In my opinion, this routine is the Zen of Sleight of Hand Card Magic.
Like a Master Samurai Swords Man, this routine will test every fibre of your being; psychological and emotional resolve to execute with exacting precision and finesse.
The hard part will be to execute this routine without even caring.
If you understand the method to this routine you know what I mean.
Before going any further, let’s enjoy a performance of this wonderful mystery.
My first exposure to this was Alton Sharps Book Expert Card Mysteries.
Full credit to Larry Jennings. I saw Larry Jennings perform this and it was very beautiful in his hands.
To learn more about how this routine came to be, read Jennings 67 by Richard Kaufman. It is a fascinating piece of history.
When I first learnt it, I was terrified.
Make that scared to death.
In my young mind, I thought no one on earth is going to believe the effect, the premise, let alone execute it convincingly.
I left it alone.
Around 1984, I picked up a copy of Walt Leese’s book on Card Magic and learnt his handling.
This was the first time I felt a stirring of possibility. You know that feeling you get when learning a routine and you start to feel inspired by the effect. Yeah, that feeling.
I still needed to overcome my psychological fear regarding the handling and execution.
Enter Paul Harris and Las Vegas Close-Up.
This is a great book.
It features Paul’s handling for this routine. It was easier to do, retained the impact and the handling was accessible.
I was in my 20s and just beginning to explore different versions of this routine.
Harry’s Lorayne published Best of Friends Volume 1 and it featured a routine by Don England. His routine added a kicker transformation which made no sense but it did feature a different method which intrigued me.
When The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings was published in 1988, I went back to the original
handling and felt very much at ease with it……ALL ASPECTS.
My card handling at this point in time had improved, my sense of certainty more confident, in fact, my technical confidence was on the rise.
I started to question a few things about this routine. My thought process was focused on what the audience was supposed to see, how they were meant to feel and could I design a handling that would match my vision.
To some degree, I achieved my goal. I am still not satisfied because the effect and method are still relatively close together.
The construction and design of this routine is a big conflict for me.
I like to separate my handling from moments of magic as much as possible. This will give the audience no opportunity to work backwards and uncover the secret.
The premise is beautiful.
The Plot works.
The handling needs careful consideration, mastery and execution.
Take a look at this video.
Tom Cruise – Last Samurai
Mushin No Shin
This video is a wonderful illustration of Sleight of Hand at work – albeit with The Samurai Sword.
Notice in this video how Tom Cruise’s character realises that he has no Sword. He is about to be attacked. He surrenders to what may come. He entered a space of stillness – No Mind – Mushin No Shin……and then, he takes action, beyond consciousness and thought.
This is the state I experience with this routine. It’s a beautiful place to live when it comes to masterful Sleight Hand.
It just happens, all by itself.
This is magical.
Recently, I have been speculating;
Is it important to use four aces in this routine?
Why not four random indifferent cards?
Is the premise of the routine more important than specific cards?
So many questions.
This is because there is too much distance between each effect and the handling that sets it up.
Pacing is critical.
There is no question the effect is stunning; that first moment is off the charts beautiful.
If we could reduce the time frame before the second moment, we have a very good momentum and increased build up towards the final moment.
This is my goal with this routine.
My efforts to achieve this outcome is at the mercy of our technical methods available to us.
This is part of my ongoing study as new ideas come and developments in card magic.
For now, this routine is in a state of consant progress.
Thanks for reading