Book of The Month Challenge – Update:Dr. Joaquin M. Ayala de Cédoz, PhD.

Hello Friends,

This first Book of the Month Challenge has been a fun and eye-opening experience. Though I have read the ‘Cardshark’ book in the past a good number of times, I still learned new things this time through, things that I read and said to myself, “Huh, I wonder how I missed that before or how I forgot about that?” Yet again I am astounded at the number of great and high-quality effects that one has to choose from in this book.

Personally I chose ‘The Showdown’, ‘The Phantom Card’ and ‘Time & Again’ for further study and at first, I chose ‘Time & Again’ for concentration but I must admit that I cheated and chose both that and ‘The Showdown’ for concentration. Here are my thoughts and observations on both of those routines:

Personally I think the key to ‘The Showdown’ is the backstory. At the basic level, this effect is the location of four signed cards, two of which end up in impossible locations. The first one ending up in your wallet is a classic and is always well-received by audiences, but the second one appearing inside a key case that has been held by one of the participants for the whole effect hits even harder!

To me, the use of the Bob Solari key case (a marketed product called Key-Ruption, which is still available from some dealers) is genius because it ties in nicely with the presentation that Darwin uses. It was marketed as a bill-to-impossible-location item, but other small items will fit inside as well.

I opted for a different route because my backstory revolves around the Spanish gambling circuit and the object being played for is a treasure piece. In his book “The Magic of Albert Goshman” there is a wonderful piece called ‘Card to Purse’ in which a selected card ends up folded inside a small coin purse which is in plain view all the time or can be held by a spectator. In my presentation the object offered in the bet is a genuine Piece of Eight (Peso de Ocho/Real de a Ocho), which was struck in 1776 with Charles III on one side and the Spanish arms on the other; the signed card appearing in the coin purse at the end brings its use full circle. 

As for ‘Time & Again’ I think that for this piece the script is the key because as I mentioned in an earlier post, you are attempting to do or even appearing to do something that every human has wanted/wished to do at least once in their lives: Control or alter time itself. I believe this effect is very strong in that matter because it is so clear and clean. It is easy to follow and there is not a lot of fumbling about, which makes it all the more deceptive and stronger.

The idea that they see a brand-new deck opened right in front of their eyes and then they see the deck shuffled two or three times is very open and fair. They sign a card from that deck with their signature and a time/date stamp. A card is selected and lost into the deck, only to return to the top with a very fair handling of the deck on the part of the performer. In their eyes, the card case never leaves their sight and somehow, it ends up hermetically sealed, empty, and the signed card, which never left their possession, is now blank! 

Because of its fair procedures, this effect benefits greatly when it is performed slowly – even then there is no way for the audience to backtrack anything.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that the effects and routines in this book are very economical in terms of routining and movements, the way they are structured and they all offer the reader many different possibilities in terms of ways to present them. It is very well-written and any level of card worker would greatly benefit from the lessons they will learn here, even if they do not use the material at all. This book has long been an inspiration to me and many others and without a doubt, it will continue to inspire future generations of magicians for ages to come. 

Thank you, Michael, for implementing such a great idea as this BOTM Challenge and for choosing the inaugural book, “Cardshark”. I eagerly await the announcement of the second book!

Dr. Joaquin M. Ayala de Cédoz, PhD.


Mike’s Guest Commentary

Here is another great evaluation on our book of the month challenge.

Joaquin has done a really marvellous job in sharing his thoughts with us. 

I really appreciated the fact that he has made a great effort in studying the book and his choice of effects shows a great sensitivity towards magic that captures the audience’s imagination.

I really admired how he has managed to retain the integrity of the back story, plot and presentation while at the same time making the routines his own. This is challenging task when faced with material which has proven successful for the person who created it.

There is a lot to learn from studying a book like Cardshark, even if you never add any of the effect to your repertoire, there is still a lot to get from this book. So far, the contributions from Shiv Duggal, Dave Croft and now Dr Ayala is exactly what I had in mind when i decided to start this conversation.

Read through all the contributions and postings, see how the different points of view can open up your creative intentions.


Good luck and big thanks to Dr Ayala for his generous contribution.

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