Sunday, 14 November 2010

Review : Paul Gordon's Card Trickery

Paul Gordon’s Card Trickery - paul gordon

Available via my bin for free.

Paul Gordon (not to be confused with the other Paul Gordon) has written a huge number of books featuring his/and others card magic, the one I'm reviewing here is called 'Card Trickery'

Card Trickery contains seventeen varied card effects written and credited in the style of Pauls mentor and hero, Harry Lorayne. It is a small A5 stapled booklet which is nicely illustrated throughout. The effects and methods are unoriginal and in many instances the effects verge on the very brim of intellectual property theft. If such a thing were applicable to card magic, Paul would be up in front of a judge and jury quicker than you could say ‘-’. On to the tricks!


This is apparently a revamped version of a trick Paul marketed in 1987. Paul says that he ‘utilise[s] a technique used by John Bannon (see Strangers Gallery from Smoke and Mirrors, 1991)’. This is somewhat of an understatement. Some would say it’s a bare faced lie; but they’re not writing this review, so. Anyway, the trick is almost identical to John Bannon’s ‘Strangers Gallery’, the only difference; the removal of the three single card colour changes near the end, if anything, reduces the tricks impact. So not only is it almost a direct copy of John Bannon’s effect, it doesn’t even have the same impact as the original! However, perhaps I’m being unfair here, he does also replace Larry becker’s ‘Bevel Force’ with what he calls the ‘Gordon Illogical Force’. This is an apt name, being as it is, a face up version of Trevor Lewis’ ‘bluff force’. So if you think the inclusion of an inferior and by his own addition, ‘illogical’ force, plus the removal of three very strong phases from John Bannon’s ‘Strangers Gallery’ makes for a good trick, you may enjoy this! Those not aware of ‘Strangers Gallery’ will probably be impressed by Pauls creativity, those that are, won't!

Four Card Repeat Poker

This is a four card version of Tommy Tucker’s ‘six card repeat’ with the added bonus that the four cards change to four aces at the end. Not that you would know that from Pauls write up, as Tommy Tucker’s name is most notably absent. This sort of addition to the Tommy Tucker classic has been done before, Jerry Sadowitz’s ‘007 and Counting’ for example. That said, as tricks go, this is pretty good. The added bonus of being allowed to show the cards you are throwing away before the final reveal is a nice touch, you don’t end clean but as you are shuffling the cards into the deck at the end anyway, that’s a moot point. Although, the only reason you shuffle the cards into the deck at the end is because you don’t end clean, so perhaps not so moot after all.

Swarfega Cards

To quote Mister Gordon ‘There isn’t anything really ‘new’ with this routine’, very true! This is an uninspired, one phase oil and water effect. The crediting is a little clouded as many names are mentioned but no references are given. This seems to be a favourite ploy of Mister Gordon and is used frequently throughout the booklet. He also enjoys name dropping magazines without providing issue numbers. For example he’ll say ‘This is inspired by a trick in the Pallbearers Review’, as the Pallbearers runs in at a few thousand pages it’ll be a patient soul who is able to find that ‘reference’! In this case we are told ‘The main credit, however, is a routine of Keith Davies from The Talon. (It was hard to follow from said magazine due to David Britland’s confusing description.)’. Anyone happen to have a complete file of The Talon they are willing to trawl through on the off chance that they might find a one phase oil and water effect by Keith Davies? No? Me neither! He then goes on to say ‘My handling of Mr. Davies’s routine eliminates a rather awkward and obvious slide-glide displacement. Also, by reversing the colour sequence it offords(sic) (I believe) a smarter handling.’ This statement sets alarm bells ringing in my head, all he’s done is remove a slide glide and change the colour order? i.e. instead of saying ‘black red black red’, he says ‘red black red black’? And now it’s a new trick? ... Next!

44 Years Later

This is heralded as an ‘ever so magical’ variation of Peter Duffie’s ‘37 Years Later’ from 21 card Tricks (1999). Paul states ‘Peter’s handling (which has, as Peter points out, shades of Jim Steinmayer’s Nine-Card Trick) is nice, but you were/are limited to only using heart, Diamonds and Spade cards.’ This is very true but as it’s you that removes the cards it doesn’t matter at all. This trick is verbatim Peter Duffie’s ‘37 Years later’ with the only change being that you give the packet a single cut if they pick a club card. That’s it! One cut and now it’s a new trick?? This is totally shameful. Next!!

Laymen Assembly

This is a verbatim lift of 'Diamond Bar' by Daryl from the Collected Almanac.

Much, Much Further Than That!

Paul tells us that this is a variation on J.W.Sarles’ version of Stewart James’ ‘Further Than That’. He tells us that the Sarles version is in the Pallbearers Review but again gives no actual issue or page reference, so it’s just as well I have them all indexed seeing as there are literally hundreds of Sarles contributions in the Pallbearers Review it could have taken months to find the right trick! The correct reference is ‘The Pallbearers Review - November MCMLXXI page 467. Well I checked it out and to be honest there really isn’t much difference between the two effects. The methods, with the exception of the inclusion of a double lift are both the same. In Sarles version you reveal three aces, Paul reveals three 2’s, In Sarles version you reveal several spade cards, Paul removes this phase and replaces it with a royal flush production. However the ending to the Sarles version is a royal flush production so all he’s really done is shift the ending over to the left (relatively speaking). Then Paul ends with the production of a second selection which to be honest is a bit of an anti climax considering you just produced a royal bloody flush only moments earlier. There’s really no note worthy change that I can see here, and I’m staring! Again, those not familiar with the James and Sarles versions will be impressed by Pauls ‘creativity’, those that are, won't.

Oh So Predictable!

This is a trick so moronic in its construction you may be fooled into thinking it’s actually a Harry Lorayne trick. The actual effect, a double prediction/sucker indicator, is actually ok. However, to do the effect; you spread through the deck face up, remove a card, turn the deck face down, then you turn the deck face up again using the illogical braue reverse mechanics, then you turn the deck face down again. There’s no justification given for this at all, you just turn the deck face up, face down, face up and face down again. It’s stupid and looks suspicious. Crap!

PG’s Ambitious B.o.b

In this effect Paul starts off by slagging perhaps one of the best card effects ever created, namely: ‘The Smiling Mule’ by Roy Walton. Dangerous ground indeed. Paul says: "Mr Walton’s effect is clever (No shit - B.Bong), but the culling action has always bothered me. not because it’s difficult, which it isn’t, but because if the selection was very near the face of the deck - the cull could be awkward.’ It could be, but it isn’t, in fact, if anything, it’s easier because you locate the card quicker! he then says ‘(If you don’t know The Smiling Mule, never fear - my explanation is complete.)’. Yes, he does a good job of describing ‘The Smiling Mule’, I’m not sure where he describes this ‘PG’s Ambitious B.o.b’ but the Smiling Mule is here alright, maybe it’s in another one of his books? Who knows...He continues on his slagging by saying ‘Also, because the selection is face up (sandwiched by two face-up cards), the climax is telegraphed - and therefore not very magical.’ Not Very magical?? Are we talking about the same trick here? To continue he states ‘ Michael Vincent made a clever addition, in his handling, by reversing (using a Christ Twist) the selection Good thinking, but I still wasn’t happy.’ Reversing the selection using a Christ Twist? That’s good thinking is it? Maybe if you found your brain in a discarded McDonalds box. Someone tell me Michael vincent didn’t actually publish that as a new trick!

Paul then goes on to explain The Smiling Mule, verbatim, with the only difference being that he has the noted selection turned face up and signed before the denouncement, wow, inspired thinking. Oh and there is then a repeat sequence tagged onto the end which is a total anti climax as it’s essentially just the same thing done in a less convincing manner and is thus redundant.

The All Backs Kick Hard’

Opps, egg all over my face! It seems I’ve accidentally almost duplicated a Paul Gordon effect. Regular readers of my blog will remember the packet ‘all backs with aces’ effect I wrote up some time ago which I credited to Busby and Elmsley. Well I should now like to add the name Gordon to that list. Anyway, this is essentially the same as my own, except the handling is more cluttered and a number of the phases are less convincing. For example in Paul’s diminished lift sequence, instead of showing the last card, he just ignores it and hopes the spectators won't mind! There’s also a lot of extra handling with pinkie pull downs and the open displacement of cards for no reason, plus the colour changes towards the end are not very convincing. However on the whole it’s an ok trick, if a little over handled and messy.

The Audition

This is a variation of Paul’s ‘Dimnishing? Not Likely!’ (Which is actually a Marlo trick) using a Dave Campbell presentational hook. It’s a smart little trick that you’ll probably enjoy, though you may find the ‘clean up’, for want of a better word, shite.

"Thoughts on The Clock Trick"
This is actually quite a strong bit of business on the often overlooked ‘clock trick’.

Twisted Colours

You know those tricks where the variation is so small that people say ‘maybe he uses different coloured backs?’ when trying to figure out the variation? Well, in this trick, that is the variation... Enough said. Really!

Let’s Drink to Dave

This is a small presentational change to Dave Campbell’s ‘Three Blanks’ routine. Method and effect however, are exactly the same. Come to think of it, the presentation is almost the same too!

Pseudo Berglas

This is meant to be a solution of the Berglas effect, i.e., any card named appears at any number named by the spectator. However it’s a load of crap. After the spectator tells you the card, you run through the face of the deck to remove its mate for absolutely no reason (other than to cull the other card). What’s the logic behind that? It’s not used in the effect at all, you just run through and remove the mate and then it’s forgotten about! The mind boggles. As for the way you get the card into position after the number is named, talk about pretentious! This is difficult, angle sensitive and transparent. Next!!

Caused Effect

This is a small handling change to Jack Capenters 'Potent Presage'. It's essentially a four ace production added to Karl Fulves 'Gemini Twins'. However, the method giving in the write up seems to have a mistake in it somewhere as if you follow the instructions as is, it doesn’t work! Therefore, I suggest the title be changed to ‘Caused Effect to fail, due to brain melting Loraynesque writing style’.

Mars Life

This is a neat little self working effect which amounts to the revelation of four queens. However, you do have to do a number of reverse faro’s, a procedure I loathe, your mileage may vary. In addition you are treated to another slice of Paul Gordon psuedo crediting as he states ‘ [this] in itself was based on some Richard Vollmer handlings.’ Which handlings? Where? When? How is yours in anyway, if at all different?.

Easy - Peasy

This is a horribly transparent trick with little or no commercial appeal what-so-ever. And the title is a total lie, if the ability to eye gauge the difference between 19 and 20 cards, cut by a spectator is ‘easy’, then I’ll eat my finger chopper! Even if you Can do that, the trick itself is CRAP. Apparently there are similar ideas in ‘Steve Beam’s Semi-Automatic Card Tricks III’, enough said.

Well that’s the end of the tricks, to finish off the book, Paul ends with a series of comedy light relief anecdotes and peeves he has about the magic world. You’ll only laugh at one of these not for the reason you’re meant to, but because of the unintentional irony. Here it is, just to give you an idea of what to expect.

"During a magic convention, a chap comes to my stand and picks up one of my books that has my photo emblazoned on the cover. He picks the book up, flicks through it, looks at me (and then again at my photo), flicks through the book once more and finally says, "This book...any good?" I can’t tell you what Actually I said, but it went a little like this, "Actually, no! It’s rather awful old boy!"

hahaha! Yes, it’s funny because it’s true. This is truly an awful collection of extremely minor variations on already established work. There’s really very little to raise it above the abysmal mark and I was reading this and trying everything out with an open mind in the hope that Mister Gordon had changed the error of his ways. Sadly twas not so, anyone buying this who’s been into card magic for longer than a few years will be sorely disappointed.


At 6 July 2011 14:27 , Blogger Lenoir said...

Very delayed comment...but no Michael Vincent never published the variation.
I believe both him and Sadowitz came up with the idea of the reversal using the Christ Twist to enhance to visual impact of the ending independantly.

You can see Michael perform the effect in a Parlour setting on disc one of his DVD, The Classic Magic of Michael Vincent...however, as it is not his effect, he of course, didn't explain the method, not mention his was just an effect in the show.

At 2 August 2011 10:35 , Blogger Bong said...

Can't see Sadowitz using the Christ Twist here, it really is a bad idea. Thanks for your post though. Appreciated.

At 10 May 2012 10:47 , Blogger Lenoir said...

Again, painfully late reply but I have just stumbled across this again and noticed your reply.

in one of the BBC shows Sadowitz did with the Walton Corner segment, he performed Smiling Mule with a reversed card addition, no doubt about that. Have no idea of what method he used however. I'll look it up...I have the complete series on a set of dusty VHS tapes somewhere.

At 10 May 2012 11:26 , Blogger Bong said...

He has the Aces face up throughout. I think it's the clearest and cleanest way to handle the trick.


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