cards are face up or face down.

Fan the top four cards and transfer the fan to the right hand, which turns
palm down and lays the fan face up on the table. Six cards now remain in the
left hand: two black cards on top followed by four red cards.

Once the right hand is free, it approaches the left to turn the packet face
up to show the cards it supposedly consists of. Spread the first three cards and
handle the remaining three as one. During this brief display, injog the card on
the face of the packet (Fig. 57). Still toying with the cards, transfer the three
single cards under the triple, procuring a break under the injogged card and
maintaining it with the left little finger. The order is now, from face to back:
red, black, black, break, red, red, red. Move the hands apart and pause briefly.

31 . Here are the oily black cards and here the watery red cards, among
which the black cards w ill be interlaced.

Scratch over the black cards with your right hand and deftly open the left-
hand cards in a Pinkie Fan as described in Step 7, except the double is now a
triple and the cards are face up. The left hand carries the fan to the left, where
it was formed earlier (Fig. 47).


32. With the cards face up you can actually see how the black cards alternate
with the red.

As soon as the cards are fanned, the right hand takes two of the black
cards that are on the table, as if to abbreviate the alternating procedure, and
brings them towards the fan, putting one of them directly outjogged onto the
face of the triple, where it is held in place by the left thumb. The other black
card is inserted, also outjogged, between the triple and the next red card.
Keeping the left hand motionless, the right hand takes a single black card
from the table and inserts it between the second and the third cards and then
the last one between the third and the fourth. Disp lay the giant fan.
Proceeding as described, the thickness of the triple card, which may
otherwise be noticed by some spectators, will only be exposed for a brief
moment.

Observe that the ca rds are fanned just before the insertions and that the
thickness is immediately covered by the first black ca rd. Furthermore, the fact
that two cards are inserted together helps to take the heat off the triple, and at
the same time conceals the fact that a card is being placed in front of the fan,
and not between the first two, as it was done in the previous phases.

33. We insert the black cards completely ... we pick them all up ... and here
they are.

The three last black cards are inserted completely into the red fan by
successive gentle taps while the first one (the one on the face of the fan) is
best left as it is. Close the fan as before (Step 13) and square up the whole
packet with the fingertips of both hands. The right hand takes the packet with
the fingers on the face and thumb on the back, and shows its face to the
audience. As if perceiving some skepticism, change the tone of you r voice
and address a nearby spectator.

34. What? Did I do anything sneaky? No way! The cards continue to be


alternated. Let's check.

Put the packet face down in left-hand dealing position.

35. Here is a red card, then a black card, another red. I'll put them like this
very carefully so you can see them all together ... another black, then a
red ... unmistakably alternated.

As you begin talkin& the left thumb pushes the top card to the ri ght and
the right hand gently takes it with the thumb on the back and fingers on the

82
face. Turn your wrist for a moment to show the audience the face of that red
card . Without altering its grip, the right hand takes the next card off the top of
the packet, which the left thumb has conveniently pushed to the right. This
card is taken under the first as in a fan so that its outer left corner is jogged to
the left while the inner left corners are practically together (Fig. 58). Turn your
wrist again to show the face of this black card. Take the next card, again,
forming a fan as you stress the fact that you display them in "poker player's
fashion" so they can see each and every card. Do the same with the fourth
(black) and fifth (red) cards [Translator's note: Ascanio's patter here is based on
a known Spanish tongue-twister. By feigning some difficulty in pronouncing
the words he'd take a little heat off the secret action involved when showing
the sixth and seventh cards. If you w ish to foll ow the same course, make up a
tongue-twisting patter, maybe using intricate words such as "The cards are
thorough ly and unmistakable intermeshed," and take it from there].

As you show the sixth card, buckle the bottom card of the packet. The
right hand, after havi ng shown the face of the sixth card, returns to take the
three above the buckle as the seventh card. Show the face of the triple
through another wrist turn. Keeping the right hand motionless in that position,
the left hand now brings the last card to the fingertips and places it on the
face of the fan (Fig. 59). Note in the illustration how the eighth card concea ls
the thickness of the triple card.

In his original write-up, Ascanio made the following observations on the


above procedure:
-The time it takes you to take and show should be the same for all Pight
cards. Since the s<•venth requires a more c.m•ful handling, you show all the
cards JUS' as deliberately, under the pretense oi careful ly laying them in a
"poker-player's fan."
-The purpo~c of the tongue-twisting patter IS two-fold. Firstly, it provides mental
misdirection as the intricate words match what is seen and done and, secondly,
it affords physical cover as the expression of effort calls attention to your face
exactly as you take the seventh card. Furth<•rmore, the fact that you gN involved
in this kind of patter subtly suggests that you have nothing else to worry about.

83
- Tht> spt•< ial way in which the eighth card is handk•d (bringing it to the fan
rathPr than picking it up under the fan} elegantly directs attention to the left
hand and also achieves other purposes, such as a loose handling of the last
card, an aesthetically pleasing curved motion, and a safe concealment of the
thickness oi the triple card.

36. You can see them all at once, all eight alternated. Black, red, black, red,
black, red, black, red. Are they really alternated? Positive? It's not an
optical illusion, is it?

To better display the fan, alter your right-hand grip as follows: starting
from the position shown in Fig. 59, take the whole fan with the left hand,
thumb on the face and fingers on the back. The right hand can now release its
grip and take the fan again near the inner ends (which are now to the right) as
shown in Fig. 60.

If you maintain the fan in a tilted condition so the spectators have a view
of the faces (Fig. 60), you may keep the fan motionless without exposing the
thickness of the triple, although you can easily see it yourself. Thus you can
relax in that position as you call attention to the perfect alternation of the
cards, pointing at them with your left middle finger. Continue to stress this
fact until everybody is thoroughly convinced of the alternated condition of
the cards they see.

37. Well, now pay close attention! Keep your eyes open! Don 't blink! Look!

As you say this, keep the fan still and do nothing but show it. Then begin
to move, as if in slow motion, in an absolute silence. Open your left hand
and bring it near the fan, in readiness for taking it from below. The left thumb
makes contact with the edge of the uppermost red card while the left middle

84
finger contacts the edge of the black card at the other end of the fan (Fig. 61 ).
Close your left hand slowly and use it to close the fan, allowing a view, up to
the last moment, of the alternated colors. Once the fan is almost closed, the
right fingertips push the black card that is under them a little forward. The
cards are now held between the left thumb on one long edge and the left
middle and ring fingers on the other. The right hand moves away, allowing a
partial view of the red card that is second from the face (Fig. 62).

The right hand approaches deliberately from above to finish squaring the
ends of the packet. The right thumb, under the cover of a gentle squaring
action, silently separates the two cards from the face, allowing the left little
finger to obtain a break under them. The packet is smoothly brought down to
dealing position and the right fingers caress its ends in one last squaring
action. The right hand moves away slowly and then you suddenly snap your
fingers in an upward gesture, as if awakening the cards from their hypnotic
dream. The left hand, in response, shakes slightly and the left thumb
decidedly pushes the two cards above the break as one to the right (two black
cards are seen), using Vernon's Double Push-Off technique.

The Vernon's Double Push-Off


Holding a little-finger break under two cards, transfer the brPak for a moment
to tlw tip of the left ring finger. This makes room for the tip of the left middle
fing('r to enter the break and make contact with the underside of the double.
The thumb pins the double against the middle fing<>r and the ring finger enters
the break to join the middle finger. The thumb rolls slightly in order to hold
the double against the space between the two fingers. As this happens, thumb
and fingers are extended together carrying the double up to an inch to the
right. The thumb appears to be pushing a single card to the right, bending it
slightly upward. This bend appears to be caused by the fingers that are resting
on the side as if to prevent more than one card from being pushed. Try
pushing a single card honestly and you'll see.
The double is transferred to the right hand. At a moderate pace, take the
second black card onto the double, followed by the third and the fourth card
(Fig. 63 ).

The spectators can hardly believe what they see. Put all those cards back
onto the left hand packet, as if to show them better (the red card on the back of
the right hand cards will mesh with the left-hand red cards). Square up the
packet, adjusting its position in readiness for a triple buckle, and swiftly spread
the four cards on the face of the packet to the right. The right hand takes these
cards one at a time and, without altering their order, brings them to the right.
Rub those cards together (Fig. 64) and leave them face up on the table.

As far as the substantial structure ot thl' effect is concerned (with the special
red-black ordC'r and the wa) to show the black cardsl, Arturo u~ed to iollow
one oi thP solutions proposl'd by Mario in ThP Cardician (paragraph 20 oi his
basic routmt>, and the beginning ot thP first variation, p. 1 14 oi the 1953
l'dition). Yet he thought his personal h,~ndling and prespntation gave the
whoiP thing a different feel.

Under the cover of that action, perform a Triple Buckle using the leftt
middle, ring, and little fingers (Fig. 64). The empty right hand grips the packet
by the ends, the thumb obtaining a break at the inner end above the three
buckled cards, as the Triple Buckle is released. The left forefinger is now curled
underneath the packet while the left middle finger rests against the right edge,
near the outer corner. The left thumb is at the left edge, also near the outer
corner. Fig. 65 shows the situation with the right hand removed for clarity. The
left ring and little fingers also rest along the right edge of the packet.

The packet is thus in almost perfect alignment. To square it up


completely, the right thumb at the inner end and the right middle finger at the

86
outer, slide to the right in a squaring action until they hold the cards by the
right corners, the thumb maintaining the break all along. The right hand
finally carries the whole packet forward, allowing the left thumb to slide
along the left edge, squaring up the packet, and ending up near the left inner
corner (see Fig. 20, p. 38). This operation, which takes a fraction of a second,
brings you from the Triple Buckle position (Fig. 65) to the starting position for
a Palmas Spread.

Without pausing, proceed with the Palmas Spread to show the six cards
you hold as four red cards (Fig. 66). Without altering its grip on its double
card, the right hand, in an in-transit action, tables the double face up to the
left of the black pile, and comes back to take the following single card from
the left hand, with the thumb on the face, near the outer right corner, and
middle finger on the back. Lay that card on top of the double and take the
other double, which is projecting from the left hand, in the same way. Table
this double onto the same pile and finally take the last red card and lay it on
top of all to conclude the effect.

After a long pause and when you think the audience has digested the
effect you may conclude by saying: Do you know why this happens? Because
oil and water don 't mix.

38. To clean up, gather the black cards from the right, drop them onto the red
cards, take the combined packet, and return it to the deck.

When Arturo published this tr ick, he added the following comment in a final
note, regarding the Don't Blink! (third) phase: "I believe that the special
handling at the begi nning of this climax (exhibiting the eight cards in a fan),
the total absence of an Anti-Contrasting Parenthesis, the Palmas Spread and
the dramatization that wraps it all up, solves quite a few discrepancies and
ambiguities of the Mario version."
Arturo believed that this wondc>rful "C1rdician" made a discovery that he
barely exploitt'd. We could say that his routines were like a blmding dead-
end street. Mario drove all of us "oil-and-waterers" into a fascinating tornado
oi 1deas from which it was very h,ml to emerge with a clew solution. Studying
the latPr vcr~ion of Dai Vernon, we can imagine the titanic efforts The
Professor made to clarify, with inspiration, the muddy honey Mario had left
on our lips.
Ascanio tlnally proposed a fascinating exercise to the studious reader: to learn
Mario's handling from The Carclic ian in depth and later study Vernon's solutions.
This fwc amP a working system m the Tertulias Magi cas Canarias (Canarian
M.1gical Chats), where cardmen not only studied a trick but triPd to trace the
path followl'<l by their creators through the study of different versions. Arturo was
convin((~d that such an exercise would be of a high didactil value to young
cardmen, e<opt>cially to those interested in the handling of extra cards.

Barebones of the routine (or "You just tell me how it goes and I'll find
the way to get w1y with 1t")
You hold nine face-up cards in your hands. From face to back: black,
black, black, black, red, red, red, black, red.

First and second phases


1. Deal four blacks to your left. Deal four reds to the right, double-dealing
at the count of three. Explain that these cards, like oil and water, can't
remain mixed.

2. Take the black cards, show them with the actions of an Ascanio Spread
and put them back on the table, face up. Take the other pile and show it
as four red cards with an Ascanio Spread, transferring the double to the
face, and put them face down in the left hand. Spread the top three cards
and take them into the right hand in a fanned condition while the left
hand retains the remaining two cards as one. Turn both wrists, showing
the faces of those cards (the one in the left hand being a double). Transfer
one of the right-hand cards to the left hand and loosely show two in each
hand. Bring the cards together, right over left, obtaining a break under the
top two and fan them maintaining those two cards at the top as a double,
and keep them securely aligned with the tip of the left little finger, as
shown in Fig. 47, p. 73.

3. Take the black cards from the table, one at a time, and insert each in
between the fanned cards, from right to left, leaving them outjogged as in
a giant fan. Insert the cards completely into the fan and then close the fan
and leave the packet on the table. Square up th e cards with yo ur

88
fingertips and stress their alternated condition with your interlocked
fingers as shown in Fig. 53.

4. Take the packet in the left hand and take the top two cards as one with
the right hand and show the face of the double as in Fig. 54. Continue
with the second, third, and fourth cards, and take three as one on the fifth
(Fig. 54), and finally take and show the last card.

5. Put the packet back in the left hand and table four cards, one at a time, in a
pile to your right, inverting their order. Likewise, deal the other four cards
to your left, pushing off two as one on the third . Make a magic gesture.

6. Take the pile on the left and show it as four black cards through an
Ascanio Spread and transfer the double to the face. Replace the cards
face up where they were. Take the pile on the right and show it as four
red cards using an Elmsley Count. Transfer the cards back to the left hand
but keep the bottom card in the right hand, which turns it face down and
tables it without letting its face be seen (Kaps' Angular Turnover). Table
the other red cards face down, one at a time, leaving the first card (the
black one) closer to you.

7. Take the left pile face down in the left hand and loosely show it as four
black cards as before (three in the right hand and one in the left, and then
two in each hand). Square up getting a break under the top two, and fan
them, keeping the top two aligned as a double, and rest the tip of the left
little finger against the inner right corner of that double (Fig. 47). Carry
the fan with its back to the audience, towards the pile on the right.

8. Take the first card from the table (the one nearest you) and insert it from
below, with a forward thrust, between the double and the next card of the
fan, without flashing its face and leaving it outjogged. Take another card
from the table and insert it into the fan from above, letting its face be
seen. Do the same with the next two cards. Carry the fan to the left and
insert each card completely into the fan with gentle taps. Close the fan,
put the packet on the table and square it up there. Make a magic gesture.

9. The left fingers dramatically turn the top four cards (a ll black), one at a
time, leaving them in a face-up pile to the left. Take the remaining cards
and transfer them to the left hand. Explaining that you don't understand
yourself what's going on, deal three of those cards face up, stud-fashion,
on the table to the right of the other pile. Turn the remaining double face
up and use it to scoop the three cards just dealt, and drop all on the
black pile.
Third Phase: Don't Blink!
10. To perform this phase, you had put a sixth black card, trapped, behind
your left knee. Upon finishing the second phase, take that extra card face
up in left-hand Gambler's Cop. Swipe the pile from the table with your
right hand over the edge of the table and into the left hand to secretly add
the copped black card. Turn the packet face down and square it up in the
left hand, and announce that you are about to repeat the effect once
again, this time with the cards face up.

11. Take the top four black cards and lay them face up on the table in a
fanned condition. Turn the cards in your hands face up and show them as
four reds (the last one is a triple, with two black cards concealed).
Transfer the first three red cards to under the triple, leaving the upper of
these injogged. Square the cards and get a thumb break above the injog,
immediately transferring the break to the left little finger. The order now,
from the face, is: red, black, black, break, red, red, red).

12. Open the cards in a Pinkie Fan as before. Take a black card from the table
and set it in from of the first red card of the fan, and insert the other black
cards in between the reds, all outjogged and face up. Finish inserting the
black cards, close the fan and turn the packet face down.

13. Take the first card and show its red color. Take the second overlapping the
first, so that the indices show. Continue taking cards like this, displaying
then in a "poker player's fan." On the seventh card take a triple (buckle),
and add the eighth card to the fan (Fig. 59). With the help of the left
hand, adjust the right-hand grip to better display the 8-card fan. Show the
cards as in Fig. 60, at an angle to conceal the thickness of the triple.

14. Ask the spectators not to blink. The left hand approaches very deliberately
from below and closes the fan. The right hand gently squares the ends
and gets a break under the two cards on the face. Make a magic gesture.

15. Take the top two cards as one in the right hand (black on the face). Take
the next three black cards, one at a time, onto the face of the double. Put
those cards back onto the face of the left-hand packet. The right hand now
takes the four black cards from the face of the packet, without altering
their order, and tables them in a spread condition while you perform a
Triple Buckle on the left-hand packet. Square the cards with your right
hand obtaining a break above the triple buckle, which is to say under the
top three cards. Perform a Palmas Spread to show four red cards (Fig. 66).
Table the cards one at a time (handling each double as one) in a pile. After
a pause, lay the black cards over the red and put the cards away.

90
Observations on the Construction of the Routine
2 OSitO y h e
Note that the supposed condition of the cards is stressed several times under
various pretenses. Thus, the group of red cards that carries the extra card is
shown three times: in step 1 (upon leaving it in a pile when setting the scene), in
step 4 (with the Ascanio Spread), and in step 6 (through the Loose Display).

In the second phase, the expository phase is clarified through the Angular
Turnover that fo llows the Elmsley Count at the end of the first effect (step 22)
and the Loose Display of the other packet (step 24). On the other hand, the
Ascanio Spread in step 20 and the Elmsley Count in step 21 allow us to
shorten the expository phase of the second phase, which is abbreviated but
by no means eliminated. That's why, in the second phase, Arturo separated
the Ascanio Spread from the Loose Display which are done back to back in
the first phase (steps 4, 5, and 6).

In the third phase (Don't Blink!), by handling the cards face up, the
expository phase takes care of itself (step 31 ).

ressmg the Initial Situation


This is done mostly in the third phase. After alternating red and black
cards in step 33 we could have gone directly to step 37. However, what
packs a good punch for the climax is the stressing of the alternated condition
when the cards are shown in a fan (steps 34 to 36) and the who l e
dramatization through gestures. This principle is also applied, to a lesser
degree, in the display of step 15.

c) Anti-Contrasting Parenthesis
This principle consists of avoiding all kinds of incidents that could
hamper the contrast between the initial situation (alternating colors) and the
final situation (separation). In the first phase there is an anti-contrasting
incident, which is the separation in separate pi les (steps 17 and 18), which is
partially compensated by the previous stressing of the initial situation (step
15). In the second phase the only elements between the two situations are the
squaring action on the table and the magic gesture of snapping the fingers
(steps 27 and 28). Thus, a glorious climax is accomp lished when the cards are
seen to be alternated, the fan is closed and, without further ado, the colors
are shown to be separated (step 37) for a maximum contrast.

Observe that the patter is reduced to a minimum in those moments and


almost non-existent in the climax. Arturo believed that excessive patter could
act as an Anti-Contrasting Parenthesis.

9
d) Unifo 11ity in t. ealte at'ng actions
Ascanio followed the Vernonian system of interlocking the cards in a fan,
and applied it consistently in all three phases, which gives the routine a
beautiful architectural naturalness. But he couldn't achieve the same
consistency in the final display of each phase, where he used an assortment
of methods: the Ascanio Spread, the Elmsley Count, turning single cards over,
turning a double in motion as the cards were dealt face up, transference of
the double from one hand to the other, and the Palmas Spread. But he
thought this didn't diminish the beauty or the effectiveness of the routine
since that variety could even be taken as a casual improvisation when
showing the cards.

e) Dlrect Handling
In comparison to some versions of this effect in which everything is
retaken, put down, shown, turned over, dealt, gathered, now face up and then
face down, often for illogical reasons, here you can appreciate a great
economy of external action. The cards are shown, interlaced, and shown
again unmixed. This is particularly true in the Don't Blink! phase, in which
the cards, after being alternated, are not even turned face down. The fan is
closed face up and the separated colors appear at once, also face up.

ij Clarity in the Innocent Actions


Ascanio once wrote that beginners tend to have a conception of
cleanness in magic where only secret actions need to be performed with
clarity. But experts know that aside from the fact that secret actions should
not be marred by ambiguous or obscure elements, the success of a trick also
relies on carrying out the honest actions with immaculate clarity. This concept
prevails throughout the whole procedure of the present routine. See, as an
example, what Arturo says in steps 11 and 18.

g) Approp iate use of the double card within the architectural naturalness of the routine
From an external point of view, the routine develops quite naturally (with
only a small discrepancy, perhaps), while internal ly double cards are in
constant use. The challenge lies in having the double card where it should be
without breaking the architectural beauty of the trick. This misleads the
spectator away from the suspicion of extra cards. The ultimate proof of that
was when Ascanio, in a lecture for magicians, began his explanation by
saying, "In this routine, needless to say, nine cards are used ... " and after this
simple and obvious revelation, part of the audience started to applaud. He
always asked himself, however, whether those were the wiser or the most
ignorant.

92
Father and Sons Aces (Version 66)
Fu Manchu: Arturo, do you know that Dai Vernon knows no less than
sixty-five methods for this effect?

Ascanio: Then I'll call my two variations Version 66 and Version 67.

1. Openly put the four Aces face up on top of the face-down deck and
casually arrange them in Diamonds, Spades, Clubs, and Hearts, from left
to right. Spread the four Aces face up on top of the face-down deck.
Casually spread two more cards and obtain a break under them upon
resquaring. With your right hand, take the six cards above the break by
the ends and proceed with the Braue Addition as follows.

Peel the first Ace onto the deck with your left thumb and turn it face
down using the right-hand packet. Peel the second and third Aces, one at
a time, turning each face down in the same way as the first. As soon as
the third Ace falls flush on top of the deck, put the right hand cards (three
as one) on top. Turn the last Ace face down and lay the top four cards
down in T formation at A, B, C, and D, in that order (see diagram 1).3 You
may use any other method to arrive at the same situation.

A B c
D
After laying the cards down, take the Ace at D with your right hand and
show it as you explain that this will the Father Ace and that the other
three will be the sons. Accompany your words with a pointing gesture of
the left-hand-which holds the deck- from C to A, at the end of which,
you take the card at A (the Ace of Diamonds) with that hand, and show
its face. Put the cards in your hands, face down, back at their positions.

If you chose to use the Braue Addition as described, the cards at A and D
will be the Ace of Diamonds and the Ace of Spades. The Aces of Clubs
and Hearts are on top of the deck.

3. For a more advanced sequence, see the method described in Dai Vernon's Slow Motion Aces, Stars of
Magic, Series 6, No.2, second method, p. 93 ofTannen's bound edition, 1975.
2. Explaining what you are about to do, spread four cards off the top of the
deck, without altering their order, and table them face down to one side.
Drop another four ca rds on top of those and then four more as you say:
Four ... and four more make eight, and another four makes twelve. The
Aces of Hearts and Clubs will fall at the third and fourth positions from
the bottom. Leave the rest of the deck aside-it won't be used in the
routine. Take the12-card packet in your left hand and cou nt the cards
mentally as you show them by unequal groups, so as to make sure that
the spectators are not counting them. On the count of nine, buckle the
bottom card and take the other three cards as one. Show the last card and
call attention to it. This is the only ca rd the spectators should remember.
Let's say it is the Five of Clubs. Call attention to this card for a reason that
will become obvious later on.

3. Put the top three cards of the packet at C. Put the next three cards at B.
Pretend to put another three at A, actually putting only two. This is
accomplished by using Ascanio's In-Transit Count.

Ascanio's In· ransit Count


This count is u~ed to apparently show more cards in a small packl't than you
actually have. We will describe it here for counting two cards as three. Other
variations will be obvious to you and the differences will be pointed out
further on, when nPcessary.
The left hand holds the deck or a packet of cards. At the count of one, the right
hand takes the top card by its outer right corner, with the thumb on top and the
first tl.vo fmgers below, and snaps it forward off that corner of the deck.
The right h.md comes back and takes the second card under the first,
momentarily trapping the left thumb in between. This done, carry both cards
forward, snapp1ng them off the deck at the count of two.
The right hand returns once again as if to take the third card in the same way,
underneath th<' other two. This time, however, the left thumb sl ides the card
back into alignml'nt with the packet and it is not taken.
The hand moves forward as before with a third snap, as you turn your right wrist
inward to briefly show the face of the SC'<.:Ond card as if it were the' third (Fig.
67). Taking the card is an in-transit action leading to the final action of showing
its face. The thrt•e counting actions are done at regular intervals and produce
similar snapping sounds.
For sma ll packets like this you don't need to count aloud. If done correctly,
the spectators will be convinced that you counted three cards by merely
watching your actions.'

4. Before devising the In-Transit Count Ascanio used the false count described by lewis Ganson in Cy
Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic, Part 1, p. 60.
94
Spread the remaining four cards as three, square them up, and take them
with the right hand from above. Take the Ace at D with your left hand and
show its face, calling it the Father Ace. Put the right-hand packet face down
on the table, drop the left-hand Ace on top, also face down, and quickly
square all four piles.

4. Now there is an Ace and three more cards in each packet but don't forget
that the Five of Clubs is in the packet of the Father Ace.

Take the packet at D and turn it face up for a Three-Card Ascanio Spread
(Fig. 68). Begin by swiveling the lowermost card (the Ace of Spades) forward
as shown in Fig. 69, and pause briefly. Continue the execution of the Three-
Card Ascanio Spread, (standard fashion ), moving the cards a bit (Fig. 70),
square up the packet, and put it back at D, face down.

The spectators have seen the Ace of Spades and the Five of Clubs in that
packet, and have seen you handle the cards loosely. This erases any possible
suspicion that there may be more cards there (another function of the Ascanio
Spread).

Ill
c g
D A
5. Let's mix the Ace with the other cards so not even I know where it ends up.

With these words, take the packet at C in Biddle Grip and actually mix
the cards, running them with the left thumb, leaving the cards in the left
hand.

With your right hand, take the bottom card and show its face as you say,
This is not the Ace. Lay that card face up at C. In a continuing motion, take
the new bottom card of the packet with the empty right hand, show its face,
and table it face up at C, overlapping the first card.

The Ace must be one of these two. This is not it. .. so it should be this one.

Take the bottom card of the two that remain in the left hand and show its
face. The left hand lays the supposed Ace face down over the two face-up
cards and then the right hand tosses its card face down onto the left hand. The
free right hand taps on the back of the supposed Ace and then takes the face-
down card from the left hand. Use that card to turn over the supposed Ace to
reveal an indifferent card. Drop the right-hand card face up over the cards at
C. The Ace has disappeared and four indifferent cards are seen on the table.
This series of actions will cond ition the spectators for the way in which the
disappearance of the third Ace is handled later on.

6. Let's see what happened in the Father A ce packet. Here is the Ace of
Spades, b ut there is also another Ace. That's two Aces and two other cards.

Show the cards at D with a Buckle Count to reveal a second Ace there, as
follows. Take the cards face down in left-hand dealing grip. Push the top card
to the right with your left thumb. The right hand takes that card with the
thumb at the face and the first two fingers on the back (Fig. 71 ).

96
Turn the card face up stud-fashion and show an Ace. Show the next card
(another Ace) in the same way, and take it overlapping the first, beginning to
form a fan (Fig. 72).

Buckle the bottom left-hand card to enab le the right hand to take the next
two cards as one. The double is shown in the same way (with an indifferent
card on the face), overlapping the second card in a fan. Turn the last card,
which is the Five of Clubs (Fig. 73), and put it face up on the face of the right-
hand fan.

Square the cards and show them once aga in through a vertical Ascanio
Spread, but do not close the spread completely. Instead, show them briefly
one last time, two in each hand, through a Vegas Spread (Figs. 74 and 75).
Lay the right-hand cards over those in the left hand, square them up, and
leave them face down at D.

7. For the disappearance of the next Ace, take the packet at B and repeat the
procedure described in step 5.

8. Remember we had two Aces in the Father Ace packet.


Take the packet at D and spread the top three cards, keeping the last two
aligned as one, taking two single cards in the right hand and leaving a single
and a double in the left (Fig. 76). Turn the right-hand cards to show the two
Aces the spectators are already aware of and continue, But now there is one
more Ace. Take the single card from the left hand to show three Aces in the
right (Fig. 77). And the Five of Clubs is still here. Snap the double, (Fig. 78),
put it under the Aces and take the packet in the left hand, getting a break
between the three Aces and the double. Show the Five of Clubs once again in
readiness for the palm that follows (Fig. 79).

9. I'll do something special with the last Ace.

Palm the double card in the right hand as follows. Maintaining a break
between the Aces and the double with the right thumb, slide the left hand
toward the inner end of the packet in a gentle squaring action and rest the
inner left corner of the double against the fleshy base of the left forefinger
(Figs. 80 and 81 which shows a view from below). The left middle finger
reaches out to the inner right corner of the double (as shown in the same
illustrations), to lock the double securely against the base of the index. The
left middle finger closes inward, pivoting the double to the right and feeding

98
its outer right corner into the fork between the right ring and littl e fingers.
The tip of the right ring finger secu res the card there, in an edge palm, by
resting against its outer left corner (Fig. 82). The right thumb, holding the
Aces at the inner end, is extended w hile the right ring finger curls inward
slightly, pressing the right edge of the double against the palm (Fig. 83). The
hands now separate and the palm is completed. Keep the ri ght hand over the
D area.

10. The left hand takes the packet at A w hile the right hand lays the three
Aces together at D, taking care that the palmed double doesn't get in the way
by releasing the Aces in a somewhat swift left-to-right motion, not unlike a
Monte Throw. Once the left hand is holding the face-down A packet, that
hand moves back towards the edge of the table as you address a spectator to
your left (Fig. 84), Do you remember which Ace is left? You don't? As you
look at the spectator, the right hand approaches, without haste, and loads the
double on top of the cards in the left hand (Fig. 85).

Turn the who le packet face up to show the Ace in question and only
then- not before-focus al l attention on your hands (Fig. 86). Yes, come on,
it's the Ace of Diamonds (let the Ace be seen by leaving the packet face up in
the left hand), and with it there are another three cards that I'll ask you to
remember. Show four cards in a fan via a Buckle Count, which leaves the Five
of Clubs concea led. Take the Ace in your right hand and use it to point to the
three cards in the fan as you name them from left to right. Please remember
that, along w ith the Ace, there is a Seven, a Deuce, and a Four. Just remember
Seven, Two, Four. Put the Ace back in the fan and point to the packet at D as
you continue, And here is the Five with the three Aces.

11 . We mix the Ace o f Diamonds as before.

While you appear to mix the cards, what you really do is a Biddle Count
as follows. With the packet face down in right-hand Biddle Grip, peel one
card w ith the left thumb. Peel another card and get a break under it. Peel the
third ca rd as you stea l the card above the break under the right-hand cards.
Peel two cards singly and drop the last one on top. Do this w ith an irregular
rhythm to make it look like an honest shuffle.

12. Let 's see where the Ace has gone. Here is the Seven, here is the Deuce,
the Four ... and the Ace.

100
Proceeding as in step 5, take the bottom card of with your right hand,
show its face, and table it face up. Do exactly the same with the next card
(the Deuce). When you take the third card, do a Bottom Double Extraction
(seep. 188) by pivoting the top card diagonally a little to the left. This enables
you to take the bottom two cards as one. In this case, the double is taken with
the thumb below and fingers above so you can turn it face up in stud-fashion
and show it as seen in Fig. 87.

Lay the last left-hand card face down over the two face up cards that are
on the table and turn the right-hand double face down, almost tossing it, into
the left hand. Tap the supposed Ace with your right hand and retake the
double, now face down, with your right hand (Fig. 88).

Letting its face be seen, use the double to turn over the card thought to be
the Ace, revealing the Five of Clubs (Fig. 89). The right hand, without altering
its grip, uses the double to turn the packet at D face up, adding the back card
of the double (the Ace of Diamonds) to it during the action (Fig. 90). Show
the four Aces triumphantly, spreading on the table from left to right with the
left hand (Fig. 91 ). Carelessly drop the right-hand card face up at A to
conclude.

101
Father and Sons Aces (Version 67)
1. Perform the Braue Addition as described at the beginning of Version 66 to
lay the four Aces in T formation, except that in this case the cards are
dealt in C, B, A, D order, switching in the indifferent cards at A and B
(diagram, p. 93 ).

After laying the cards down, take the Ace at D with your left hand-
which holds the deck-and call it the Father Ace and refer to the other
three as the sons.

Accompany your words with a right-hand gesture from A to C. At the end


of that gesture, the right hand takes the card at C (the Ace of Diamonds)
and shows its face. After showing these two Aces put them face down
back on the table.

2. This step is identical to step 2 of Version 66, and is reproduced here for
your convenience. Explaining what you are about to do, spread four
cards off the top of the deck, without altering their order, and table them
face down to one side. Drop another four cards on top of those and then
four more as you say: Four ... and four more make eight, and another four
makes twelve. The Aces of Hearts and Clubs will fall at the third and
fourth positions from the bottom. Leave the rest of the deck aside-it
won't be used in the routine. Take the 12-card packet in your left hand
and count the cards mentally as you show them by unequal groups, so as
to make sure that the spectators are not counting them. On the count of
nine, buckle the bottom card and take the other three cards as one. Show
the last card and call attention to it. This is the only card the spectators
should remember. Let's say it is the Five of Clubs. Call attention to this
card for a reason that will become obvious later on.

3. Put the top three cards of the packet at A. Put the next three cards at B.
With similar actions, take two cards as three, as in Version 66 and put
them at C. Spread the remaining four cards as three, square them up, and
take them with the right hand from above. Take the Ace at D with your
left hand and show its face, calling it the Father Ace. Put the right-hand
packet face down on the table, drop the left-hand Ace on top, also face
down, and quickly square all four piles.

4. Now there is an Ace and three more cards in each packet but don't forget
that the Five of Clubs is in the packet of the Father Ace. Take the packet at D
and turn it face up face up for a Three-Card Ascanio Spread (Fig. 92).
Proceeding like in Version 66, swivel the lowermost card (the Ace of Spades)

102
forward (Fig. 93) and continue the execution of the Three-Card Ascanio
Spread (Fig. 94). Square up the packet, and put it back at D, face down.

5. Take the A packet and do a face-down Vertical Ascanio Spread (Fig. 109)
to show the four cards briefly, without concealing anything. Deal the first
three cards face up at A, one at a time, with their sides parallel to the
table edge. The first card goes nearer you and the next two are
overlapped on top and gradually farther. Make a magic gesture and lay
the last card even farther and separated from the others as shown in Fig.
95, without showing its face until it is dealt face up. The first Ace has
disappeared from the packet.

6. Take the D packet and do a Buckle Count to show it as consisting of two


Aces and two indifferent cards (Figs. 95, 96 and 97). Repeat the display
through a Vegas Spread (Figs. 98 and 99) . Reassemble the packet by
putting the cards in the right hand on top of those in the left, square up,
and put the packet face down back at D.

7. Take the 8 packet and repeat the procedure described in step 5 for the
disappearance of the corresponding Ace.

Ill •
c a
8. Take the face-down packet at D once again and spread the top three
cards, keeping the last two aligned as one, and take the top two cards in
the right hand (Fig. 100). Turn the right-hand cards for a moment to show
the two Aces the spectators are already aware of and continue, Another
Ace has arrived here. Take the single card (an Ace) from the left hand
under the two right-hand Aces and show all three in a fan (Fig. 101 ). And
the Five of Clubs is still here. Snap the double card (Fig. 102), put it under
the Aces and take the packet in the left hand, getting a break between the
three Aces and the double. Show the Five of Clubs once again in
readiness for the palm that follows (Fig. 103). Palm the Five of Clubs and

- ~~ G

- -
104
the indifferent card under it in the right hand as in Dai Vernon's Slow
Motion Aces from Stars of Magic (Figs. 104 and 105 ). The right hand
briefly points at the C (Fig. 106), leaving the unpalmed cards in the left
hand, and then returns to take those cards from above.

9. The left hand reaches for the packet at C while the right hand moves to
the right (Fig. 1 07). The left hand lifts the packet at C off the table and its
fingers push the bottom Ace to the right, revolving it face up on top,
where it is held in a tilted position by the thumb, as for the Tent Vanish
(Fig. 108).
The right hand sets its packet at D as seen in Fig. 108, and immediately,
in actions sim ilar to those of the Tent Vanish, unloads the two palmed
cards onto the face-up Ace of the left hand, letting all cards coalesce with
the left-hand packet for a convincing vanish of the Ace. This done, lift the
top card, maintaining it face down and exposing the back of the next
card as if to confirm the disappearance of the Ace. Do an Ascanio Spread
(Fig. 109), this time transferring the double to the bottom at the end.

10. Get ready to show the left-hand cards by following the same procedure
as in step 5, taking the top card and dealing it face up at C, then doing
the same with the next two cards, dealing each overlapping the previous
one. Begin to turn the remaining double forward as in Fig. 110 so only
you can see its face, holding the double exactly above D. Smile and say,
And instead of the Ace, here is the Five of Clubs, and over here the four
Aces!

Suiting actions to words, look at the face of the double and replace it on
your left palm. Buckle the bottom ca rd of the double into the Gambler's
Cop w hile the right hand leaves the cards for an instant to alter its grip.
The right hand then takes the top card from its right side as the left wrist

106
turns slightly clockwise (Fig. 111 ) to better conceal the copped card. The
right hand moves with its face-down card towards C while the left
remains motionless above D.

The right hand turns its Five of Clubs face up at C (Fig. 112) while the left
hand continues to turn and rests the tip of its curled middle finger onto
the left edge of the D packet. The tip of the left thumb then lifts the right
edge of that packet and turns it face up onto the left fingers (Fig. 113)
letting them coalesce with the copped Ace. Spread the four Aces in the
left hand (Fig. 114) and table them in a fanned condition (Fig. 115).
His Mentors
Ascanio used to say, paraphrasing an old Chinese adage: the best teacher
is one who shows you how to fish, not one who gives you a fish. He also
wrote: People sometimes ask me why I regard Kaps as my mentor if I don't do
his tricks. That's exactly the point. My mentors have shown me not only a sea
full of fish but also the method to catch them. That's a true teacher: thanks to
him you make progress in your own direction. He teaches you methods and
concepts rather than tricks. He makes you think before acting but also makes
you act.

Ascanio often said he had two mentors in jean Caries and Fred Kaps, and
he thought of them with admiration, gratefulness, and love. In this chapter we
pay a heartfelt tribute to those two greats of magic who have had a powerful
influence in the development of our art in Spain. We' ll include three tricks
that Ascanio learned from Kaps and one taught to him by Carles.

The tricks by Kaps- who had a special knack for choosing material to
perform- are extracted from letters that Arturo wrote to his friends. As a
complement to the magazines of the time, this was an interesting way of
communicating magical information, a way that has preserved some true
jewels of magic around the world. The information that circulated in those
letters- not suited to the average practitioner- fi lied an existing gap and was
regarded as a cherished secret.

From One Packet to Another, a magnificent Cards Across effect, appeared


in a letter dated August 20, 1963 that Arturo wrote to Ricardo Marre. The
other two effects come from a letter that Arturo wrote to Fu Manchu on
October 24, 1958. Both tricks were created in the early 1950's when Kaps
and Channing Pollock worked in Paris and studied various tricks together.
Kaps' Oil and Water is a beauty to behold and the starting point for Arturo's
own versions. Kaps' Angular Turnover appears there under the title A New
Principle. Bang! Four Aces is another jewel. Don' t pass it up.

From the Pocket of One Spectator to That of Another is another effect of


the Cards Across family by jean Caries and was published in the
August/October issue of llusionismo in 1960. In its introduction, Ascanio
wrote:

One could say of this trick what Hugard and Braue say of the Mexican
Turnover: " Everyone knows it but few actually do it. " It is, in fact, a very well
known trick that is rarely performed, probably due to the lack of a sturdy,
truly magical, and well-studied handling. I only know of a briefly described

11 I
version in La Magia delle Carte by Carlo Rossetti. And yet, it is one of the best
tricks that can be done with a deck of cards, one that has stood the test of
time. I have seen Carles fry not only laymen but also well-versed cardmen
with the version we are about to describe (with his kind permission), which is
full of misdirection. As you may prove to yoursel" this trick is a reputation
maker and spectators will speak of it as a true miracle; such is the impression
it causes as the magician only appears to direct the actions that spectators
carry out by themselves; they are, apparently, the only ones who ever touch
the cards. The miraculous and repetitive passing of cards from the pocket of
one spectator to that of another feels like true magic. That's why famous
magicians like Kalanag or, more recently, Paul Potassi in a renowned night
club in Madrid, have chosen to include this trick in their repertoires. This
should be sufficient proof that the trick deserves our attention and to
stimulate the reader to study the explanation that follows. I will only add that
Carles' version is superior to those mentioned. Carles has imparted to the trick
great clarity as well as a wealth of subtlety and perfect misdirection. All of that
allows us to present it as a true masterpiece. Carles is thus giving us an
invaluable magic lesson.

11 2
From one Packet to Another
As taught by Fred Kaps
In his letter to Ricardo Marre, in August 1963, Ascanio wrote:

Although I haven't studied all the versions I know of this trick, the idea of
using saliva instead of roughing fluid (as in the versions by Domenech and
Remartfnez) that I found extremely clever at first, hasn't proved practical for
me. Perhaps my own saliva is not sticky enough. Thus, the best versions I
know, from a practical standpoint, are still Hull's, using roughing fluid, and
the one by Kaps which requires no preparation.

The former is described in an excel lent book titled The Testament of


Ralph W Hull by Trevor H. Hall, which fell into my hands quite a few years
ago. 5

The packets consist of twenty cards each (which makes it too long, but the
same result can be achieved with packets of ten cards). The structure of the trick
is impeccable: the effects are well constructed and they conta in very clever
ideas, even if you need to treat a couple of card s with roughing fluid. The
success I have attained on some occasions, with laymen and magicians alike,
allows me to recommend it w ith great enthusiasm. The second version (by
Kaps) is totally impromptu and here is a brief description of the procedure.

Procedure
Begin an Overhand Shuffle and, as you run cards into the left hand, ask a
spectator to stop you whenever he wants. When he does, hold out your left
hand and have him take the top card of the packet in that hand. While the
spectator looks at the card, continue the shuffle by injogging the next card,
run eight more cards singly and stop . Have the selection replaced onto the
left-hand portion and shuffle off. Cut under the injog to leave the selection
tenth from the bottom. This is an intelligent procedure, as Ascanio wou ld say,
that allows you to place a card at any position you wish.

With the deck face up in the left hand, perform a Slip Cut, giving the
impression of a regular cut, losing the card on the face and leaving the
selection ninth from the face of the deck. For the Slip Cut, Ascanio used Cy
Endfield's technique as described in p. 53, part 1, of Cy Endfield's Entertaining
Card Magic by Lewis Ganson.

5. The Testament of Ralph W Hull by Trevor H. Hall was published by The Magic Circle and is now out of
print.

lH
Holding the face-up deck in right-hand Biddle Grip, peel the first five
cards singly into the left hand, asking the spectator if he sees his card among
them. After his negative reply, put that 5-card packet face down on the table.
Perform another Slip Cut to leave the selection third from the face. Run the
next five cards, using the same question, but this time steal the third card (the
selection) under the deck using the well-known Biddle technique as follows:
peel the first two cards normally, peel the third card and get a break under it,
steal the card above the break as you peel the fourth card, and finally peel the
fifth card normally. This time the spectator will see his card and will tell you
so. Table the four left-hand cards (supposedly five) face down to the left of the
first packet.

Pointing to the packet on the right, say: So your card is not in this packet.
Turn the deck face down and, with your right hand, bring it toward the 5-card
packet on the right, performing a One-Handed Top Palm along the way. The
right hand tables the deck in front of the 5-card packet and, in a continuing
action, moves back and takes the 5-card packet, loading the palmed selection
on top of it.

Show those six cards as five, concealing the selection, as follows. Hold
the packet from above in the left hand by the ends, as shown in Fig. 116.
Extract the bottom card with the right hand and turn it face up on the table.
(This was Fred Kaps' favorite way of handling the cards when doing the
Glide). Take the next card in the same way and turn it face up on top of the
first. Do the same with the third card and, as you deal it, your left fingertips
glide the bottom ca rd of the left-hand packet to the left in an action similar to
that of the Ovette/Kelly Bottom Placement. 6

6. Frank Kelly's Bottom Placement, Tarbell Course in Magic, vol. 3, p. 184.

114
The right hand then takes the top two cards as one and turns them face
up on top of the previous three cards. Show the last card, place it face up on
top of the pile, and turn the whole pile face down. You have just shown the
packet as cons isting of on ly five cards and the se lection has remained
concealed.

Your card is in this pile. With these words, take the other packet from the
table and, holding it face down, count those four cards as five using Ascanio's
In-Transit Count. Using the technique described in p. 94, count the first two
cards honestly, false count on the third and pause briefly as you expose the
face of the bottom right-hand card holding it vertica lly (Fig. 67). Count the
remaining two cards honestly under the right-hand cards as described.

Mimic the actions of passing a card invisibly from the packet on the left
to that on the right and say, It's done. Spread the left packet to show on ly four
ca rds. Turn those cards face up and leave them on the table in fanned
condition. The selection is not there. Spread the other packet on the table and
count the six cards aloud. Take the third card from the bottom of the spread
and turn it face up to reveal the selection.

11 )
Oil and Water
Fred Kaps and Channing Pollock
In a letter to Fu Manchu, dated October 24, 1958, Ascan io wrote: Before
getting into the explanation, let me tell you of a new principle that is featured
in this new routine. 7 It consists of tabling a card that you're holding face up by
turning it face down on the table without flashing its face, as if you were not
trying to conceal it. I'll get to it in a moment, but there are two possible
starting positions:

a) With the cards held in left-hand dealing position.

8
b) With the cards held by the left f ingertips as per the Elms ley Count.

Let's look at both .

a) From dealing position, say you're holding four red cards and one black
card, all face up. The audience is only aware of the four red cards. The
black card is at the back of the packet, in contact with the left hand. Your
purpose is to take that black card with the right hand and table it face
down as if you were not attempting to conceal its face. It's pretty much
like an open Stud Bottom, proceeding as follows.

Hold the packet somewhat tilted to the left. Contact the underside of the
bottom card (the 'black card on the back of the packet) with the first two
fingers of the right hand near the right inner corner. The tip of the right
thumb contacts the face of the upper red card (Fig. 7 77). Extract the
bottom card by pulling it slightly outward and immediately upwards and
toward you, turning it face down without flashing its face (You can barely
see the face yourself), and lay it on the table.

Ascanio, in his write-up, provided the following checkpoint. The outer left
corner of the card being extracted, slides along the whole base of the left
fingers and then almost along the entire length of the little finger.

You'll get the knack right away. It's a matter of angles rather than skill or
speed. Do it at a leisurely pace. The only difficulty, if we can call it that,
lies in conveying the fact that you wouldn 't have cared if the audience

7. Ascanio later ca lled this principle Kaps' Angular Turnover.


8. Ascanio was referring here to the handling of the Elms ley Count used in Tw isting the Aces, described in
Oai Vernon 's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, by Lewis Ganson. See Fig. 2 of p. 7.

116
saw the card, that you were careless about it. In fact, there shouldn't be a
difference, as far as the audience is concerned, between dealing a "bad"
card on the table without flashing its face and dealing a "good" card
letting its face be seen. And that's the whole point because as soon as you
deal the black card, you continue with the next card from the bottom and
deal it on top of it with apparently the same series of actions. The tiny
difference is that this next card is extracted more horizontally and its face
is casually flashed before you turn it face down and deal it to the table.

b) With the cards held by the left fingertips, in fingertip Elmsley Count grip,
the maneuver is the same, only easier. Tilting the packet to the left now
becomes more natural so as the card is extracted, its back is almost
towards the audience already. It's even easier if the cards are held with
the sides parallel to the edge of the table. That's it. Let's get into the
routine.

First Phase
Your left hand holds a packet of nine cards, all face up, arranged as
follows, from the face: black, black, black, black, red, red, red, black, red.
Count the four black cards, dealing them to the table and leave them there in
an unsquared pile. Show the remaining cards as four red cards by doing a
Double Push-Off on the third card or through a Buckle Count. 9 In any case,
the black card is concealed throughout and the last card is laid on top to
conceal the thickness of the double. Lay those cards face up on the table in
another unsquared pile.

9. Kaps preferred the Push-O ff because it made the count looser.

11
Square the black pile on the table using the tips of both forefingers and
thumbs. Do the same with the red pile and immediately pick it up and place
them in left-hand dealing position.

Extract the bottom card of the black pile (to justify doing so with the red
pile, as you'l l see) and put it face down at the center of the table. Extract the
bottom card of the red pile (a black one, supposedly red) and lay it face
down, on top of the single black card, resorting to the New Principle, Version
A (see p. 116). Take the next card from the bottom of the black pile and deal
it face down on top of those at the center of the table. Take the bottom card of
the red pile you hold and deal it face down on top of the pile, casually
flashing its face as you do so. Continue in this way by dealing another black,
another red, then the last black, and the remaining two reds as one card. The
order now, from top to bottom, is: red, red, black, red, black, red, black,
black, black.

To show that the cards alternate, take the whole packet face down into
left hand dealing position. The right thumb separates the top two cards at the
inner end in preparation for a Double Lift. Take those two cards as one, by the
ends, with the right hand and turn that hand to show the face of the double as
you call red. Take the next card under the double and turn the hand again to
show a black card as you call black. Continue in this way until you have
shown a total of five faces and three cards are left. Take the next card (black)
and barely flash its face, as if out of habit, as if it weren't necessary anymore.
Take the next card and continue calling red with the same rhythm, but this
time without flashing its face, and finish by turning the last card in the left
hand as you call .. .and black. It's a formidable subtlety typical of Kaps, one of
those intelligent ideas. Put all the cards back in the left hand, face down. This
ruse went by Ascanio when he saw Kaps perform the routine for the first time,
so don't be afraid to use it in front of your audiences.

Count the top four cards singly to the table, reversing their order. Lay the
remaining cards, also face down, in another pile. Take the first pile, turn it
face up, and do an Elmsley Count to show it as consisting of four red cards.
Now comes the critical moment, which was a beauty in Kaps' hands. As soon
as you finish the Elmsley Count, deal each card to the table, face down, as
per the New Principle, Version B (p. 117), thanks to which the face of the first
card dealt, which is black, remains casually unexposed. At this point you may
be wondering what the difficulty is here. The challenge is to blend the
Elmsley Count and the New Principle together into a single flowing
sequence. This way the deceptive element of the count is added to the
deceptive element of the New Principle for a strengthened illusion. When
Kaps did it you would swear you saw four red cards.

118
Performing this sequence to perfection is a delicate matter, as Arturo
pointed out in his letter to Fu Manchu: As always, it's not the technique. What
takes work is the casualness, the attitude, and the naturalness.

Take the five cards that were left aside, hold them face up in dealing
position, and show them as four black cards though a Buckle Count or any
equ ivalent technique. Put the last card on top at the end of the cou nt, square
up the pile and leave them face up in the left hand. The face-down pile on the
table cons ists of three red cards followed by a black card.

Second Phase
Take the top card of the tabled pile, show it and call its color: red. Leave
that card face down at the center of the table. Take the bottom card of the
packet in your hands using Version A of the New Principle. Continue in this
way, alternating the cards from the table with those from the packet you hold.
Just don't show the last card from the table and deal the last two from your
hands as a double, as in the first phase.

Arturo believed, from personal experience, that the outcome becomes


more effective following Dai Vernon's version, by taking the whole 9-card
packet in the left hand, immediately tossing the top four black cards face up
to the table, and finally showing the cards in your hand as all red via a Buckle
Count.

Kaps, however, proceeded as follows. After bringing all nin e ca rd s


together in the left hand, he laid the top four black cards face down on the
tab le and left the remaining five cards as ide. Then he took the four black
card s and showed them in a way that resembled an Elmsley Count but
displayed the face of each card. Then he took the red pile and did a Buckle
Count. Although this handling is more consistent with the first phase, Arturo
thought the other way was more effective.

1l
Ban2! Four Aces
Fred ~ps and Channing Pollock
This is another trick that Kaps showed to Ascanio, who gave it the title. As
you read it, keep in mind that it has been extracted almost verbatim from a
letter that Arturo wrote to Fu Manchu, hence the col loqui al tone of the
explanation.

You hold a face-up packet in your left hand consisting, from the face, of
four Aces followed by two Queens. The audience is only aware of the Aces.
You can get there in a thousand different ways. Another Queen is on the
bottom of the deck, which li es face down at position D of Fig. 118
(performer's view).

Display the four Aces by spreading the top three to the right and holding
the remaining three cards as one. Close the spread and, using Version A of the
New Principle, lay the Queen at the back of the packet (believed to be an
Ace) face down at A, with its sides parallel to the table edge. Do the same
with the next Queen from the bottom of the packet in your hands, laying it at
B. Put the third Ace (this time for real) at C, also with one long edge toward
you. You can flash the face of that card by extracting it more horizontally
before turning it down on the table. As that happens, the left hand adjusts its
grip, if necessary, for the Cop that follows. The right hand returns and takes
the top Ace by its right side, near the inner corner, leaving the other two cards
in the Gambler's Cop. The right hand gracefully turns its Ace face down and
lays it atE, in this case with one end toward you (Fig. 118).

As this happens, the left hand does a wrist turn to avoid flashing the
copped Aces. In a continuous unhurried action, the left hand reaches for the
deck at D, which lies in a conveniently diagonal position and takes it by the
sides; thumb on the right and middle finger on the left, near the outer end.
Lift the deck from the table, and turn the left hand to the left, thus bringing the
deck face up and, only then, let it fall to your left palm and coalesce with the
copped Aces.

The right hand provides the necessary misdirection as it leaves its Ace at
E. By the time the spectators look up after watching you lay that last Ace
down, you will have the deck in your hands as if it had always been there.
The timing must be perfect. The Aces are tabled at regu lar time intervals: one,
two, three, four; and by the time you finish, it's all done. You may fear flashing
the copped Aces at first but if you study the angles for the Gambler's Cop
(turning the hand slightly, as explained) you' ll realize you can even perform
this trick surrounded, except from behind.

120
The misdirection of the right hand is so strong that you barely need to
conceal the copped cards completely. Wonderful! (The first time Ascanio saw
Kaps perform this sequence he thought one of the cards he put on the table
had to be a double-facer. Later Carles confessed that he thought the same
upon watching Arturo perform it himself. The placement of the copped Aces
on the deck is beyond suspicion).

Turn the deck face down into dealing position and openly count three
cards off the top of the deck, letting it be seen that they are unquestionably
three, holding them in the right hand in a face-down fan. Set the deck face
down on the table and close the 3-card fan (consisting of two Aces and an
indifferent card). Turn those three cards face up and take them in Elmsley
Count position, fingertip fashion. Using Version B of the New Principle, deal
those cards, one at a time on top of the Ace at E. Extract the Ace from the
bottom of that pile, show its face, and drop it face down on top .

At this stage, the spectators are thoroughly convinced of two things. First,
that the first four cards that were laid down are all Aces and second, that you
have added three indifferent cards to the Ace at E. They ignore the fact that
two of those cards are Aces and that the cards at A and B are Queens. It can't
get any better. It's all done. You're now ready for the Bang!

Take the deck and hold it by the sides in the left hand as if to do The
Glide with the Queen on the bottom, making good contact with its
underside, in readiness for a Vernon Switch that follows shortly. The left hand
brings the deck thus held to a position behind the Ace at C. Meanwhile, your
right hand points at the cards at A, B, and C, in that order-while you refer to
them as the Aces-and casually lifts the Ace at C to briefly show its face, as if
to underline your comments.

Make a magic gesture such as snapping your fingers and bring the deck
directly above C (Fig. 119), setting its inner long edge in alignment with the

@ioiiiii)
e

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d

performer's view
corresponding edge of the card already there (Fig. 120) in preparation for
10
Vernon's Simp le Turnover. The right hand turns the Queen at A face up
handling it in an interesting way to divide attention between the two hands.
The spectators can't exactly perceive what the left hand does, only what it
appears to do, which is turning over the card at C.

Almost at the same time, actually a split second later, the Vernon Simple
Turnover Switch is executed as follows. The left hand comes forward, carrying
the bottom card of the deck on the fingertips in a swift and unhurried motion
(Fig. 121 ), and turns that card face up on the table to reveal the Queen (Fig.
122), allowing the rest of the deck to drop squarely on top of the Ace at C, which
is thus switched out. You cou ld accomplish the same result with Paul Curry's
Turnover Change, but this is a newer technique that Kaps and Pollock adopted.

Turn the Queen at B face up to leave everything as in Fig. 123. Take the
packet from E and perform an Elmsley Count to show it as consisting of the
four Aces which have gathered there. The effect is so sudden and unexpected
that it ca n elicit genuine gasps from the audience.

10. This is the name Roberto Giobbi gave this technique in Card College Vol. 4, p. 813. Until then, it had
only been called a variation of Paul Curry's Turnover Change.

I
D

CJCJD
{!!!!f!!!J
- e

(performer's view)
c

122
From the Pocket of One Spectator to that of Another
Jean Carles
Procedure
1. Begin with a full 52-card deck on the table, one spectator sitting to your
left and another to your right, both facing the audience. Tell the spectator
on the right to examine the deck, shuffle it and count thirty cards to the
table. Don't ask him to count aloud; he will naturally count the cards
mentally, which is what you want.

2. As if to make sure that the count was correct, take the pile of counted
cards and count them yourself aloud, singly, on the table, dealing them in
three overlapping rows of ten cards each as shown in Fig. 124. Leaving
the cards in that configuration, ask the spectator to count the remaining
twenty-two cards aloud. All this is done to strongly stress the fact that
only thirty cards will be used. The talon of twenty-two cards is left aside.
They will only be used to force a number later on.

3. Gather the three rows of cards from the table and ask the spectator on
your right to empty the inner breast pocket of his jacket. While the focus
of attention is shifted to him, secretly count the top five cards of the
gathered pile and palm them in your right hand. If the spectator's action
doesn't give you enough time to complete those actions, you may finish
them as you make the same request to the spectator on your left. Leave
the remaining twenty-five cards on the table.

With their attention centered on your assisting spectators, the onlookers


don't even realize that you were the one who gathered the rows of cards
from the table, where they are left in a squared packet.

c
4. If you are sitting, load the palmed cards behind your right knee as shown
in Fig. 125. This allows you to show the hands empty during the routine
and to easily retrieve the cards when you need them. To do so, simply
pretend to absentmindedly pull up your pants a bit in an automatic,
second nature action. If you're standing you may rest your hand by the
table edge as shown in Fig. 126. Caries used to perform this trick sitting
because of the advantages and freedom of movement afforded by the
load and retrieval actions described.

5. Ask the spectator on the right to cut the tabled pile into two
approximately equal portions, and to put either of them in his inner
breast pocket, buttoning his pocket and his jacket completely.

6. Once he's done with that (and not before), something appears to bother
you and you say, Well, we fo rgot to count your cards but that's all right.
You just count the remaining cards and we'll know how many are in your
pocket. Begin to count the cards on the table without making an issue
out of this.

7. The same spectator on the right counts the cards that were left on the table
aloud, one at a time, into a face-down pile on the table. As he does so,
palm the five cards that you have loaded behind your knee in your right
hand. Observe that your secret actions are carried out while all attention is
focused on the spectator's actions. You should get the cards in your palm
before he finishes the count. Let's say he counted twelve cards.

8. I need someone who's good at math. Thirty minus twelve makes how
many? As you formulate that question, looking at the audience, bring
your right hand toward the twelve cards that were counted as if to
square them up absentmindedly. Add the palmed cards on top. To better

124
conceal that secret action, shift those cards to the left under the pretense
of bringing them nearer the spectator on your left. This natural action
goes unnoticed as the spectator is making the mental subtraction
requested.

9. Once they tell you the result of the operation (eighteen), take the packet
of supposedly twelve cards and offer it to the spectator on your left,
looking at his eyes to misdirect him from the extra thi ckness of the
packet. Tell him to put those cards in his inner breast pocket and to
button his pocket as well as his jacket.

10. Point out, first, that both assisting spectators have counted their cards, put
them into their pockets themselves, and they will bring them out of their
pockets without your participation. Second, stress the fact that the
spectator on your left has twelve cards in his pocket while the one on
your right has eighteen. With that you have solidly established the initial
situation on which the powerful impact relies.

11. You now perform a psychological force of the number five, which is the
amount of cards you have secretly added to the packet that the spectator
on your left has in his pocket. Take the packet of twenty-two cards that
were left aside at the start and casually mention that you wi II use that
packet to determine a number because you don't have dice handy, which
is what you would normally use. Address some other spectator and ask
him to call "stop" whenever he wants while you deal the cards to the
table. Your attitude prompts him to comply early in the deal and you try
to make him stop at the fifth card. This is much simpler that it sounds but
if you try it out you'll soon realize you can hit it right nine times out of
ten. Should the spectator decide to wait longer, begin forming a new pile,
without pausing, after you have dealt the fifth card, and try to force the
fifth card of this second pile. Now you give him a free choice of any of
the piles, because both contain five cards.

Jean Caries provided another method for those who don' t want to take
any chances. After dealing the first five cards, continue dealing onto the
same pile but deal the sixth card somewhat injogged, without altering the
pace of the deal. When the spectator stops you, leave the talon aside.
Pick up the dealt pile, casually cut under the injog and lay the two piles
side by side on the table, then force the 5-card pile through the usual
Magician's Choice procedure.

12. Move the other pile aside and, referring to the forced packet, say, with an
air of assurance, H ere are six cards. Count the cards openly as if to

121
confirm your statement and rectify, No, just five. This clever little ruse of
Caries gives the impression that the number makes no difference to you.

13. Pantomime the actions of pulling cards invisibly out of the pocket of the
spectator on the right and throwing them toward the other spectator's
pocket. Since the trick is technically done, you may (and should) use all
of your theatrical skills to make it spectacu lar and amusing.

14. Ask the spectator on your left how many cards are in his pocket. He wil l
say "twelve" and you add, plus the five that have magically passed makes
seventeen. Will you please take them out yourself and count them, one at
a time, on the table? Make sure to clearly remind the audience of the
original number of cards in the packet so they react according to its
inc rease or decrease. When he finishes counting, casual ly take the
counted packet in your hands.

15. Ask the other spectator how many ca rds he had (eighteen) and how many
should he have after the magical transfer of five cards (thirteen). Tell him
to take the ca rds out of his pocket and count them. As he proceeds and
all attention is focused on him, secretly count five cards from the top of
the packet in your hands and palm them in your right hand. Since the
trick appears to be coming to an end, you may even count the cards
normally, casually passing it from one hand to the other. Once you have
palmed the cards, table the rest of the packet somewhat to your left. Hold
on to the palmed cards for a w hile.

16. When the spectator on the right finishes counting his cards, your assisting
spectators will have a puzzled expression on their faces and the audience
will react with applause and gasps of astonishment, but the best is yet to
come. As soon as the thirteen cards counted by the spectator are on the
table, you smile and thank everyone as you reach for that pile, adding the
palmed cards, and square it up on the table. Leave those ca rds somewhat
to your right.

17. After a brief pause to let the effect sink in, say, Actually, this whole
business of putting the cards in your pockets, buttoning the pocket and
the jacket and so on, is done only to make it more spectacular, but it can
be done right here on the table. Pause and look at the aud ience, then
continue, All I have to do is say pass one, two, three, four, and five.
Pantomime the actions of passing the cards invisibly from the packet on
the left to the one on the right and address the spectator on the left: A
moment ago you had seventeen cards, didn't you? See if five are now
missing. Count them yourself. H e counts the cards and finds, to his

126
astonishment, that there are only twelve. Instruct, likewise, the spectator
on the right to count his cards. He proceeds and counts eighteen cards in
his packet to everyone's surprise.

This unexpected outcome, even more direct than the first one, masterfully
completes the routine and causes quite a stir in the audience.

When Ascan io expla ined this trick for the first time, he added the
following.

I don't want to leave out a very practical procedure, also suggested by


Carles, for counting, almost automatically, the five cards that are to be
palmed (see step 3). When you deal the cards in three overlapping rows,
leave a wider space between the fifth and sixth cards of the third row (see Fig.
124). Later, when the spectators empty their respective pockets, gather the
first row of cards into your left hand. Gather the second row, on top of the
cards in your hand. Gather the th ird row between both hands (the left stil l
holding the ca rd s already gathered) . Upon closing that spread, the left
fingertips contact the face of the fifth card from the right, which easily leads
to a little finger break under five cards upon squaring up the deck, al lowing
you to proceed directly with the palm.
His Comrades
Aside from his mentors-Fred Kaps and Jean Carles-Arturo also had a
profound admi ration for three other magicians who were also his close
friends. They were Fu Manchu, Dany Ray, and Richard Suey. He referred to
the whole lot as The Magnificent Five. This chapter is a tribute to them.

One in a Billion is Dany Ray's take on a plot by an unknown author. This


trick was original ly published in 1/usionismo N° 173/4, April-May issue, 1959.

A Card Co ntro l is a beautiful method for controlling a card that was


taught to Ascanio by Fu Manchu and it's appearing in print here for the first
time.

1~ 1
One in aBillion
Dany Ray
On one memorable occasion, Arturo was delighted to attend a gathering
at Santiago de Ia Riva's home where other attendees included no less than
Caries, Bernat, Roden, and, of course, Santiago himself. Conversation led
them to a discussion about the magica l possibilities of taking two thoroughly
shuffled decks, laying them on the tab le, and turning up cards from both
decks simultaneously. If you try it, you' ll find that, although it appears to be
an amazi ng coincidence, chances are very high that at some point during the
process you will be turning up the same ca rd in both decks. Occasionally you
won't get a match the first time around and you' ll need to shuffl e and repeat,
but it is highly unlikely that you need to deal more than twice to get a match.

In that legendary reunion, some clever applications of this principle were


discussed, but nobody thought of the possib ility of having a freely selected
card from one of the decks match, in identity and position, a card from the
other deck, and to do so in a way that could not happen by chance, only by
magic. Perhaps nobody thought of this because it seems so impossibl e.

The effect we are about to describe is exactl y that. Dany Ray showed it to
Arturo and gave him his permission to publish it. The effect is so clever and
intriguing that many magicians will undoubtedly read it with interest and include
it in their repertoires. Dany Ray told Ascanio to mention that some of the
methods employed were not his own, but he didn't know who the creator was
and was therefore not able to credit him as he would have wished. Still, Ray was
responsible for many subtleties that enhance the effect to a considerable extent.

Preparation
You need two full decks of cards of different back design such as blue
and red, both in the same order. You can use any memorized order or system, or
a random order (shuffle one deck and set the other to match it). Put each deck
back in its case and have two or three wide rubber bands handy, of the type used
for wads of bi lls.

Procedure
First Method
1. Take both decks out of their cases and set them face down, side by side,
o n the table. Although thi s is not abso lutely necessa ry, the effect is
enhanced if you false shuffle each deck. Ask a spectator: What deck do
you want, the blue or the red? Let's say he selects the red deck. Take that
deck in your hands and continue, Do you want this shuffled and cut deck

132
to be for you or for me? As you patter, riffle-count the bottom three cards
of the deck you hold w ith your right thumb, and pass or double-cut those
cards to the top. The spectator, prompted by the way you have formulated
the question, shou ld choose the red deck for himself.

2. Put the red deck on the table, to the right of the blue, and say, If we were
to turn up cards from both decks simultaneously, it would obviously be a
tremendous coincidence if two identical cards turned up at the same
time. Mathema tically, it can be proved that the chances are about one in
a million. To illu strate your words, turn two or three cards from each
deck as shown in Fig. 127, tabling them in face-up piles forward of their
respective decks (Fig. 128). Since you transferred three cards from the
bottom to the top of the red deck, the sequence wi ll be off and those
three pairs w ill never match. Do your best to exp lain the procedure
clearl y to make sure everybody appreciates the al leged difficu lty of such
a coincidence. Replace the turned up ca rd s face down on top of their
respective decks.

3. Hand the red deck to the spectator who chose it and tell him to encircle
it with one of the rubber bands you hand him, allegedly to make matters
more difficult. Tell him to put the red deck in his pocket and continue,
.. . but to have two cards match at a given position, the chances are about
one in a billion.

4. Take the blue deck and spread it with the faces toward a spectator, asking
him to touch any card. When he does so, upjog the selection and leave it
protruding from the outer end of the spread as shown in Fig. 129. Spread
three more cards and separate the hands, splitting the spread at that point
(Fig. 130).

Turn the right-hand cards ninety degrees to the left and lay the
outjogged selection perpendicular onto the left-hand cards. The left
thumb secures the card in that position (Fig. 131) and the right hand
moves away with the rest of its portion. The right hand finally lays its
cards flush on top of the left-hand cards and the selection is left
protruding perpendicularly. As a result of this operation, the selection is
moved three positions up in the deck, making up for the three cards
that were passed earlier from the bottom to the top of the red deck.
These actions are performed deftly but at a moderate pace so as to
avoid arousing suspicion. Put the blue deck on the table.

5. Retrieve the red deck and point out that you haven't touched it and stress
the fact that the selection of the card from the blue deck has been
completely free and therefore unpredictable. Remove the rubber band
from the red deck and put that deck on the table, to the right of the blue.
Begin to turn cards simultaneously from both decks (Figs. 127 and 128).
When you reach the perpendicular protruding selection in the blue deck,
make a dramatic pause. Take the selection along with the corresponding
card from the red deck, tap the two cards together and turn them face up
very slowly and show them as seen in Fig. 132 to reveal the coincidence.

134
6. After a pause to let the effect sink in, put the selection back in the
position it occupied before it was chosen, through one of the following
two procedures.

a) As you sloppily gather all the face-up cards in order to replace them onto
their respective decks, casually insert the selection between the third and
fourth face-up cards of the blue deck. Both hands then take all the face-
up cards and turn them face down over their respective decks. You are
now reset.

b) As you turn cards face up from both decks (Figs. 12 7 and 12 8), lay the
three cards preceding the selection in the blue deck somewhat
unsquared, forming a step. Later, when you show the two matching
cards and the audience is reacting, drop the right-hand card face up
onto the pile of turned up cards. The left-hand card is dropped aside,
directly on the mat. The left hand then takes the three stepped cards on
the left and drops them face down on top of the deck on that side.

At the same time, the right hand takes the corresponding complete pile
of face-up cards and sets them face down back on top of their
respective deck. The left hand then takes the selection, which had been
laid aside, and sets it face down on top of the blue deck.

The right hand, almost at the same time, takes the remaining face-up
cards on the left and turns them face down on top of the selection,
reassembling the blue deck. The whole sequence is much simpler than
it reads and appears as a casual and sloppy way of returning the turned
up cards to their respective decks.

7. Perform the effect again, following the same procedure, thus


demonstrating that the "one in a billion " occurrence is not due to
chance.

8. After producing this miracle for the second time, transfer the top three
cards of the red deck to the bottom as you patter, resorting to a pass or
a double cut. Both decks are now in the same order.

Second Method
This second method is even simpler and more dramatic than the first.

1. For this method you need one of the decks in reverse order in relation
to the other. Here are two different ways of reversing the order of one
deck.

1~ )
a) Count all fifty-two cards singly on the table, as you say, I could repeat it
but I think this deck might not be complete and I would be taking a
chance. Let me check quickly. If you proceed with conviction, nobody
will suspect that you're doing anything but what you're saying.

b) As you finish the previous effect by revealing the second coincidence,


act as if the effect is over and take one of the decks in position for an
Overhand Shuffle. Run the cards singly, al l the way through. Do this
with an interruption here and there, casual ly breaking the rhythm
severa l times as you talk with your spectators who perceive this merely
as a thorough shuffle.

2. False-s huffle both decks. (If you can 't false shuffle you may skip the
shuffles. The trick is almost as good without them). Ask a spectator to
choose one of the decks. Let's say they pick the blue one. Move the
chosen deck aside, without lifting it off the table. Have the spectator cut
the red deck and divide it into two piles. Take the top card of the uncut
portion and lay it perpendicularly across the cut packet. Place the
uncut packet flush on top of the cut packet, leaving the selection
protruding perpendicularly from the reassembled deck.

3) Begin to turn cards from both decks simultaneously (Figs. 127 and 128).
The perpendicu lar selection in the red deck will automatical ly match
the card at the same position in the other deck. The reason is quite
simple. Let's say, when the spectator cut the red deck, that he cut to the
Ace of Clubs and that there are twenty cards in the uncut packet. Given
that the blue deck is in reversed order, the Ace of Clubs wil l be in the
twentieth position from the top. When the selection is laid on top of the
cut packet, nineteen cards will be left in the uncut portion. Upon
completing the cut, those nineteen cards will be on top of the
perpendicular Ace of Clubs, which will thus be twentieth from the top,
matching the position of the same card in the other deck.

4. As you turn up cards from both decks, there may be a match before
reaching the selection. Being aware of this possibility, you can say in
advance, There may be two cards matching at some point, but this is
just chance. The interesting thing would be to have a match precisely at
the card that was freely chosen in advance.

5. To restore the original order of the red deck and reset to repeat the
effect, once you show the matching cards (Fig. 132), drop the blue-
backed card face up on top of its blue pile.

136
Take the matching red-backed card in the right hand and use it to scoop
the face-up pile of red-backed cards. Turn those cards face down into
the left hand. The right hand then takes the remaining red-backed cards,
which are face down on the table, and drops them on top of those in
the left hand. The order of the red deck is restored. For the blue deck,
simply take the face-up cards and turn them face down on top of those
that are al ready face down on the table. The order of the reassembled
blue deck will be the same of the red, but reversed.

6. Repeat the second method once again to achi eve an authentic and
astonishing mystery for the fourth time.
ACard Control
Fu Manchu
Arturo often mentioned that Fu Manchu, son of Okito and the last
member of the Bamberg dynasty, taught him this method for controlling a
card. Given the high regard Ascanio had for it, we include it here without
certainty that Fu Manchu was actually the originator.

Have a card selected and, while the spectator looks at it, use your right
hand to form a reverse pressure fan in the left hand. Retrieve the selected card
in you r right hand and push it into the center of the fan in line with your left
thumb, which applies pressure on back of the fan as this happens. This
prevents the selection from going all the way into the fan. About a third of the
length of the card will remain protruding (Fig. 133).

The flat right hand taps the card further into the fan (Fig. 134) as if to push
it completely flush. The fan will be somewhat distorted (Fig. 135) but due to
the pressure of the left thumb, the selected card will not mesh with the others.
With the now flattened fan, no cards are seen to protrude from the outer end
and the selection appears to be hopelessly lost. The right hand closes the fan
from left to right, turning the deck end for end. The deck is unsquared,
forming an irregular and inverted V shape. The right hand takes the cards in
that unsquared condition by the sides (Fig. 136), half-squaring the sides only,
and puts it back in the left hand or on the table.

Lastly, take the deck in left-hand dealing position and square it up, using
only the left hand, by squeezing the sides and evening the outer end with
your left forefinger. The selection will protrude slightly from the inner end
(Fig. 137). At this point you have many options such as procuring a break
above or below the selection with the right thumb and transferring that break

138
to the left little finger, or control ling the selection to the top or to the bottom
of the deck through a double or a triple cut.

There is a similar technique In The Card Magic of LePaul, p. 99, titled An


Automatic Jog-Control. In LePaul's technique, however, the selection is not
pushed completely into the fan as here, when you push it in all the way and
distort the fan.

1 ~q
Ascanio on Marlo
Th is chapter is a tribute to the prolific and creative Ed Mario, who was held
in high regard by Ascanio. Arturo was acqua inted w ith Mario's work, especially
the material i nc luded i n Th e Cardi cian. More spec ifi ca ll y, he enjoyed
swimmi ng in Mario's vers ion of Oil and Water, w hich was the inspiration for the
third phase (Don't Blink!) of his own routine for this classic plot.

A Mario Effect was published in 1/usionismo N° 147, in1 957, and we


transcribe it here in Ascanio's words, exactly as it appeared.

Th e To rn and Restored Card of M ario and LePau l was includ ed in


1/usionismo, issues 178 and 179, in 1959. In thi s case we have added an
unpublished subtlety that Ascanio used which further enhances the effect.

14 J
AMarlo Effect
We wi ll introduce this trick by quoting Ascanio, from his original write-up:

11
The renowned Cardicia n " Ed Marlo is regarded as one of the foremost
card experts in the United States of America. Those who have studied his
works and who are aware of the praise he has received in the magic world
will not be surprised to hear about that honorable title. May this version of
mine of one of his effects serve as a humble tribute to such a brilliant artist.

Only the procedure is my own. The effect remains the same as in Marlo5
version. Which version is better? I should loyally admit that I prefer Marlo5
version. My handling, however, may be somewhat more direct and easier to
execute, and I guess it must have something good since its the one preferred
by such a master as Monsieur jean Carles.

I would like to thank jaime Morella Zekri of the Madrid circle of the SEI
1 1

who helped me simplify the method herein described.

Effect
Let's divide the tab le surface into areas A, B, and C.

A B c
You show the four Aces and lay them face down at B. One of the Aces is
turned face up so as to mark the location of the Aces. Then you lay the four
Kings at A and, again, turn one of them face up. When you exchange the
places of the two marker cards, all the other cards follow along.

Next you take the face up Ace and, pointing to A, say, H ere are the A ces,
and, using the Ace in your hand, you turn the other Aces face up. Take the
face up King at B and, as you begin saying, And here... , you suddenl y decide
not to show the King packet.

You now shuffle the deck, take out four random cards and lay them face
down at C. From that packet, you exchange a card with the visib le King from
B and use that King to turn the C packet and revea l all four Kings there. When
you turn the card you had taken from C, it happens to be a Ten. You use that
Ten to turn the cards at Band all the Tens are there.

144
r c dure
1. Spread the deck (which may be borrowed) in your hands and take out all
the Kings and Aces, openly tossing them face up to the table. As you do
this, use the Hofzinser Spread Cull to gather the four Tens at the back of
the deck. You cou ld also set the Tens on top in advance and simplify the
preliminari es, if you w ish.

2. Using both hands, but keep ing the deck face down in the left hand,
separate the Kings from the Aces, leaving the Kings face up at A (on the
left) and the Aces at B (on the right). Spread both packets lengthwise,
perpendicular to the table edge, leavi ng the indices exposed.

3. Put the Aces face up on top of the deck and square up the deck. Instruct
the spectator to try and remember the order of the Aces, as you spread
the cards between your hands to show the Aces and part of the backs of
the ca rd s under them. Close the spread, procuring a little-finger break
under the third face-down card (seventh from the topmost Ace).

4. Effort less ly square up the cards and immediately lift the seven ca rd s
above the break, which are four face-up Aces followed by three face-
down Tens, holding them in Biddl e Grip, with the tip of the right
forefinger near the outer left corner to concea l the extra thickness.

5. With your left thumb, peel the first face-up Ace to the left, at the same time
using the right-hand packet to turn it face down on top of the deck, which
is held by the left hand. Do the same w ith the second and third Aces.

6. Your right hand now holds the last Ace followed by the three Tens that are
concea led under it. Drop those cards as one on top of the deck, square
up immediately, and fin ally turn the single Ace face down. Under that
Ace there are now three Tens followed by the other three Aces.

7. Take the top four cards (supposedly the Aces) in the ri ght hand without
altering their order and table them at B. Turn the top ca rd of that packet,
which is an Ace, as an indicator ca rd.

8. Repeat the same series of actions w ith the Kings. As far as the audience is
concerned, all you have done is show the Aces and the Kings for the
spectators to try and memorize their order, actuall y setti ng it all up for the
surprises that follow.

9. Take the face-up Ace from B in the right hand and the corresponding
King with the left hand, which continues to hold the deck. Cross the
hands and exchange the positions of those two cards. Make a magic
gesture and proclaim that the other cards have also changed places.
Using the Ace from A, turn the three cards that are under it face up,
which are the other three Aces.

10. Take the face-up King from B as if getting ready to do the same with that
packet but suddenly you appear to have a second thought and say, Let's
make it a little more interesting. Leave the King face up where it was.

11. Perform a quick Overhand Shuffle retaining the top 4-card stock and deal
those four cards to the table reversing their order. Take the last card dealt
and toss it nonchalantly toward the pile at B, without turning it over. Take
the face-up King from B and use it to tap the three cards at C. Turn those
cards face up to reveal the other three Kings.

12. Smiling triumphantly as if the effect were over, but without letting the
spectators relax completely, take the card that you had tossed toward B
and say, as if talking to yourself, I wonder what card this is. (Turn it over.)
A Ten! This means that over here are (use the face-up Ten to tap the three
cards at B) .. . the four Tens! Use the Ten to turn over the cards at B and
reveal the Tens to conclude.

146
The Torn and Restored Card of Marlo and LePaul
Arturo introduced his description of this trick by explaining that the effect
of a card being torn and then restored had always caught his attention, not
only because of the powerful effect it inevitably has on the spectators but also
because of the enormous amount of creativity that authors have invested in
their search for newer versions which keep getting more and more deceptive.
The methods to accomplish the proposed result are, in fact, many and very
clever.

He continued by analyzing the possible methods, which he divided into


two main categories. The first, with countless variations, was represented by
the classic procedure in which a card is torn into several pieces and one of
the corners is handed out. That corner doesn't actually belong to the actual
torn card but to another whose other pieces await in a change bag or
elsewhere. The pieces that were torn in front of the audience are put in the
same location, where they are secretly replaced by the duplicate card, of
which the only piece missing is the corner held by a spectator.

As Arturo pointed out, there are many variations on the above premise,
some as clever as AI Saal 's. 11

But there is also a version developed by Paul LePaul with an entirely


different method. The corner that is handed to the spectator unquestionably
belongs to his selected card, from which it is torn before tearing the card
altogether. To erase any doubts, it is the spectator himself who completes the
tearing the corner off the card. What happens then is that before finishing the
tearing process, the whole card is switched for another from which a corner is
also missing, and that is the card that is actually torn into many pieces.

Ascanio found this version of LePaul's (taught to him by jean Carles)


extremely clever, and included it in his repertoire for a long time. Later he
stopped doing it because the switch was done through a Top Change, a
sleight he wasn 't too fond of when sitting at a table, which was the way he
usually performed.

Later, through jean Carles, Ascanio became acquainted with Marlo's


version, in which the Top Change was replaced by a Double Lift. Ascanio
studied the effect to arrive at the version described below.

11. See Greater Magic, 1938, by John Northern Hilliard (reprinted by Kaufman and Company in 1994):
The New Torn Corner Card, p. 248.

14 ...
The structure of the routine remains virtuall y the same as in Mario's
version, but Ascanio solved certain angle problems and w ith that made it
more natural and more psychologically deceptive. You can prove this to
yourself if, after learning Arturo's handling, you are curious enough to go and
read Mario's version on pages 171 through 180 of The Cardician.

Pr p 'on
Two cards from w hich one of the index corners has been torn off, as
shown in Fig. 138, are used. One of them is prepared in advance (card A in
Fig. 138). The other is a free selection from w hi ch the corner is torn during
the course of the performance (card B in Fig. 138). As you can see in Fig. 138,
the missing corners are of a slightly different size.

In card A, the tear is made along the central lines of the card and the
missing piece is virtually a quarter of the card. In card B, however, the tear is
next to those centra l lines so that the missing corner is smaller than a quarter
of the card.

Thus, the on ly preparation needed is to make up card A by tearing the


corner of a card with your fingers (Fig. 139) to leave it as shown in Fig. 138.
Put this card face up under the top card of the deck, with the tear at the inner
right. Have a felt-tip marker handy.

Procedure
For the sake of clarity in the exp lanation, we shall include Ascanio's
complete patter. Although it's not advisable to memorize it word for word, it
wi ll help the student get acq uainted more quickly w ith the presentation as
wel l as with the flow of the routine. The psychologica l aspects of the patter
given was carefully worked out by Ascanio so, although there is no reason to
use the exact words, it's well worth paying attention to their overal l meaning.

148
1. Will you please take a card? Any card will do. It's not about my finding
the card so it makes no difference if I see it. All right. So your card is the
Seven of Clubs. Please sign the face of the Seven of Clubs, not once, not
twice, but four times. I don't want any doubts about the identity of the
card you selected, so please sign your name on the face of the card, near
each of its edges.

Spread the deck to have a card selected, taking care not to expose the
prepared card that lies second from the top. Once the selection has been
removed, square up the deck and leave it face down in your left hand. Hand
the marker to the spectator and point to the places where he should sign the
card (see the signatures in Fig. 140).

2. Since this is my own deck, I could do whatever I want to with the Seven
of Clubs, such as tear it up.

Turn the back of the card toward you and, holding it with your left hand,
carefully begin to tear it as described for card B, from the outer end, slightly
to the right of the center, down to the almost the center of its length (Fig.
139). Then tear from the right end, slightly above center, toward the center
but do not tear the corner off completely. Leave it hanging from a small piece
as seen in Fig. 140.

3. I want you to finish tearing this piece yourself. Will you please pin it down
with your finger? Now a little pull and that's it.

As you say this, take the card face up by the untorn end. Have the
spectator pin the almost torn corner down against the table with his finger
(Fig. 140).
Pull gently to finish the tear and say, Now we seem to have two Sevens of
Clubs.

The torn corner is left on the table with the visible index right side up for
your own view. Rotate the rest of the card end for end and lay it overlapping
the torn corner as seen in Fig. 141 , showing their indices side-by-side. This is
actual ly a pretense to render the necessary action of rotating of the card more
natural.

4. As you can see, here is part of your signature.

In a continuing action, the right hand drops the torn selection on top of the
deck (an in-transit action) and then points to the torn corner and the half
signature on it (a final action).

5. Let's leave it here, on the table.

With the tip of right forefinger, lift the exposed inner right corner of the
card second from the top of the deck (just below the torn card). This enables
the thumb and the first two fingers of the right hand to grasp that corner and
pull the card as shown in Fig. 142, extracting it from the deck.

The tip of the left forefinger pins the left side of the torn piece down
against the mat in order to lift its right side. The right hand inserts the left side
of the card it holds under the tabled piece (Fig. 143) and uses it to turn the
piece face down on the table. The palm-down left hand is in position to
square up, if necessary, and align the selection with the prepared card. The
whole action is performed casually, without displaying any concern about
how it is carried out.

150
6. Needless to say, the Seven of Clubs (the one used here as an example) is
the only card you have signed.

Casually show the unsigned face of the card you hold, and leave that
card on the table in the position shown in Fig. 144, at an angle with the table
edge and point to the signatures on the Seven of Clubs. Due to the difference
in the size of the tear, the prepared card remains completely concealed under
the Seven of Clubs.

7. Well, although this is going to destroy your beautiful signatures ...

As you say this in a relaxed and indifferent tone, suiting actions to words,
the left thumb and li ttle finger exert a downward pressure on the diagonally
opposite corners to separate the right side of the two torn cards from the rest of
the deck (Fig. 145). Grasp the right side of the two torn cards as one with the
thumb and first two fingers of the right hand (Fig. 146). Carry this double card
to the right and display it for an instant in the position shown in Fig. 147 and
turn the double face down bookwise on top of the deck. The left thumb
immediately pushes the top card to the right and the right thumb and fingers
grasp it at its right side. The left hand turns palm down (without exposing the

1 1
other torn card on top), and tables the deck face up on top of the single card
on the table (shown in Fig. 148 as the Queen of Hearts) which had been
conveniently positioned to make these actions look natural. This sequence
constitutes the crucial moment of the execution of the trick, and is carried out
cal mly, without fumbling, and without any haste. Keep in mind that, as far as
the audience is concerned, you are not doing anything important; therefore,
your attitude, as well as the tone of your voice, shou ld be accordingly
indifferent.

8. Let's finish tearing up the card in two, three and four pieces. As you can
see, the card is now torn in four pieces.

Tear the indifferent three quarters of card you now hold in quarters,
laying down each piece, taking care not to expose its face, next to the tabled
torn quarter as shown in Fig. 149. This layout, w ith the three torn pieces along
with the corner that doesn't belong to the same card, acts as a very effective
convincer. Since the signed piece is face down, the fact that you don't show
the faces of the other pieces w ill go unnoticed.

9. We'll now put these pieces in the middle of the deck: one, two, three ... No,
we'll/eave the fourth one on the table as a witness of the " cardicide. "

With the palm-down left hand, take the deck from the table and bring it
face down into dealing position. The Queen of Hearts now effectively
conceals the torn card underneath it and the deck appears as it shou ld. Turn
the deck sideways and leave it face up in the left hand.

Cut about half the deck and leave that portion on the tab le, about two
inches from the table edge. Take the three torn pieces and set them, one at a
time, on top of the cards in your left hand, leaving on the table the only one
that actually belongs to the signed Seven of Clubs . Bring the left hand near
the edge of the table, next to the cut top portion of the deck. Take that portion
and put it on top to reassemb le the deck, procuring a little-finger break
between the portions. With the right thumb, release the bottom card of the
top portion, thus adding it to the bottom portion and recovering the break one
card higher. The present situation of the deck is, from the top down: the top
portion, a break, one card, the torn pieces, and the bottom portion.

10. You can clearly see the pieces inside the deck.

Gently riffle the outer end of the deck with your right fingers, from the
bottom up and stop the riffl e when you reach the torn pieces to show them
to the audience once again for a moment, and then comp lete the riffle all

152
the way up to the top. The break is mainta ined all along and your hands
remain near the table edge.

11 . Even if I cut the deck, the pieces will remain somewhere inside it.

Cut about half the portion above the break to the table. Cut to the break
and drop that portion on top of the tab led packet. Take all the ca rd s that
remain in the left hand and put th em on top of the comb in ed pile to
reassemble the deck. In a continuous action, take the whole deck and bring it
back to the left hand. The torn pieces are now under the face card of the face-
up deck and the Seven of Clubs lies somewhere near the middle. Turn the
deck face down sideways in the left hand. The pieces are now directly above
the bottom card. The torn corner of the Seven of Clubs would now be on the
inner left (if it had n't been torn off, that is).

12. But before we contin ue, tell me something. Do you believe in little
miracles?

As you ask this question in a mysteriously confidential tone, lean forward


and look at the audience. The hands, completely forgotten, lean laz ily aga inst
the edge of the table (Fig. 150). While the spectators are looking at your face,
somewhat perplexed by your question, your left middle finger buckles the
bottom card of the deck, allowing the torn pieces to secretly drop to your lap
(Fi g. 151 ). As you wil l see when you try it out, the pieces will fall
automatically and the action takes less than one second to perform.
Regardless of the answer to your question, table the deck face down, not so
near the table edge. You are al l set for the great finish .

13. Well, you are about to see one. Watch!

Rest your left forefinger against the inner left corner of the deck, pressing
it against the table. With the top of your right middle finger, lift the outer right
corner of the deck and allow the cards to riffle that corner upwards, allowing
the cards to snap successively back to the table with a sound. The selection,
due to its missing corner, will sudden ly protrude about half an inch to the
right and to the front (Fig. 152).

14. But this, of course, cannot be your card because we all saw how your
card was torn in pieces and this one is in one piece.

Pull the ca rd out of the dec k co mpletely without showing it or


acknowledging the missing corner.

15. Still, your card was the Seven of Clubs, and this is ... the Seven of Clubs.

Without yet showing the card, turn its face toward yourself as if making
sure of what you're saying. Pause to create expectation. Upon realizing that
you don't want to show the card, and the logical impossibility of the card
being the signed selection, the spectators still have doubts about your "little
miracle."

154
16. Furthermore, you signed the Seven of Clubs and this Seven of Clubs bears
your signatures. Show the face of the card and add, And lastly, the piece
that was left on the table as a witness ... matches exactly! Now that's a
little miracle!

Use the Seven of Clubs to turn the torn corner face up and hold the
corner in place to prove that it matches (Fig. 153). The card and the piece
may be handed out for examination.

Notes
1. The effect produced by the appearance of the restored selection is a very
strong one. However, if you don't feel confident enough about getting rid
of the torn pieces effectively, you may proceed as follows. Once the
pieces are above the bottom card of the deck (step 11 ), put the well-
squared deck on the table and proceed directly with the production of
the restored card as described. Then , while spectators react in
astonishment and check out the signatures and the matching of the torn
corner, you quietly take the deck, rest your hands against the table edge
and calmly unload the pieces.

2. The pace of the presentation should be calm, deliberate and relaxed. The
spectators should have enough time to appreciate and comprehend all the
steps of the routine. The so-called cleanness is only achieved (taking for
granted that the technique has been mastered) through clarity in the
presentation, and the most effective way to achieve that clarity is to perform
at a calm and unhurried pace. The routine, as you may have appreciated in
the explanation, doesn't have any awkward or confusing action that could
blur the effect. All you have to do is be careful not to blur it yourself.

3. Arturo used to say, I will never get tired of begging my readers not to present
this prodigious effect until they have completely mastered it. I often see
beginners who don 't have patience destroy true magical jewels by
presenting them, if we can call it that, without sufficient rehearsal. That lack
of rehearsal is often due to the lack of true love for the art. But I have
witnessed the same lack of patience in true and enthusiastic amateurs. I
believe this is due to them not having a thorough understanding of the effect
and they think all too soon that they have perfected it. We should go against
that belief because it is hardly ever true. The student should foresee the
potential for the trick to be a true miracle and practice it over and over until
it actually becomes one, and only then perform it in front of an audience.

This version of the Torn and Restored Card, with a well-accomplished in-
built magical atmosphere, is a true wonder and deserves focused and
thorough rehearsal. Although the routine doesn' t contain any difficult sleights,
to perform it after running through it a dozen times would be disrespectful.
You need to tear up many cards, to go through the procedure over and over
until every action, smoothly and effortlessly, blends into the next, and all with
appropriate and well-timed patter. Any small mistake or slight hesitation that
one could regard as five percent of the whole, diminishes the effect by fifty
percent. For the trick to be a miracle the execution must be flawless from A to
Z; otherwise it's just another trick, not a true act of magic.

To state it more clearly, before presenting this effect in front of an


audience, the student should have torn at least four full decks worth of single
cards during rehearsal. I guess I can allow myself to ask that of the reader
after having torn up six decks myself.

Some observations
After describing this routine in his original write-up, Arturo made the
following observations to give the reader some insight on how to get into this
effect at any point in your card act. As stated above, to perform this trick you
need to have a previously torn card under the top card of the deck. That
seems to limit us to use the trick as an opener, or to force us to change decks.
We could also surreptitiously load a torn card that we ca rry in our pocket, but
all these options are either bold or awkward.

The clever and subtle system to be described allows you to present this
effect at any point, loading the prepared card at a moment's notice. To the
mechanics provided by Marla in The Cardician, Arturo has added the natural
motivations to put your hand in the jacket pocket.

1. Before your performance, put the prepared ca rd face up between two


face-down indifferent cards. Attach those three cards together with a

156
paperclip at the center of one of their sides, and to the outside of you r
upper left vest pocket, as shown in Fig. 154. The back of the prepared
card in the center will be facing your body and the torn portion w ill be at
the lower right. Have a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen in the inner left
breast pocket of your jacket.

2. When it's time to perform the trick, hand out the deck to a spectator for
shuffling. With that you are convey ing the fact that the deck is free of
trickery.

3. Retrieve the shuffl ed deck and ribbon -spread it face down from left to
right, ask ing a spectator to pull out any card from it.

4. Instruct the spectator to sign a card and give him a choice between the
fou ntain pen and the ballpoint pen, w hich you take out of your inner
breast pocket. Since the ink of a fountain pen takes longer to dry, it is
preferable to have the card signed w ith the ballpoint pen. To force the
latter, all you have to do is say, Would you prefer using the fountain pen
or will the ballpoint do? It makes no difference to me. The spectator wi ll
go with the ballpoint nine times o ut of ten. The words " ... will the
ballpoint do?" should do the trick.

5. Indi cate to the spectator where he shou ld exactly put his signatures. As
he complies, take the fountain pen he didn't choose and put it back in
your inner left breast pocket.

a) Before bringing your hand out agai n, palm the three clipped cards off the
clip.

b) The left hand moves toward the left end of the tabled spread in order to
gather the cards.

c) The right hand comes into view and moves palm down to the right end of
the spread, loading the palmed cards at that end.

d) The left fingers are already digging under the leftmost card of the spread
and beginning to travel to the ri ght, closing the spread and gathering the
ca rd s under the ri ght hand, whose palm leaves the deck once the left
fingers lift it off the table.

e) Once you have the deck in your hands, the left fingers square its sides
whil e the ri ght fingers sq uare the ends. The prepared ca rd is loaded
where it belongs and you may now proceed as described.
Ascanio devised another motivation for putting your hand inside the
jacket and palming the three clipped cards. In this case, the cards are clipped
just as in Fig. 154, but in the left lower (instead of the upper) vest pocket.
Proceed as follows.

1. With the deck ribbon-spread on the table, ask a spectator to pull out any
card from it. As he proceeds, bring out a pack of cigarettes and take out a
cigarette and put it in your mouth.

2. Hand the ballpoint pen to your assisting spectator for him to sign the card
and immediately take your lighter from the left inner lower pocket of your
jacket, where lighters are often carried. While the spectator signs the
card, you light your cigarette and put the lighter back in its pocket. Before
bringing the hand out again, palm the clipped cards off the clip and add
them to the deck as described.

The procedure could not be more natural and the load as well as the
addition of the cards to the deck goes completely unnoticed. The motivations
for these actions may prove useful for many other routines.

Procuring the break at the card above the torn pieces


Here we refer to the break mentioned in the last paragraph of step 9 of
the explanation of the routine (see p. 152).

After putting the three pieces of the supposedly selected card over the
face-up cards held by the left hand, take the other portion of the deck from
the table and set it over the left-hand portion, without any breaks.

As you point out that the pieces can be seen inside the deck, and as if
wanting to make sure of that yourself, riffle the inner end of the deck with
your right thumb, from the bottom up, stopping at the space created by the
torn pieces. Release one more card and, maintaining the little finger in
contact with the deck, obtain the break with that finger above the card just
released. Immediately, as if just realizing that upon riffling the inner end the
audience cannot see the pieces as you do, riffle the outer end also from the
bottom up with your right fingers, without releasing the break, exposing the
pieces to the audience. Continue as described from step 11.

Getting rid of the pieces without lapping


Ascanio regarded this as a very interesting and practical problem to
solve. If you are performing standing or with spectators around you, how
would you get rid of the torn pieces without dropping them to your lap?

158
The clever system that Ascanio proposed is that of Paul LePaul. The pieces
are directly above the bottom card of the face-down deck, which is held by
the left hand. Under some pretense, extract the bottom card as shown in Fig.
155, where the little and ring fingers, wh ich should be resting against the side
of the deck, have moved out of the way to show the situation clearly. You
could say, for examp le, that the selected card was, or wasn't, of the same suit.
The pieces will automatically fall in your left palm. The left forefinger presses
firmly against the face of the card being extracted to prevent the torn pieces
from riding on it. The card is extracted somewhat upwards, making its inner
end separate from the deck early and offers a tilted surface for the pieces to
slide to the palm of your left hand.

Bury the card just extracted in the middle of the deck and square the
cards with your right hand. The left hand then closes around the pieces, under
the deck as the right hand shifts the deck slightly forward. The deck ends up
held by the left hand between the thumb on top and the forefinger curled
underneath, both exerting pressure on the inner left corner. The pieces are
concea led by the curled left fingers.

The selection is now in the middle of the deck, with its inner left quarter
missing. To make it appear, al l you need to do is riffle the outer right corner,
from the bottom up, with the tip of your right middle finger. The card will
partially come out the right side and the front end of the deck as a result of
the riffling action, as seen in Fig. 156. Observe in that illustration how the left
hand is almost palm down, effectively concealing the pieces.

As soon as the alleged ly restored selection comes into view, take it out
completely with your right hand and use it to turn the torn corner on the
table, that was left there as a "witness," face down. While the spectators react
and check out the signatures and the matching of the torn corner, casually
pick up the ballpoint pen that was used to sign the card, transfer it to the left
hand and bring it to your right inner breast pocket, dumping the torn pieces
there.

An action of apparent continuity


After several years had gone by, Arturo devised an action of apparent
continuity worth many magical karats. In Ascanio's terminology, this is a
resource to prove to the spectators that things are sti ll as they believe they are
while they, in fact, are not.

These actions of apparent continuity of the initial situation may raise an


effect to new levels, given their relevant efficacy. With them we can make up
for the negative effect of other resources that create an Anti-Contrasting
Parenthesis whi ch, though necessary for the working of the trick, have a
negative effect.

So, after step 12, proceed as fol lows.

12b. Look, I'm doing this to make the pieces come out.

Table the deck face down and pin it against the table by resting your left
forefinger on the back of the top card, near the center of the inner end, and
the left middle finger near the center of the left side, insuring that the card
with the missing corner is also secured in position. With your right fingers,
riffle the outer right corner of the deck from the bottom up. Nothing out of the
ordinary will happen. Appearing surprised, you then say, Maybe one of the
pieces got stuck. Let's see.

Lift the deck off the tab le with your right hand in Biddle Grip and, with
the aid of your left fingers, bevel it to the right, also ti lting it toward you so the

160
back of the deck goes out of the spectator's view. You will then spot the torn
card near the center of the deck.

With your left fingers, pull the outer left corner of the torn card slightly to
the left and toward the inner end (Fig. 157).

Show the back of the deck to the audience with that portion of the card,
disguised as one of the pieces, protruding as in Fig. 158 as you say, Yes, this is
the piece that was getting in the way.

The right hand affords the necessary cover for the opposite corner, which
will protrude from the right side as a result of these actions. With your left
thumb, push the protruding portion back into the deck (Fig. 159).

In a squaring action of the left hand, the left little finger pushes the torn
card forward, from underneath (Fig. 160), to leave the deck as it was.
Continue as described from step 13.
Beloved Favorites
In 1989, Ascanio was booked by Tony Spina to perform and lecture at the
Tannen Jubilee as a star guest. Arturo selected five of his tricks for that lecture
and Rafael Benatar described them in English for the set of lecture notes titled
Ascanio's Favorites. Ascanio continued to present those tricks under the
heading My Favorites at various lectures in Europe, and those are the tricks
included in this chapter.

Although these tricks were truly his favorites, he had another two that he
was particularly fond, which were The Restless Lady and Call to the Colors,
which had never been written up before and are included in the third volume
of this trilogy.

The versions that follow include later developments over the ones in the
lecture notes mentioned above. We believe these to be the latest versions he
performed. Although you can never be sure of that with Arturo, these are the
latest versions in our files, and they are seeing print here for the first time.

It is well known that Arturo never regarded a trick as finished; they were
always open to improvement. True to his belief, Arturo kept revising and
retouching his tricks forever, and he always added details, at times so subtle
that only he could tell the difference.

Arturo believed that a magician should approach his material as a


gardener, rather than as an architect. The latter designs a bui !ding and, once
it's built, it remains untouched forever. A gardener, on the other hand, would
always be working on his garden, which is never finished and requires
constant care such as watering, trimming some weeds, cleaning a couple of
leaves over here, or planting some flowers over there. His work would be in
continuous development, gradually turning more beautiful and approaching
perfection .
If You Don't Pay Attention ...
12
This trick is a version of Larry jennings' Look - An lllusion, using an
observation test premise.

Ascanio's version subscribes quite faithfully to Jennings' except at the end


where Arturo incorporated the Palmas Spread and the Rubbed Lay-Down with
two double cards. He also adapted the set-up so the cards end up
automatically arranged to continue with Aunt Enriqueta's Aces.

Although Arturo performed these two tricks as a unit, each can stand
alone with a couple of obvious changes.

Set-Up
Only six cards are used. From the top down: Ace of Diamonds, Eight of
Spades, Ace of Spades, Ace of Clubs, Ace of Hearts, and Ten of Hearts.

To remember this set-up easily, lay the four Aces face up on the table in
DSCH order (D-SCHedule), in a left-to-right spread. Place the Eight of Spades
second from the left and the Ten of Hearts at the right end of the spread.

Since some cards will be shown repeatedly, as if they were duplicates,


Ascanio recommended carrying these cards in a plastic wallet or with a
rubber band around them, in your inner breast pocket, rather than removing
them openly out of the deck.

Procedure
Take out the 6-card packet and hold it in dealing position. Address a
spectator to your right: This is an observation test. Tell me how many Tens you
see here. As you say this, spread the top two cards slightly and, upon
resquaring them, obtain an Erdnase Break by introducing the left side of your
right ring finger, at the outer phalanx, under the outer right corners of those
cards as the packet is gripped by the ends (Fig. 161 ). The right middle finger,
resting next to the ring finger, effectively conceals the break (Fig. 161 ). This
technique allows you to freely turn your hand and expose their inner ends,
since there is no opening to be seen there.

Turn your right hand palm up to show the face of the Ten of Hearts on the
bottom of the packet (Fig. 162). As you reverse the turn of the hand, bringing
the cards face down, your right middle finger swivels the two cards above the

12. Larry jennings on Card and Coin Handling, p. 31.

166
break to the left and the left hand takes them as one between the thumb and
the base of the forefinger. This shou ld look as if you simply peeled the top
card with your left thumb.

The right hand immediately turns palm up again to show the Ten of
Hearts and turns palm down once again. With your left thumb, peel the top
card into the left hand as you steal the two cards that were already there
under the right hand packet, procuring a break above them with the right
thumb at the inner end.

Turn the right hand again to display the Eight of Spades on the bottom
(Fig. 163). Without pausing, turn the hand palm down again and, as you
peel the next card into the left hand, release the two cards below the break
under it.

Again, turn the right hand to show the Ten of Hearts a third time, reverse
the turn, and peel the top card on top of the left-hand cards. This leaves you
with just the Ten of Hearts in the right hand. Turn the hand to show that card a
fourth time and drop that card face down on top of the left-hand packet.

6
With your left middle finger, buckle the bottom card of the packet. Insert
the tips of the right fingers in the gap created and absent-mindedly extract the
second card from the bottom. Use that card to tap the back of the top card as
you ask, focusing all your attention on the spectators, How many Tens die
you see? Here you direct all your attention to the spectators. It should look as
if you simply took the bottom card and used it to tap the left-hand packet in a
careless gesture done to emphasize your question.

Whatever the reply (most likely "four"), nod, then hesitate and then,
appearing mi ldly upset, continue, Yes, that's right. .. but... No! Come on! II
you don't pay attention we can't go on! We'll do it again. Please watch
carefully. Put the right-hand card on the bottom, from where it apparently
came.

Take the packet in right-hand Biddle Grip and turn that hand to show the
Eight of Spades on the bottom. Turn the hand pa lm down and peel the top
card into the left hand. With apparently identica l actions, show the Eight of
Spades again and peel the next card into the left hand as you steal the
previously peeled card under the right-hand packet with a right-thumb break
above it at the inner end.

Show the Ten of Hearts on the bottom and then peel the next card,
releasing the card below the break under it. Show the Eight of Spades on the
bottom and peel the top card. Handling the remaining two cards as one, turn
your hand to show the Eight of Spades for the fourth time and put the double
face down on top of the left-hand cards.

Take the second card from the bottom in your right hand via a Buckle as
before. Use that card to tap the back of the top card of the packet and ask the
spectator how many Eights he saw.

168
Buckle the bottom two cards and insert the right-hand card, by the inner
end, third from the bottom. For the Double Buckle, start as for the single
Buckle, allowing the tip of the middle finger to contact the underside of the
next card and continue the pressure to buckle it as well.

As you finish inserting the card get a momentary right-thumb break above
it and, in the same action, push the three cards above the break slightly
forward, creating a step of about the width of the white border.

Regard less of what the spectator answers, say, No! If you don't pay
attention ... Look ... see what we've got ... one, two, three and four Aces! With
these words, the right hand takes the packet by the front end as in Fig. 164-
thumb on top, fingers below-and turns it face up end for end while
maintaining the step, which is concealed by the fingers . Upon completing
this Dai Vernon technique for turning a packet while maintaining a step, get a
right-thumb break at the step.

Perform a Palmas Spread (p. 38) to show the four Aces (Fig. 165) and
proceed immediately with the Rubbed Lay-Down with two double cards (p.
57) to drop (rather than put) each Ace on the table (Figs. 166, 167, 168, 169)
to conclude.

8
D G

dj
r~ 8
II> G
As the audience reacted, Ascanio used to push the two single Aces
forward on the table, leading to a triumphant gesture for a subtle convincer.
This should look as if you could have done it with any of the cards. You may
also leave the single Aces out of line and then casually straighten them into a
neat row.

With the set-up as described, the Ace of Clubs with the Ten of Hearts
concealed underneath it will end up at the left end of the row. The Ace of
Spades will be about two inches to the right of it, followed by the Ace of
Diamonds with the Eight of Spades underneath it, and the Ace of Hearts.

170
Aunt Enriqueta's Aces
This trick follows the premise of Darwin Ortiz's Hitchcock Aces 13 with a
different handling that belongs in the category often referred to as the
O'Henry Ace Assembly plot.

Set-Up
Aside from the set-up required for If You Don't Pay Attention ... The rest of
the deck is arranged as follows, from the top of the face-down deck: King of
Spades, two red spot cards, King of Hearts, two black spot cards, an
indifferent card (Arturo liked to use a Joker, although its face is never seen),
face-up Queen of Spades, the other three Queens face up, and the rest of the
deck.

Put the deck on the table to your left and perform If You Don't Pay
Attention ... When you finish that trick, as we said, you' ll have the following
cards on the table, from left to right: Ace of Clubs with the Ten of Hearts
concealed underneath, Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds with the Eight of
Spades underneath, and the Ace of Hearts.

Procedure
What I really wanted to do was a trick with the four Aces. With your right
hand, pick up the rightmost Ace (Hearts) by the outer end, thumb on the face,
fingers underneath. Drop that Ace onto the one next to it (a double) and
almost in the same action lift those cards in the same way and continue in
this way to gather all six cards. To explain the way and the rhythm at which
the cards are picked up, Ascanio referred to this action as " pecking,"
comparing it to the way in which a hen would peck grains from the floor.
Once he cards are gathered at the left end of the row, lift them off the table,
turn them face down into the left hand, and square up the packet.

Perform a Vertical Ascanio Spread and, during the wriggling action,


transfer the triple card to the top. Turn the packet face up and perform another
Vertical Ascanio Spread, this time securing the triple card in Ring-Finger Grip.
After a couple of Frotis actions, project the bottom two cards to the right and
take them in the right hand. Continue the Frotis actions and turn the hands for
a moment to display the backs as you do so. As you ' ll see, this way of
handling the Aces is so loose-as well as beautiful-that no one could
suspect the presence of extra cards.

13. See Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table, p. 86.

1'1
Put the cards of the right hand on top of those in the left, leaving the face-
up Ace of Spades on top. Take the packet by its right side with your right
hand-thumb on top, fingers below-and carelessly drop it to the table.

All these actions are carried out while the spectators are still reacting to
the previous effect and about to get their attention ready for this one. This is
what Ascanio called "working before you begin."

While explaining that you are about to do a trick with the Aces and the
rest of the deck, pick up the deck and perform an Overhand Shuffle retaining
the top stock, as follows. Hold the deck in position for an Overhand shuffle,
chop about half the cards into the left hand, injog the next card and shuffle
off. Lift the cards again, obtaining a break under the injog, shuffle to the break
and drop the remaining cards on top. Square up the deck into dealing
position.

As you ask the spectators to remember the order of the Aces, the right
hand lifts the tabled Ace packet in Biddle Grip. Square the packet at your left
fingertips (the left hand still holding the deck). With your left thumb, peel the
first Ace (Spades) and use the right hand packet to turn it face down on top of
the deck. Do the same with the next Ace (Clubs), also turning it face down.
Peel the third Ace (Hearts) and, as it falls face down get a little-finger break
under it. Show the last Ace (Diamonds)-actually three cards as one-and
turn the triple face down, by a wrist action and a gentle kick of the ring finger.
Name each Ace as it is shown. While the spectators still have a mental
picture of the Ace of Diamonds, deal the top card (actually the Eight of
Spades) to the center of the forward part of table as you say, We 'll leave the
Ace of Diamonds right here. The Aces will be laid out in Vernonian T
formation, where the Ace of Diamonds will occupy the central position of the
upper row as shown in the diagram below.

172
IOH ("A") SS ("B") AC ("C")
AS ("D")
Remember: th e Ace of Diamo nds on th e table and here the Aces of
Hearts, Clubs and Spades. Suiting actions to words, tap the card on the table
with your right forefinger. Take the three cards above the break as one, in
right-hand Biddle Grip, and turn the hand over to show the Ace of Hearts.
Under that triple, take the next card overlapped to the left for about a third of
its length and turn the hand again to show the Ace of Clubs next to the Ace of
Hearts. Keeping the right hand palm up, use its fingertips to turn the next card
(Ace of Spades), which is conveniently pushed to the right by the left thumb
(Fig. 170), face up on top of the deck (Fig. 1 71 ). Show two of these Aces in
the right hand and the other on top of the deck.

Let's put the Ace of Spades over here. Using the right fingertips as before,
turn the Ace of Spades face down and bring your left hand near D. With your
left thumb, push that card to the right and raise the hand to show its face and
deal it face down at D (Fig. 1 72). As this happens, the right fingertips shift the
other card on the table (thought to be the Ace of Diamonds) slightly forward.

The right hand sets its cards, in their stepped condition- the whole unit
overlapped to the right- on top of the deck. In a continuous action, take the
rightmost card (the triple) in the right hand (Fig. 1 73) and do the Gordon
Turnover, 14 bringing the triple face up. Use that triple to turn the top card of
the deck (the Ace of Clubs) face up.

14. For a description of this move by Stuart Gordon, see p. 223.


Push that Ace to the right and set the face-up triple outjogged on top of it,
with the sides in alignment. Without altering that configuration, the right
hand takes those overlapping cards as shown in Fig. 174 and turns them face
down, bookwise, on top of the deck.

The left forefinger pulls down on the outer end of the protruding triple to
create an opening at the inner end, enabling you to get a little-finger break
under four cards upon squaring up. Push the top card to the right and take it
in the right hand, turning it face up to show the Ace of Clubs.

Do the Vernon Push-Off 5 w ith the three cards above the break, moving it
about half an inch to the right and turn it face up on top of the deck using the
card in the right hand (Fig. 175). The Ace of Clubs will be seen in your right
hand and the Ace of Hearts on the deck.

Let's put this card on the left. Remember, the Ace of Hearts on the left,
which is the side of the heart, and the Ace of Clubs on the right. Use
Ascanio's Floating Double technique, in this case for a Floating Triple.

The Floating Double


With the left thumb, riffle count two cards (not necessary when you have a
natural break at that point), and lift the outer left corner of the double (Fig. 250,
p. 212). This action will slightly bend the double diagonally. Insert the tip of the
left forefinger, which curls around the outer end, under the lifted double (Fig.
251, p. 212), bringing its tip into contact with the underside of the double, and
stretch all the fingers of that hand, as well as the thumb, as in a shrugging what-
can·l-do gesture. (Fig. 252, p. 213). To turn the double, usc only the tip of the
forefinger or the tips of the other left fingers as seen in Fig. 253.

15. See, in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic by Lewis Ganson, Dai Vernon's Double Lift, pp.120-121.

174
Use the Ace of Clubs to turn the triple face down on top of the deck (Fig.
176) and, whi le the right fingers turns the Ace of Clubs face down and tables
it at C, the left hand deals the top card of the deck at A (Fig. 1 77).

The situation is now the one depicted in the diagram above. This is The
Larry Jennings Laydown 16 to wh ich Ascanio adapted his own moves.

A) The First Ace


With your left hand, which holds the deck, take the face-down Ace from
D, holding it vertica lly to show its face, and strike its back with the right
forefinger as you say, This is the father ... Set that card face down at D. Make a
gesture with your right hand from A to C, pointing at the other three cards, as
you continue, .. .and these are the sons. This one, by the way (show the face
of the Ace of Clubs at C and put it back), is the older brother.

As you explain that you are searching for a companion for the father Ace,
spread the top five cards of the deck to the right and perform a Slip Double
Cut as fol lows. Spread the top five cards and obtain a break under them upon
resquaring. Slip-Cut to the break, keeping your right hand motionless, put the
left-hand cards on top procuring a break under them, and finally cut the four
cards under the break to the top. The top card is thus transferred to fifth from
the top and the rest of the deck remains intact.

Do the Gordon Turnover with the top two cards to show the King of
Spades, set the double face up at your left fingertips, which give it a
longitudinal bend to create a natural break, and let the double fall on top of
the deck. This is an in-transit action, done as if to free the right hand, leading
to a main action of that hand, which is to turn face up the Ace of Spades at D.

16. See The Cardwrighl, p. 112.


Ask a spectator what his name is (Seth, for example), and say, referring to
the King of Spades, So this is Uncle Seth, as you take the Ace of Spades in the
right hand (Fig. 1 78). Do Ascanio's Floating Double with the two cards above
the break (Figs. 179 and 180), and use the Ace in the right hand to turn the
double face down on top of the deck (Fig. 181).

As the left thumb pushes the top card of the deck to the right (Fig. 182),
the right hand turns its Ace face down and sets it, overlapped, onto the now
sidejogged card. The left thumb holds those two cards in place while the right
hand leaves the deck for an instant to alter its grip and then takes those two
cards from above (Fig. 183) and drops them, one after the other at D. The
right hand then takes the top three cards of the deck, without altering their
order (Figs. 184 and 185), and drops them together on top of the card at A,
believed to be an Ace. Table the deck to your left and pause for a moment as
you explain what you're doing.

Three cards on top of this Ace. With these words, take the four cards at A
and begin an Elmsley Count from the right hand into the left. After counting
three cards per the standard procedure, turn the three left-hand cards face up
and spread them on the table at A. Snap the right-hand card (supposedly an

176
Ace) and turn it toward yourself, look at it briefly, and then turn it dramatically
toward the audience as you exclaim, Uncle Seth! And drop it at A.

As if searching for the vanished Ace, take the deck with the right hand,
put it on the left hand, and lift the top card by the ends, turning it so only you
can see its face (the Ace of Diamonds). As you do so, get a break under the
top card of the deck (the King of Hearts) and replace the Ace of Diamonds on
top of it-a surefire and subtle way of obtaining a break under two cards.
Take the Ace of Spades from D, turn it face up, and use it to dramatically turn
the Ace of Hearts, also at D, face up.

B) The Second Ace


Use the face-up Ace of Spades to scoop the face-up Ace of Hearts from
the table. Turn these Aces face down on top of the deck- the left thumb
preventing them from falling flush-and immediately retake the top one face
down and show its face, and then take the other one underneath, jogged to
the left and show both as in Fig. 186.

These logical actions will render the one that follows natural
(Conditioned Naturalness).
Conditioned Naturalness is the term Ascanio used for refernng to those honest
actions, which imitate an action involving trickery to be performed later, in
order for the la"cr to be accepted as natural. In other words, if an action
needs to be performed in a certain way in order to accommodate a sleight,
any earlier action with the same alleged purpose is made to look the same.
Th1s way, the action that embodies the sleight, which may not be completely
natural, will be easily rendered by the audience as such.'.

Take the next card, actually a double, in the same way, showing the King
of Hearts on its face. The Aces are held by the ring finger at the outer end
wh il e the double is held by the middle finger (Fig. 187). The King is not
named at this point, you just say, Two Aces and another card.

The right hand turns face down again to tab le the double absentmindedly
at D (Fig. 188) in an in-transit action leading to the main action of showing
the two Aces again. Drop the leftmost Ace on top of the double, overlapping
it the right for about half its width and the second one, from a higher distance
overlapped and outjogged over the other two as shown in Fig. 189.

As if about to take three more cards to put onto the Ace at B, spread two
cards on top of the deck, being careful not to spread the third one, since this
would expose a face-up card, and interrupt the action there to ask a spectator,
as you point to the back of the double card at D, Did you note the card that
accompanies the Aces? What's your name? (Let's say his name is Martin). Take
the overlapping cards at D from above, aided by the softn ess of the mat and
the nearness of the table edge.

17. See The Magic of Ascanio, Volume 1, p. 58.

178
Turn the right hand palm up to show the Ace of Hearts and the King of
Diamonds, while the face of the top card remains concealed behind. Set
these cards for an instant on top of the deck in their overlapped condition and
leave the double there, procuring a break under it. This is an in-transit action
on your way to the final action of lifting the Aces (as in Fig. 184, but with
only two cards) and revolving them face up in your right fingers.

As this happens, push off the double card to the right so you can turn it
over using the two face-up Aces held by the right hand, and show it as the
King of Hearts as you continue saying, Precisely, Uncle Martin.

Using the natural break under this double, do Ascanio's Floating Double
and turn the double face down using the right-hand Aces. The right fingers
immediately turn the two Aces face down while your left thumb pushes the
top card of the deck (supposedly the King of Hearts) to the right. Leave the
two face-down Aces on the top card of the deck for a moment, and regrip all
three cards from above by the ends. Lay the leftmost card (the Ace of
Diamonds) at D, turn your wrist to show the other two Aces. Lay the next Ace
(Hearts) at D, overlapping the card already there to the right, and finally drop
the remaining Ace (Spades) flatly from a certain height over the other two
(Fig. 189) just as before (Conditioned Naturalness).

There should be no question that the cards at D are the Ace of Spades,
the Ace of Hearts, and the King of Hearts (uncle Martin). Deal the top three
cards of the deck singly on top of the card at B (thought to be an Ace) and
table the deck to your left. Take the B packet with your right hand and put it
in the left hand, which takes it in dealing position. Deal two cards singly in
Stud fashion (turning each card face up end for end) at B and bottom deal on
the third, calling attention to the fact that they are not Aces.

179
Proceed to reveal, dramatically, that the Ace of Diamonds has turned into
the King of Hearts (U ncle Martin) and toss that card onto the three face-up
cards at B.

While the spectators react, take the deck from above with the right hand
and transfer it to the left, which takes it in dealing position. Lightly run your
right thumb along the inner end of the deck, to find the natural break under the
face-up Queens and get a little-finger break at that point. Lift the five cards
above the break as one, the right fingers concealing the thickness at the outer
end, and tilt the face of the quintuple toward you as if to look at its face. Feign
surprise and replace the quintuple on the deck, recovering the break under it.

Take the top two cards of the D packet in the right hand and turn them
face up (Aces of Spades and Hearts). Use those Aces to turn the other card at
D face up to reveal the arrival of the Ace of Diamonds, and then scoop that
card onto the right-hand Aces to better display it. Bring those three ca rds near
the left hand, which holds the deck, and spread them between the hands to
show three Aces.

C) The Kicker
Turn the three Aces face down, switching them for three Queens through
Ken Krenzel's Slide-Under Switch.

Ken Krenzel's Slide-Under Switch Ascanio Style


The left little finger holds a break under five cards, which arc a face-down
Joker followed by the four face-up Queens. The spectators only sec you
spre.1d the four Aces between the hands (Fig. 190).
The left thumb, with a light touch at the left edge, pushes the five cards above
the break to the right. The right hand moves the three spread Aces to

180
the right, maintaining contact with the deck, about the same distance (Fig.
191). The tip of the left thumb is positioned over the outer left corner of the
five-card packet.
The left thumb, moves back to the left, sliding the top card in that direction by
exerting a very slight pressure on its back. The right fingers, from underneath,
hold the face-up Queens against the spread Aces (Fig. 192).
The right hand moves to the right carrying the spread Aces with the Queens
concea led undernc>ath. Turn the Aces face down book wise on top of the deck,
sc>cretly adding the Queens, which arc immediately laid face down at D to
complete the switch (Fig. 193).

Only the fou rth Ace is left, and it's quite near. just a few inches away, but
inches are like miles for a piece of cardboard. Referring to the Ace of Clubs
(which awaits at C) as "the fourth Ace" is a verbal subtlety to convey the fact
that the other three Aces are at D.

Take the Ace of Clubs in the right hand and let its face be seen and bring
it from C to D as if symbolizing a distant trip. leave it face down over the
other three cards at D for a moment and move your hands away. The
spectators will see four face-down cards at D and are beginning to imagine
that they are the four Aces. Also, your gesture has implied that the
transposition will be taking place from C to A, when it's actually going to be
the other way (swallowing the bait). Take the Ace of Clubs in the right hand,
let its face be seen, and leave it face down at C. Sweep the cards at A and B
to the left to make some room.

Ask a lady for her name (Mary, for example). I am sorry, but the script
demands you to be Enriqueta because this card is... Aunt Enriqueta! If there
are no women in the audience, just ask the question and answer it yourself
with a high voice: Enriqueta.

81
Put the top card of the deck face up on the table with one of the sides
toward you as you say, referring to the Queen of Spades, It's a Queen! The
Queen of Spades! That's why this trick is called Aunt Enriqueta's Aces (point at
the three fa ce-down cards at D), and turn that card face down, laying it
perpendicularly and somewhat overlapped over the three cards at D.

Perform a brief shuffle retaining the top stock. You may do this through a
Hindu Shuffle as follows. Take the deck in the right hand from above by the
sides, near the inner end. Take a packet from the top in your left hand. As you
take a seco nd packet, the first packet is stolen back under the right hand
cards, with a break in between. Continue drawing packets into the left hand
until you reach the break and finall y throw the right-hand packet on top.

Take the deck in right-hand Biddle Grip and perform a Swing Cut,
transferring about half the cards to the left hand. Put the remaining right-hand
cards on top, obtai ning a little-finger break under them. The right hand takes
the deck once again in Biddle Grip and the break is transferred to the right
thumb. With a sharp counterclockwise turn, the right hand then tosses the
packet above the break to the left hand and lays the remaining portion on top
to complete the cut and leave the upper block as it was before the shuffle.

As you explain what you're doing, take the top three cards of the deck (Aces)
and lay them onto the Ace of Clubs at C and table the deck to your left. As if to
stress what you have done, take the four cards at C in the right hand and put
them in the left hand, which takes them in dealing position. Without pausing,
deal the first three of those cards singly, overlapping them from right to left at C.
Show the face of the fourth card (the Ace of Clubs) and lay it, also overlapped, at
the left end of that spread. After a brief pause, say, Watch! Tap the Ace of Clubs
with your right forefinger and leave it where it is, without showing its face.

Bring your right hand dramatically towards D, take the top card of that
pile and turn it over to revea l the Queen of Spades, appearing puzzled
because the Ace of Clubs was supposed to be there. Say, Oh, I know what
happened! Here is Aunt Enriqueta, along with Aunt Christina ... the mother-in-
law and the sister-in-law. Insert the Queen of Spades you now hold under the
front ends of the three cards at D and, w ith it, turn those cards face up
together, toward you, leaving them at D.

Take the top card of the C pile and turn it face up to expose the face of
the Ace of Clubs as you say, And running away from so many women, along
with the older brother, here are the father, a son, and the other son! Building
anticipation, use the Ace of Clubs to turn over the three cards at C, one at a
time, to reveal the Aces.

182
The Trick I Would Show Dai Vernon which years later became
The Trick I Showed Dai Vernon
One day in May 1968, during the first Certamen Magico de Madrid, a
group of magicians got together in a cafe for one of those informal sessions
that constitute the spice of such gatherings. Among them were Ascanio,
lrfgoras, Roden, Tamariz, juan Anton, Varela, Puchol, Marre, and Etcheverry.
Conversation began to revolve around Dai Vernon and somebody started
playing with the idea of what would happen if The Professor suddenly turned
up at the cafe. People began to wonder what trick they would show him.
What would they open with?

The idea tickled Ascanio's imagination and he soon started searching


among the tricks in his repertoire for one that was subtle, refined, simple, and
effective, in other words Vernonesque, to begin that imaginary card session
with. He opted for his version of Daley's Last Trick. 18 The description that
follows is a revised version of that trick that Arturo thought would be better
than any other in his repertoire to fulfill such a commitment and start a
conversation with Dai Vernon.' 9

The second part of the story came about in Brussels, in 1979, during the
FISM Convention. In a bar full of magicians of assorted nationalities, Ascanio
was sitting at a table with juan Tamariz, Alberto Reyes, and jorge Haddad
when The Professor happened to come in and somebody introduced them to
him. That was when Ascanio had the occasion to perform that trick for The
Professor himself, in broken English, as a prelude to their conversation. Then
he endearingly changed the title to The Trick I Showed Dai Vernon.

Set-Up
Table Version
Put the Ten of Diamonds on the face of the deck, followed by the Nine of
Hearts, the Eight of Spades, and the Ten of Clubs. Although these cards could
be taken out of the deck openly, this is done to save time. Remove the Ten of
Hearts and the Nine of Diamonds from the deck, put the deck in its case and
carry it in your briefcase or in one of your pockets. Put the two cards you
removed next to the card case so you can take them along when you reach
for the card case. For this presentation you must be seated at a table.

18. See The Dai Vernon Book of Magic, by Lewis Ganson, chapter 21.
19. The trick, as Asca nio performed it that day, was published in //usionismo N° 240, November, 1968.
Standing Version
If you are performing standing, set the cards on top of the deck as follows,
from the top down: Ten of Diamonds, Nine of Hearts, Eight of Spades, Ten of
Clubs, Ten of Hearts, and Nine of Diamonds. Put the deck in its case.

Impromptu Performance
The trick can easi ly be performed impromptu. If that is the case, begin by
openly removing the Ten of Diamonds, Nine of Hearts, Eight of Spades and
Ten of Clubs. As you do so, secretly slip the Ten of Hearts and the Nine of
Diamonds to the top.

p
Once seated at a table, take the deck out of w herever you put it and,
along with it, the Ten of Hearts and the Nine of Diamonds. With your hands
below the table edge, set those two cards face down on your lap. For securing
the cards there more safely, you can insert them halfway under a fold of your
trousers, around the upper thigh. Take the deck out of its case, now in full
view, and as you patter, remove the four cards you had set on the face and
table them face up as a packet, with the Ten of Clubs on the face.

Set the deck aside to your right as you focus all attention on the card
case, which you take in your left hand, showing it empty. Close the flap and
set the card case on the table, slightl y to the left of center, w ith one of the
sides toward you, as you explain: The card case also plays a role here. It is
empty, a<; you can see, and it's made of cardboard. I 'll set it over here and
we'll use it as a platform to set the cards on.

Variant
Take the deck out of its case. As you patter, absentminded ly spread the
top six cards and obtain a little-finger break under them upon resquaring.
Sidejog that 6-card block about half an inch to the left and table the deck to
your right. As th is happens focus you r attention on the card case and take it in
your left hand. Show the case empty, close the flap, and set it slightly to the
left of the center of the table, with a long side toward you . Take the deck
again in right-hand Biddle Grip and transfer it to the left hand.

The left little finger readily recovers the break under the 6-card block. The
right hand, at the same time, adjusts the position of the card case, as you
explain that you wi ll use it as a platform to set the card s on.

With your left thumb spread the top four cards to the right and take them in
you r right hand, which turns them face up and lays them slightly spread, across
on top the card case. The right hand comes back to the deck and shifts the two

184
cards above the break to the left, creating a step. Casually put the deck back on
the table to your right whi le you focus all your attention on the card case.

Whichever course you decided to follow, take the four cards that are on
the table or on top of the card case, and perform a Vertical Ascanio Spread,
without concealing any cards, since you are handling on ly four. Make use of
this opportunity to do the Ascanio Spread cleanly and very loosely. The
purpose of this action is to condition the spectators for a later Ascanio Spread,
in which you do conceal cards. This is another case of Conditioned
Naturalness. As you will see, this trick is an ideal showcase for that principle.

Take the top two cards (the black ones) in the right hand and keep the two
red ones on the left as shown in Figs. 209 and 21 0. Each hand now rubs its
cards together back and forth as you turn both wrists for a moment to expose
the backs of the cards during that action. This is also an action of Conditioned
Naturalness for what is to follow. You simply appear to be introducing the
characters in the play as you handle the cards loosely and carelessly.

The left hand turns its red cards face down and into dealing position and
the right hand turns its cards face down bookwise over those in the left. Make
sure the spectators are aware of the position of the red and the black cards. If
necessary, you may show the cards again freely, proceeding as follows. Take
the top two cards again, in the right hand, by the inner right corners, spread
them, and show their faces straight to the audience as you say, The black
cards are clearly on top . Take every advantage of this honest action to
proceed with unquestionable clarity.

The patter to accompany these actions could be something like this: I'm
going to show you a trick with two red cards and two black cards (Ascanio
Spread). The black cards over here and the red cards over here (Take each
pair of cards in one hand and rub them together). Let's leave the red cards
here (turn the red cards onto the left hand) .. .and the black cards on top (turn
the black cards bookwise over the red cards). The black clearly on top
(display the black cards aga in as described). I don 't shuffle, I don 't cut. just as
they are. I take cards from the bottom, not from the top.

As you apparently extract the bottom card of the packet, take the two
middle cards as one, resorting to Ascanio's Double Extraction from the
Middle/ 0 proceeding as follows

20. Th is sleight is original with Ascanio and saw print for the first ti me in the magazine of CEDAM N° 45,
january, 1963.
Buckle the bottom card with your left middle finger (Fig. 194) and insert
the tip of the first two fingers of the right hand in the break created, near the
inner end (Fig. 195). Slide those fingers forward along the edge of the second
card until the forefinger reaches the tip of the left middle finger (Fig. 196). The
tip of the thumb rests against the edges of the cards, as seen in Fig. 196. This
done, the left thumb pivots the top card slightly to the left, for no more than
the width of the white border (Fig. 197), allowing the right thumb and first
two fingers to grasp the two middle cards as one (Fig. 198).

As that double card is extracted, as shown in Fig. 199, the left thumb
pivots the top card back to the right, aligning it with the bottom card. As far as
the audience is concerned, the right thumb is there merely to hold the card
once the portion of its back is exposed.

Extract the double card (Fig. 199) and turn it face up on top of the two
that remain in the left hand, leaving it outjogged, showing the face of a red
card (Fig. 200). Turn the double face down (Fig. 201), and as it falls on top of
the packet, use your right hand to adjust the position of the card case or to
point toward it, with an appropriate comment. The patter for this sequence
could be something like, Where are the black cards? They are clearly on top,

186
so if I take a card from the bottom, it would be a red card, which I leave over
here, on top of the case.

As you direct attention to the card case, the left hand squares the double
card flush with the packet and the left thumb pushes the top card to the right.
The use of the right hand to adjust the position of the card case, or to point to
it, justifies the turning of the double over the packet (an in-transit action).
Correctly done, the spectators should never see the double card coming flush
with the packet. The right hand takes the top card of the packet and lays it
across on top of the card case (Fig. 202).

The left hand now turns palm down to show the face of the bottom red
card (Fig. 203), and turns back to its palm-up position, as you say, The other
red ... This verbal ruse stresses the alleged fact that the card just laid on top of
the card case is red.

Perform Ascanio's Double Extraction from the Bottom. This is similar to the
Middle Extraction, except that the initial buckle is not needed. The action starts
by resting the right fingers under the bottom cards, near the left middle finger
(Fig. 204). With your left thumb pivot the top card to the left (Fig. 205) and
take the two bottom cards as one (Fig. 206). Continue as described for the
Middle Extraction, turning the double face up over the left-hand cards (Fig.
207), showing a red card (Fig. 208). Po int to the other card on top of the card
case (supposedly red). Turn the double face down, take the top card
(supposedly red), and set it on top of the card case, over the card that is
already there. The cards are always laid on the card case across, so they can
be easily gripped by their protruding ends.

The patter could be, I lay this card also on top of the case, next to the
other. Where is the Nine of Hearts? It is here. But the magic consists of a little
tap and ... The right hand takes the top left-hand card by its inner right corner,
thumb on top, middle finger below. Suiting actions to words, use that card to
point to the top card of the two that are on the card case, and then to tap the

188
back of each of them with a short and decided shake of your right wrist,
making the card you hold twang a bit, taking care not to flash its face.
Replace the card on top of the one in the left hand.

The black cards are now here ... In a conti nuing action, take the two
cards that are on top of the card case by their inner ends, with the right
fingers on top and thumb below, and turn them face up with a sharp
clockwise twist of your wrist, finishing the action by knocking the table
surface with your knuckles.

As this happens, the left thumb digs under the left hand ca rds and turns
them face up. Spread the card on the face to the right and rub the two cards
together to reveal the transposition as you finish the sentence, ... because the
red are over here.

Act as if the trick were over and, while the spectators relax, slip the red
cards in between the two black ones, square up the packet, and drop it to the
table.

As if explaining the trick, point out that the card case has nothing to do
with it, as you take it and show it. Put the case back where it was as you
explain that the trickery only takes place at the very last moment. Set the
cards on top of the case and say, The case serves only as a platform.

Take the four cards face up in dealing position and point at the black card
on the face. Note that the cards are always called by their color- never by
their values- except when you ask where the Nine of Hearts is.

I take a black card and set it on the card case, and if I tap it like this it
turns red. With these words, perform a necktie second deal (ti lting the cards


toward yourself to conceal the faces), turning the dealt red card face down
and setting it on top of the card case. Use the left hand cards to tap the back
of the card just second-dealt, and revea l the change by turning over the red
card on top of the case.

Casually take the bottom card of the packet (a black card ), which
happens to be the one closer to your left palm, and use it as a pointer and say,
Everything happens the moment I tap. Put that card on the face of the packet,
on top of the other black card, turn the left-hand cards face down. Take the
one on top of the card case and put it on top of the packet.

Turn the cards face up and perform a Vertical Ascanio Spread (with no
extra card). Take two in each hand and show their faces as you rub each pair
together (refer back to Figs. 209 and 21 0), finally putting the black cards
clearly on top of the red cards, all face down into dealing position, as you did
at the beginning.

Do the Double Extraction From the Middle, turning over the double card
on top of the packet to show a red card as you say, See? I really take a red card
from the bottom, but when I deal it, I take the next one, a black one, and set 1t
on top of the case. Suiting actions to words make a very obvious second deal,
as if explaining the method, and put that card on top of the card case.

Do the Double Extraction From the Bottom and follow the same
procedure, giving a false· explanation and putting the card on top of the card
case along w ith the previous one as you continue, Again, I take a red card
from the bottom and show it to you, but then I deal the second card, which is
the other black card, and set it onto the card case.

190
With your right hand, take one of the left-hand cards, as you did before,
and use it to tap the cards that are on top of the case as you say, But the
magic happens when I tap, and now the red cards are here and the black
over here. After revealing the change as before, leave the black cards on the
table to your left and the red ones on top of the card case.

The trick appears to be over. While the spectators react, join them in their
joy and laughter and drop your left hand to your lap to palm the two face-
down cards that are there from the start, all the while looking at the spectators
and keeping a lively conversation.

The right hand sweeps the black cards over the table edge and into the
left hand, which has turned palm up to receive them over the red cards it took
from the lap. The right hand then reaches for the red cards that are on the
card case and puts them on top of the left-hand cards. Square up the packet
and turn it face down. The two red extra cards have been secretly added to
the 4-card packet.

Alternative Procedure
Th1s is another way of achieving the same result, in case it better suits the
periorming conditions or your own preferences.
Set the red cards face up under the black, and turn the packet face down,
squaring it up in the left hand. With your right hand, take the packet from
above by the ends and carry it toward the deck, barely looking at it, as if you
were about to continue with your next trick.
Hold that packet directly over the two cards that are stepped to the left and,
without pausing, steal those two cards underneath as you continue to interact
with the audience. These actions should take no more than a few seconds
time. The misdirection is very strong and the actions are carried out casually
and at a moderate pace. Correctly done, nobody will be aware that your
hands were anywhere near the deck.

Transfer the bottom two cards of the packet to the top. You could simply
take the cards in your right hand and put them on top as if toying with the
cards. Ascanio did it through an Ascanio Spread with Ring-Finger Grip,
proceeding as follows. Do that version of the Spread and, while the cards are
moving about, the left forefinger pushes the two bottom cards, making them
project to the right. In a continuous action, the right hand takes those cards
and playfully puts them back on top, without making a move out of it.

Square the packet and turn it face up, exposing a black card on the face.
Tell the spectators that when they watch a magician perform they should be
wary of any amusing or illogical actions because that's w hen they do the
trickery. Perform an Ascan io Spread with Ring-Finger Grip not to display the
cards but simply as a way to spread them. Because of the innocent Ascanio
Spreads you did before, nobody wi ll suspect anything here (Conditioned
Naturalness). As soon as the triple card is secured in the Ring-Finger Grip,
make the two red cards from the bottom project to the right and take them in
your right hand.

For example, why did I take the red cards from the bottom instead of the
black ones from the top? Suiting actions to words, replace the ri ght-hand
cards on the bottom, square up the packet, and immediately spread the two
black cards on the face to the right, where they are taken by the right hand.

Carelessly rub those two black cards together as you show them. At the
same time, spread the red card on the face of the left-hand packet to the right
and bring the left fingertips in contact with its back. Stretch your fingers, carrying
that card forward as you gesture as if the cards were not there, as if saying, Look!

The triple card remains in alignment without being held in any particular
way. It simply rests on your extended palm. This is one of the versions of
Ascanio's Honest Display. Note that, at this point, attention is focused on the
cards in your right hand, which are being handled in a simi lar-looking way.
Furthermore, the spectators have been conditioned to accept the fact that the
packet consists of four and on ly four cards.

Ascanio used to say that, in everyday life, people who are telling the truth
tend to expose the palms of their hands, hence the name of this display. All
you appear to be doing is gesture, and the gesture shou ld be done fearlessly.
If you have any fears, practice until they go away.

Square the packet with the black cards on the face, as they were before
and do the Vegas Spread (see p. 42, Fig. 209 and 21 0). The Spread, in this
case, should be very brief, keeping in mind that this is the third time the cards
are shown in this fashion. The first time it was amp le and thorough, with
nothing to hide. The second was somewhat briefer, again with nothing to
hide. This third time, when you do conceal cards, is very brief, but the
spectators have already been conditioned and will hardly pay attention.
Clearly turn over the left-hand red cards as before, bringing them into dealing
position. Turn the right-hand cards over bookwise on top of those in the left
hand and square the packet in that left hand.

Spread the top two cards of the face-down packet, take them in your right
hand, and set them on top of the card case as you say, Look. Now I clearly

192
take the black cards from the top ... but for some reason it doesn't seem to
work this way. With these words, the right hand takes the cards from the left
hand and does the D' Amico/Ascanio Spread to show two red cards, and then
it turns those cards face down into the left hand. This done, obtain a break
under the top two cards and push them to the right as one, matching your
previous actions in which a single card was pushed.

But all I have to do is tap ... Take the double by its inner right corner
between the right thumb on top and the right middle finger below. Use the
double card to tap on the ca rds that are on the card case and, with all
attention focused there, replace the double under the left-hand cards as an in-
transit action that leaves the right hand free to gesture towards the case.

This is an ideal examp le of the Theory of In-Transit Actions that is


explained in depth in Volume One (p. 67). The action of replacing the double
underneath, being done " in-transit" will not attract unwanted attention.

Take the cards from the left hand in the right and do the
D' Amico/Ascanio Spread to show two black cards as you continue, .. .and
they turn black. Upon tuning the right hand palm up, hit the table with the
knuckles of that hand as before. The left hand then takes the cards from the
card case and turns them face up in a simi lar action to reveal the change as
you conclude by saying, .. .and the red ones are over here.

While the audience reacts, put the right-hand cards on top of those in the
left hand and perform another Vegas Spread. Once again, put the right-hand
cards on top and drop the unsquared packet to the table. This is the proof
stage of the effect. Don't be concerned about ending clean. Everything has
been gradually proved throughout the routine and there is no reason for
anyone to suspect the presence of extra cards.

1H
Sleightless Oil and Water (or so it seems)
This is undoubtedly one of Ascanio's chief contributions to card magic.
He regarded this routine as one of his best Symphonies and it is, in fact, truly
a jewel.

Arturo often said-paraphrasing Hitchcock- that there are two kinds of


effects: those that cause surprise and those that elicit suspense. This routine
certainly belongs in the latter category si nee the spectators know what is
about to happen but can't believe their eyes when they see it happen.

To achieve the desired magical atmosphere and a solid impact with this
kind of effects, the lack of ~urprise must be compensated by the clarity
throughout the routine. As Asd mio put it: The lesser the surprise, the greater
the clarity. If you perform this correctly you' ll eventually hear comments like:
But. .. He didn't do anything! How on earth is that possible?

Set-Up
Remove five red high spot cards and four black high spot cards from the
deck and set them as follows, from the top of the face-down packet: black,
red, black, black, black, red, red, red, red. You may set these cards in advance
on top of the deck or arrange them in front of the audience with the faces of
the cards toward you. The rest of the deck is not used.

Ascanio liked to use a Nine as the red extra card and he would put the
other red Nine third from the top in the group of red cards.

About the Presentation


Ascanio once said that the important thing about presenting an effect was to
convey its essence. In this case, the essence of the effect is the resistance of the
red and black cards to mix together. Arturo relates that he first thought of the
essence of an effect when he saw Frakson perform The Miser's Dream and The
Rising Cards in the fifties, in La Parrilla de Recoletos, a nightclub in Madrid. And
he thought that was a wonder. Frakson had captured the essence of those two
tricks perfectly, and the role he played was not that of a magician producing
coins or making selected cards rise from the deck but it was, well. .. something
else. It was a work of art of such beauty that it felt like a dream. When presenting
those tricks Frakson was not just a magician, he was a dream maker.

Procedure
Take the packet of supposedly eight cards face up in Ascanio's modified
dealing position (Fig. 211 ). The cards are mainly resting on the left extended
fingers. They appear to be loose but they're actually held between the base of

194
the left forefinger, near the outer left corner, and the tip of the left middle finger
on the ri ght side. The left forefinger rests against the outer end, the left middle
and ring fingers at the right side and the left little finger at the inner end. It
should look as if the palm was open and the cards just happen to be lyi ng
there. If the hand were tilted back, the left little finger would prevent the cards
from fa llin g. This grip was the result of Ascanio's continuing search for
weightlessness. He was a lover of weightless technique-something he always
strived fo r. He used to say that technique was not artistic but weightless.

With you r right hand, deal the four red cards from the face of the packet
into a pile, somewhat forward of the ce nter of the table . The cards are
carelessly dealt one at a time, pretty much like a layman or a child wou ld do
it. The left thumb pushes each card to the right and the right hand takes it
with the thumb on top and fingers below. Carry that card toward a spot where
you want to table it and drop it there flatly from a height of a couple of
inches. Once you've dealt those cards, the right hand reaches toward them in
an automatic motion, spreads them to the right (Fig. 212), and then closes the
spread a bit by moving back to the left.

Deal the black cards in the same way in another pile behind the first
one (nearer you). This time, however, use Ascanio's Push-Off on the third
card to deal a double. Simply push two cards as one (so the face of the red
card rema ins concea led) by resting the fleshy part of the tip of your left
thumb against the left edges of the top two cards, near the outer corner (Fig.
213). The action is otherwise that of a regular Double Push-Off. The two
cards are taken as one w ith the right thumb on top and fingers below, and
dropped flatly on top of the pile (Fig. 214). Finally drop the last black card
on top. This dealing action is repeated with each individual card as it is
dealt. The most important point here is the casualness, along with the
clarity. It is not esse ntial that the double card dealt fa ll s in perfect
alignment. You don't even look at them. Your attitude is the convincer.
Ascanio has fooled many an expert w ith this.

This is what Ascanio used to say as he dealt the cards: This is an


important trick to me (deal the four red cards). I have performed it many times
(spread and resquare the tabled red cards). It's one of my favorites (deal the
black cards). And he was telling the truth. At this stage do not make any
mention of the colors of the ca rds or their quantity.

Once the cards are dealt, look at the audience and ask, Do you know
what happens when you try to mix oil and water? Let them think for a
moment and continue, We//, they separate. Once you let them sit, they
separate. The oil goes up and the water goes down. They can't mix. When you
mention mixing the oil and the water, stress your words by interlocking the
fingers of both hands together as shown in Fig. 215, and then separate them,
keeping them wide open, and set one hand above the other as in Fig. 216.

Pick up the pi le of black cards (the one nearer you) and using thematic
misdirection- talking of someth ing else as you handle the cards-lay the
cards face up in a left-to-right row on the table. Your patter here could be

-~

·~....·: JJ
- ";,.,.

"
- '

~
~ ~.
~ J
D G
196
something like, The black cards, which are darker, represent the oil. As you
begin to say this (and concealing a red card in the middle of the packet you
hold), perform a Ring-finger Grip Ascanio Spread, followed by the Rubbed
Lay-Down to leave the cards in a face-up row from left to right {Figs. 21 7 and
218). A red card is concealed under the second black card from the left.

The red cards, which are clearer, will represent the water. Take the pile of
red cards and, with similar-looking actions, using the Ring-Finger Ascanio
Spread as well as the Rubbed Lay-Down, lay them face up from left to right in
front of the black, w hi ch are closer to you.

Take a card from the table, preferably a Heart, and say, These are not
Hearts. They're water drops. Pretend to remove drops of water from the Heart
pips and to sprinkle them toward the audience. Put the red card back where it
was and take a black card, in this case the second from the right of the row,
and say, And this is oil. Rub your fingers against the black pips and pretend to
get them greasy, and then rub them clean against the close-up mat. Put the
black card back where it belongs and take another red card, proceeding as
before, to underline the contrast between oil and water.

By introducing the characters of the play, you have managed to convey


that there are four red cards and four black cards without even mentioning
that number, while talking of something else. This is, once again, thematic
misdirection.

This entire phase constitutes a delicious "pre- li e" ploy. Although you
haven't actually lied, the spectators clearly see four red cards and four black
cards. Therefore, by the time you say you're going to use that many cards (a
lie), they' ll think, Of course! I already knew that. So they are convinced of
that fact without ever questioning it.

C)
This phase gives the impression that you are setting up the stage where
the play is about to take place, which is in fact what you're doing, only that
you're getting a step ahead through this apparently innocent and careless
ploy, and the pre-lie it embodies. You have simply al lowed them to reach an
incorrect conclusion by themselves, while speaking honestly about other
things. On top of that, you have managed to clearly convey the premise of the
trick, which is the impossibility of oil and water mixing together.

In these scientific experiments, it's important to use the right doses: one,
two, three, and four parts of water. Four red cards, of course. Pick up the row
of red cards in the same way you w ill later need to use for the black cards,
beginning by picking up, with the right hand, the card second from the right
and laying it over the one on the right end, and take them in the right hand.
Then the left hand pushes the third card (second from the left) to the right
(Fig. 21 9) where it is scooped over the two cards held by the right hand.
Without pausing, drop those three cards on top of the one at the left end, pick
up the 4-card pi le with your right hand and put it in the left hand. Take two of
the red cards in each hand, turn them face down and show their faces
directly to the audience.

198
Square the cards face down in your left hand and turn them face up. Deal
the back card of the packet singly, turning it face down as you do so, in front
of the rightmost black card, with its sides parallel to the table edge. Continue
dealing the other three cards in the same way, each overlapping the previous
one forward for about half its width (Fig. 220). This, again, conditions the
audience to accept as natural a future similar-looking action as natural
(Conditioned Naturalness) that is required to execute something secret.

Now perform Ascanio's Sweeping Pick-up as follows. Take the card


second from the right and drop it over the rightmost card (Fig. 221 ). The right
hand then takes those two cards by their right sides, thumb above and fingers
below. At the same time, the tip of the left middle finger makes contact with
the left edge of the double card (second from the left) at the center of its left
side and sweeps it over the mat to the right (Fig. 222). This is how Ascanio
used to do it, although he later preferred using the tip of the left thumb instead
of the middle finger. The double is then scooped over the two cards held by
the right hand (Fig. 223), which then drops all four cards (with a red card
concealed second from the face) on top of the leftmost black card. This is yet
another example of the disarming looseness with which Ascanio handled the
pasteboards. It's worth noting how he began by taking the card second from
the right in order to make room for the scooping action (Fig. 221).

Take the black pile in the right hand, turn it face down into left-hand
dealing position, and spread the top three cards, which are then taken, as a
fan, in the right hand as the other two are kept as one in the left, thumb on
the left edge, fingers on the right. Turn both wrists for a moment to show four
black faces as in Fig. 224. Reverse the wrist turns and put the 3-card fan over
the left-hand double. The cards are held as a 4-card fan, thumb on top,
fingers below, the bottommost one being a double. Turn your left wrist for a
moment to show once again four black faces.
As you show the fan in the left hand, take the cards that are spread on the
table with your right hand, and show their red faces in a one-hand fan. The
accompanying patter goes along these lines: And, of course, one, two, three
and four black cards (gather the black cards) that will be interlocked with the
four red cards (show the black cards in a fan in the left hand and the four red
cards, also in a fan, in the right hand).

Four parts of water: one, two three, and four, that will be mixed with the
oil (table the right-hand cards once aga in, face down, in their fanned
cond ition). Observe that you are not actually counting the cards but simply
cal ling them portions of a dose.

Turn the left-hand fan face down and immediately take the top two cards
together in the right hand and use them to point toward the cards on the table
with an appropriate remark as the left hand squares its cards. The right hand
leaves its two cards on top of those in the left, and procure a little-finger
break under them as you square the whole packet.

Do the Pinkie Fan (see p. 71 ). Briefly, the right hand takes the two cards
that are above the break by their ends and carries them as one to the right
while forming a fan in the left hand, this time with the double on top (Fig.
225).

The tip of the left little finger makes contact with the inner right corner of
the doub le as seen in Fig. ·226 to secure its alignment. You might even move
the thumb and little finger in consonance to move the double ever so slightly
back and forth.

At this point you may not flash the faces of the fanned cards anymore.
That's why you did so just a littl e earlier, when the spectators clearl y saw a fan

200
of four black cards in the left hand and a fan of four red cards in the right.
Since the outer appearance of the fan remains the same, the spectators will
not feel the need of looking at the faces again. At this point they should be
thoroughly convinced that the situation is as you have presented it to them.
Since nothing out of the ordinary has happened so far, there should be no
reason to suspect anything. It is now when the trick appears to begin.

As you hold the fan with its back toward the audience, take the nearest
red card from the table with your right hand. Bring that card face up toward
the fan and insert it between the double card at the top of the fan and the
second card (Fig. 227). Then, as if changing your mind, pull it out again and
insert it face down at the same spot, leaving it protruding about half its length
(Fig. 228).

While proceeding with your patter, insert the next red card face down
between the two middle cards of the fan, casually flashing its face as you do
so. Likewise, insert the third card between the two bottom cards of the fan
(Fig. 229), and lastly put the fourth card under the bottom card of the fan, all
outjogged as seen in Fig. 230.

101
Point at the top card of the fan and then push the top protruding card
flush with the fan (Fig. 231 ). Point to the next card of the fan and push the
next outjogged card. Continue in this way, cal ling the alternated colors of the
cards until you reach the last card. Don't push that card all the way. Leave it
outjogged for about half an inch (Fig. 232 ).

With your right forefinger, close the fan slowly and deliberately (Fig. 233)
so there is no suspicion that a secret action could be taking place. Leave the
cards somewhat unsquared and take the whole packet with the right hand by
its right side, thumb above, ri ght forefinger below, and turn the packet toward
the audience. A red card will be exposed with a black card behind it,
partially exposed. Square the packet by the sides only and take it, between
the left thumb and forefinger, by its inner left corner. All of this is done at your
fingertips, as if to make sure that nothing is altered.

The right thumb and forefinger now bevel the packet a little to the right.
Then the right thumb moves away and the right forefinger carefully riffles the
right side of the packet from the bottom up, flashing red and black faces, as if
you had nothing to hide (Fig. 234).

202
Put the face-down packet in your left hand in Ascanio's modified dealing
position and proceed to deal, slowly and very clearly, four cards into a pile to
your right, in the same way you dealt at the beginning of the trick, dropping
them from a height of about two inches and calling: Black, red, black, red...
You may let the face of the first card be casually seen, without appearing to
show it intentionally. Otherwise the spectators will miss not seeing the faces
of the other cards.

Continue by dealing a pile of apparently four cards to your left, actually


double-dealing on the third card by using Ascanio's Double Push-Off. This
pile is dealt at a somewhat livelier pace, as if taking the alternated colors for
granted, also calling, Black, red, black, red. The face of the last card may be
casually flashed. The double card is dropped just like the others. If, upon
completion of the deal, you note the five cards are seen in the second pile,
square both piles by their sides only. Take the pile on your left with your right
hand and put it in the left hand as you say, Here are two red cards and two
black cards, but oil and water cannot mix together. Make a magic gesture
and, after a pause, turn the packet face up and perform Ascanio's Petal Pickin'
(a variant of the Rubbed Lay-Down) to show four red cards as described in
p.61 (Figs . 235, 236, 237 and 238 ) and look at the audience with a

20~
triumphant gesture. A black card is now concealed under the last red card
dealt.

And here, one, two, three and four black cards. With an apparently
careless attitude, pick up the black pile in position for an Elmsley Count at the
fingertips and proceed to perform that version of the count, from the left hand
into the right (or if you prefer to do it the other way, just make the necessary
adjustments). Given the fact that those cards hardly need to be shown, you
can get very casual here.

As soon as the third card has been counted, the right hand puts its three
cards under the remaining left-hand card so that the packet is pinched by
both hands at the same time for an instant, at the centers of both sides, by
which time the cards have been tilted towards you so the spectators can't see
their faces. The left hand freezes for a moment as the right hand turns
naturally inward with the bottom card and drops it face down to the table
without exposing its face, at about the same spot w here the first supposedly
red card was laid in the first phase of the routine. As you deal that card,
continue with your patter. We'll do it again: one, two, three, and four black
cards on the table.

As this happens, the left hand spreads its cards as shown in Fig. 239. The
right hand continues by taking the back card of the packet and overlaps it for
half its width forward onto the first card. The next two cards are tabled singly
in the same way, in an overlapp ing row with the last card furthest from you,
in a similar configuration to that used in the first phase.

Although you never showed the face of the first card, it shou ld look as if
you could have done so, or wouldn't have minded doing so. Thanks to the
strong thematic misdirection, as you begin to talk about repeating the effect,

204
spectators would swear they have seen the faces of all four cards. Thi s
subtlety is an idea of Fred Kaps and Ascanio used to ca ll it the Kaps Angular
Turnover.

This time we shall focus on the red cards. Suiting actions to words, take
the red cards and ca rry out the same actions you did with the black cards
earlier, showing four red cards as in Fig. 224, then taking the top two cards of
the fan in the right hand and using them to point to those on the table as the
left hand squares its ca rds. Replace the right-hand ca rds on top, procuring a
break under them and, again, do the Pinkie Fan with the double on top (Figs.
225 and 226).

As you point out that the red cards follow one another in the fan, the
right hand takes the innermost card from those on the table (a red card). Insert
that card from below w ithout exposing its face, outj ogged between the
double and the next card in the fan, which is conveniently tilted to the left, as
you continue to patter: .. .but if I insert this card here, the first two red cards
will be separated. Observe that both your patter and your actions focus on the
red ca rds, taking the heat off the supposedly black ca rd just inserted.

The next two ca rds are inserted, also outjogged, one at a time in the
spaces between the red cards from above, thus naturally flashing thei r faces
as they enter the fan. Put the last card, also outjogged, under the bottom card
of the fan as you say, Three black cards are enough to separate the four red.
Therefore, this one doesn't separate two red cards but it is separated by a red
card from the next black card. Push each ca rd flush with the fan and, as
before, leave the last card outjogged for about half an inch.

Carefu lly close the fan and hold the cards by the long edges between the
left thumb and fingers, leaving it somewhat unsquared. The ri ght hand takes
the top card and shows it as you say, See? The first red card is here ...

Replace the card on top of the packet and show the bottom of the packet,
... and the last one is here. Another red face will be seen second from the
face. Square the packet and drop it to the table face down.

But red and black cards are like oil and water. They cannot mix. Make a
magic gesture and neatly take the top red card of the tabled packet by its
outer left corner, with the left hand, forefinger above and thumb below, and
turn it face up, tabling it to the left while your left hand rests on the table.
Continue with the next three red cards, tabling each face up in a pile on top
of the first.
Take the next card in your right hand and show its black face as you say,
.. .and here come the black cards. Turn that card face down into the right
hand and use it to scoop the rest of the black pi le. Take the scooped pile and
turn it face up in the left hand and proceed immediately with a Vertical
Ascanio Spread to show it as consisting of four black cards, and conclude
with the In-Transit Lay-Down (Figs. 240, 241, and 242).

D
206
Aces with Love
This is the last version of Ascanio's Father and Sons Aces: the classic four-
Ace trick in its purest form. Like its preceding versions (Father Aces and Sons,
Versions 66 and 67, Chapter Three), this routine follows the premise
established by Dai Vernon in Slow Motion Aces. 21

This routine was carefully put together by Ascanio in a span of over forty
years. To comprehend it in all its depth, pay attention to the whys in order to
figure out the whats and the hows. The patter was put together with equal
care and deserves thorough study.

This trick was the only subject of a series of lectures given by Ascanio in
1968 in Spain as well as in other European countries. 22 In 1988, Arturo gave a
lecture in Madrid which he titled Aces With Love, Twenty Years Later and
which he later repeated in Barcelona. In that lecture he revealed quite a few
of his latest and brilliant handling details. Here is the latest version of this
great classic of modern card magic. Enjoy it!

Set-Up
Arrange the following cards from the top of the face-down deck: Nine of
Diamonds, Ace of Clubs, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Spades,
Eight of Spades, Jack of Diamonds, Five of Clubs, Three of Spades, a black
Queen, the two red Tens followed by a black Ten, Five of Diamonds, Two of
Hearts, and Queen of Diamonds.

If you want to do this routine impromptu, you may simply set the Aces in
positions second through fifth from the top and dispose of the rest of the set-
up. Just keep in mind that the other cards were carefully chosen to enhance
the effect in one way or another.

Observe that the black cards include a Five, a Three, and a Queen,
whereas the red include a Five, a Deuce, and a Queen, plus the two red Tens
and the Jack of Diamonds. These cards will appear in the last packet with the
Ace of Clubs and have been chosen for contrast.

Ascanio used to refer to the Jack of Diamonds as the unknown soldier


because it's a card that plays an important role, first appearing in the main
packet (that of the father Ace) and later in the last packet, but nobody notices it.

21. Stars of Magic, Series 6, N° 2, p.90 of the Louis Tannen edition, 1961.
22. See A nalysis of an Effect in The M agic of A scanio Vo lume One, p. 56.

a~
Set the arranged deck on the left side of the table.

P·oc
1. Take the deck in your left hand and, push the top five cards to the right
hand. Take those cards with the right thumb at the inner end, right middle
and ring fingers at the outer, and forefinger curled on top. Square those cards
and separate them from the deck, which is then tabled to your left. The
spectators should not be aware of the number of cards taken. Perform
Ascanio's Careless Spread to table those five cards as four.

Ascanio's Careless Spread


Hold a fan•-clown five-card packet in Biddle Gnp. While appearing to toy
with the cards, set them in left-hand dealing position maintaining the grip of
thP right hand. The left thumb pushes the top c,ml to the right, then the next
card as well as 1f begmning to spread the cards, thus exposing three backs.
The IPft middle fing<'r, from underneath, slides the bottom lard to the right
under the cowr of the right hand and the other cards. Without pausing, the
left thumb .md forC'iinger extract the card second from the bottom by
contacting the lt'it side oi its face (Fig. 243). To the onlookers, this will appear
to he thP bottom card.
With your right hand, take the slightly spread cards and table them in front of
you. As if dC'ciding to do so on the spur of the moment, sprc•ad them a little
more with tlw fingPrtips, in a left-to-right gesture of your w1de-open right
hand <Fig. 244) aftC'r setting them on the table. Don't call any attention to the
sprc•ad or to the number of cards it contains. Just ll't them sec four cards as
you begin to talk about something else.

Ascanio began his presentation w ith the verbal introduction that follows,
without touching the cards.

208
What is the single most important thing man needs to stay alive? Oxygen!
This has been proved. If there were no oxygen, there would be no life on
Earth. But, where are the oxygen factories? The factories are the trees in the
forest. Families of trees. Wherever there is green, there is oxygen.

Now, what about the spiritual field, about our psychological well-being?
In this case, the most essential thing of life is nothing other than love. All
philosophers agree: life is not possible without love. Even prisoners in jail
need love and care from their companions. It has been said that those who
lack affection are not able to survive.

Where is love generated? Where are the love factories? Well, that's clearly
in families. The most accurate definition is that which says that families are the
only institutions born to nurture love. That all love that we later find in life is
modeled after family love.

Take the face-down 5-card packet from the table in your right hand, put it
in your left hand, square it up, and, taking it by its outer end, turn it face up
end-for-end. Show the packet as four Aces using Ascanio's Honest Display as
you say, You know what these are? Most people would say they are the four
Aces, but they are actually a family of Aces, all close together.

1io's Honest Display


With a face-up five-card packet held in the left hand, spr('ad the first three cards
into the right hand, which receives them in their spread condition. This leaves
two cards in the left, which are handled as one. AftPr showing the four v1sible
faces for a moment, put the lowermost right hand card back onto the left hand,
overlapped to the right of the double so you will be showing two cards in each
hand. Both hands are extended forvvard in a natural sincere-looking gesture
(Fig. 245) and the double remains in periect alignment. You appear to be
showing four loose cards on your open palms. It's a very deceptive technique.
Now both hands square their cards and turn their respective packets
toward one another by curling the forefingers underneath, gripping the cards
against the middle fingers, and extending those fingers.

Set the right-hand cards onto the left-hand cards (Fig. 246) and turn the
packet face up sideways into the left hand. Without pausing, begin a Vertical
Ascanio Spread to show the four Aces to suit the patter, and perform Ascanio's
In-Transit Lay-Down (also described on p. 60) as follows.

The right hand moves to the right with the double card (with the Ace of
Clubs on the face and the Nine of Diamonds concealed underneath) and
tables it in front of you (Fig. 247) using the Burning Double technique (seep.
51 ) or by dropping it flat from a height of about two inches.

As this happens, your attention is already focusing on the next card,


which you are about to take from the left hand. Thus, the next three cards are
taken one at a time from the left hand and dropped to the table onto the
double card, in an unsquared pile, each card overlapping the previous
slightly to the right. Fig. 248 shows the right hand when about to drop the
third Ace.

All close together, lovingly embraced. You see? Square the cards a little,
using the tips of both forefingers (Fig. 249), just to match the patter and to
correct a possible misalignment of the double. Look up at the spectators and
gesture as you carry on with your patter.

2. Take the deck in your left hand and, implying that it represents life say,
But then come the things of life. Life is like a guitar. Many claim to be able to
play it. Some can make beautiful music with it, but others get it out of tune by
just looking at it. That's what happens with a deck of cards. At this point, if

D
210
you wish, you can perform a false shuffle, retaining the top stock. Ascanio
often used the following quick and simple Overhand Shuffle. With the cards
in the left hand, and their faces to the left, lift the back half of the deck and
chop a few cards on the face of the deck, them some onto the back. Do this a
couple of times and finally leave the remaining cards (the top stock and some
more) on the back of the left-hand packet.

Put the deck face down in left-hand dealing position and as you gently
riffle the inner end upwards with your right thumb, separate the top card and
obtain a little-finger-break under it.

3. So the Aces join in to enter into life. One, two, three, and four Aces.
Separate the hands and pick up the face-up Ace pile from the table using only
the left hand, which also holds the deck. To do this, the left fingers dig under
the left side of the pile and lift them and the thumb is rested on top. Lift the
packet so it overlaps the deck to the right. Take the packet cleanly in right-
hand Biddle Grip, secretly adding under it the card above the break. Square
the right-hand pile by gently tapping its left edge squarely against the back of
the deck, which is brought to a vertical position for that purpose. This tapping
action is a final action that makes the steal an in-transit action. The right wrist
immediately turns outward, tilting the packet so that the face of its top card is
exposed to the audience. This prevents the spectators from relating the hand
position to the steal and at the same time prevents you from flashing the
stolen card. This method for adding the top card of the deck to a packet was
shown to Ascanio by Darwin Ortiz.

With the cards in right-hand Biddle Grip, the left thumb runs the card on
the face (Ace of Diamonds) halfway on top of the deck, and then the right
hand packet is used to turn it face down on top. Do the same with the Ace of
Spades and then the Ace of Hearts. This leaves you with a triple card, in your

211
right hand, with the Ace of Clubs on its face. Lay that triple on top of the deck
as you patter, .. .and life absorbs the four Aces: one, two, three, and four.

4. And they go far away. After tapping the Ace of Clubs with your right
forefinger, the left thumb lifts the outer left corners of the two face-up cards
that are on top of the deck (Fig. 250), aided by the natural break underneath
them, in preparation for Ascanio's Floating Double. Insert the left forefinger
under the front end of that double as seen in Fig. 251 and extend that finger,
carrying the double forward to the position seen in Fig. 252. Turn the double
face down on top of the deck using the tips of the right middle, ring, and little
fingers as seen in Fig. 253.

On Doubles Without Lifts


Arturo used to divide double-lifting sequences into two main phases. The first
woulci be the Exhibition Lift, which is the one done in order to show the face
of the double card. The other phase would be the Replacement Lift, which is
tht• one used to unload the face card onto the deck before carrying on with
the trick in question
He maintained that if, for any reason, the Exhibition lift is not needed, as is
the case in step 4 above, the sequence is more deceptive.

Deal the top ca rd to position C of the classic T formation (see diagram).

AS ("A") as ("B") 90 ("C")


AC ("D")

212
5. Three Aces are left: one, two, and three. Spread the top three cards of the
deck and take them by their inner right corners, right thumb on top, fingers
below, without letting their faces be seen, as you say, Three Aces are left. Put the
three ca rds back on top of the deck, procuring a break under them , and
immediately take the top card in right-hand Biddle Grip. Don't show the face of
this card or, if you like, flash it briefly. It is the Ace of Clubs which you had
supposedly tabled at C. Put that card back on top of the deck, outjogged and
sidejogged to the right and, without pausing, take the Ace of Clubs along with
the two cards above the break, which are handled as one and overlapped to the
left. Turn your wrist to briefly show the Ace of Clubs and the Ace of Hearts.

Push the top card of the deck to the right and take it under the double,
overlapped to the left. Turn your wrist again to show three Aces (Fig. 254).
This time you may display the cards a little longer. Turn your wrist to bring the
cards face down once again and set the leftmost card of the spread on top of
the deck, jogged to the right and to the front (Fig. 255). Turn your right hand
to expose the faces of the cards to the audience and, using the tips of the right
middle and ring fingers, turn the Ace of Spades face up on top of the deck,
thus showing three Aces at the same time once again (Fig. 256). Turn the Ace
of Spades face down using the tips of your right fingers, and leave it
outjogged and sidejogged as before. The left thumb holds that card in position

)1
as the left hand moves toward A, leaving a good part of the face of the Ace of
Spades exposed, table the Ace of Spades at A and say, This one goes a little
farther ...

6. .. . but there is a thread that holds them together... As you leave the
Ace of Spades at A, turn your right hand palm down and, using the right
fingertips, move the card at C a bit to the right under the pretense of making a
left-to-right gesture to indicate the thread that you mention in your patter.
Close your right fingers slightly to bridge the cards in that hand, and do the
Burning Double to table the two cards as one at D.

Follow immediately by setting the other right-hand card on the table, to


the right of the double (Fig. 257). lhese actions take the heat off the tabled
double.

7. Table the deck to you r left and gesture w ith both hands, as you take the
cards at A and C and say, I mean there is a thread between these two. You
can't see it, but it's a golden thread. No matter how far they go, all the
brothers are bound together. Take the Ace of Spades in the left hand and tilt it
forward to show its face. At the same time, the right hand takes the card at C
and tilts it so the audience can only see its back. Bring both cards together for
a moment touching the edges of those two cards together as in Fig. 258 and
move them apart again, leaving them at A and C. Without doing anything,
say, This is so much so that there are some verses of Machado that say:

One summer day


death entered my home.
Without paying any attention,
it approached her cradle
and with very thin fingers

2 14
something fragile it broke.
In peace remained the girl
and in pain my heart was.
Oh! What death had broken
was a thread of pain.

8. It was a thread. And among the other brothers there are also threads,
no matter how far they go. To continue with the routine, take the deck again
in the left hand. With your right hand, take the single card at D from above,
show its face, and then take the double that remains at D underneath the
single, overlapped to the left (Fig. 259). Take the cards once again in right-
hand Biddle Grip, show the faces, and put them face down on top of the
deck, overlapped to the left (Fig. 260). The left thumb rests on the back of the
double, keeping it aligned and maintaining only its left side in contact with
the back of the deck. The single card (Ace of Clubs) is carried to the right by
the tips of the right fingers and thumb, which grip it at its right side.

Turn the Ace of Clubs face up at your fingertips (Fig. 261) and use it to
turn the double face up on top of the deck, exposing the face of the Ace of

1)
Hearts (Fig. 262). Do Ascanio's Floating Double and, again, use the Ace of
Clubs to turn the double face down (Fig. 263).

As the double falls face down on top of the deck, the left hand moves
towards B and deals the top card there by pushing it with the thumb. As this
happens, the right hand turns the Ace of Clubs face down and deals it at D
(Fig. 264).

9. But, no matter how far they go, they will always be attached together
by a thread. With these words, the right hand gestures above the Aces as if
magically bringing them together.

10. Point to D and say, This will be the home of the father Ace. Turn the
card at D face up with your right hand to show the Ace of Clubs and leave it
face up as you say. No, I don't quite like it as the father Ace. Pretending to
search for the Ace of Spades, lift the inner left corner of the card at B (Fig.
265) so that only you can see its face, and continue: And this one neither. As
you ftft the mner end of the card at A, which is the Ace of Spades, exclaim,
Yes! Th1s one is bigger and stronger. Appearing to have found the Ace of
Spades, turn that card face up. If you wish, you could lift the outer end of the
Ace of Spades, instead of the inner, to give the impression that you could
have lifted any of the cards on the table. Needless to say, proceeding as
described you don't even need to touch the card at B. With your right hand,
push the face-up Ace of Clubs to position A, and then slide the face-up Ace of
Spades to D. Turn both Aces face down, at the same time, each with one
hand.

11. To stress the initial situation, gesture with your left hand from right to
left as you add, The other Aces are the sons. To further stress the positions of
the Aces, the left hand takes the card at A (Ace of Clubs) and shows its face as

216
you say, This one is my favorite. The little one with the coconut head, like a
grain of coffee, a dark pearl. And he's afraid because he's a long way away
from home. Leave the Ace of Clubs face down where it was.

This whole sequence is Ascanio's personal handling of a Charlie Miller


method for lay ing the supposed Aces in T formation that appeared in
23
Arcane and which was very similar to another that appeared in The Vernon
Chronicles.24

12. We'll use another twelve cards and nothing else. These cards are the
causes of the family's dispersion. These four cards represent new occupations:
each minds his own business and drifts away from the others. Another four
are new acquaintances and, finally, the last four stand for new commitments,
grown out of the new life away from the family. Perform, if you wish, an
Overhand Shuffle retaining the top stock and, suiting actions to words, spread
the top four cards of the deck and take them in the right hand without altering
their order. Drop those cards, in their spread condition, to the left side of the
table without expos ing their faces.

Spread another four cards, take them in the right hand, show their faces
briefly, and drop them face down slightly overlapped to the right of the other
four. Spread four more cards and take them in the right hand. This time you
may flash the faces a bit longer and then look at them yourself. The face card
of this group should be the Queen of Diamonds. Drop those cards, also
spread, overlapp ing the previous group to the right, thus completing an
irregular 12-card spread. Set the deck aside.

D. See, in Arcane N" 15, 1981, published by Jeff Busby Aces en Route by Charlie Miller, p. 48.
24. See, in The Vernon Chronicles Vol. 1, by Stephen Minch, The Ace Assembly, p. 121 .

21
13. These are actually trivialities, which are the causes of dispersion-
irrelevant things that could easily be replaced by other things. They're
indifferent cards. It makes no difference what they are. Gather the tabled
spread, turn that packet face up, and take it in right-hand Biddle Grip. Acting
as if the alleged trivialities bothered you, tilt the packet as in Fig. 266 in
preparation for Ascanio's Careless Toss. Toss the cards somewhat to the left of
the T formation, so that the inner right corner of the packet hits the table first
(Fig. 267). The toss is made so that the cards, upon falling, spread diagonally
as seen in Fig. 268, leaving most of the inner indices exposed whi le those of
the red Aces (third and fourth from the face) remain concealed.

A few trials are all you need to determine the right angle for the toss. If
you see the index of a red Ten, you may rest your right forefinger on that card
and push forward to spread the cards further (Fig. 268). Once you get the
knack for the toss, the red Aces will never be seen.

Gather the cards and set them face down in left-hand dealing position, in
readiness for Ascanio's Careless Deal and Push-Off as described in Sleightless
Oil and Water, p. 194.

14. Spread the top three cards of the packet and take them in the right
hand, without inverting their order, near the outer right corners, thumb on
top, fingers below, as you continue referring to them as "trivia lities" and
handling them loosely. Turn the right hand to expose the faces for a moment
and look at them yourself. The Two of Hearts on the face wi ll remind you to
take another two cards underneath. Do so and show the faces as before, with
the Three of Spades on the face of the unsquared packet. Again, th is reminds
you to take three more and show the faces before reaching the red Aces. As
you show those cards, the left thumb pushes the next three as one through
Ascanio's Push-Off. Take those cards under the ones in the right hand. Turn

218
the left hand to show the Five of Clubs it holds. This will divide people's
attention and take the heat off the triple card on the bottom of the right hand
packet, which is shown a split second later, with the jack of D iamonds on the
face, concealing the red Aces.

Since you've shown the right hand cards in irregular small packets, there
is no need to keep the last three in perfect alignment. The main feature of
Ascanio's Push-Off is its looseness and apparent carelessness. Had Ascanio
wanted perfect alignment, he would have opted for another technique such
as the Buckle.

15. These new occupations, acquaintances and commitments, are evenly


distributed. As you say this, put the packet face down in dealing position and
count the top three cards into the right hand, which takes them, as before, by
their outer right corners. Show their faces and drop those cards face down,
unsquared, over the Ace at C. Likewise, count the next three, show their
faces, and drop them on the card at B while keeping a lively patter: All these
new occupations, new acquaintances, and new commitments are a heavy
load on the shoulders of the sons. These two honest counts are executed in
the same fashion as the false count that follows.

16. And the father also has a heavy load on his shoulders. As you begin
to refer to the father Ace, count two cards as three using Ascanio's In-Transit
Count, as follows. Count one card, taking it in the right hand by the outer
right corner and snapping it off the deck. Bring that card over the deck and
take the next card under it, covering it almost completely, bringing both cards
forward. The right hand comes back as if to take the third card under the first
two but doesn't take anything. Instead, the right hand moves forward again,
this time turning the face of the second card toward the audience as if it were
the third (Fig. 269). Three snapping sounds are heard during the count. Never
count such a small packet aloud. Spectators only need to look at your actions
to conclude that you have counted three. Drop the two cards counted as
three face down onto the Ace of Clubs at A, as if they were heavier than they
should be (while the opposite is true).

1 7. Even the father is involved, but he doesn't allow trivialities to get in


the way. Father and mother always expect their sons back. The four cards that
are left in the left hand are now counted as three as follows. Push the top card
to the right and take it in the right hand, thumb on the back and fingers on the
face. Push the next card and take it under the first. Take the remaining two
ca rds as one, c lipping them underneath by their inner right corners,
overlapped to the left of the second card (Fig. 270). Do a One-Hand Frotis as
follows. The right thumb, very relaxed, slides the top card forward (Fig. 271)
without disturbing the double. Exerting a very light pressure you may allow
you to move the second card forward as well , if you so desire. Ascanio was
very fond of such actions. He used to say that they were very deceptive
because movement is contagious. Spectators see one or two cards moving
about but perceive it as if the whole thing is moving freely, without ever
suspecting the presence of a double card. The key is to apply the appropriate
pressure, just enough to prevent them from falling.

During this One-Hand Frotis, the double on the bottom is held by a very
slight upward pressure of the first two fingers of the right hand, near the inner
right corner. At the same time, the tip of the forefinger also contacts the face
of the second card while the thumb maintains contact with the back of the
top card. The action is brief and is carried out while the cards are brought to
the left hand and left there. Square the cards and hold them by the ends, near
the left corners, between the right thumb and middle finger, which pivot them
on their right sides and turn them face up to the right.

220
Proceed with Ascanio's Display Spread, as follows. Hold the cards as for
the Vertical Spread with the faces slightly tilted toward you so they cannot be
seen by the audience. The left thumb rests on the outer left corner, covering
the indices of the cards. The left forefinger pulls the bottom card to the left. The
left thumb pulls the top card also to the left and both cards (top and bottom)
are nearly brought into alignment. This enables the right hand to take the two
middle cards as one by the ends, next to the right corners, thumb on the inner
end, and middle finger at the outer. While bringing the cards down to a more
horizontal position and showing their faces to the audience, carry the double
to the right and slide the top card forward and to the left, wriggling the cards
about a bit, and close the spread. Only a small white portion of the face of the
bottom Ace is seen (Fig. 272). As a variant, you could slide the top card and
the bottom Ace to the left as you carry the double to the right. This all happens
in a flash and, in this case, it's not necessary to tilt the cards.

These actions give the impression that you have nothing to hide and are
not afraid of anything. Turn the cards face down in your left hand and, with
your right hand, take the Ace of Spades from D and show its face (Fig. 273) as
you say, The father Ace also shares the occupations, acquaintances and new
commitments, but he stays home precisely for that reason. He's beyond all

2 I

these trivialittes. As you say this, cleanly set the Ace of Spades on top of the
left-hand packet. The right hand takes the packet from above and, through the
Ascanio Careless Spread, leaves them spread as four cards at D. Thus, the fact
that the father Ace is the only one that goes above its cards is cleverly
justified.

18. At this point it's time to remind the spectators of the supposed
situation. Ascanio did it as follows: Remember that each packet contains an
Ace and three other cards, for a total of four. Stress your words with gestures
by showing one finger, then three, and finally four fingers together and
continue, Four cards here, four over here, and another four. As you say this,
tap the packet at D with the pa lm of your right hand, which immediately
spreads the cards to the right. According to the patter proposed, continue
tapping and spreading the cards at B, followed by those at C in the same way,
but each time less explicitly, so by the time you get to A (where there are
three cards) you may simply tap without spreading, without arousing
suspicion .

19. But the thing to remember is that this packet contains the Five of
Clubs, which will later become important. It's in the packet of the father Ace,
which contains another three cards. Pick up the D packet and turn it face up
in to your left hand. With the right hand, take the Five of Clubs, which is on
top, and show its face to the audience, letting the Jack of Diamonds be seen
on the face of the packet. Return the Five of Clubs to the face of the packet
and grasp the packet by the long edges, close to the inner corners, right
thumb on the left and right middle finger on the right (Fig. 68).

With the tip of the left ring finger, pull the Ace of Spades (on the back of
the face-up packet) to the left (Fig. 69). After showing it there, the left thumb
slides the face card of the packet to the left (Fig. 70), leaving a triple card in
the right hand. Wriggle those card s a bit through a Three-Card Ascanio
Spread, even though the packet contains five cards). Square up the cards in
your left hand and set them clean ly face down at D.

A) The Passing of the First Ace


You are now ready to begin a series of Ace transpositions, each one an
effect in itself. Pick up the C pile in ri ght-hand Biddle Grip and say, If I shuffle
these cards, the position of the Ace will be unknown. Nobody will know
which of these is the Ace. With these words, run the cards singly with your
left thumb into the left hand, reversing the order of the packet. To make it
more natural, run about three ca rd s at a time, casual ly stopp ing to patter
before resuming the action.

222
Put the right-hand card on top of the packet and pick up the latter again
in right-hand Biddle Grip. Run three cards with the left thumb as before,
pause, and put the last card on top.

This way of shuffling constitutes an action of successive naturalness because


when you later shuffle the cards of the A pile, you'll have to do it in a similar-
looking fashion. In other words, if they have seen you shuffle that way before,
they will accept it as natural even if it isn't quite so (Conditioned Naturalness).

As you say, Here are the four cards, perform a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio
Spread without co ncea lin g any cards (a nother action of Conditioned
Naturalness) and make the bottom card project to the right. Take that card
(N ine of Diamonds) in your right hand, turn it face up at the right fingertips
and drop it at C as you say, This is not the Ace.

To turn the cards of that packet face up, Ascanio carried out the same
actions as when doing the Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread concea ling a
card. In other words, he would turn the card occupying the position of the
double with the Gordon Turnover, conditioning the spectators for a later
similar-looking action in which he actua lly turned a double.

The Gordon Turnover


Take a double card between the fleshy part of the right middle finger tip at the
outer end, next to the right corner, and the tip of the thumb at the inner end,
also next to the right corresponding corner. The forefinger lies over the back
of the double, near the right edge and somewhat forward of the center of the
card. The thumb bends the double slightly upward while the forefinger
remains in contact with its back and the hand begins to turn pa lm up. In a
continuous action, the thumb slides smoothly down the face of the double
and stops when it is holding the cards directly against the forefinger, which
has by then slid forward to join the middle finger, and the hand continues to
turn until the face of the card is clearly exposed or as required.
The middle finger, at the outer hand, insures the alignment. It is also possible,
and not more difficult, to slide the thumb down the center of the face of the
card (or double), with the middle finger at the center of the outer end, rather
than at the right corner. Make sure the thumb doesn't bend inwards (a
common tip-off) and strive to hold the cards as lightly as possible during the
maneuver, reducing the bend to a minimum. This is how Ascanio did it and it
was a thing of beauty. He was very fond of this technique, and of Stuart
Gordon for having invented it. He often confessed he wished he had thought
of it himself because it blends so well with the Ascanio Spread.
The actions remain the same whether done with more than two cards or with
a single card.
Back to the routine, you hold the cards in a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio
Spread. As you continue the Frotis actions, make the bottom card (the Two of
Hearts) of the three project to the right, just in time to be taken by the
approaching right hand, which turns it face up and drops it at C, overlapping
the Nine of Diamonds inward, as you say, And this one is not the Ace either.

As you continue the left-hand Frotis actions, take the bottom card and
turn it face up with the Gordon Turnover to expose the Five of Diamonds. Not
the Ace either. Having seen the faces of three cards, the spectators are led to
believe that the card remaining in the left hand is the Ace. Using the Five of
Diamonds that you just turned face up, scoop the left hand card and drop it
face down at C, overlapping the previous card.

With all attention focused on the remaining card (thought to be the Ace),
toss the Five of Diamonds to the left hand and turn it face down bookwise.
Here is the Ace, but all I have to do is this, and it's not the Ace anymore.
Suiting actions to words, tap the alleged Ace with the right forefinger. The
right hand immediately takes the left-hand card (Five of Diamonds) and uses
it to turn the supposed Ace face up to reveal an indifferent card and thus
produce the first magical effect.

Drop the Five of Diamonds face up on top of the other three cards,
overlapping it inward. The card you just turned face up is, in our example, the
Ten of Spades. Ascanio chose that card for the set-up because of its contrast
with the expected Ace and with the other three cards of that pile, which are
red. This helps make the effect register instantly.

Take the packet at D and hold it face down in your left hand as you say,
Because here is the father Ace ... Take the top card (Ace of Spades) in your
right hand by its inner right corner and turn it face up by turning your wrist

•• 224
• G
inward, whi le you obtain a little-finger break under the next left-hand card by
pushing it slightly to the right and resquaring. Set the Ace of Spades face
down back onto the left hand packet.

And three more cards total four. Perform a face-down Palmas-5 Ascanio
Spread, putting the double (consisting of the third and fourth cards) into Ring-
Finger Grip. Once the cards are spread, the right hand releases the card it
held (second from the top) and takes the top card of the packet (Ace of
Spades), turns it face up, and drops it at D.

The left hand keeps its cards in motion and the right hand comes back
and takes the double (Fig. 274). Turn that double using the Gordon Turnover,
which is being done with two cards for the first time, and drop it on the table,
overlapping the first card to the right whi le focusing attention on the left
hand.

Take the bottom left-hand card and turn it over in the same way, leaving it
overlapped on top of the other two. Snap the last card and turn it face up
slowly and dramatically to reveal the arriva l of the Ace. Use the Ace to point
to C, where it supposedly came from, and then to scoop the cards at D. Leave
the cards face up in the left hand.

The first Ace has traveled home. Perform a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio
Spread, take the bottom card (Ace of Hearts), and table it face up (Fig. 275).
Table the double, with the Jack of Diamonds on the face, to the right of the
Ace of Hearts using the Burning Double technique (Fig. 276).

Take the Five of Clubs and set it to the right of the double. At the same
time, put the Ace of Spades at the left end of the row and say, H ere we have
two Aces (Fig. 2 77). Push those two Aces forward on the table with your left


fingertips. What you have done is a variant of the Rubbed Lay-Down, in
which the last card is set at the left end instead of the right.

At this point, if you wish, you could do a Rubbed and Overlapped Lay-
Down with the first two cards that you put on the table. In other words, you
table the double so its inner left corner overlaps the first card (Fig. 276). The
remaining cards are then laid to the right and to left of it (Fig. 277) and the
right hand slides the rightmost card to the right while the left hand moves the
two Aces on the left of the double to the left (Figs. 278 and 279).

Gather the cards from right to left, putting each card on top of the next,
pecking fashion. Perform a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread and take the two
bottom cards, which you have conven iently projected to the right, with your
right hand, calling attention to the Ace of Hearts, calling its name for the first
time after the transposition.

As you focus attention on that Ace, set it on top of the left-hand cards and
put the Ace of Spades under the packet. Square the cards and leave them face
down at D. Gesture with both hands toward A and B as you say, One Ace has
already joined the father. The reunion is so endearing that the others are dying
to join.

B) The Passing of the Second Ace


Take the packet at B and shuffle it as you did the first. To keep people
from suspecting that the Ace is already gone, speak of something else
(thematic misdirection): No matter how much we shuffle these cards, I can do
no more than change their order, but I can't alter the number of cards or their
identities. Perform a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread without concealing any
cards and proceed as with the first packet, except that this time the cards are
laid from left to right, overlapped. Upon completion of the sequence the

• 226
• G
Queen of Clubs will be on top of the Eight of Spades, with the face-down
Queen of Diamonds on top of those and the face-up Three of Spades on top
of everything.

Acting excited, as if anticipating the disappearance of the Ace and its


appearance in the main packet, take the card at the right end of the row at B,
transfer it face down to the left hand, and tap the face down ca rd with your
right forefinger. Take the remaining left-hand card in you right hand and use it
to turn the Queen of Diamonds face up to reveal the disappearance of the
second Ace. Leave the right-hand card face up over the row of cards.

Take the face-down pile at D and turn it face up into the left hand. Take
the Ace of Hearts on the face of the packet in your right hand and show it,
pointing out that it is the Ace that traveled from the pile at C, using the Ace it
to point to that spot and then replace it on the face of the left-hand packet.

As you handle the Ace of Hearts as described, the spectators will have
noticed the Five of Clubs on the face of the packet. Return the Ace to the
packet, and take the packet in right-hand Biddle Grip. Slide the bottom card
(Ace of Spades) to the left and show it in your left hand. Square up the cards
and perform a Tenerife Ascanio Spread, concluding with Ascanio's Scattered
Lay-Down (Fig. 280).

There will be a row of face-up cards on the table consisting of the


following cards, from left to right: Ace of Spades, Five of Clubs with the Jack
of Diamonds concealed underneath, Ace of Diamonds, and Ace of Hearts.

Take the Ace of Diamonds in the right hand, call attention to it, and use it
to point towards B, where it supposedly came from. Scoop the Ace of Hearts
over the Ace of Diamonds. Lay your left middle finger on the left edge of the
25
double (Fig. 281) and perform the Sweeping Pick-Up to bring the double
over the right-hand Aces. All the cards of the D pile are now face up at the
left end of the row, right in front of you.

C) The Passing of the Third Ace


Turn to a spectator on your left, preferably a lady, and explain that you
will dedicate the passing of the third Ace to her. With your right hand, take
the packet at D and turn it face down into dealing position, and spread the
Aces that are on top into the right hand, which displays them in fanned
condition. At the same time, turn your left hand, which holds a double, to
casually show the face of the Five of Clubs while the focus of attention
remains on the three Aces.

Close the right-hand 3-card fan and turn the squared packet face up in
that hand and respread it. At the same time, bring your left thumb under the
double and turn the double face up to the right so it ends up held between the
left thumb and fingers. Ascanio referred to this turnover as Vernon Meets Tenkai.

Put the left-hand double face up on top of the Aces, transfer the packet to
the left hand, and get a break under those two ca rds. Handling the cards
loosel y and nonchalantly, you may show them once again through a
sequence that Ascanio attributed to Tenkai.

Grip the packet by the ends between the right thumb and middle finger,
right next to the left corners, turn face down it bookwise to the right, and
regrip it with the left thumb on top, and left fingers below.

25. Seep. 199, Figs. 221 , 222 and 223.

228
Due to the break previously held, the two cards on the face of the packet
wi ll end up stepped to the ri ght after the turnover. Without pausing, take
those cards as shown in Fig. 282, right thumb on top, and the first two fingers
below. Lift your right hand to show the face of the Five of Clubs. Ascanio used
to turn the cards toward the audience and, in a brief and decided motion,
made the right-hand card rotate over the nail of the right thumb, which rested
on the back of the double, at about half an inch from its center. The back of
the card would on ly be in contact w ith that nail. He used to call this the Nail
Twist. A few experiments will dictate the right position for the right fingers to
do it w hil e mai ntaining the double in alignment.

Show the face of the card briefly as explained as you turn the left hand
inward and playfully spread the Aces w ith their faces toward the audience.
Lower both hands, bringing the cards face down, and put the double injogged
under the left-hand cards. Square up the packet and get a little-finger break
above those two cards on the bottom. Show the Five of Clubs once again as
seen in Fig. 283.

As the right hand is raised to show the cards, the left thumb and fingers
run around the edges in a squaring action. The middle finger stops near the
inner right corners of the two cards under the break, securing them against
the base of the left forefinger (Fig. 284).

The hands bring the cards down to a horizontal positi on and the middle
finger is curled, pivoting the cards below the break around the base of the
forefinger until the outer ri ght corners reach the fork between the right ring
and little fingers, as seen in Fig. 285.

The tip of the right ring finger locks the cards firmly by pressing against their
outer left corners, w ith their right edges resting against the palm under the cover

229
afforded by the other cards, which are held by the middle finger and thumb (Fig.
286). The thumb is then able to move the cards up and down as you gesture.

So here we have the Five of Clubs and three Aces but, can you remember
which Ace remains in this packet? As you refer to the packet to your left with
this question, take the face-down pile at A in your left hand and leave the
right-hand Aces face down at D by bringing your right hand above that
position and releasing them. The palmed cards remain in place while the
forefinger point to the packet now held by the left hand. Your comments are
addressed to a spectator on your extreme left while you maintain your body
turned to that direction (Fig. 287).

The right hand approaches the left-hand packet to turn it face up and
releases the palmed card on top of it before doing so (Fig. 288). The packet is
turned bookwise in a smooth and continuous action, bringing it to the
position shown in Fig. 289.

Spread the top two cards of the packet into the right hand and then,
resorting to a Buckle or a Push-Off (Fig. 290), take the next two cards as one
under the first two, followed by the remaining single and show four cards in a
fan in the right hand. Call attention to the values of those cards: The Ace of
Clubs, two Tens, and a jack. The red Tens were chosen because they are easily
remembered.

Square the cards, procuring a break between the Tens and proceed
immediately with a Palmas-5 Ascanio Spread as you refer to the cards that
accompany the Ace of Clubs: All red. Speaking to the Ace of Clubs, as you
execute the Spread, say: Yes, my son. I know you are eager to come back to
Dad, but you have your acquaintances, occupations, and commitments. You
are facing the facts of life. There is nothing you can do. If I were a magician ...

230
Turn the cards face down in the left hand and proceed with a Ring-Finger
Grip Ascanio Spread, making the bottom Ace of Clubs project to the right
where you take it in the right hand. Continue with the Frotis actions with the
other cards and turn the left hand so the faces of the cards are seen as they
slide against each other in a seemingly random manner.

After turning the hand a couple of times back and forth, turn the left-hand
cards face up through Ascanio's OK turnover.

The Ascanio OK Turnover


Following a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread with the corresponding Frotis
actions, curl the left forefinger, bringing the bottom card to the left until the
tip of that finger holds the cards against the outer joint of the thumb. Release
the Ring-Finger Grip, move the middle, ring and little fingers out of the way,
and bring the hand palm down, turning over the unsquared packet. The
double will remain in alignment. If the cards were not there, the left thumb
and forefinger would be showing the OK sign-hence the name. It's a very
disarming sequence that Ascanio developed late in his life. You may continue
by taking the cards in the right hand and replace them in the left or as
required.
Put the Ace of Clubs back on the face of the packet and maintain the
cards unsquared. Turn the packet face down and, appearing to shuffle them as
twice before, use the Biddle technique as follows. Take the face-down packet
in right-hand Biddle Grip. With your left thumb, slide the top card into the left
hand. Run the next card in the same way and obtain a break under it. As you
run the third card, steal the card above the break under the right-hand packet.
Run the fourth card normally, and then run the fifth procuring a break under
it. Set the last card on top so you are now holding a break under two cards.

Do the Tenkai move, this time turning the packet face up so that the
bottom two cards end up stepped to the right as one. Take the double in the
right hand, showing the Ace of Clubs on the face, but focusing your attention
on the left hand, which fans its cards to show the same three cards as before.
Put the double under the left-hand cards and turn the whole packet face
down, squaring it at the same time.

Perform a Ring-Finger Grip Ascanio Spread and take the bottom card in
your right hand. Turn that card face up and drop it at A. Take the next bottom
card of the left-hand packet as you carry on with the left-hand Frotis actions.
Turn that card face up and table it overlapping the first inward. Take the
double by its right side and turn it face up with the Gordon Turnover (Fig.
291 ).

Proceeding exactly as before, set the left-hand card face down over the
double, which serves as a tray to carry it and drop it over the row of cards at
A. Focusing attention on the face-down card on the table (believed to be an
Ace), toss the double fearlessly, as if handling a single card, turning it face
down from the right hand to the left. The left fingers immediately adjust any
misalignment. This is done as an in-transit action to leave the right hand free
to tap the tabled face-down card with the forefinger.

232
This done, take the double from its right side with the thumb above, near
the edge, and the first two fingers below (Fig. 292). Use the double to turn the
card on the table face up and reveal the Five of Clubs and the absence of the
Ace. The right hand then moves to the right, exposing the face of the double.

Rest the left forefinger on the left edges of the cards at D (Fig. 293),
making their right edges separate from the mat. Insert the left side of the
double halfway under the cards at D (Fig. 293) in order to turn them over.
Turn your right wrist outward to complete the turnover and, at the same time,
push the back card of the double with the thumb, adding it secretly to the
face of the packet that is being turned. As the cards fall face up to reveal the
four Aces together, bring the tip of the right thumb immediately back to the
right edge of the single card that remains in that hand (Fig. 294).

Toss the right-hand card (a red Ten) face up over the cards at A, which are
the same three red cards that were with the Ace of Clubs before its
disappearance and the Five of Clubs, which was at D with the other three
Aces. You had previously called due attention to all those cards and their
locations, all of which serves to convince the spectators that what they have
just witnessed is nothing short of real magic.

As you can see, every secret action has been preceded by similar-looking
innocent actions, which Ascanio referred to as actions of Conditioned
Naturalness. By the time the corresponding secret actins are performed, the
spectators have been well-acquainted with them and regard them as natural.
Those are the actions of Conditioned Naturalness.

D
)t
Other Favorites
Ascanio was very fond of the two effects included in this chapter. They
have never appeared in print before as they are presented here. This revised
version of Wriggling Aces evolved from the one Ascanio presented in his
winning act at the Amsterdam FISM competition in 1970.26 It was also one of
his reputation makers for those extra-curricular sessions that can generate
considerable buzz around a magician at a convention.

The following words written by Lewis Ganson 27 are a good account of the
sensation produced by this routine:

"Our good friend Fred Kaps, took us by the ear to see a Four Ace trick,
although we said that we had seen one. He insisted that we see Arturo de
Ascanio y Nava z . What a trick! Wow! Superb handling."

Don't Blink! Revisited is also a revised and unpublished version of an Oil


and Water effect. For a number of years, Arturo presented his three-phase
routine as described in Chapter Three. Don't Blink! was the third phase of that
routine. Arturo eventually decided that the whole routine was too long and
somewhat taxing on the spectators' attention span. Therefore, he decided to
split it in two: Sleightl ess Oil and Water and Don 't Blink! Revisited. Aside
from splitting the routine, he added new techniques and subtleties.

26. Published in 1/usionismo N" 251, January, 1971.


27. Quoted from The Gen Desk, a column by Lew is Ganson in The Cen, volume 26, July-August issue,
1970.
Wriggling Aces
This routine showcases the possibilities of the Ascanio Spread. For a full
description of this wonderful maneuver, refer to Chapter One. A full patter is
included for the sake of clarity. You may, and should, alter it to suit your style.

Effect
You show four red-backed Aces. The Ace of Spades suddenly turns into a
joker and its back turns blue. This blue-backed card turns back into the
original Ace of Spades and the Joker reappears in your pocket. Finally, all the
cards are shown to have backs of assorted colors and designs.

Requisites
The following eight cards are used: Blue-backed Ace of Spades, red-
backed Ace of Clubs, red-backed Ace of Diamonds, red-backed A ce of
Hearts, an Ace of Clubs and an Ace of Hearts with different backs (of different
colors or fancy designs), a red-backed joker (matching the back design of the
red-backed Aces), and a Joker with a fancy back design.

Set-Up
Put the two Aces with fancy backs together in your right jacket pocket,
standing on one of their ends and with the backs outward. Put the fancy-
backed Joker in your left jacket pocket, standing on a long edge and also with
its back outward. Set the remaining cards as follows, from the top of the face-
down packet:

• Red-backed Ace of Diamonds

• Red-backed Joker

• BIue-backed Ace of Spades

• Red-backed Ace of Hearts

• Red-backed Ace of Clubs

a) First effect: An Ace turns into aJoker


1. This is a trick with a reduced scope. Only four cards are used.

Beginning with the pre-arranged packet face down, perform the Tenerife
Ascanio Spread followed by the Scattered Lay-Down to clearly convey the
fact that four and no more than four cards are used. Four red backs are seen

238
but you don't call attention to this fact. The double card will be second from
the left. Gather the cards from right to left, putting each card on top of the
next, pecking fashion and pause for a moment to patter.

2. When I perform this trick for other magicians, they immediately know
that these are the four Aces.

Take the packet in the right hand, turn it face up into the left hand, and
proceed with another Tenerife Spread and Scattered Lay-Down to finish with
a row of four face-up Aces, the second from the left concealing a Joker
underneath. Gather the cards in pecking fashion as before and, after a pause,
take the packet in the right hand and turn it face down into the left hand, in
readiness for a Standard Ascanio Spread.

3. I take one of these four Aces and turn it face up.

Perform a Standard Ascanio Spread ending it by arranging the cards in a


fan in the left hand with the double outjogged. The tip of the right first three
fingers make contact with the back of the double, near the inner right corner
while the thumb is positioned against the tip of the middle finger on the face
of the card (Fig. 295. When performing the cards should be face down
instead of face up as in the ilustration). Withdraw the right hand, extracting
the double from the spread. Ascanio called this grip Three-Point Pincers. The
forefinger and ring finger press in one direction while the thumb exerts
pressure in the opposite direction, creating a concavity in the face of the card
(Fig. 296, cards face down). This way the double is firmly held without risking
a misalignment. Maintaining the same grip, turn the double face up with a
wrist turn and thrust it between the first and second cards of the spread, from
the outer end, and leave it there.

Here you can see the face of the Ace, and here the back. With these
words, turn the left hand palm down to show the other side of the fan to
expose three Aces and a red back second from the top. Reverse the wrist turn
and close the fan.

4. The Ace I turned over, as you can see, is the Ace of Spades.

Perform a Standard Ascanio Spread to show the Ace of Spades is the only
one that is face up. Upon closing the spread, slip the double to a position
third from the top and square the card s.
'
5. But if I twist the cards like this, the Ace of Spades is not turned over
anymore.

To do the twist in question, w hich is a flourish that serves as a magic


gesture, proceed as follows. Ho ld the packet between the tip of the left thumb
above and the forefinger below (Fig. 297). The right middle finger contacts the
outer right corner (Fig. 297 aga in) and rotates the packet to the position
shown in Fig. 298. Square the packet in preparation for another Standard
Ascanio Spread.

6. The Ace of Spades, in fact, is not face up anymore. The face up card is
now a joker.

240
For a brilliant appearance of the Joker, do the following Ascanio Spread
Variation. The left ring finger slides the bottom card to the left, as usual. The
left forefinger makes contact with the next card (the Joker in this case) and
decidedly retracts to the left, darting the joker forward by pivoting it on its
now inner left corner, which rests against the base of the forefinger, exposing
a good portion of its face (Fig. 299).

As this happens, the right hand extracts the double to the right, uses it to
point to the Joker (Fig. 300), and inserts it under the left thumb, which holds it
against the other cards. This is done in-transit to leave the right hand free to
take out the Joker and show it, which it does (Fig. 301 ).

Drop the Joker onto the 3-card fan held by the left hand (Fig. 302 ),
leaving four backs exposed. With this series of justified actions, the order of
the cards has been conveniently altered as required to continue with the
routine. The Ace of Spades doesn't exist anymore. Not here and not here.
Square the cards and perform an Ascanio Spread to show four red backs and
resquare. Turn the packet over and perform another Ascanio Spread to show
three Aces (the Ace of Spades not included) and the Joker. This time, instead
of closing the spread, arrange the cards in a fan in the left hand without
altering their order (Fig. 303).

41
b) Second effect: The back of the Joker changes color
7. We'll put the Joker here.

The palm-down right hand takes the joker, thumb below and fingers
above, while the left hand holds the 3-card fan firmly. Turn the joker face
down with a wrist turn and thrust it forward between the second and third
cards of the fan, which is to say under the double. To avoid misaligning the
double, it is advisable to first set the Joker against the upper surface of the
third card and bear downward thus avoiding friction against the double. The
right hand then moves out of the way to allow a clear view of the position
where the joker is inserted. Close the fan and square up.

8. You can clearly see that the joker goes third from the top.

Perform an Ascanio Spread and arrange the cards in a fan. The back of
the joker is seen third from the top (Fig. 304). Point to the top card, then to
the second and finally to the joker to stress its position.

9. I square the cards and give them a magic twist and the joker is not in the
third position anymore.

Close the fan carefully for the sake of clarity but also to avoid exposing the
blue back prematurely and rotate the packet again as in Figs. 297 and 298.
'
10. In fact, now there is a blue-backed card in the third position: a blue-
backed joker.

Perform the Ascanio Spread Variation described in Chapter One, p. 30, to


reveal the alleged color change of the back of the Joker (Fig. 305). To further

242
convince the spectators that the blue back belongs to the Joker, turn over the
double with the Three-Point Pincers technique and insert it face up third from
the top of the fan. Turn your left hand to display both sides of the fan, square
the cards, and turn the packet face down.

c) Third effect: The Joker turns into the Ace of Spades


11. Now you can see the back of the joker very clearly. To transform it again,
all I have to do is insert it face up, like this, and give the cards another
twist.

Perform an Ascanio Spread to show three red backs and one blue back.
Turn the double again as described above and insert it face up third from the
top of the fan. Let it be seen there for a moment, close the cards and twist the
packet as before. ...

12. And the joker has turned into the good-old Ace of Spades, which returns
home, now dressed in blue.

Repeat the actions described in step 6 (Figs. 299, 300, and 301) to effect
the transformation of the Joker into the Ace of Spades, which ends up held by
the right hand, as shown in Fig. 301. Table that card, turning it face down as
you do so, unmistakably conveying that it is a single blue-backed card.

d) The final effect


13. The joker doesn 't exist anymore, neither on this side nor on the other.

Square the three left-hand cards, turn them face up, and take them in the
right hand as seen in Fig. 306. Perform a Three-Card Vertical Ascanio Spread
by resting the left thumb on the face of the upper card and the first two fingers
under the bottom card, in the position shown in Fig. 306 (cards face up). The
first two fingers slide the bottom card to the left and then the thumb pulls the
upper card in the same direction, zigzagging the cards about as in the regular
Spread, along with the back-and-forth rocking motion of the right hand,
28
which holds the double (Fig. 307. Cards face up). Upon squaring the cards,
bring the double (with a red Ace showing) on top of the other two cards.

28. Suum cuique tribuere (credit where it's due): A similar technique whose author was unknown to
Ascanio-although he held him in high esteem- was the starting point for the creation of the Ascanio
Spread.
Square the packet and turn it face down in the left hand. To show that the
joker is not on the back of the fan either, perform another Three-Card Vertical
Ascanio Spread, transferring the double to the bottom, thus leaving the face-
up joker on the bottom of the face-down packet. Square the cards and leave
them in the left hand, in position for the Gambler's Cop. 29

To remember the sequence easi ly, note that the double is always
transferred to the face, whether the packet is held face up or face down.

14. The joker ended up in my pocket. Sorry, in this one.

Let your right hand be seen empty and bring it, with an air of solemnity,
to your right jacket pocket. Under the cover of that action, the left hand
brings the joker and the two cards above it into the Gambler's Cop (Fig. 308).
As this happens, the right hand secures the two fancy-backed Aces from the
right pocket into Classic Palm. As you appear to realize that you were looking
in the wrong pocket, the right hand comes out with the palmed cards and
takes the top card of the left hand packet from above, by the ends. At that
very moment, the left hand goes to the left jacket pocket (Fig. 309), leaves the
copped cards there, and openly brings out the fancy-backed Joker that was
there, with its face toward the audience.

The ploy of looking in the wrong pocket first, besides enab ling you to do
what is to be done, offers some misdirectional adva ntages, taking the heat off
the palming actions and providing the motivation for going to the left pocket
rather quickly, as if making up for the time wasted.

29. Those not familiar with this sleight would do well to study Dai Vernon's Mental Card Miracle in Stars of
Magic, Series 5, N° 3, p. 80.

244
15. Here you are. I have used a joker and four Aces - three with a red back
and one with a blue back.

Lay the left-hand joker face up on the table. Transfer the right-hand card
to the left hand, which also takes the palmed Aces and immediately makes a
wrist turn to turn those three cards face up, spreading them at the same time,
without exposing the fancy backs. The right-hand action of bring its card to
the left is done in-transit, on its way to pushing the tabled Joker forward,
matching the patter given above. This method for adding the palmed cards to
the single card is an idea of Luis Trueba.

As you refer to the red Aces in your patter, the left hand brings its Aces
forward, and as you mention the blue-backed Ace, your right hand points to
the tabled Ace of Spades.

16. With a mildly upset tone, say, I hate this trick. The cards -are crazy. The
Ace of Spades has a blue back, the Ace of Diamonds is red, and the joker
has this fancy design. Then the Ace of Clubs has this m ulti-colored back,
and the Ace of Hearts ... All different!

Suiting actions to words, the right hand takes the Ace of Spades, showing
its face and his blue back, and leaves it somewhat forward and to your right.

The right hand then takes the Ace of Diamonds from the left-hand fan,
turns it face down to show its back, and lays it to the left of the Ace of Spades.
Continue by taking the joker, turning it over and tabling it to your left. After a
pause, take the Aces of Clubs and Hearts, one in each hand, and turn them
simultaneously, laying them face down at the corresponding ends of the
horizontal row. The cards are left on the table and may be examined.
e) On the inner structure of the routine
In each of the individual effects of the routine we can clearly distinguish
three essential phases: the expository phase, the effect proper, and the
confirmation. Thus, in the first effect, for example, the expository phase is what
is described in steps 1 through 4, then the effect proper in steps 5 and 6,
followed by the confirmation phase in step 7, which is linked to the expository
phase of the next effect (steps 8 and 9). The same happens in other effects.

We should point out that, in accordance with the principle of Magical


Economy or Streamlined Handling, the confirmation phase of the second
effect also constitutes the expository phase for the third (steps 11 and 12).

In the second effect-Ascanio's favorite-there is a good example of the


concept of Stressing the Initial Situation (step 9), which contributes
considerably to the eventual surprise. The whole confirmation phase of that
second effect, on the other hand, with the turnovers of the double card,
conveys the fact that the color-changing Joker is nothing but a regular playing
card. The pay-off comes later when the card with a different back is revealed
to be the Ace of Spades.

The various Parenthesis of Forgetfulness are also carefully interwoven. The


color change of the Joker is preceded by the whole first phase. This puts some
distance between the appearance of an unseen back design and the
beginning of the routine.

The transformation of the Joker into the Ace of Spades (the third effect), in
turn, takes place when spectators have already forgotten that the Ace in
question had already appeared at the beginning of the trick. Thus, the entire
second effect serves as a Parenthesis of Forgetfulness to separate the early
appearance of the Ace from the transformation.

On the other hand, there are no harmful Anti-Contrasting Parenthesis. The


magical twist is too small an incident to disturb the contrast between the
initial situation and the effect that follows it.

The principle of the False Starting Point is also efficiently applied. The
audience begins by taking for granted the existence of four red-backed Aces,
to later see three Aces and a Joker with a matching back and then believe that
the Joker has a different back. Only near the end does the card with a
different back prove to be an Ace, and then all the cards have different backs.

The final effect relies on in-transit actions to cover the palming actions.
Also of great value is the in-transit action used for adding the two palmed

246
Aces to the visible single Ace, when the cards are transferred to the left hand
so the right hand is free to push the joker forward on the table.

At the end, when the Ace of Spades is face down and the joker. face up
on the table and the other three Aces are face up in the left hand, we arrive at
a situation that Ascanio called Everything is Done/ 0 when all secret actions
have already been accompli shed and al l that remains is to gradually unveil
the surprises. Arturo used to say that he felt very responsible at that point
because he had to make the best out of it. We suggest you study that part of
the trick carefu lly.

30. See Volume One, p. 255.


Don't Blink! Revisited
Arturo used to say that a lecture or a thorough and interesting master
class should never last more than forty-five minutes, since after that time
attention begins to fade. He also quoted poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, who
said that poems should be written on cigarette paper, or otherwise they would
be too long.

It was with these concepts in mind that Arturo decided to break up his
Oil and Water routine, as mentioned above. He began by performing
Sleightless Oil and Water. Then, after a long pause to let the effect sink, he
would continue with Don't Blink! Revisited as a separate item.

Set-Up
The cards are on the table, just as they ended up at the end of Sleightless
Oil and Water. Under a fold of your trousers, on your left thigh, you have a
face-down red spot card, say the Eight of Diamonds. You may simpl y put the
card on your lap, if you prefer.

Procedure
Pick up the pile of black cards and set it face up on the table to your left.
Take the red pile and set it on top of the black while the spectators are still
reacting to the previous trick or you are chatting with them. Pause for a
moment and drop your left hand to your lap, palming the card that is there.
Once the card is palmed, turn your hand palm up and, when you are about
to start the routine, swipe the cards on the table with your right hand over the
table edge and onto the left-hand card, which is thus added to the packet. If
the actions are properly coordinated and done naturally, nobody will suspect
anything.

248
Let me explain. There is a dark side to every trick, and in this one it is the
fact that it is done with the cards face down. If I were to do it face up, you
would see through the trick.

As you say this, holding the cards in dealing position, spread the four red
cards on top and show them between both hands (Fig. 31 0). The right hand
now takes those four cards and sets them in a row, from left to right, forward
on the table (Fig. 311 ).

With the cards face up it could not be done.

Transfer three black cards face up from the left hand to the right, put one
of them back and perform the Honest Display, concealing two red cards
under the bottom left-hand black card.

After a pause, each hand turns its cards face down by squaring up,
curling the forefinger below, and extending the forefinger and middle finger,
with the cards trapped between them so that the cards in the right hand cards
fall on top of those in the left (Fig. 312). As the cards coalesce, get a little-
finger break under the top two cards.

Perform a Palmas-5 Spread (see p. 43 ) to show the six cards as four from
the backs.

Four face-down cards are now seen in the left hand. After wriggling the
cards a bit in that hand, do Ascanio's OK Turnover -see p. 231- (Fig. 313 ),
take the cards in the right hand, and put them back in the left hand.

Without pausing, perform a Vertical Ascanio Spread to show the faces of


four black cards.
The right hand extracts the triple card (Fig. 314), leaving the other three
cards in a fan held by the left hand. Replace the triple card as the face card of
the fan (Fig. 315). The position of the cards in the left hand is the same as in
the Pinkie Fan.

Watch! With the cards face up, we mix reds and blacks. A red one here,
another here, one more, and the last one. Clearly alternated, as you can see.

With the face-up black cards held in a fan in the left hand, the right hand
takes the red cards from the table, one at a time, and inserts them in the fan
so they alternate with the black cards. The first one goes above the triple. The
next one is inserted from underneath between the first two black cards. The
third one is inserted from above, from left to right, between the second and
third black cards (Fig. 3 16).

Insert the last red card in the same way between the last two black and,
as you finish the above sentence, grip the third red card and move it slightly
out and back in a couple of times in its position in an emphasizing gestu re.

just as they are, I square up the cards. You can clearly see how they
alternate. Look. The first black card is here and the last one here. I don't do
anything.

Close the fan, show the black ca rd that is second from the face, then turn
the packet face down and. show the black card on top. Finish squaring up the
cards neatly, with both hands.

But, as I said, let's do it with the cards face up. A black card, a red card,
black, red... This trick reminds me of my mother. She used to say, "This kid of
mine is always getting in trouble!"

250
With the face-down packet held in the left hand, begin to take cards
singly from the top, showing each to the audience, as you carefully arrange
them in a face up fan in the open right hand . Your deliberate actions
condition the spectators so by the time you take a triple on the seventh card it
goes unnoticed.

On top of this, you apply thematic misdirection by beginning to talk of


something else after calling the second red card. So, after the sixth card (a red
one), you take three cards as one (with a black on the face). As you do this, tilt
the fan inward to conceal the extra thickness. Put the last red card on the face of
the fan (Figs. 59 and 60, p. 84). To adjust the right-hand grip on the fan, the left
hand takes it for a moment by the outer end, thumb on the backs of the cards
and fingers on the faces. The right hand now comfortably takes the fan by the
inner end, thumb on the back and fingers on the face (Fig. 61 of p. 85).

I square up the cards just as they are, always face up. Look! They are
alternated. I square up and they're still alternated. Don 't Blink! But if I do
this ... Snap your fingers and continue: ... we have four red cards on top. Yes!
Four red cards!

The left hand now closes the right-hand fan deliberately as shown in Fig.
61 of p. 85. Then, with the packet held in the left hand, spread the two cards
on the face lengthwise to show three cards of alternated colors (Fig. 62 of p.
85). Square those cards and get a little-finger break under the second card
from the face. Without pausing, take the cards in right-hand Biddle Grip,
transferring the break to right thumb. Then the left hand spreads a few cards
from the bottom to the left to show, again, alternated colors.

Square the cards in the left hand, recovering the break under two cards
with the little finger and do the Vernon Push-Off. Take that double card in the
right hand by clipping it between the right thumb and the base of the
forefinger, and then spread the next three red cards and peel them singly on
top of the double, reversing their order.

Set the right-hand cards on top of those in the left and, without pausing,
spread four cards to the right and take them in the right hand without
reversing their order, in fanned condition. The right hand then places those
cards, one at a time, on the table in a row from left to right as you conclude:
.. .and, of course, here are the black- four black cards.

As the right hand deals those cards, execute a Triple Buckle on the left-
hand packet. Take the packet in right-hand Biddle Grip, obtaining a thumb-
break over the buckled cards and perform a Palmas Spread to show four black
cards. The right hand moves away with the double it holds and tables it with
the Burning Double technique to your left, near the table edge, as the left
hand, rubbing its cards back and forth, projects the bottom card to the right.
The right hand takes that card and sets it to the right of the first. The right hand
comes back to the left, takes the second double and does another Burning
Double, leaving it to the right of the other two. Take the last card in the right
hand and set it at the right end of the row to conclude. If you like, you may use
the Rubbed and Overlapped technique (see p. 57 Rubbed and Overlapped,
Chapter One) with the second double. After a generous pause, gather the
cards, put them on top of the deck and continue with your next trick.

252
Two Classics
In the two tricks that comprise this chapter, Maestro Ascanio tackled two
classic premises of card magic. A Baroque Transposition3 1 is a transposition of
two cards that doesn' t require duplicates and that may even be done with a
borrowed deck. The Mechanical Strength of Thoughe2 is a ve rsion of
Hofzinser's Everywhere and Nowhere plot, in which none of three cards
shown is the selection, then each turn into the selection, which is fin al ly
produced from the magician's pocket.

31. Originally published in Spanish as Transposici6n Barroca in the EMM Circular N° 72, December, 1980,
and later in the set of lecture notes Psicologfa del Empalme in 1981, for a lecture that was first given in the
Santander National Convention.
32. Originally published in Spanish as La Fuerza Motriz del Pensamiento in Misdirection N• 1, 1964.
ABaroque Transposition
A regular deck is used. Shuffle it or have it shuffled before you begin.

1. With your left thumb, riffle down the outer left corner of the deck and ask
a spectator to stop you whenever he wants. When he does, open the
break widely at that point, cleanly cut the riffled portion with your right
hand, and complete the cut. Ask a spectator if he can remember two
cards. Double-lift to show the top card-apparently the one at which
they stopped you-and call its name, say the Seven of Spades. Turn the
double face down, take the top card, and clearly put it into your right
jacket pocket, where you leave it resting on one of its long edges.

2. Cut the deck and get a little-finger break between the portions in
readiness for a Riffle Force. Riffle the outer left corner as before and ask
the spectator to ca ll "stop" at any time. Whenever they stop you, cut the
cards at the break and complete the cut.

Perform a Double Turnover to show another ca rd , say the Ten of


Diamonds. Announcing that you will put that card face up in the middle
of the deck, take the two double-1 ifted cards as one and insert them
halfway into the deck. Make a one-hand fan with your right hand to show
the inserted card in the deck as in Fig. 317 (the double should not split
when fanning the cards). Close the fan and, as if to arrange the cards
neatly with your right fingers, slide the back card of the double (Seven of
Spades) flush with the deck. This is a Dai Vernon maneuver.

3. With the deck in dealing position, the right fingers insert the Ten of
Diamonds diagonally jogged to the left as shown in Fig. 318, in readiness
for the Endfielci/Ascanio Palm, leaving one of the indices exposed. At this

258
point, the deck is gripped from above by only the right thumb and forefinger.
The other fingers are over the outer end but do not hold the deck (Fig. 318).

In a soft squaring action up the left edges of the cards, from the inner to
the outer corners, the left thumb pushes the jogged card into the deck
(Fig. 319). As a result of this action, the outer right corner of the card will
protrude slightly from the right side under the cover of the right hand. You
should feel the inner left corner of the card on your right thumb.

Bring the deck to the position shown in Fig. 320, enabling the left little
finger to engage the outer right corner of the Ten of Diamonds as seen in
Fig. 321 (right fingers removed for clarity).

Now the right hand brings the left edge of the deck to an almost
horizontal position, making the Ten of Diamonds pivot on the tip of the
left little finger, into a position where it is ready to be palmed (Fig. 322).
The left hand begins to palm the card, which is partially out of the deck.

The left thumb holds the deck in position and the right hand releases it
for a moment and regrips it at the outer left corner as shown in Fig. 322.
The left hand freezes as the deck is withdrawn in a large arc to the right,
and then displayed. This action takes the heat off the left hand and leaves
the card in left-hand Classic Palm (Fig. 323).

4. Transfer the deck face up to the left hand, helping to conceal the palmed
card, and straighten the mat with your right hand in a mild expression of
discomfort as if your hand were sweaty. Take the face-up deck again in
the right hand and ribbon-spread it widely from left to right. Complain
about your sweaty hand, opening and closing it a couple of times as if to
get rid of the moisture. In the same series of gestures, rub both hands
together executing Dai Vernon's Hand-to-Hand Transfer to send the card
from the left hand to the right. 33

5. In a continuous action, the left hand points to the face-down card in the
spread. Rest the left forefinger on it and outjog it, miscalling it as the Ten
of Diamonds. Remind the audience of the card in your right jacket pocket
(Seven of Spades). Put your hand in that pocket and bring out the card
that was palmed at your fingertips without exposing its face. Clearly put
the card back in the pocket, standing it on one of the ends to distinguish
it from the other card there. Make a magic gesture and bring the Ten of
Diamonds out of the pocket and show it. After a pause, turn the face
down card that has been in plain sight all along in the spread to reveal
the Seven of Spades.

33. See Expert Card Technique by Hugard and Braue, p. 455.

260
The Mechanical Strength of Thought
Everywhere and Nowhere
Effect
This is one of Hofzinser's favorite premises, which is seldom used by
today's cardmen. In Ascanio's rendition of this classic, the results are
attributed to the power of a spectator's mind.

A spectator is asked not to think of a card he has selected, while the


magician shuffles the deck and attempts to find the card. Everything seems to
go wrong and the magician makes three vain attempts to find the card and
sets aside three Aces, none of which are the selected card.

The spectator is then asked to concentrate on his selected card. One of


the rejected Aces, determined by the spectator, turns into the selection, which
is put back on the table, face down. The spectator points to one of the
remaining two Aces, and his selected Ace also turns into the selection. The
same happens with the third Ace.

Explaining that it has all been an illusion, you bring the selected card
from your pocket, where it supposedly has been all along, and the three cards
on the table are shown to be the Aces.

This trick is often thought to be a difficult one, only within reach of the
experts. The original version, as well as many of its contemporary variations,
relied on the Top Change, which was used repeatedly. 34 Ascanio chose to
implement the use of Paul Curry's Turnover Change/ 5 which is one of the
most ingenious sleights of modern card magic.

The use of Curry's sleight makes the trick easier and cleaner, aside from
allowing an explicitly deliberate pace. This sleight may feel awkward when
you try it out for the first time but progress comes fast with assiduous practice.
The ideal conditions for its execution are a soft mat and to perform standing,
or a low table if you perform sitting.

34. See, for example, the two versions in Expert Card Technique by Hugard and Braue, which are way
ahead of the one by Pau l Rosini that appeared in Greater Magic and which, in turn, improves upon and
simplifies Hofzinser's original.
35. Paul Curry's Turnover Change can be found in Paul Curry's World Beyond, by Stephen Minch. It is also
included in Close·Up Card Magic by Harry Lorayne, in Lewis Ganson's Finale, and in Hugard's More Card
Manipulations.

261
Se "
To your regular deck of cards, add two duplicates of any card, we shall
use the Two of Clubs for this description. Set the following cards on top of the
deck: Two of Clubs, Ace, Two of Clubs, Ace, Ace, Two of Clubs. The order of
the Aces is immaterial but it is preferable to use the Ace of Hearts and the two
black Aces.

There are two reasons for not using this effect as an opener. The first one
is that since the duplicates are laid on the table, a nearby spectator might turn
them over at an untimely moment. This is less likely to happen later in your
act once your audience is under your control. The second reason is that it is a
tough effect to follow.

To ring the two duplicates in during the course of your act, Ascanio
proposed the fo llowing procedure. Have the two duplicates of the Two of
Clubs in your right pocket. Bring the necessary Aces together during a
previous trick. Quickly slip the Two of Clubs to the top and put the three Aces
on top of it. Palm the duplicates in your right hand and load them on top. 36
Then, while casual ly spreading a few cards, exchange the positions of the
second and third cards to arrive at the set-up given above. You may do this by
simply slipping the third card to the second position or, if you prefer, with an
Overhand Shuffle, in which you run three cards singly and replace them on
top, run two singly, and replace them on top.

Another reasonable solution is, after having added the palmed duplicates,
force any of them-making for an easier force-and, while the spectator
shows the supposedly free selection to others, run two cards and replace
them on top. Cut the top half of the deck into the left hand, either Hindu-
shuffle fashion or with a Swing Cut, have the forced card replaced on top of
those, put the right-hand cards on top and control the whole set-up to the top
with a Pass or an Overhand Shuffle.

Pro edu e
Given its importance, we wi ll include Ascanio's patter in its entirety and
let you suit it to your own style. Let's quote Cami lle Gaultier thoughts on
patter: 37

36. See the strategy employed in The Torn and Restored Card of Mario and LePaul, pp. 156, 157 and 158.
37. Translated from the original version La Prestidigitation Sans Apparei/s, p. 64, also published in English
as Magic Without Apparatus.

262
" The patter should go in unison with the trick, accompanying every
nuance, underlining every effect, skipping hurdles and avoiding unforeseen
obstacles. Words are our best means to mislead the spectator into false
assumptions. The expert performer takes advantage of any occasion for
making appropriate witty remarks ... making of patter something lively and
essentially personal. "

First Phase
1. This experiment is based on Parapsychology, a fairly new brand of science
to which we'll refer, more colloquially, as The Mechanical Strength of
Thought. Serious experiments have been carried out under the strictest
scientific conditions. It has been proven that the mere action of wishing
something, under the right conditions, can make that wish come true, like
somebody who is about to roll a pair of dice and intently wishes a certain
number to come up. The results have been very puzzling and astonishing,
because the overwhelming results in favor of the wished number cannot
be explained by the laws of probability or by traditional science. Human
thought, it seems, possesses a mechanical strength, which stops the dice
or makes them keep rolling to arrive at the desired number. I have used
this concept to produce magical-looking effects.

Asca nio recommended inserting at his point some telekinetic effect as an


example such as a matchbox that stands o n end and opens itself due to
mental waves or a small meta l ring laid on the floor that jumps a considerable
height because you concentrated on it.

I' ll show you something interesting with a deck of cards. Address a


spectator in front of you: Sir, let's put your mechanical strength to the test.
Will you please take a card?

Force the Two of Clubs, have it replaced at the same position of the deck
it was taken from, and control it to the top by any method, retaining the top
stock intact.

2. I will now allempt to find that card going against the strength of thought
of the person who took it. Please do not think of your card. If you do, thi.~
would be too easy. Fix your thoughts on anything but your card. You may
think of a cow, of the transmigration of soul, or in the crab's immortality.
Think of anything but your card. By simply shuffling the deck, I will fight
against your thoughts and find your card, unless the strength of your
brain waves is stronger than my magic powers. This, by the way, has
never happened. Are you ready?
After the spectator's affirmative answer, and while looking at him in the
eye, perform an Overhand Shuffle retaining the top stock. Stop the shuffle as
if you had just fulfilled your goal. Square up and get a little-finger break under
the top two cards.

3. Your card has ended up on top of the deck. Please answer yes or no,
without naming your card. Isn't it the Ace of Clubs?

Turn over the two cards above the break as one and show the Ace of
Clubs (o r whichever Ace happens to be there). Upon hearing from the
spectator that this is not his card, appear to be puzzled and rea ct
optimistically.

4. Well, it's quite normal to fail the first time. But the second or the third
time, the spectator's mind gives in and he can't avoid thinking of his card,
which makes the procedure easier.

Turn the double face down on top of the deck. Casually take the top card
(one of the duplicates) and put it on the table face down. Here the patter acts
as misdirection of the first degree38 to cover the small discrepancy of having to
turn the card face down on the deck before putting it on the table.

5. Let's try again. Remember that you should avoid thinking of your card.
Leave it out of your mind. Ready?

Appear to concentrate as you shuffle without looking at your hands. Run


fi ve cards singly, injog the sixth, and shuffle off. Regrip the deck getting a break
at the injog, shuffle to the break and throw the remaining five cards on top.

Square the deck obtaining a little-finger break under two cards in


preparation for a Double Turnover.

6. Address the spectator with a doubtful expression on your face. Let's see if
I have managed to defeat your thoughts this time around. Please answer
only yes or no. Is your card the Ace of Hearts?

Perform a Double Turnover to show the Ace of Hearts. The spectator gives
a negative answer.

38. See Volume One, p. 63.

264
7. Continue, with thoughtful admiration: Not your card either. Eh? I think
you are an exceptional individual. Very seldom have I resorted to a third
attempt to find a selected card.

Turn the double face down and put the top card (another duplicate) on
the table face down, next to the first, as you get ready for another shuffle.

8 . Please don 't give in this time. Don't think of your card. Keep your mind
busy thinking o" say, Sophia Loren's assets.
Run three cards and replace them on top and continue with an Overhand
Shuffle retaining the top 4-card stock.

9. Is your card by any chance the Ace of Spades? No? Sophia Loren has
won. That doesn't surprise me. I should have said jack Lemmon.

Double-lift to turn the Ace of Spades face down and deal the top card (a
Deuce) to the table on top of the two cards that are already there.

Second Phase
10. My friend, I should tell you that you have exceptional paranormal gifts. I
wonder what would happen if you hooked up with the dice guy. Let me
try something else. Please cover any two of these three Aces with your
hands. Take your time to decide which is the ace you want to leave
exposed. You may change your mind if you feel inclined to do so.

As you patter, align the cards that are on the table near the outer end of
your performing surface (A in Fig. 324). Let's say the spectator covers the two
cards at the ends.

11 . The center card has remained uncovered; neither the right, nor the left,
but the center.

Casually double-cut the top card of the deck (an Ace) to the bottom as
you patter, and then slide the center card out of the row, bring it to B, as if to
isolate it. Grip the outer end of the deck for a moment with your right thumb
and fingers to allow the left hand to alter its grip. The left hand then releases
its grip, turns palm down and regrips the cards from above with the back of
the deck towards the palm (Fig. 325).

12. Now I kindly request that you do the opposite. Think intently of your
card. Imagine the color, the suit, and finally the value. Wish for this to be
your card, and name your card aloud for the first time. Look! And this
card is ... the Two of Clubs!

As if fearing failure, skeptically turn the card at B face up with your right
hand (Fig. 326) and leave it there. Under the cover of a gesture of joy for the
successful outcome, and amidst the enthusiastic response, insert the left ring
finger above the bottom card of the deck, as required for the Paul Curry
Turnover Change that follows.

Although the trick appears to be over, more su rprises are yet to come. The
fact that the first effect is perceived as a bright endi ng speaks for the good
construction of the routine. The growing climaxes in quick succession that
follow produce an overwhelming impact that is greater than the sum of the
parts.

13. But, you might be asking yourselves, what would have happened if the
chosen card had been other than the one in the center?

With your left hand, take the face-up Two of Clubs from B and, as if
putting it aside, pretend to leave it face down at C, actually performing the
Paul Cu rry Turnover Change (Fig. 327) to switch it for an Ace. The change is
executed w ithout haste, without attempting to sneak it in when they are not
looking at your left hand. The spectators are allowed to see you turn a card
over. If you have mastered the technique, nobody w ill suspect anything, for
the fo llowing reasons. ·

• Your question at the beginning of this step is tremendousl y puzzling to


the spectators simply because they can't answer it. That's the mental state
you want to instill in them so they ca n' t conjure up th eir thoughts
normally.

DOD a

266
• After a pause to let your question register, continue: We'// do 1t again and
find out. Lift your right hand. This is also a provoking proposition : He's
going to do it again. Maybe I can figure it out. With this going on in their
minds while you perform the Turnover Change you are appl ying
misdirection in the second degree.

• You gesture with your right hand towards the cards the spectator is
touching (Fig. 327), thus directing attention to a point away from the hot
area (physical misdirection of the second degree), as you raise interest
about which of the two cards will remain free.

• The peculiar spectator's pose, with his arms extended like a pianist, also
helps dilute attention.

• Lastly, there is a more general reason- subtly pointed out by Hilliard- for
the trick to have outlived several generations of magi cians despite the
awkward old technique, and it is the fact that the change takes place at a
carefull y chosen moment. It is advisable to perform at an ample surface
that allows a generous separation between the cards that are laid out. The
spectators will be very attentive up to the moment the card is show n and
then they relax. In other words, the performer is always a step ahead.

Ascanio quoted Matt Schulien saying: "Don't att£>mptlo pPrfect your sleights,
rather cover them up with misdirection." Then he commented on it: "This
pic>cc> of advice, sound as it is, lacks absolute value becauw unles~ you use
nmdir£>ction in the third degree, a certain profioc>ncy in thP execution is
required or the hot area will attract attention. Misdirc>c lion in the second
degree does not prevent the spectator from seemg the move, but his attention
will be so diluted that he will not perceive the small diKr<•panoc>s that
distinguish a move from the honest action it imitate.s."

) )
Admitting that he was being demanding, Ascanio used to say in this regard:
"The mi~direction must be so effective that you could get away with sloppily
executed sleights, and the sleights must be so good that they hardly need any
misdir('Ction."

14. Bring the deck into dealing position by reversing the actions described in
step 11 as you say, Please lift any of your hands, whichever you want.
We 'll use the card that remains free. All right?

The spectator lifts one of his hands and you slide the card that was under
it to B. Get a break under the top card of the deck (an Ace), double-cut that
card to the bottom, and get ready for another Turnover Change.

15. Think intently of your card. Concentrate on the color, then the suit, and
finally the value. Even if you think this doesn't do anything, make a
mental effort to transform this card also into the Two of Clubs. Done? So
now this ca rd is also the Two of Clubs.

Suiting actions to words, turn the card at B with your left hand, revealing
another Two of Clubs to everyone's astonishment. Leave that card face up on
the table for a moment (Fig. 328).

16. Acting excited, say, I can't stop after this. Remember that this card has
been under your hand all along, under your close surveillance and in
contact with you.

Cas uall y take the Two of Clubs from B and turn it face down at C,
executing the Turnover Change. The misdirection is two-fold: On one hand
there is physical misdirection when you point to the spectator's hand with
your right forefinger (Fig. 329). A sp li t-second after th e pointing gesture

268
begins, the left hand reaches for the Two of Clubs to perform the Change (Fig.
330). The reasoning here is that the eyes fol low the hand that begins to move
39
first. On the other hand, you r emphasizing words divide the spectators'
attention: It's true. It's been under his hand. How on Earth could he change it
now? These thoughts take the heat off the secret action that doesn't need to
be concea led any further than that.

17. You may lift your hand but please do not fail me now. Concentrate
intently and press for this card to turn into your card, impossible as it may
sound. Take your time and remember: concentrate on the color first, then
the suit and finally the value. Don't you want it to be the Two of Clubs?
Well, here you are!

With these words, double-cut the third Ace from the top to the bottom of
the deck and once the spectator Iifts his hand, slide the uncovered card to B.
As he concentrates, get ready for another Turnover Change. Finally turn the
third Two of Clubs face up at B as before (Fig. 329).

During this last phase of the routine, gradually increase the pace of your
patter and make you r words more intense, almost stuttering in nervous
excitement leading to the revelation of the third Two of Clubs. The spectator
wil l surely get equally excited.

Third Phase
18. Your attitude now changes. Make the best of your acting ski lls to enter a
grave mood. Say, No, it's not that. I know what's going through your
mind. You're thinking that there are three Twos of Clubs.

39. See in Volume One, p. 80, The Law of Primary Motion.


Suiting actions to words, casual ly look at your left hand and, with it, take
the face-up Two of Clubs in readiness for the change, which is synchronized
so that the switched card is set face down over the two cards at C at the exact
moment you say the word "three." In a continuous action the left hand
spreads those three face-down cards to the right (Fig. 331 ).

Th e misdirection here is taken care of by the left hand alone, in


consonance with your patter. To begin with, you partially reveal the method
when you say there are three Twos of Clubs. That statement has all the beauty
of truth and creates a bit of a storm in the spectator's mind: Of course, it's got
40
to be that! Three of the same card! This is a blurring thought that even when
it occurs simultaneously with the move (and not a sp li t-second earlier, as
would be ideal) is strong enough to cover the small discrepancies (always
present in the Curry Turnover, no matter how well it is performed) in relation
to the honest action it imitates. On top of that, the small spread portrayed in
Fig. 331 underlines the concept of "three cards" and keeps all eyes busy. The
spreading action justifies bringing the left hand forward as well as the longer
stay of the card in that hand.

The spectators are now convinced the three cards on the table are all Two
of Clubs, while they're actually Aces. The duplicates are now on the bottom
of the deck, ready to be pa lmed off.

19. To tell the truth, this has all been a mirage, sort of an optical illusion. You
are now thinking that I'm talking nonsense again. However, the Two of
Clubs has always brought me bad luck. Tha t's why I took it out before we
started and put it in my pocket.

40. See Volume One, p. 64, M isdirection in the Second Degree.

270
Pa lm the bottom three cards of the deck in your left hand (or if it's four or
five cards it's just as good). The right hand tables the deck as the left hand digs
into the inner right pocket of your jacket, leaving all the palmed cards there
except for the one in contact with the palm. Take the card out with its back
toward the audience and transfer it to the right hand, where it is shown
gracefully (Fig. 332) to everyone's surprise.

20 . And, as you can see, there is no other Two of Clubs in the deck.

Ribbon-spread the deck face up and, maintaining the Two of Clubs in full
view in the right hand, the left hand taps the spread wider in several places to
prove your statement.

21. As far as these cards are concerned, well, they have always been the Ace
of Clubs, the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Hearts.

Dramatically turn the Aces face up, one at a time for the kicker.

Suum Cuique Tribuere (credit where it's due)


The formula of the set-up and the stock shuffles were inspired by ideas
from Arthur Buckley's Card Contro/, 41 where they were used in a different trick.

Ascanio took the idea of using Aces, rather than indifferent cards, for the
"wrong" cards from Hugard and Braue, 42 who pointed out that the Aces are
easier to remember and strengthen the effect. Following that trend of thought,
however, Arturo preferred using the Ace, Two, and Three of Clubs, and the
Nine of Diamonds for the duplicate card. In fact, the appearance of those
cards after shuffling is more believable. They are just as easy to remember as
the Aces and also allow you to play with the idea that the selected card must
be a Club. When Ascanio first published this routine, he hadn't yet
experimented with this innovation enough, so he maintained the use of the
Aces and only made the suggestion.

The actions described in steps 18 and 19 were inspired by Fred Kaps.


Originally, Arturo would have the duplicates palmed in the left hand and started
out by ribbon-spreading the deck face up from left to right while ditching the
duplicates in his left jacket pocket. Then, after showing that there was no other
Two of Clubs in the deck, he would show his hand empty and produce that
card from that pocket. He eventually favored the system described above.

41. Sec, in Arthur Buckley's Card Control, The Ladies and the Deuces.
42. Sec, in Expert Card Technique, Everywhere and Nowhere, p. 309.
Minor Masterpieces
Although Arturo de Ascanio preferred, for the most part, routines of a
certain length and complexity, he created a number of minor masterpieces.
He often presented them as interludes within full-fledged performances.

These pieces were seldom included in Arturo's lectures; he taught them


mostly to reduced groups of friends. Some of these pieces are seeing print
here for the first time and will show a different side of Ascanio. He
maintained that such tricks lend themselves to being enhanced by an
accompanying story that underlines the effect. As we know, in his major
routines, Arturo preferred a more direct presentation in which, to a certain
extent, he narrated what went on in his hands.

Although Triumph is a full-fledged routine-not what you would call a


minor piece-it is included here because Arturo often performed it following
X - 1 = 0, which is described further below.
Dolores' Trick
This is Arturo's take on the Hotel Mystery or Hotel Trick premise, w hi ch
surfaced, in the magic literature when Henry Christ published it in 1940.43 As
Chri st pointed out, the effect dates back to Jordan's time (earl y 1900's).

Many vari ations of thi s plot have been developed through the years such
as those by Ed Mario, Peter Kane, Jo n Racherbaumer, Lou Gal lo, Larry
Jennings, and David Solomon.

The trick is named after a maid from the province of Navarra who worked
in Arturo's parents' house in the 1930's during the Spanish Civil War. That
kind woman showed Arturo a trick that he considered the predecessor of this
one. He would always point out that the Dolores' Trick was a very si mple self-
working trick that followed a similar premise.

Procedure
The four Kings and two Queens are used. You may remove those cards
from the deck openly or, if using your own deck, have them on the face in
advance to save time. The o rder, from the top dow n: red Queen, black
Queen, black King, red King, black King, and red King. The rest of the deck is
not used.

We'll use the four Kings and two Queens. Holding the 6-card packet in
Asca nio's Modified Dealing Position 44 (Fig. 333), deal the four Kings in an
overl apping vertica l row at the left side of the table, and then dea l the two
Queens at the right side of the table in the same way.

Using both hands, take the face-up Kings, arrange them in a neat vertical
spread and set them back on the table. Do the same with the Queens as you
expla in: The Kings will represent four gentlemen and the Queens will be two
young ladies. You are about to witness their adventures in a hotel called The
Picadero Palace. Look at the audience and gesture as you in troduce the
characters and set the stage as described.

One evening four gentlemen arrived at The Picadero Palace. With these
words, gather the spread of Kings as shown in Fig. 334, and turn them face
down into the waiting left hand. Square the cards and fan them to the right
wi th their faces directly toward the audience. Take two Kings in each hand

43. See Aces and Kings by Henry Christ in The jinx, N° 74, p. 496.
44. See p. 194.

276
(Fig. 335), and finally set the right-hand cards on top of the left-hand cards as
you bring them back to a horizontal position. Leave the cards on top of the
open and motionless left palm.

And two ladies also arrived. With your right hand, take the two Queens
and turn them face down bookwise on top of the left-hand Kings. Square the
cards, caressing their edges gently as you say, Two delicate young ladies. Push
the top two cards to the right with your left thumb and take them with the
right hand by their inner right corners. Turn your right hand for a moment to
display the faces of those cards and set them face down again onto the left-
hand cards, procuring a little-finger break under them.

These two ladies booked two rooms, one for each. As you patter, perform
the Vernon Push-Off45 (Fig. 336) with the two cards above the break, and take
them as one in the right hand. Push another card off the left-hand packet and
take it above the double. Square the cards at the left fingertips and then show
them as two Queens through the D' Amico/Ascanio Spread (see p. 45), Figs.
337-33 9.

45. See, in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic by Lewis Ganson, Dai Vernon's Double Lift, pp.l20-121.

fj),l
~-
' ..
Set the right-hand cards on top of the left-hand packet (an in-transit
action to leave the right hand free) and then point, with your right hand, at
two points on the table, one to your left and another to your right. Deal the
top card to the point on the left and the next card to the point on the right.
You have apparently dealt the two Queens while the card on the left is
actually a King.

And now the gentlemen . With your right hand, take the King on the
bottom of the packet, show its face, and then replace it on top. This is how
Ascanio cleverly transferred a card from bottom to top without using any
sleights.

In a continuous action, turn the packet face up and show it as consisting


of four Kings through an Elmsley Count as you continue: Remember there
were four. Then one of them asked the other: "What do we do now?
Obvtous: two with each lady! Do you m ind?" Of course they didn 't. Said and
done, two went with one of the ladies and the other two with the other.
Suiting actions to words, turn the packet face down in your left hand and
spread them slightly to the right. With your right hand, take the two rightmost
cards by their outer right corners, thumb on top and fingers below. Turn both
wrists inward to casually display their faces as you gesture with them toward
the cards on the table (Fig. 340).

Thanks to the right-hand grip and on your focusing attention on the left-
hand cards, the fact that the back card of the 2-card spread is a Queen will go
unnoticed. This subtlety was devised by Roy Walton and is known as The
Walton Show.

Reverse the wrist turns to bring the cards face down again and, as you
square the right-hand cards against the left thumb, add the bottom right-hand

278
card (a King) onto the left-hand cards. Pretend to square the right-hand cards
(actually a single card) at the left fingertips. Take that single card in Biddle
Grip and set it, as two, on top of the tabled card on the right.

As you refer to "the other two," do another D'Amico/Ascanio Spread, in


this case to show the three left-hand cards as two Kings. Replace the cards in
the left hand, square them up, and take them in right-hand Biddle Grip. Set
those cards neatly on top of the tabled card to your left.

Then the police arrived and started a raid: We have been informed that
there are two men with one lady in two different rooms. What5 going on
here? Then the hotel owner, who was a magician, explained: Take it easy!
Nothing is wrong. Snap your fingers. Look, in this room there are two ladies
chatting about their things. With your right hand turn the cards on the right to
reveal the two Queens. With the left hand take the cards on the left and
sp read them face up as you conc lude: And in this one there are four
gentlemen playing Poker.

If the situation is ri ght, you might add: What the police never knew is that
all of them were gay.
The Pathology of Cards
Las Vegas Split, a trick by Paul Harris which appeared in Supermagic, p.
122, started a trend of routines-in Spain and everywhere-in which a
playing card is split in two. This is Ascanio's take on that premise.

Set-Up
Put the Nine of Clubs on top of the deck, followed by the Six of Clubs
and the Three of Clubs.

Procedure
Begin with the deck in dealing position as you begin your patter. Arturo
used to tell an amusing story regarding the various illnesses that playing cards
suffered-their causes and their remedies. He began by saying, As you might
have observed, playing cards are like human beings: they are born, they grow
up, they get old, and they get sick.

Then he explained several of the alleged illnesses such as "card chicken-


pox" which were little black spots that appeared on the faces and backs of the
cards, that had to be removed by rubbing alcohol on them. He also
mentioned " premature arthritis of playing cards" that was usually found in
young playing cards that tended to get rigid and cracked when you bent
them. That illness could be cured through a sauna treatment but could also be
treated at home with a steamy bath, after which the cards had to be wrapped
in a towel and put in a press, or at least under a pile of books such as the
Tarbell Course, or if you have a copy of Greater Magic, a single book could
get the work done.

He went on to discuss "edge and corner fractures" referring to wear and


tear of the corners and edges of the cards, explaining that this illness had no
remedy and the deck needed to be thrown away. Or also "Senior Citizen
overweight" which was produced when old decks of cards gained weight and
got thicker, which was commonl y found in the mountains where pure air
seemed to lengthen their life span.

After all of these examples, Arturo continued: But what I want to discuss
today is Australian card splittesis. Have you heard about it? Australian card
splittesis takes place when the layers that constitute a playing card split. I'll
show you with a freely selected card.

Cut the top third of the deck to the bottom and procure a little-finger break
between the portions. Riffle-force the Nine of Clubs (now directly below the
break) as follows. Ask a spectator to call "stop" whenever he wants as you

280
begin to riffle the left outer corner downward with your left thumb. By riffling
slowly, contrive to have the spectator stop you before reaching the break.
When he does, open the deck widely at that point with the riffling thumb.

The right hand now approaches the deck from above to lift the top portion.
The middle finger grips the outer end of the riffled portion as the thumb lifts all
the cards above the little-finger break. In the action of lifting the cards, the deck
is tilted slightly forward so that the outer end of the portion lifted by the middle
finger come in contact with those of the bottom portion. This enables the
middle finger to grasp all the cards above the little-finger break against the
thumb and the right hand to move forward with that upper portion .

Bring the left hand forward, offering the spectator the top card of the
bottom portion, at which he apparently stopped you, actuall y forc ing the
Nine of Clubs.

Have the spectator show that card to others and replace it on top of the
bottom portion (from where it came). Reassemble the deck procuring a little-
finger break between the portions and cut several small packets from bottom
to top until you reach the break, bringing the force card to the top.

Reverse the order of the top three cards through an O verhand Shuffle.
You may proceed as follows. Undercut the bottom half of the deck, run one
card injogged, and shuffle off. Continue the Overhand Shuffle by taking the
whole deck, getting a right-thumb break at the injog, and shuffle to the break.
Run three cards singly and put the remaining right-hand cards on the bottom.

Square up the deck and take it in dealing position. The right hand now
takes the top card by its inner end, tilting it toward you as if to see its face, and
tell the spectator, Your card is a black card, a low value, with only a few spots.
As you say this, get a break under the next card by pushing and resquaring.
Without paying much attention to the spectator's reply, leave the card back on
top. With that you have subtly obtained a break under two cards.

Perform a Double turnover to show the Six of Clubs. Here Arturo would lift
the two cards above the break with his right hand and do the Gordon Turnover.
Is this your card? The spectator shakes his head and you perform the Studio Lay-
Down (Fig. 341 ) to table the two cards as one as you ask the spectator what his
card was? When he names the Nine of clubs, you exclaim: Australian card
splittesis! Didn't I tell you? Pass your hand over the double card, splitting it, and
show the cards: Six and three makes nine! And both are Clubs, so your card
must be the Nine of Clubs. That's the Australian card splittesis!

281
Explain that this phenomenon is reversible and the layers of the card may
be put back together. As you focus attention on the cards on the table, your
left thumb pushes the top card of the deck to the right to enable the little
finger to get a break under it.

Pick up the cards from the table with your right hand as you comment
that to bring the layers back together they have to be back to back. Put the
face-up right-hand cards on top of the deck for a moment, jogged to the right,
holding them in position with your left thumb. The right hand releases its grip
on the cards and then retakes the top card, turning it face down, and inserts it
under the other face-up card (Fig. 342). Take those two cards away from the
deck and square them at your left fingertips, clearly separated from the deck.

The right hand grips the two cards together, back to back, by their inner
right corners. Say, I think I'd better put them face to face. Square those cards
flush with the rest of the deck and insert the right forefinger and middle finger
in the break, making contact with the face of the N ine of Clubs. Pull that card
out of the deck, with the thumb on top, as if it were the bottom card of the
two that were in the right hand (Fig. 343 ).

282
The top card is momentarily left face up on top of the deck. Without a
pause, the left thumb pushes that card to the right and you take it under the
right-hand card (Fig. 344). Square those two cards again at the left fingertips.
With that you have switched the Nine of Clubs for one of its alleged
components.

No, I think they'd better be facing the same way. With the cards held at
your fingertips, extract the bottom card of the two with your right hand, turn
it over, and replace it under the other card (Fig. 345), bringing the two into
alignment. The right hand now grips the cards by their inner right corners,
thumb on top, and first two fingers below. As you pretend to squeeze them
together, bring them closer to the deck and, as if snapping your fingers, the
thumb moves forward and the fingers backward, secretly unloading the
bottom card of the two on top of the deck as you swivel the top card
forward (Fig. 346).

Continuing to apparently press the two cards against each other, take the
single card as two and set it carefu ll y on the table, as if not to split the alleged
two cards. Move the left hand away and with your right hand, make a fist and
press the card against the table as you say: Done! Turn the card face up,
revealing that it is single and that it is the Nine of Clubs.

Let the effect sink in and expla in that just as you brought the cards together,
you could split them again. Get a little-finger break under the top two cards of
the deck in readiness for a Top Change to switch the single card for the double
above the break, proceeding as follows. Take the Nine of Clubs in the right
hand by its inner right corner, thumb on top and first two fingers below.

As you make a gesture that blends with your patter, say, for example: To
split it again all I have to do is this. Bring the right-hand card flush on top of
the deck so that the two cards above the break join the right-hand card and
all three end up held between the right thumb and fingers. The left hand then
moves away, turning palm down, as the left thumb peels the top card, leaving
the other two in the right hand. To get the knack and do this neatly will take
some practice.

The thumb and forefinger of the palm-down left hand grasp the double by
its outer left corner as shown in Fig. 347. Both hands now turn briskly and
simultaneously to the left: the left hand with the top card and the right hand
with the bottom card, splitting the double and bringing both cards face up
(Figs. 347 and 348).

The Nine of Clubs appears to have split into the Six and the Three. Drop
those cards face up to the table to conclude.

D
284
X-1=0
When ready to perform hold the deck in dealing position with a break near
center held by the left little finger, whose outer phalanx is completely inserted
between the portions. The right thumb then riffles two cards off the top portion,
which fall onto the little finger. Get a right-thumb break above those two cards.

Perform a Christ Twist, or another Half Pass to reverse the portion under
the little-finger break. Release that break and keep only the thumb break. The
situation is now, from the top down: about half the deck face down, thumb
break, two more face down cards, and the rest of the deck face up.

Step the portion of the deck above the break to the left and, taking the
deck in right-hand Biddle Grip, set it on the table in front of you, near the
tab le edge as shown in Fig. 349, while you deliver your introductory patter.
The cards above the step are all face down whi le the portion under it consists
of two face-down cards followed by the rest of the deck face up. Rest your
forearms on the table, shielding the deck in between.

Take a piece of paper (a paper napkin wi ll do) and write the known
Einstein formula E = mc 2 in sma ll print, and write "E instein" under it.
Comment that this Einstein formula explains all the secrets of nuclear physics,
atomic bombs included. Add that, given your familiarity with playing cards,
you have arrived at another universal formula, which constitutes the
foundation of all card magic.

On the reverse of the paper, write: X - 1 = 0. Draw a rectangle around it


and write the name of a spectator in large print under it (Larry, for example),
to whom you dedicate your performance. What really counts is not Einstein's
littl e formula but Larry's great formula. Let me show you how it works.

281
Take the stepped deck in right-hand Biddle Grip and put it in left-hand
dealing position, the left little finger procuring a break at the step. Spread the
cards between your hands and, calling attention to your actions, clearly turn
the cards above the break face up. Spread those cards until the first face-
down c ard comes into view and say, The number of face-up cards is
unknown We'll call it X.

Let's mix the X face-up cards with the rest of the deck, which we'll call Y.
Close the spread maintaining the break. Cut at the break and weave the two
portions together in dovetail fashion (Fig. 350) leaving the two face-down
cards on top, and pushing the cards together only halfway.

The right hand now takes the telescoped deck from above as shown in
Fig. 351 and completes the shuffle by deliberately pushing the cards together
by exerting pressure with the thumb at the inner right corner and the ring
finger at the outer right corner. The sides of the shuffled portions will be
unsquared and face-up cards appear to have been mixed into a face-down
portion (Fig. 351). After stressing that fact, square up the deck completely. All
the cards are actually face up except for the top two.

Double-cut the top card to the bottom and turn over the whole deck. This
leaves a face-up card on top, another on the bottom, and the rest of the deck
face down. The same could be achieved in a more artistic way by turning
over the deck between the two cuts, as follows. With two face-down cards on
top of the face-up deck, get a right-thumb break under the top card and cut
the bottom half of the deck to the top. Turn over the whole deck maintaining
the break and cut the portion under the break to the top (see Figs. 352, 353,
and 354). The accompanying patter for this optional procedure would be:
Some face up, some face down.

286
Shuffle the deck in dovetail fashion (Fig. 350), leaving the top and bottom
cards where they are. Turn the deck over and repeat the same shuffle as you
say, No matter how much I shuffle, the X number of cards is not altered.

Now only the top and bottom cards are face down. Procure a right-
thumb break under the top card. Cut the bottom half of the deck to the top
and turn over the whole deck maintaining the break. Cut the portion under
the break to the top (Figs. 352-354). The two face-up cards are now on top.

What does the fo rmula say? That X, which is the number o f face-up cards,
minus one equals zero. With these words, do Ascanio's Floating Double to
turn the two face-up cards face down as one. Bring the deck to the outer left
corner of your performing surface and ribbon-spread it widely from there
diagonally to the inner right corner to conclude by revealing that all the cards
are face down.

'8
Triumph
After the reaction to the previous effect, the right hand takes the deck
from the table. Grip the deck at the left fingertips for a moment, under the
guise of a squaring action, as you procure a right-thumb break above the
bottom card at the inner end. Put the deck in left-hand dealing position,
transferring the break to the base of the left thumb. Once the right hand
moves away (Fig. 355), the left fingers squeeze the deck to crimp the inner left
corner of the bottom card downward by butting it against the thumb base.

If X minus one equals zero, you don't need to be a genius to know that X
equals one. just remember that and you'll see. Ribbon-spread the deck widely
and diagonally from the outer right to the inner left of your performing
surface. Ask a spectator to take a card out of the spread and look at it. Gather
the cards and begin to perform a lazy Hindu Shuffle. Once you have about
half the deck in each hand, extend your left arm to have the card replaced on
top of the left-hand portion. As if resuming the Hindu Shuffle, throw a small
group of cards from the bottom of the right-hand packet (in transit) on top of
the left-hand portion, positioning the crimp above the selection. Shuffle the
remaining cards normally and ribbon-spread the deck as before as you say,
This magic formula works with any card and at any position. The crimped
corner is concealed by the spread.

Gather the cards neatly but casually, square them up, and set the deck in
the center of the table with Its sides parallel to the table edge.

With your left hand, cut at the crimp and set that portion to the left of the
bottom portion. The selected card is now on top of the packet on the right.
Calling attention to the fact that you have cut the deck approximately in half,
take the left half in left-hand dealing position and get a break above the

288
bottom crimped card. To undo the crimp, grip the rest of the deck with your
right hand and press the inner left corner of the gripped packet over the
crease of the crimp, pressing it against your palm (Fig. 356). The operation is
instantaneous and secure.

In the same action, bring the left hand forward and turn it palm down.
Spread that portion of the deck face up from twelve o'clock to six o'clock, so
to speak. Spread the other portion face down, parallel and to the right of the
first as you say, suiting actions to words, All the cards in this half are face up
and those in this other half are face down.

Gather the face-up spread on the left and then the face-down one on the
right, leaving them on the table in position to be riffled-shuffled together. Before
doing that, however, riffle each half separately, first the left and then the right, to
show and stress their corresponding face-up and face-down condition.

And this is not just any shuffle. It's a shuffle where I don 't look at the
cards. While ostensibly looking away, riffle the two portions together, as
follows. Begin by riffling a few cards, about 8-10 cards, off the left portion.
Continue to riffle both portions normally (reducing the bend to a minimum to

89
facilitate the Strip-Out that will follow), and let the top card of the right half
(the selection) fall on top.

Moving both hands in unison, lift the telescoped deck off the table to
clearly display their face up and face down condition. Push the halves
together part of the way and put the cards back on the table in the position
shown in Fig. 357. Show once again that one half is face up (Fig. 357) and
the other face down (Fig. 358).

Continue to push the halves together, bringing them to the condition shown
in Fig. 359. Separate the hands and explain that the present configuration of the
cards, in which the distribution of the face-up cards along the face-down
portion can be clearly appreciated, is like an X-Ray view of the deck.

Now comes the Double Square-Up maneuver, which is Ascanio's chief


contribution to the Triumph shuffle. The right hand approaches the deck and
the middle fingers are positioned as seen in Fig. 360. Square the sides of the
cards (Fig. 361 ). The knuckle of the left ring finger immediately makes contact
with the face up cards at their left ends (Fig. 362). Pushing those cards to the
right, apparently square the ends of the interlaced halves (Fig. 363).

290
Actually, as in the known Pull-Out Shuffle, the right forefinger rests on the
top card (Figs 362 and 363), which is the only one that comes into alignment
with the left end of the deck, leaving the ca rds as shown in Fig. 364, where
the right hand has been removed for clarity.

The second squaring action must follow the first immediately. Only
then-Arturo pointed out-the conditioning effect of the first honest square-
up has an effect on the second false one, so that both appear innocent. To
cover the bad angle on the left, the right hand goes from the position depicted
in Figs. 362 and 363 to that in Fig. 365. As soon as the ends have been
squared, the right hand leans over the deck in the position shown in Fig. 365,
concealing the side of the deck where the cards never come flush. Study the
position of the right hand in Fig. 365, at which a brief pause is made as the
right thumb riffles the cards from the bottom up with a ruffling sound.
Continuing that action, the thumb (and only the thumb) slides to the right and
grips the face-down packet that protrudes to the right against the base of the
right little finger (Fig. 366).

Pull that packet out to the right and then forward and, in a cutting action,
put it on top of the left-hand packet (Fig. 367), procuring a break in between.
As you continue the cutting actions, your ri ght fingers extract th e lower
portion of the lower packet to the right and forward (the cards come out face
up). Set that portion on top. Take the remaining ca rds of the lower packet,
apparently face down, and put them on top, somewhat unsquared (Fig. 367).
Move the hands away from the deck for a moment and then square up the
deck neatly. Push the deck a few inches forward, leave the deck there and
pause. This is the most important moment of the routine.

The cards are not shuffled like this. Interlock your fin gers in front of your
chest (as in Fig. 215 of p. 196), a gesture that has become very popul ar in the
Spanish magic scene. They are shuffled in this way. Separate the right hand,
turn it palm towa rd the audience and interlock the fingers again, emphasizing
the face up and face down condition of the shuffled deck.

To confirm what you are saying, take a small packet from the top of the
deck with your right hand as in Fig. 368 to expose a face-up card (Fig. 368) as
you say, Some are face up. Replace the packet and lift a portion of more than
half the deck (Fig. 369) as you continue, And some are face down. Repeat the
actions of lifting a small packet and then a larger one, appearing confused, as
if not knowing whether face-up or face-down card s will appear, while you
hold your left hand nearby.

Ask the spectator if, by any chance, he sees his selected card somewhere
during the following cutting sequence (which actually begins at the same time as
your question). Confidently c'u t the deck between the two cards that are back to
back. Turn the hand palm up exposing a back (Fig. 370). Appearing confused by
the unexpected appearance of a back there, reverse the turn of the right hand
and put that packet in the left hand in an in-transit action (Fig. 371). Immed iately
take the rest of the deck from the table and turn your hand, enabling you to look
at the bottom card (a final action). Ask if that is the selected card.

292
After the negative reply, you ask a blurring question: 46 What was your
card? Reverse the turn of the right hand and put its packet on the table. The
left hand also turns palm down and puts its packet on top of the tabled
portion. During this sequence you have cleverly turned the left-hand packet
over. Leave the deck on the table and let the spectator answer your question:
The Seven of Spades (for example).

The Seven of Spades! The Seven of Spades is face down. No! Wait! It's
one of the face-up cards. Observe the verbal subtlety here. You say "one of
the face-up ca rds" as if there were many. How difficult is it to know that?
Well, only fifty percent difficult. It 's a fifty-fifty proposition.

Pause and let the spectators nod in approva l while they imagine the
alleged configuration of the deck. Actually, for me it's a lot easier (spectators
don' t understand why and expectation builds) because I've got the formula
that reads X minus one equals zero. Suiting actions to words, reach for the
paper that you had left aside and read the formula from it.

The right hand slowly reaches for the deck, which has been untouched
for a while, and brings it to the outer right corner of your performing surface.
Begin a diagonal face-down Ribbon Spread there. After spreading the first few
cards, pause to build expectation and continue the spread al l the way to the
inner left. The face-up selection wi ll stand out in the middle of the face-down
spread. Observe that the ca rds are spread in this direction so that the visible
index of the selection appears right side up. Push the selection partly out of
the spread and leave it there with both indices exposed to conclude.

46. Seep. 65 of Vol. 1 for comments on the " blurring thought."


Eight-Card Oil and Water
Arturo devised several versions of the Oil and Water plot. Sleightless Oil
and Water, described in Chapter Seven, is the most sophisticated of them, to
which he dedicated his best efforts and w hich will undoubtedly leave a mark
in the history of card magic as one of the most interesting renditions for this
classic premise. Oil and Water Featuring the Ascanio Spread, described in
Chapter Three, is also worth studying. The present version has the asset of
47
requiring only eight cards.

Procedure
First Ph~se
Begin with four high spot red cards (Sevens, Eights, Nines, or Tens) on the
table to your right and four high spot black cards to your left. Each group is
face up in a vertical spread.

Gather both spreads simu ltaneous ly, each with the respective hand,
beginning at the far end with you r hands palm down. Turn both hands palm up.

I have four black cards in my left hand and four red cards in my right
hand. Put each of your thumbs under its respective packet and turn the
packets face up in the hands. Spread both groups by pushing with the thumbs
and pulling with the fingers.

The black cards are clearly in this hand. The left hand closes its spread
and turns the packet face down. Keep that hand still as you say,

And the red cards go on top. The right hand then closes its spread and turns
the cards bookwise on top of the left-hand packet. Square the combined pile.

I'll put the red cards over here: one, two, three, and four. Suiting actions
to words, deal the top card face down at the outer right of the mat. Deal the
next card overl apping the inner end of the first, beginning a vertical row. Deal
the third cards in the same way, overlapping the second. Deal a second on
the fourth card, keeping a steady pace, to complete the row. Ascanio
occasionally dealt a bottom instead to achieve the same result. As soon as the
fourth card is dealt, lay you r right hand on the spread and slide it a little to
the right. The purpose of this action, as Arturo pointed out, is to break the
visual retention of the Second Deal.

47. This effect appeared, in a simpler version, in lfusionismo N° 180, in 1960, under the title Un juego
Ined ito.

294
And the black cards here: one, two, three, and four black cards. I'll put
this one over here. Deal three cards in a row on the left and keep the last card
in the left hand. Show that card briefly to the audience (Fig. 372) and table it
face down between the two rows.

And this red card here. Take the last card of the column on the right with
your right hand and, without showing its face, set it on top of the card in the
center, overlapping it forward and to the right (Fig. 373).

We'll alternate them: black, red, black, red. Take the next card from the
left column , show it briefly and set it over the two cards in the center,
overlapping the first card forward and to the left. Continue in this way with
three more cards, alternatively from one column and the other. You may
casually flash those cards as you proceed.

The last black card and the last red card. Set the last card from the left
row on top of the center pile without showing its face, and finally the last
from the right on top (Fig. 374). If you take those last two cards almost
simultaneous ly, you may casually flash the face of the last red card.

Square the sides of the overlapping cards and then the ends. Do this with
immaculate clarity so there is no doubt that you haven't done anything out of
the ordinary.

The red cards are clearly alternated amongst the black cards, like this.
Interlock your fingers in front of your chest as in Fig. 215 of p. 196.

But red cards and black cards are like oil and water. They don't mix!
Separate the hands and hold the fingers of one hand horizontally above those
of the other. After a pause to let the audience register the visual analogy, take
the tabled packet with your right hand and put it in you r left hand. Make a
magic gesture and say, All / have to do is this ... (Here Arturo would open and
close the fingers of the hand that held the ca rds, as he brought that hand up
and down repeatedly). Begin to deal the cards turning each card over in an
overlapping row toward you, dealing three cards from the top and second-
dea ling on the fourth card. All are red. Quickly deal the four black cards in
another vertical overlapping row to conclude. Pause to let the effect register.

Second Phase
We 'll do it again, but it will be more difficult this time around. We'll mix
the cards like this. Interlock your fingers once again, but this time with the
palm of your right hand facing you and the left palm facing the audience.
With your right hand, gather the black cards and put them face up in your left
hand, arranging them in a fan .

We'll alternate red and black cards, but this time the red will be face
down. Take a red card, turn it face down, and insert it outjogged in the fan,
between the two leftmost black cards (Fig. 375).

Likewise, insert the next red card between the second and third black
cards and, the next between the third and fourth black cards. Finally put the
last red card, on top of the last black card of the fan, holding it in place with
the left thumb, face down and outjogged like the others. Push the outjogged
cards flush and close the fan.

No question about it. Here is a red card face down, then a black card
face up, and so on: red, black, red, black, red, and black. With these words,
the right hand takes the packet from the left in Biddle Grip, and the left thumb
peels the top face-down card into the left hand. Peel the next card and get a
break under it. As you peel the next face-down card, steal the card above the

296
break under the right-hand packet. Peel the next face-up card and get a break
under it. Peel the next card and stea l the one above the break as before. Peel
the next face-up card and get a break under it. Peel the next card and steal
the one above the break, and finally put the remaining four cards as one card
on top, and get a break under them.

All I have to do is this and the red ca rds separate from the black ca rds.
Suiting actions to words, bring your hands w ith the cards to the center of the
table and give them a little shake as a magic gesture. Under the cover of that
action, perform a Half Pass to reverse the cards under the break, and then
spread the packet on the table from left to right to revea l the separation.

Third Phase
Once again, here are four b lack cards and four red cards. Gather the
cards and square them face up in the left hand. Push the four black cards
singly into the ri ght hand, which takes them without altering their order,
8
getting a Wedge Brea k• between the third and fourth cards by inserting the
tip of the ri ght little finger there.

Spread the four red cards into the right hand, inserting the first three into
the Wedge Break (Fig. 376), the fourth one going on the bottom of the 8-card
packet. Square the packet in the left hand. The color sequence from the face is
now: black, black, black, red, red, red, black, and red. For the audience the
four black cards appear to be together on top.

48. For a detailed explanation, The Oai Vernon Book of Magic by lewis Ganson, p. 53, where the move is
described without a name. Another description appeared later in The Classic M agic of Larry jennings by
Mike Maxwell, where it was credited to Dai Vernon and named The Vernon Wedge.
Turn the packet face down in the left hand and say, The red cards are
now on top. Spread the top four cards and take them in the right hand while
the left hand tables the other four face down.

I'll put the red cards face up over here. Square the right-hand cards as
you turn them face up into the left hand. Perform a Three-Card Vertical
Ascanio Spread,"9 bringing the double to the Ring-Finger Grip and briefly
show the backs of the cards during the Frotis actions.

Square the cards and set that packet face up on the far center of your
performing surface. The left hand then takes the face-down cards from the
table as you say, The same with the black cards. I'll put them face up on the
table as well. The right hand takes the black card on bottom card of the left-
hand packet (Fig. 377). Show that card and replace it on top of that packet.
Square the cards, turn them face up, and perform another Three-Card Vertical
Ascanio Spread. As you wriggle the double about, casually transfer it to the
face of the packet and then square the cards.

The right hand now puts the black cards face up on top of the red cards
that are on the table, overlapping them to the right.

just as they are: the red cards here and the black here. The red cards
clearly on top, like this. But if I do this ... they are now black, red, black, red,
black, red, black, and red. In accordance with the patter, take the 8-card
packet from the table in the right hand, thumb on the face and fingers on the
back (Fig. 378).

49. See Chapte r Eight, p. 243.

298
Turn the packet face down into the left hand and retake it from above in
the right hand, thumb at the inner end and fingers at the outer (Fig. 379).
Show the black card on the face of the packet as you refer to the black cards,
pointing to that card with your left forefinger.

Square the cards face down in the left hand and spread the top five cards
to the right. As the right hand approaches the deck, its middle and ring fingers
contact the face of the fifth cad from the top while the left thumb contacts the
back of the fourth card.

As you say "The red cards clearly on top" in the patter given above,
separate the hands in a gesture, automatically taking the top three and the
fifth cards in the right hand, and leaving the other four in the left.

Put the right-hand cards on top of the left-hand packet. Square the
combined pile deliberately and turn it face up into the left hand. Deal the
cards singly to the table to reveal that the colors are alternated.
The Nine Facts
This is Ascanio's version of the Cards Across premise. He used to perform
it standing and with two assisting spectators who were seated at both sides of
the table.

Procedure
Hand the deck to the assisting spectator on your right, asking him to
shuffle it thoroughly and state: Fact number one: a shuffled deck.

Retrieve the shuffled deck and set it on the table and ask the spectator to
give it a cut, prompting him with an indicative gesture to put the cut packet in
front of the uncut portion. Take that uncut portion and set it perpendicular
across the other as you declare: Fact number two: a cut deck.

Ask the spectator to separate the portions, to take the lower portion, and
to deal from it seven cards to the table, counting them aloud in a face-down
pile. As if to make it easier for him, lift the top portion and, as an explanatory
gesture, spread five cards from the top of that packet and resquare them
procuring a break under them.

While the spectator complies, make another statement: Fact number


three: The spectator counts seven random cards. Instruct the spectator to take
the 7-card pile and to have another two spectators each select one card from
it. Each spectator looks at his card and replaces it on top of the cards that
your assisting spectator holds, who then shuffles the 7-card pile to lose both
selections.

Fact number four: two freely selected cards are totally lost among the
seven random cards dealt by a spectator. Retri eve the 7-ca rd packet and
switch it for the five cards above the break through the Three-Tap Switch.

The Three-Tap Switch 50


Hold the packet to be switched out (packet A) in right-hand Biddle Grip. The
left hand holds the deck, with a little-finger break under the packet to be
switch<'d in (packet B).
Turn the right hand clockwise to bring its packet to a vertical position, with its
face to the left. Tap the lower long edge of that packet against the top of the
deck as if to square it. As this happens, the right thumb and ring finger grip
packet B by the ends, near the right corners (Fig. 380).

SO. This is a variat1on of the Talazac Packet Swi tch. Ascanio referred to it as Bernard Bilis' Three-
T,1p Switt h ht•t ,1USt' he learned 1t from Bilis.

300
The right hand begins to turn palm down with the two perpendicular packets
it grips, bringing the left edge of packet A flush with the deck where it is
retained by the leit thumb (Fig. 381 ). Continuing the same action, the right
hand moves to the right with packet B, bringing it to a horizontal position in
preparation for a second tap. Tap the left side of the right-hand packet against
the top of the deck, which has been brought to a vertical position, with its
back facing to the right (Fig. 382).
Tap the right hand packet flat against the table (Fig. 383) and leave it there.
The three taps take place at regular intervals in the time it takes to count: one,
two, three.

Ask the first spectator to put his hand on top of the tabled packet. Hold
the deck in Overhand Shuffle position with the faces to the left. Run a few
cards from the face. Throw a few cards from the face behind those. Drop
some more on the face, and finally throw the rest behind. This simple shuffle,
done casually, is quite appropriate in this case. As you complete the shuffle,
say: Fact number five: Deck shuffled.

Put the deck on the table and ask the second spectator to give it a cut as
you continue: Fact number Six: Deck cut by second spectator.

•- ~01
Set the uncut portion on across on top of the cut portion and state: Fact
number seven: second spectator takes seven cards at the point of the cut. As
you say this, lift the upper portion and signal for him to take the bottom
portion from the table, instructing him to count seven cards aloud in a pile.
This is, of course, the well-known Criss-Cross Force and the seven cards will
be the same ones that the first spectator counted earlier.

As the spectator deals the seven cards, classic-palm the top two cards of
the left-hand packet in the right hand. Pick up the 7-card pile dealt by the
spectator, adding the palmed cards on top of it as you do so. Square that
packet imitating the actions of the Three-Tap Switch and table it in front of the
second spectator, asking him to cover it with his hands as you state: Fact
number eight: The second spectator guards his packet under his hands.

And now some castanet magic. Take about half of the remaining cards in
each hand and, holding them above the first spectator's hands, riffle both
packets several times, emulating castanet sounds. Continue the riffling as you
bring the hands above the second spectator's hands. Do this a couple of times
and declare: Fact number nine: Through the spell of castanets, two selected
cards pass from the packet of the first spectator to the packet of the second
spectator.

Tell the first spectator to count his cards face down. To his surprise, he
counts only five cards. Ask for the names of the selected ca rds. Ask the first
spectator to check if those cards are among his five. He complies and the
selections are not there.

Ask the second spectator to count the cards under his hands. He will
count nine cards. Ask him to check whether the two selections are among
them. Said and done, he finds the selections there.

302
Antagonistic Aces
This is Ascanio's routining and presentation of Bill Simon's Challenge
Aces, which appeared in Harry Lorayne's magnificent book Close-Up Card
Magic, p. 201.

Ascanio ori ginally published this trick in Spanish, in a series of leaflets


titled Magia Pensada pero Asequible. Each leaflet included two tricks.
Antagonistic Aces appeared along with an early version of Aunt Enriqueta's
Aces, and he often performed them together, using the former to introduce
the latter. For the sake of completeness, we shall cons ider that option (see
Alternative Set-Up and Proced ure at the end of this explanation).

Set-Up
Put the four Aces on top of the deck in Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and
Spades order.

Preliminary Actions
Perform an Overhand Shuffle retaining the Aces on top. After completing
the shuffle, crimp the inner left corner of the bottom card of the deck.

Have a card selected, noted, and remembered. Swing-cut the top half of
the deck into the left hand and have the selection replaced on top of that half,
directly above the Aces. Put the right-hand portion on top of the left-hand
cards, obtaining a little-finger break under it. Double-cut at the break to bring
the 5-card stock to the top.

If you prefer, you could, instead, throw the right-hand cards on top after
the selection is rep laced, leave the deck on the table for a moment, and then
cut to the crimp and complete the cut.

Procedure
Take the deck in your hands. Casually spread five cards and resquare,
obta ining a break under the fifth ca rd as you say, Every card has an
antagonistic card, which always turns up when you are trying to find it.
Perform a Slip Cut to the break, and put the four cards extracted (the Aces) to
the bottom as if doing a straight cut, obta ining a break above them. Without
pausing, cut the four cards under the break to the top. These actions are
performed as you patter and should have the appearance of a coup le of
casual cuts. The Aces are now on top, followed by the selection.

Double-cut the top card (Ace of Clubs) to the bottom. Ask for the name of
the selection and, whatever card they name, exp lain that its antagonistic card
is the Ace of Spades. Every time you try to find the selected card, for instance
the Eight of Hearts, the Ace of Spades turns up instead.

Perform a Triple Turnover to expose the Ace of Spades and say, It's our
lucky day. The Ace of Spades turned up. But if we take it out, we should have
no problem in finding the selected card. Turn the triple card face down and
set the top card (believed to be the Ace of Spades) aside to your right.

Perform another Triple Turnover to reveal the face of the selected card, in
this case the Eight of Hearts. Call attention to the identity of that card and,
leaving the triple card face up, double cut it to the bottom, as if wanting to
lose it in the deck, as you explain that with its antagonistic card out of the
deck, it will always turn up, no matter how hard we try to lose it. The Ace of
Spades will turn up on top. Appear surprised, chuckle nervously, and look at
the card on the right in disbelief.

Turn the two face-up Aces face down as one card and put the top card
next to the tabled card on the right. Double-cut the top card to the bottom,
acting fearful as you perform the second cut. Turn over the whole deck to
reveal the Ace of Spades on the face. Act surprised and amazed.

Turn the three cards above the crimp face down as one card, exposing a
back. Deal the top card to the table, performing a wrist-turn to avoid flashing
the face-up Eight of Hearts underneath it (Fig. 384).

Ask yourself, Where could the Eight of Hearts be? Reverse the wrist turn
to bring the face of the Eight of Hearts into view. Get a break under two cards
and double-cut them to the bottom, acting skeptical on the second cut, as
you say, We'll lose the Eight. Turn over the whole deck to reveal , once again,
the Ace of Spades face up on top.

304
As you take the Ace of Spades in the right hand, push over the next two
cards and resquare them, getting a break under them. The right hand turns its
Ace face down and uses it to scoop the three face-down cards that are on the
table to your right. Carry those cards to the left, turn them face up on the
table and spread them to reveal the four Aces as you say, Well, what I really
wanted to show you is a trick with the four Aces, so let's forget about the
Eight of Hearts.

That's the end of the routine. If you are following it with Aunt Enriqueta's
Aces, palm the two cards above the break in your right hand, which then
takes the deck. The left hand gathers the Aces from the table as the right hand
leaves the deck aside and comes back to add the palmed cards above the
face-down Aces in a squaring action.

Hold the 6-card packet in position for an Overhand Shuffle with the faces
to the left. Run three cards singly and put the remaining three cards on top as
one, without letting them coalesce with the others. Continuing the shuffle, lift
the three cards that you had run singly. Run two of them and throw the last
one on top to restore the order. leave the packet on the table in a face-up pile
with apparent carelessness.

Alternative Set-Up and Preliminary Actions


If you want to follow with Aunt Enriqueta's Aces, the cards are set at the
beginning in the following positions:

1. Eight of Hearts
2. Ace of Clubs
3. Ace of Diamonds
4. Ace of Hearts
5. Ace of Spades
6. Ten of Spades
7. King of Spades
8. An indifferent red card
9. An indifferent red card
10. King of Hearts
11. An indifferent black card
12. An indifferent black card
13. Joker
14. Face-up Queen of Spades
15. Face-up red Queen
16. Face-up Queen of Clubs
1 7. Face-up red Queen
52. A black Ten with a corner crimp
With the cards in your hands, give the deck a complete cut, sending the
crimped card to the center of the deck. Perform an Overhand Shuffle, mixing
only the cards above the crimp and leaving them on top.

Force the Eight of Hearts, which is directly under the crimp. Ask the
spectator to remember that card and have him return it to the position from
which it came. Cut at the crimp to bring the forced Eight of Hearts to the top.

Perform Antagonistic Aces as described above and, after a pause, and the
Ace packet face up on the table, with two cards concealed underneath,
follow with Aunt Enriqueta's Aces as described in p. 171.

306
AHunger for Dreaming
In one of his visits to Madrid, Frank Garcia taught Arturo a trick. Arturo
admitted not having appreciated its fu ll potential at first, although he regarded
it as a very clever trick. However, after having performed it over and over, he
eventually grew fond of it and developed this version of it.

In Volume 1, p. 210, when we discussed the reasons why a trick can be


regarded as a very good one, w e mentioned that it should have a clever
method, and cited Paul Curry's Out of This World and Dai Vernon's Triumph.
A Hunger for Dreaming is another magnificent example of an effect that falls
into that category.

Here it is. Give it a try and discover for yourself how wonderful it is,
despite its simplicity.

Procedure
Hand the deck to a spectator and instruct him to shuffle it, and to cut a
sma ll packet off the top. Ideally he shou ld cut about fifteen to twenty cards or
so. If you think he cut a much lower number, tell him to take some more to
make it more difficult.

Turn your back and instruct the spectator: Please count the cards in the
packet you cut secretly and remember the random number of cards in that
packet. I won't even look.

Turn to face the aud ience and, without paying any attention to the
spectator's actions, continue: We need three things for this trick: a number, a
card, and the deck. Are you done with the counting? Good. Then we have the
first thing we need: the number. Please remember it until / ask you. Now for
the second requisite: a card.

Take the uncut portion of the deck from the table in the left hand as if to
perform a Faro shuffle. Retrieve the counted packet and shuffle it into the left
hand packet (Fig. 385), inserting it only about a third of its length. The weave
doesn't need to be a perfect one. The on ly requirement is that the top and
bottom cards of the left-hand packet remain on the top and bottom of the
dovetailed deck.

Hold the te lescoped deck in the left hand with the thumb on the left
edges of the cards and the fingers on the opposite edges. The packet that was
originally in the left hand will be the one that is telescoped forward.
Explain that a card will be selected at random, and begin to riffle down
the outer left corner of the telescoped deck with the left thumb, as you ask the
spectator to call "stop" whenever he wants. Make sure he stops you in the
area where the packets are interlaced. If he doesn't stop you in that area,
make some pertaining remark and riffle again. Stop the riffle when the
spectator tells you to and, with the riffling left thumb, open the deck widely at
that point (Fig. 386).

Insert your right fingers in that opening (Fig. 387) and, resting the right
thumb on top, lift that telescoped portion to a vertical position with the faces
toward the audience (Fig. 388).

With your left hand, point at the card on the face of the upper telescoped
portion (the King of Clubs in the illustration), and ask the spectator to
remember it. Reassemble the telescoped deck in the left hand, procuring a
little-finger break between the inner portions (Fig. 389).

We 've got two things already: a number and a card. Don 't forget them.
With these words, extract the telescoped outer portion of the deck (Fig. 390)
and put it on top.

.A!II!I
~

308
Cut all the cards above the break to the table (Fig. 391) and complete the
cut as you continue: And we also have the deck that, like the stone in Garcia
Lorca's verses, "neither searches for the shadow, nor avoids it." That's what
the deck is like, in this case.

We've got all three things already: a card, a number, and a deck of cards.
Look! I don't touch anything. I don 't know anything yet, neither the number,
nor the card. And I don't even touch the deck. Gesture with your open hands
above the deck without touching it.

What was the number of cards? Suppose he says twenty. Twenty? Look! I
won't tamper with the cards. I just count. Move the deck closer to you and
begin to take cards off the top cleanly and deliberately, counting them face
down on the table: One, two, three .. .and twenty. We 'll leave this twentieth
card over here. Set that card aside, isolated to the right.

Arturo used to say that the situation produced here is what Juan Tamariz
cal ls "the no-way phase" because the effect that the spectators see coming is
so impossible that they think, and sometimes even say, No way!

'I
Through your number, we have arrived at a card. Nobody knows which.
What was the card you thought of? Let's say he names the King of Clubs.

The King of Clubs? The room is now filled with expectation about the
identity of this card, with the hope that people haven't lost the hunger of
dreaming.

Take the card on the tab le and dramatically turn it over in your hand to
reveal that it is none other than the King of Clubs. After the briefest of pauses,
drop the card face up to the table as you repeat: the hunger of d reaming.

In this way you finish with a beautiful line that also cues the audience
that the effect is over. Arturo often stressed the importance of this concept of
knowing how to finish a trick and to convey it to the audience. This ending is
a good example of that.

As you have seen, the trick is self-working. You just follow the instruction
and arri ve at the selection. Study the presentation carefully and keep in mind
what Ascanio used to say: There are no easy tricks. Every trick done well has
been difficult.

310