It’s time. I’ve put off publishing this effect long enough. Truthfully though, there are some effects a modest magician wants to keep private, wants to keep to himself and be the only magician, supposedly, capable of performing that particular minor miracle.
I have such an effect, and I have threatened to share it for many months…
and always found reason not to. One month I didn’t publish it because I didn’t have a proper name for it. What kind of effect doesn’t have a name?
Mine.. evidently. So thus the name.. ‘ It’s Time ‘
The magician picks a deck from the table, removes the cards, and informs the audience that he is going to need an Ace, Two, and a Three – and thumbs through the deck looking for these three cards. Finding them, he tosses them face up on the table. He continues to look through the deck, saying he now needs a Four, Five, and a Six. Finding those, and tossing them on the table on top of the other three cards, he says he also needs to find a Seven, Eight, and a Nine to finish out his selections. He drops them on the table on top of the other six cards.
The Magi needs three audience members to assist with this effect. He also needs a writing board of some sort on which he can write numbers visible to the audience. A dry erase board seems ideal. If you’re simply performing for three or four friends, a blank piece of paper may be all that’s needed. The Magi will also need two or three blank cards, anything from business card to index card in size.
Blank playing cards also make a good prop, and there is a way to convert three blank playing cards into permanent props that can be used over and over. More about that later…
Magi picks the nine cards from the table and fans them for the near audience to verify that they are in fact the Ace through Nine of no particular suit. The Magi casually SHUFFLES the nine cards as he asks the three audience members to assemble across the table from him.
The Magi lays the cards back on the table and begins….
” I love a perfect prediction. I am a big fan of the great mentalists of the past.. performers like Theodore Annemann, Corinda, and Joseph Dunninger.. performers who performed on stage, night after night, without the benefit of electronics or other chicanery that took away from the reputation of the true entertainers like my idols. What I’m about to perform for you is a simple two-part prediction that, when recounted in retrospect, will prove to be a genuine headscratcher in the classic sense.”
The Magi writes a ‘prediction’ on his card, consisting of a four digit number; folds it tent-style, and stands it on his table to one side. Likewise, the Magi may write a prediction on a card and seal it in an envelope – Whatever is most fitting to their style. Magi may give this to a fourth audience member to hold. (There is NO manipulation of this prediction, so you are 100% free to do with it as you please..)
“This.. ladies and gentlemen, (referring to the folded card) is what I hope will be a ‘perfect’ prediction. In a moment I’m going to deal these nine cards among the three of you. You, and you alone, will use your cards to create a series of numbers. If I’ve performed my task correctly, there will be a… as the classic performers would say, a ‘meeting of the minds’. ”
The Magi picks up the cards from the table, face down, and deals one card to each spectator, from the Magi’s left to right. The Magi repeats this deal a second time and then a third.. having now dealt each spectator three cards.
” Pick up your three cards please.. and have a look at them. Remember, this is a two -part effect, and in this first stage you get to see the cards you hold. As you’ll realize in a moment, this stage involves free will and precludes the possibility of manipulation on my part.”
“I want each of you to select ANY one of the three cards you hold and lay it face up on the table. Our purpose is for the three of you to create a totally random three digit number, so lay your card in a reasonable straight line in relation to your fellow mates. I’m going to allow you guys to do as much of the handling as possible..”
Once the three cards are side-by- side on the table, the Magi reads the cards left to right and calls the number aloud and writes it on his board, notepad, or whatever is appropriate. The Ace, naturally, represents the number One.
“Look at your cards and pick a second card. Lay it on the table directly UNDER your first card.”
Once done, read the cards from left to right and call this three digit number aloud. Write it on the board under the first number.
“As you only have one card left, please place it on the table under the other two and this will create our third number.”
Write this number on the board under the previous two.
“I think it’s safe to say that the three numbers created by the three of you are random. There was no encouragement by anyone to select the order of your cards, in the order you selected them.
I’m going to total the three numbers and I hope everyone realizes that the alternative placement of any one of these nine cards would give us a totally different sum.”
“I don’t know if there are any magicians in the crowd, but if so I know they are waiting on me to add a fourth number to these three.. or turn something backwards.. or somehow manipulate the sum of these numbers. It’s NOT going to happen… This sum is YOUR sum…”
The Magi totals the three, three digit numbers, writes the sum beneath, and makes sure everyone, particularly the three spectators, have the opportunity to see his total. (The Magi is free to allow a member of the audience to perform the math instead..)
Now, it’s time to reveal the prediction…
Depending on where the Magi wrote the prediction, the card is flipped or envelope torn open (in a manner considered most appealing by the Magi ..) to reveal the prediction. The Magi’s prediction and the sum of the three numbers created by the spectators WILL match. There is NO manipulation on the part of the Magi.
The Magi accepts his accolades and reminds the audience of the improbability of his success.
“Thank You very much, but I need to remind everyone that this is a two-part effect. I know many of you are twisting your minds trying to figure the ‘method’. I’m going to deepen the mystery…”
The Magi picks the nine cards from the table and SHUFFLES them before laying them face-down on the table, in three stacks, just as the first time. He also takes another note card, writes another prediction, and repeats his handling of this card. Prediction in place, he takes the nine cards and re-deals them to the spectators exactly as before.
” Without looking at your cards, I want each of you to mix your cards.. as thoroughly as you can mix three cards. Keeping your cards face- down, randomly select one and lay it face -up on the table in the same position as before. Until the moment you turn your card face-up, no one, myself included, has ANY way of knowing what card will appear.”
The Magi tells the three spectators that he is NOT going to write the three digit number down at this time.
” I’ll write all three, three digit numbers down once you’ve laid out all your cards. Please select a second card from the two face- down cards in your hand and place it face-up on the table under the first card you laid down… Now, turn over the third card and lay it on the table under the other two you placed on the table. ”
It’s important that the spectators lay the cards one under another. It’s also important that they, assuming they are across the table from you, lay the cards down descending toward YOU. This makes it logical for you to read the three digit number from YOUR left to right. If you’re not comfortable with this, you’ll have to allow them to lay the cards in descending order toward themselves (duh..) and you’ll have to get them to give you the three digit number from THEIR perspective. There’s nothing wrong with this.. as long as you perform the same way each time.
” Before I write the numbers on the board, I’m going to add one last twist to this effect… Although these numbers are completely random at this point, I’m going to give you the choice of leaving them as they are.. or switching the position of any of YOUR cards. You can switch your second and third cards, first and third, or whatever combination you wish. Although my prediction is written in stone, so to speak, I’m very confident in my … abilities. A good mentalist not only wrangles with the random law of numbers, he delves into the human psyche as well. Knowing not only the action of the cards but your action as well… is all part of the game.”
The Magi allows the spectators to move their cards, in their horizontal line, as they wish. They cannot switch cards and/or places with any of the other spectators.
Once they’re satisfied, the Magi records the three, three digits numbers on the board. The three numbers are added as before and the Magi is ready for the reveal. The number is clearly a DIFFERENT number from the first.
Unfortunately, the numbers do not match.. Just kidding.. The Magi’s prediction matches the total of the spectators a second time. This second stage may seem to be a little overkill, but believe me, it’s important to show the audience that two different stages produce two different results.
The Magi thanks everyone for their participation and goes in whatever direction he feels appropriate.
I suppose you want to know how it’s done? If you’ve patiently read everything
to this point, it’s only fair…
The ‘secret’ is a little-recognized, but easily understood, math principle. That, and a little bit of fancy shuffling, makes the world go round.. There are SO MANY ways this effect can be personalized, there’s no doubt in my mind that others will change a little something-something and call it their own.
Begin by looking through the deck and removing the Ace through Nine. I do it as described, looking for the Ace, Two, and Three first because it seems to be the quickest, and easiest, way. I cull an A-2-3 and lay them face up in that order. I then cull a 4-5-6 and finally the 7-8-9, laying them down, face-up, with the Ace on the bottom and Nine on top. I don’t bring the order to the audience’s attention. I let them think I need these nine cards and that they were ‘plucked’ from the deck in no particular order.
Pick the packet up, turn it face down, and perform your first bit of subterfuge. Perform a MONGE SHUFFLE. Although featured in recent issues of the Magic Roadshow, if you are not familiar with this shuffle, it’s performed as such..
Holding the cards in the left hand, push the top card into the right hand. Push the second card on TOP of this card. Push the third card and take it to the BOTTOM of the right hand packet. The fourth card goes back on top and the fifth to the bottom. Alternate until all the left hand cards have been transferred to the right hand. It appears as if you are simply mixing the cards, which you are.. except you’re mixing them in a ‘controlled’ manner.
Put this packet back in the left hand and perform a second Monge Shuffle exactly as above, with the second card off the left hand packet ALWAYS going on top of the first card into the right hand. It’s this repetition of details that makes this effect work.
Perform a THIRD Monge Shuffle and stop. These shuffles are so easy to perform they can be performed blindfolded. They can also be performed very quickly and casually. Don’t watch yourself; give the audience the appearance you are casually mixing the packet; and don’t even MENTION to the audience that “I am now going to shuffle the cards..”. They’ll see what you are doing, and if you don’t put importance on the shuffle, they won’t either…
Fact Check: (I learned this term during the election) If you look at the cards in your hand at this point, they should be, face-up, 9-A-8-2-7-3-6- 4-5 . (If you don’t believe there is order in a Monge Deal, perform a fourth.. All the cards will return to their original Ace thru Nine order.)
It’s time to deal the cards to the spectators. Holding them face-down, deal one card, left to right to the three spectators. (If you deal three cards to the first spectator, three to the second, then three to the third.. the third spectator will be holding a 4-5-6, which doesn’t seem very ‘random’.)
Deal all the cards as described.
Follow the routine as written, having the spectators lay down three cards in a row. If you write down the three, three digit numbers created by the cards.. you’ll find that they total -1737 – .. IT DOESN’T MATTER IN WHAT ORDER THEY PLACE THEIR CARDS. It’s simple mathematics.. The spectator to your right will lay his three cards down in what will become the ‘Ones Place’. The middle spectator is putting all his cards in the ‘Tens Place’, and the left side spectator is putting all his cards in the ‘Hundreds Place’. If they were laying their cards down in a parallel line or in multiple columns.. this effect would be impossible. But because all three cards are in an up and down line, it doesn’t matter the order. The spectator on the right is holding a 9-2-6. The second spectator is holding A-7-4. The third spectator has 8-3-5.
Assume the cards were laid down in this order…
8 A 9
3 7 2
5 4 6
If you change the order of Any of the numbers in the right hand column, which is the right-hand spectator, the total is still 1737. The same applies if you change any of the numbers in the middle or left hand column. This is why the second stage works. The spectator can change the order of any of his three cards.. and you still get the prediction correct.
If you perform this effect as I have it written, you prediction of 1737 WILL be correct 100% of the time. Simply arrange the cards from Ace to Nine, perform 3 Monge Shuffles, deal the cards as described, create three, three digit numbers, and do the math.
What about the second stage? The Magi picks the cards up from the table in the same Ace to Nine order. Done casually, no one pays attention. Once they see you ‘shuffle’ the cards a second time.. it’s a moot point.
With cards in order, perform TWO Monge Shuffles. The order of the cards in your hand at this moment are:
(face up) 9 -5-A-4-8-6-2-3-7. When the cards are dealt out as described, you’ll arrive at a total of -1575-
Naturally, this is to be your second prediction as well. Don’t take my word for it.. verify, verify, verify.
This is the basic handling. You’ll find that you can adjust the ‘dealing’ and create your own ‘predictions’.. as long as you are repetitive.
You can write your predictions on cards and seal them in envelopes before your performance if you’re not sure you can remember your key predictions. Then, number the envelopes One and Two.
You can use three ‘blank’ playing cards.. actually One blank card and Two underneath with the predictions already in place. With the blank card on top, show it, state it as three blank playing cards, lay them face down, pick up the card off the back – which already has 1737 wrote on it. Pretend to write a number on it.. and you’re good to go.
I’m fairly sure I’ve left something out. But, considering I’ve worked on this for the better part of a day, I’m going to let it ride and field questions as needed.
** An alternative handling, suggested by my friend, Paul Lelekis, doesn’t require a table. Give three spectators three cards, as above, and allow each spectator to look at his cards and decide which card he would like to hold up for the Magi and the audience to see. Each of the three spectators holds up a card and the three are combined to form a three digit number. Either the Magi or an audience members writes this number down. Each spectator then holds up a second card, and then a third card, and each number is recorded as with the first number. For the second part, the three spectators mix their cards and then hold up cards randomly without looking at the cards… You could also use jumbo cards to make the selections more visible..
Keep in mind that you’ll need to mentally number the spectators 1,2, and 3.
The number given by spectator #1 is always the number placed in the Hundreds column, #2 the Tens column, and #3 the Ones column. There’s not a way to mix the placement up and make it work.
I hope you enjoy IT’S TIME as much as I do. The audience will not suspect this is a math effect.
If you stress the randomness of the cards and the placement of the cards, and handle yourself in a relaxed manner, you’ll totally confound and entertain your audience. I’ve not included my routine verbatim… there’s so much left for you to add to it and make it your own.
Although the math principle used in this effect was established many, many years ago, I believe the use of the principle, combined with the Monge Shuffle and the resulting prediction, to be unique. I’ve shared this effect with several fellow magicians whose knowledge of magic I trust and we cannot find it in publication prior to now. I’ll take credit for ‘IT’S TIME’ until someone can find something very similar in print.. Let me know if you do.
You will recognize substantial similarities between this effect and the previous effect by James Randi. That’s because they both use the principle that you can shift numbers in a column vertically, as opposed to horizontally, and NOT change the sum . Try it…