Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Card-in-Row Counting Force

Using the roll of a die in tandem with an ambiguous starting point, it is possible to force one card out of several in a row. This seems to have been first described by Conradi in an article titled “Conradis Zauberwürfel” in the Aug. 1904 issue of the German periodical Der Zauberspiegel, Vol. 4 No. 8, p. 127. A misspotted die, lacking numbers one, four and six, is shaken to determine a number (two, three or five). This number is used to count to a card in a row of four. The second card in the row is forced by starting the count at either the left or right end of the row.

Almost five years later, Don Nod published the same idea in English, in a trick called “Find the King” in Edwards Monthly, Vol. 1 No. 6, July 1909, p. 7. Nod again used four cards and forced the second by counting from the left or the right. And again, the method wouldn't work if the spectator rolled a four or a one, but Nod did use six as a possible choice, which Conradi seems to have overlooked.

A few months later, Rupert H. Slater contributed “The Educated Die” to The Magician Monthly, Vol. 6 No. 2, Jan. 1910, p. 24. This consists of the force of a card from a row of six. Three of the cards are duplicates, which lie beside each other on one side of the row. A die is rolled and the number arrived at is used to count to a card in the row. The rolled number dictates from which direction the counting begins.

A similar method was published the same year (1910) in Austria, by Ottokar Fischer, in his description of a routine by J. N. Hofzinser called “Gedanken-Assoziation” (Association of Thoughts); see J. N. Hofzinser Kartenkünste, 1910, p. 14; translated in English by S. H. Sharpe as Hofzinser's Card Conjuring, 1931, p. 31. Eight cards are dealt into a face-down row, the first four being the four Sixes. The number six was forced by counting to one of the Sixes, using any number from one to eight and starting the count at either the left end or the right. This force, however, was added by Fischer. No evidence for its use is given in Hofzinser's original manuscript for the routine, and Magic Christian, in J. N. Hofzinser: Non Plus Ultra,Vol. 2, 2004, p. 93, observes that the procedure does not fit the routine or Hofzinser's style.

Anstro contributed “A Novel Finish to an Off-Hand Trick” in The Sphinx, Vol. 9 No. 3, May 1910, p. 63. This is the same trick published by Conradi and Nod, the one difference being that a selected card is located instead of a King.

The ploy of asking for a number between one and four to choose one of four packets or cards, then counting from either the left or right end to arrive at the desired packet, is described by Stanley Collins in his “Omega Ace Experiment” in Original Magical Creations, c. 1915, p. 28, and may be original with him. See also: Number Between X and Y Ploy.