Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Magic Cafe never fails to amuse

'It's nice to see someone carry through with a fine product and great customer service. Nice job Mr. Youell!'

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Additional thoughts on the Erdnase change

Some people advocate pushing the deck backwards with the index finger instead of moving the top card with the right hand. At first glance this will seem like a good idea but I would strongly advice against it; for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the right hand has to cover too much of the deck for the 'push' to be concealed. Secondly, the left index finger has to make three movements (push, reposition, realign) instead of one, which again, relies on the right hand covering too much of the deck for too long a time. Finally, it just looks bad. Your hand is basically shadowing the whole deck for most of the change, if you're going to resort to so much cover to perform a colour change you may aswell do it behind your back!


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Thoughts on the Erdnase Change

The move that has come to be known as the Erdnase Change (ref: 'Transformations. Two Hands First Method' pp95-96, The Expert at the Card Table - S.W.Erdnase Dover edition) is one of those elusive sleights which has been universally butchered by magicians, mostly due to the 'easy' label it has been lumbered with. This is a total misnomer, the Erdnase Change is not an easy sleight at all. If it were, maybe we wouldn't see so many horrendous handlings of the move. I was shocked and embarrassed when I saw footage of Wesley James extolling its virtues, only to go on to bungle his way through a cringe inducing train wreck of a colour change.

For the change to work, thought must be given to several key factors.

  • The way the hands are held both before, during and after the change.
  • The distance the card is pushed and how to conceal it.
  • How to extract the second card
  • Re-aligning the jogged card without being seen/suspected.
  • Timing - when to release the card and effect the change.
If due consideration is given to these points, the change should be effective even if the viewer knows how it's done.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I've given the change more thought and time than most so hopefully some of the suggestions I'm about to give will prove helpful; if not to the bunglers and James sycophants, then at least to the people who care about such things.

It should be noted that I claim no originality for any of these suggestions, as even though they are not mentioned in the description of the change itself, if you read the book as a whole and understand the philosophy it's all there to see.

1. Before the change

Hold the right hand palm up, near the deck, the fingers slightly cupped; the hand relaxed.

2. Pushing the card

The card is pushed as the hand flattens. The natural action of the fingers straightening when the hand is placed on the deck helps to conceal the movement of the card and negates any obvious 'pushing' motion. Note here that the whole hand should cover the card as you do this.

3. Drawing the second card

Rather than coming straight out with the card, I've found it better to draw it out in two motions. The hand moves backward a short distance, sliding the card back about an inch. Move the hand forward again and now, as you move back a second time, the card is fully drawn out. This affords two benefits. Firstly, it allows the hand to stay fairly central on the deck, reducing the risk of exposing the jogged card at the inner end. Secondly, it makes for a more natural appearance.

4. Re-aligning the card

The jogged card should be pushed back with the index finger as the right hand moves forward. Both card and hand should move at the same speed.

5. During the change

I have found that a gentle circular motion is much more effective than the standard, stiff, back and forward action. The hand should be loose, relaxed and no effort should be made to squeeze the fingers together.

6. Timing

I tend to time the change using a 1,2,3 motion. My right hand will do three small circular rubbing actions, after which the change is made. I find any more or less either way is too much. However this is more about personal style and preference, so as long as it fits your normal handling style it should be fine (unless you're Wesley James).

7. Effecting the change

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the sequence. The best illusion occurs if you relase the card just before the two are perfectly aligned (yes really). Your left fingers guide the card flush as your right hand slightly opens out and moves away from the deck.

The slight movement of the card coupled with the larger motion of the hand are what gives the illusion the card is 'changing' into another.

It is my sincere hope that some of these ideas will help you to improve your handling of this much abused, but potentially beautiful colour change. To see some of these ideas put into practice, please have a look at the clip I made below.