Firstly let me say that the Cardshark is not one of my favourite books, however I have the greatest respect for Darwin as a performer, artist, thinker and author, and I have greatly enjoyed re reading and studying the book again. When I say that it is not one of my favourite books it is only that the magic and tricks in the book do not fit my style of magic, however they are great tricks and the book is worthy of study by all magicians who want to do card magic.
One of the issues that face’s many magicians when performing is the need to hide the skill that is used to achieve the effect. While audiences can admire the artistry of a juggler and also the skill that is used to achieve it, the same is true for musicians, painters, actors and writers. In a way the audiences can admire the skill and also the effect, while with a magician the skill is hidden so that the mystery can be maintained, and only the effect is visible for the audience to admire. However there is a genre of magic where the audience can admire both the skill as well as the effect and that is the gambling demonstration and two of the best are in the Cardshark, the cross and the sting and if you have seen Michael Vincent’s masterly performance of these you will know how beautiful and powerful they are. I have performed both these tricks over the years since I first read them, and have found that both of them have got great reactions, but for me I think that the cross is the better trick as it is easier for a non card play audience to understand, however both of these tricks are worthy of study.
From what I have said it is no surprise that two of my favourite tricks come from the first section of the book impromptu Miracles and the third from Gambling Routines.
The first trick is Signature Effect, this to me is a really strong effect that can be done without any advance preparation it is similar in effect to Chicago Opener but without having to carry a card with a different colour back. This effect plays really strong and it allows you to give the spectator the card which has been magically changed as a souvenir and every time they look at the card they will be reminded of you and the trick.
The second trick is Kartenkunste, I have always like the Hofziner’s ace trick, but Darwin makes this a really strong trick. In all the version I have seen the ace changes to the spectators card while it is in the packet but Darwin has the ace change while the spectators is holding the card and this really make the trick very strong and memorable.
The third trick is the Cross and in my mind this is really a strong gambling effect that is impromptu, has a surprise ending, plays really strong and does not need the spectator to know about poker or gambling, what more do you want.
Even though I have said that this is not my one of my favourite books, I have really enjoyed rereading it and studying the effects and it has reminded me of three trick that I used to do and now will do again. I would recommend anyone to read this book, even if you do not find any tricks that you want to use, looking at how Darwin structures an effect and understating why he makes certain choices is an education and something that can be used when devising your own tricks.
Shiv is an outstanding card man and his knowledge on the subject of card magic is stunning. His early inspirations were Fred Kaps, Dai Vernon, Fred Robinson, Eric Mason and Roy Walton. His evaluation on our book of the month is well worth reading, if only to take a walk inside his mind and experience his point of view about the book. His opinions are firmly rooted in the lasting impressions he desire to leave his audience with, one of total astonishment, the experience of magic – leaving no possible explanation. His choice of material will always be governed by this context.
I want to thank Shiv for sharing his thoughts with us.
I hope this will inspire the rest of you to send me your thoughts – yours might be next to feature.