Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Monge Shuffle

This method of “mixing” or rearranging the cards of a deck is named after the renowned French mathematician Gaspard Monge, who in 1773 published an essay, “Reflexions sur la tour des cartes”, which examined the mathematical properties of a method of shuffling as applied to a card trick. The essay actually examined two tricks or problems: the least number of shuffles required to return a deck to its initial order, and how to produce certain cards at certain positions in the deck through a series of mixes. Both problems were solved with elegant mathematical proofs. Monge's essay was translated into English by Maxwell Pritchard in Gibecière, Vol. 10, No. 2, Summer 2015, p. 175.

The Monge Shuffle consists of taking the top card, placing the second card above it, the third below, the fourth above, etc.

Prof. Kunard, in The Book of Card Tricks, 1888, p. 67, refers to the shuffle as “skinning the goat.”