Monday, October 23, 2006


Yet another variation on the seemingly infinite permutations three cards can be put through. This routine is the result of experiments with Roy Walton’s The Changeling from Devil’s Playthings. It can also be considered a version of a Dai Vernon problem in which any one of three cards is transformed into the spectator’s selection. Here you show that it really could have been any of the three, any one at all.

What I’m describing here is the basic system that will enable you to transform each of three tabled cards into a selected card. Once you understand how the transformations work you can dress it up with your favourite moves.

To begin, remove the Ace, Two and Three of Clubs from the deck and display them face up in numerical order with the Three uppermost. Put the rest of the deck aside. Tell the spectator that you will shortly take a card from the deck and that it can be anyone, “any card in the pack… except one of these….”

Flip the three Club cards face down and deal them, from left to right, onto the table in a row, saying, “…the Ace, Two or Three.” Sneakily you execute a Bottom Deal on the first card so that the Three goes down instead of the Ace. The order of the cards has therefore been secretly displaced – it is now 3 A 2 - and the incorrect order branded onto the spectator’s memory. The Bottom Deal is very easy to do with a three-card packet.

As promised, the spectator selects a card from the deck. He shows it to his friends without revealing it to you. Have the card replaced in the deck and then secretly control it to the top under the guise of a shuffle. When the shuffling is over hold the deck face down in the left hand.

Point to the tabled cards once again, calling them “the Ace, Two and Three of Clubs” as you indicate each card from left to right. “Now I said you could choose any card except one of these but if you had picked one of these which would you have chosen?”

The spectator points to one of the tabled cards; let’s say it is the supposed Ace. “The Ace?” you say. Hold the nominated card face down in the right hand and Top Change it for the selection as swing the right hand across the left in order to rub the card against the left sleeve. Blow on the card, give it a snap or tap it against a glass on the table. Anything that will subtly signal the ‘moment of magic.’ Now turn the card face up to reveal it has changed into the selected card. It is worth noting at this point that the deck stays face down in the left hand for the rest of the handling.

“Of course you’re probably wondering what would have happened if you’d pointed to another card. What if you’d chosen the Two instead of the Ace?”

Here is where the system comes into play. Imagine that the three cards are in cyclic order, like the endless chain of a Si Stebbins or other cyclic stack. After the first transformation you move clockwise (from left to right along the row) around the chain of cards. If the spectator originally nominated the “Ace,” you now pick up the “Two” by scooping the face down card up from the table with the face up selection held in the right hand. The two cards are face to face lying on the open right fingers and palm.

Turn the right hand over to rub the pair on the left sleeve, secretly flipping them over in the process. You’re really just curling the right fingers in to secretly turn the packet over. It’s a simple Paddle Move. When the right hand returns to its palm up position the lower card of the pair will be the face up Ace of Clubs. Spread the cards and push the Ace of Clubs, face up, in the vacant spot that the original “Ace” occupied. Now slowly turn the card in your right hand face up. It is the selected card. Since the Ace of Clubs is now face up on the table it appears that the Two of Clubs has transformed into the selection.

“But you always get someone who says I didn’t choose the Ace and I didn’t choose the Two.” Use the face up selected card to scoop up the remaining face down tabled card. Repeat the previous sequence, rubbing the face to face pair on the left sleeve while secretly turning the two-card packet over. Drop the face up Two of Clubs onto the table and turn the remaining card face up to reveal that it is the selection. It appears that the Three of Clubs has now changed into the selected card. Always drop the Club cards face up onto the table in their correct positions i.e. from left to right Ace, Two, Three.

Finish the routine by turning the selected card face down in the right hand and Hofzinser Top Changing it for the Three of Clubs, which is on top of the deck. If you want to reproduce the selected card from your pocket, then go ahead.

This is just a basic handling to put forward the cyclical notion of the changes. As another example let’s imagine that the “Three” is the first tabled card to be nominated.

You pick the “Three” up and Top Change it for the selection as previously described. But for your second transformation you follow the chain around to the other end of the row and pick up what the spectators believe is the “Ace.” Make the face to face pair, the Paddle Move and finish by dropping the Three face up onto the table. Reveal the selected card in your hand. The Ace appears to have transformed into the selection.

Repeat the face to face change with the remaining face down card and drop the Ace to the table. You are again left with the selection in your hand. Turn the selection face down and Top Change it for the Two of Clubs that is on top of the deck. Drop the Two face up onto the table between the Ace and Three of Clubs. You are right back where you started.

You can spruce the routine up with all kinds of Through the Fist flourishes or Paddle Move substitutes. And it’d be nice to finish with something other than a repeat of the Top Change for the finale. When I came up with this, more than a decade ago, I favoured Al Smith’s P. C. Change, or Twitch Switch as it was called in the original series of Talon magazine, but there are even more spectacular changes available which would give it a suitably flourish-gilded finale. To each his own.