Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Re-Deal & Single-Deal Forces

Re-Deal Forces

The central idea of the Re-Deal Force was found by Reinhard Müller in the anonymously authored Hocus Pocus - kürtzweilige approbirte Kahrten-Künste, second edition, 1669. There it is explained how the performer first glimpses the top card of the deck, then deals the cards in rotation into six piles. He picks up the first pile, which has the glimpsed card on the bottom, and deals its cards onto the other five piles. He stops the deal when he reaches the last card and, instead of dealing it, while shutting his eyes he displays its face to the spectators. Keeping his eyes closed, he gives the card to someone and asks him to return it to any pile. Since the performer has forced the glimpsed card, he can then find it.

In Modern Magic (1876, p. 74), Professor Hoffmann describes the use of the re-deal to produce a selected card at a named number. The selection begins secretly on top of the deck. The named number of cards is dealt off to show the selection isn't there yet, the cards are returned to the top of the deck, and the number is dealt off again to find the selection in now there. The same repositioning strategy was some years later used in spelling effects.

In 1901, F. Edward Cook repurposed the procedure described by Hoffmann to force a card, using the dubious strategy of pretending to be suspected of second dealing as the motivation for repeating the counting; see “To Force a Card (Novel Method)” in Stanyon's Magic, Vol. 1 No. 10, July 1901, p. 83.

The Re-deal Force is also used to cause two spectators to locate the four Aces. See “The Mathemagician” by Bill Simon in Sleightly Sensational, 1954, p. 8. Two years later, Hen Fetsch published a simplified handling of this idea, Ace Discovery“, in Impromptu Card Routine, 1956, p. 1. Fetsch's procedure eliminated repositioning two Aces from the top to the center of the deck.

Al Leech adapted the Re-Deal principle to force several cards. The force cards start on top of the pack, a spectator deals any number of cards into a pile, then re-deals the pile into a number of piles equal to the number of force cards, which places them on the tops of the piles for one to be chosen. See Leech's “Spectator Does a Trick” in Cardmanship, 1959, p. 6. These later approaches may have been influenced by the single-deal forcing ideas that follow.

Single-Deal Forces

While the tactics below do not rely on re-dealing the cards, their underlying principle is related.

“Armspach's Card from Pocket” by O. W. Armspach in The Sphinx (Vol. 13 No. 1, Mar. 1914, p. 9) uses dealing to force the bottom cards of the deck. Rather than dealing the entire deck into multiple piles, only one pile is formed by the spectator, who first cuts the deck in half and then deals the bottom half onto the top half. The magician instructs the spectator to take the appropriate number of cards from the top of the deck, these being the force cards that began on the bottom. Armspach wrote of this forcing procedure, “This principle of forcing one or more cards is not my original trick, but as far as I know the use to which it is put is original.”

Another single-deal form of the idea was published in 1923. The cards to be forced are again secretly positioned on the bottom of the deck, and a spectator deals the entire deck out into a number of piles equal to the number of force cards. He then takes the top cards of the piles. Two examples of this single-deal force principle were given by Dr. Reed Rockwood in The Sphinx, Vol. 22 No. 8, Oct. 1923, p. 231, in an article titled “The Force.” See forces 23 and 24.