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The Magic Memories (164)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: 56th German CardWorkShop (CWS); Irasshaimase Card College; Juan Tamariz at the XIV Festival of Magic in Madrid; A Useful Acquitment – Old Paper; Fred Kaps – It’s So Simple (Introduction)

These are The Magic Memories 164, gone online Sunday, February 18th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

56th German CardWorkShop (CWS)

As you are reading this, I am on my way to the 56th German CardWorkShop (CWS), a yearly event that this year takes place in Stephan Kirschbaum’s Wundermanufaktur from FEB 18th to 20th, 20024: Sunday evening, Monday full day, and Tuesday (late) morning, plus individual sessions at night with varying bedtimes…

Group photo of CardWorkShop participants

I have reported before about the CWS in The Magic Memories 112 & 113, and the info plus a few photos are just a CLICK AWAY.

Click HERE to now more about Kirschbaum’s “Pocket Theatre”, certainly one of Europe’s most charming and unusual cultural institutions.

Irasshaimase Card College

The Japanese translation of Card College came out after the French, Spanish and English translation, and was supervised by Ton Onosaka with whom I had signed a one-page hand-written “agreement” at the FISM convention in Lissabon in July 2000, twenty-four years ago.

After about fifteen years or so, I inquired if there ever had been another edition, and indeed it had, so thanks to my proactivity managed to get paid for that second edition.

In the following years it seems the publication had been discontinued, or the publisher failed, well, I never found out…

But four years ago Atsushi Takizawa and his Script Maneuver, who had already published Card College Volume 5 and Stand-up Card Magic, renegotiated the publishing rights, but for reasons that I still do not understand had to redo the complete translation and layout.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I received my six author’s copies, and if you want to learn Japanese and cannot get yourself a Japanese wife or husband, the best way to learn a language, go for the second-best way by buying a copy of the Japanese Card College 🙂

Card College in Japan

Juan Tamariz at the XIV Festival of Magic in Madrid

A few weeks ago I got a call from Jorge Blass, who many have called the “Copperfield” of Spain, who asked if I was willing to join him, Gaetan Bloom and others in Madrid to honor Juan Tamariz within the frame of his yearly Magic Festival.

“The XIV Festival Internacional de Magia”, the official name of the event, will be held at the renowned Teatro Circo Price (pronounced “pree-se”), a former In-house circus remodeled as a theater, and will take place in Madrid from FEB 14th to MAR 3rd, 2024.


XIV Festival de Magia

The fact that this is already in its fourteenth edition, in Spain’s capital that boasts some of the world’s top cultural activities, tells you something about its quality and success.

In the video clip below you can get a one-minute idea of last year’s edition.

As part of the festival, Jorge Blass  will stage an exceptional Homage to Juan Tamariz, who is not only a legend in his own lifetime for us magicians, but who also has the highest status an artist can have in his own native Spain.

To mention just one honor: In 2011 the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en Bellas Artes was bestowed upon him, the highest honor a civilian can receive in Spain, and it is the King of Spain himself who presents it. Needless to say that Tamariz refused to kneel in front of the King and sent someone else to collect the medal…

The event will take place on Tuesday, 5th March, at 8pm at the Teatro Circo Price.

To the public Tamariz is known as a TV celebrity of magic, having starred in a dozen of his own shows until ca. 1990, when he stopped doing TV and started to conquer the theatre circuit, filling the largest theaters across the country for the next three decades.

However, few “muggles” know about Tamariz’ importance and influence in the world of magic, although large interviews in the national and international press have appeared, including a much-noticed portrait in the New York Times’ literary supplement (I spent more than an hour over Zoom with the journalist who authored the portrait and who had contacted me for information only those have who have known Tamariz for the past almost fifty years, as I have; I was neither mentioned nor thanked in the essay… ingratus mundi).

So, the idea is to present Tamariz to the Spanish lay public from a different angle than he is known for. Among other bits, Gaetan Bloom and myself will each spend ten minutes or so to interview the Maestro.

In my part I will try to talk about his importance as lecturer and author of some of the most significant books in magic, without obviously revealing any secrets (I will thus not be able to mention his two books Mnemonica, as that would implicitly give away one of Tamariz’ most used methods…).

If you have any suggestions for good questions, please send them along over the “Contact” menu item on the webshop.

A Useful Acquitment – Old Paper

My friend Claudio Viotto sent in the video clip below about how to make a piecer of paper look old.

Some of you might use that for those “Story Telling Magic” pieces…

Fred Kaps – It’s So Simple (Introduction)

In yet another attempt to put some order in the thousand of items I have accumulated in my magic life, I came across an old lecture audio tape that was sold by Martin Breese in the 1980s titled It’s So Simple, this being the recording of a magic lecture Fred Kaps gave in England. The audio cassette fortunately came with a 28-page booklet, where the entire lecture was transcribed and supplemented by a few illustrations, far too little, of course.

As a little aside: As a student I spent several months in England to perfect my English (as you can tell from these unedited The Magic Memories it is far from perfect…), and visited Martin Breese on several occasion as he still had a brick-and-mortar shop in London. I was there in 1984 – I know because on one of my visits Dai Vernon’s book on Erdnase, Revelation, had just come in. When I looked at it and commented on the large amount of white space in the comments column, David Britland, who was also there and a kind of “adviser” to Martin Breese, said to me, “Don’t judge the white space, judge what is written.” He was absolutely right: Like a large Cognac snifter you do not drink the large empty part of it, you drink the comparatively little amount of Cognac in it 🙂

At that time I had written my first book and gave the manuscript to Martin, who refused to publish it, probably because David told him that it was not good enough (he was again right…). But, had he accepted to publish it, I would very probably have gone with him as publisher for the Card College books, which later were published by Stephen Minch and his Hermetic Press. But I digress, as I often do…

At any rate, although the Kaps lecture is not always easy to follow, as it is an audio of a visual lecture, there is a lot of information that still today I found captivating.

I have taken the liberty to reproduce for you the introductory words with which Fred Kaps addressed his audience. From this introduction, and from the subsequent lecture, you can tell that Kaps was not an intellectual, but rather an intuitive genius, as is so often the case with most artists in most disciplines (except maybe literature, where most authors are intellectuals). Nonetheless, you will find that Kaps was very clear about what magic is and what made a successful performer and performance. I have listened to all his interviews available (see The Patrick Page Audio Archives) and am a big fan of what he says and how he says it.

I hope you find the following as interesting as I did.

It’s So Simple

Peter Warlock has asked me to give you a lecture. Now I am not a lecturer but a full-time professional magician, as you know. This is not going to be a lecture about tricks; all I want to show you are principles; principles on which you can build further and make something out of them. You have to do that because there is nobody like yourself. There is no trick that everybody can do exactly the same: that is absolutely impossible, in my opinion.

First of all, there are the fundamentals.

We all know that there are only a few fundamentals in magic, and I think that they are absolutely necessary. For instance, you buy a trick and read the instructions, do the trick, and call yourself a magician. This is, of course, ridiculous.

You can buy fifty tricks and still not be a magician. You can be an entertainer, but that’s another thing. Because the tricks never are important. You have a library in which these principles are written down, thought out, put down for you to read.

And what do we do, most of the time? We take a book and just look at the tricks that are in there: ”Oh, that’s nice. That’s nothing. Oh, there’s nothing in this book,” and you put it back. Don’t do that. When you have the Tarbell Course or the Dai Vernon Book of Magic and several others, for instance, the most interesting part of those books are in the preface.

For instance, in the Dai Vernon Book of Magic, the first two chapters are the most important of the whole book. You will find the basis of all the techniques he lectures about, like Slydini did.

There was a time when Slydini was here and in Holland and all over Europe, and everybody was crazy about him: this was Slydini.

Dai Vernon cannot do what Slydini does; Slydini can’t do what Dai Vernon does. They are masters in their own fields. They don’t copy each other because they know it is impossible. They are that far that they know it’s impossible. You have to translate the moves for yourself. I cannot tell you to do a move this way: I can only tell you what it is, so you understand for yourself how to translate a move or a sleight or a principle for yourself.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (163)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Quick Revelations – Vernon One-handed Shift Production; Shadow Theory; Visiting Giobbi; The Missing Link: How Houdini Named Buster Keaton; Hilarious Last Word

These are The Magic Memories 163, gone online Sunday, February 11th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Quick Revelations – Vernon One-handed Shift Production

Here is something for those who like to flick their fingers.

As I am sifting through thousands of notes in my notebooks to find interesting material for my upcoming Unexpected Agenda, I hit on the following item, dated August 1989, and which was inspired by reading and practicing a One-handed Shift by Dai Vernon that starts out from an Altman Trap. This unusual Shift, very few seem to know and even less use it, is described on p. 25 of Stephen Minch’s The Vernon Chronicles Vol. 1 – The Lost Inner Secrets. 

If you are a Vernon fan, or simply enjoy refined card magic in all its aspects, I highly recommend you get all four volumes: The first three are on Vernon’s magic, the fourth is a biography – these are among the books in my library I read several times…

Coming back to the “Shift”: It is the fastest  One-hand Pass I know, and as you can see here, it can be put to other good uses than to merely restore the cut, which very probably was its original intention (maybe done as the other hand reaches for a glass, or puts the ante into the pot).

Here is a quick run-through: Control the selection to the bottom of deck which is held in Dealing Position. Gently riffle its inner end, thereby obtaining an Altman Trap (a break held by the heel of the left thumb).

Start the first part of Vernon’s “One-handed Shift”.

When the former bottom portion flops back, insert the left thumb between the packets; the left thumb then drags the bottom card of the upper packet to the left and flips it face up on the closing deck. The selection now rests face up on the face down deck and can for instance be one-hand spin-dealt to the table.

Here is yet another application of this Shift you might want to explore: Do the old gag of shuffling the cards with a Riffle Shuffle in the Air and then extending the deck toward a spectator, saying, “Would you please cut the deck?” As she reaches for the deck, give it a One-handed Cut, “Thank you, that’s enough.” Done with kindness, to paraphrase David Devant, this will always produce merriment.

However, by using the Vernon One-handed Shift, instead of the traditional Charlier Cut, you will notice that you can see the full face of the shifting packet’s bottom card, and you can then catch a break between the packets as they close; use both hands to facilitate the final square-up.

You now have a known card in the approximate center of the deck, located by a break, which you can use as a force card, a key card, or anything else.

Shadow Theory

Years ago Tamariz mentioned the “Shadow Theory” to me, the fact that if you turn slightly sideways to display something on a stage, rather than doing so full-front, it will be seen better from far away.

The first time this most useful idea saw publication was in my own Stand-up Card Magic, p. 16, there still called “Shadow Rule”. Seven years later (a magic number!), in Sharing Secrets, I discussed it in more detail, calling it “The Shadow Theory”.

I was reminded of this when I saw the drawing below, published in the puzzle section of a popular Swiss magazine: You had to find the shadow that matched the drawing.

“The Shadow Theory”

And maybe you are now reminded of this concept, too… if you apply it, it will make your magic better, promised.

Visiting Giobbi

It is said that if you read, you are never lonely. And if you write books has even more far-reaching consequences.

One of the pleasures of being an author of magic books is the meeting of readers at conventions, club meetings etc. Meanwhile, so it seems, there are several generations of magicians, many of whom started their career with my Card College books… the disadvantage of this is, of course, that it makes me old🙂

Another benefit is that books make friends. I am reminded of Jean Paul who said, “Books are merely thick letters to friends”.  So, I keep making new friends with every book that goes out into the small world of magic (which has meanwhile become a big world, I should add…).

And then there are the “old friends” , most younger than I, who visit with me regularly. Below is a photo of Denis Behr from Munich, Germany, and Lorenz Schär from Berne, Switzerland, who joined me for a rich lunch and an afternoon of magic.

RG, Denis Behr, Lorenz Schär in a session break

Both gentlemen are talented far above average, and do some superb magic.

Both are also authors of books, and if you enter their names in Google (always add “magic” after entering a magician’s name!) you will find them. Denis wrote three books, and Lorenz one, all in English, and all are original and good.

The Missing Link: How Houdini Named Buster Keaton

The video clip, which was brought to my attention by my friend Marco Aimone, is interesting for various reasons.

First, it connects Houdini to Buster Keaton – notice at the beginning how Houdini gave him the name “Buster”.

Second, witness yet another use Artificial Intelligence can be put to.

Third, it is fun and instructional.

Hilarious Last Word

The clip below popped up as I was looking for a term that was not included in Behr’s Magic Archives, only for insiders, no comment 🙂

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (162)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: An Additional Thought on “And Yet It Is!”; Countdown Stop Trick; The Finest Magic of Pedro Lacerda.

These are The Magic Memories 162, gone online Sunday, February 4th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

An Additional Thought on “And Yet It Is!”

In The Magic Memories 160 I gave a few ideas on “And Yet It Is”, a lovely trick from Stand-up Card Magic.

My good friend and cardician extraordinaire Gary Plants wrote in and had this to say:

Roberto, the idea of forcing one of TWO cards is very good. The fact that either card could be selected is nice. Since the two cards are set ahead of time, I would consider to set up 3-4 pairs that could be forced and are easy to remember.

Now you can be even more free with the selection (force).

Just a thought.

Gary Plants

Goes without saying that this is a good idea, especially when performing in front of a lager audience, where you want methods to be as fool-proof as possible.

Plants & Giobbi sessioning at River Rhine

Countdown Stop Trick

Talking about tricks and how to make them better, or safer, or both: In Card College Volume 5 there is a “Countdown Stop Trick”, my interpretation of a very terse note in the infamous Dr. Jacob Daley Notebooks. Below is a screenshot of the intro to remind you – look up the details in the book, please:

The Countdown Stop – Card College Volume 5

Years ago, Helder Guimaraes came to see me at my home in Muttenz, and we had a Swiss Fondue, his first, I believe to remember 🙂

And of course we talked lots of magic. Among many other things Helder suggested a change in the set-up of the “Countdown Stop”; as you will see this is an excellent idea, and one wonders why nobody thought of it before. Of course, today, several years later, Helder has become a young star of magic, and this simple idea here shows why this is so.

This is another handling of “Countdown Stop” from Card College 5. The idea of using even instead of odd cards is from Helder.


From top down in the face-down deck: 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 (suits do not matter).

Do a Slough-off Faro to alternate the set-up with x-cards, the Ten still on top.

An easy way to obtain this set-up is to start out by spreading the cards face up and to cull one after the other a Two, a Four, a Six, an Eight and a Ten to the top of the deck. Of course it would be nice if you had a reason to do so… or just do it in a moment of relaxation between two tricks, no problem in an informal situation.

To make this very elegant, either have the deck pre-set from the outset, then delay the set-up with one or two tricks, or obtain the set-up in the course of a preceding trick (see “Secret Setup”, still in Card College Volume 5, p. 1124), delay with another trick, and then go into “Countdown Stop”; such a procedure will deceive even knowledgeable pople…


Spread the cards between your hands to have one selected, counting in 3-2-2-3 rhythm and trying to have the spectator take the eleventh card from the top. After the cards has been noted by the audience, have the spectator replace his card from where he took it from, in case he took the eleventh card.

If he did not, use the “Crocodile Technique” or other shenanigan you know to get the selection there.

In any case the spectator’s card ends up eleventh from the top, without disturbing the location and order of the set-up.

In an Injog Shuffle add five indifferent cards to the top. Use the “Intelligent Injog Shuffle” from Sharing Secrets (p. 54).

A brief check-up will reveal the selection to be at position sixteen from the top. If it is not, either my description is wrong, or you made a mistake…

Hand the deck to the spectator, and then proceed as explained in the book, to wit: Ask her to deal cards one by one on the table. As soon as she has dealt two or three cards, add that she may stop whenever she wants.

For years I had her deal the cards face down, until I realized that the set-up is well hidden, so that you may ask her to deal the cards face up; this will take some extra performance stress from you, as you will not have to silently count cards (easy to miss if you do not do this every day). See also “later addition” below.

If she deals too quickly, do a “slow-down” gesture with both hands, as you say, “Deal them with dignity, please, with dignity.” I must praise myself for this phrasing, as  nobody knows exactly what it means, but I can assure you from many years of professional experience that saying so, accompanied by said gesture, will make everyone slow down!

Regardless of where she stops, use the card she just deal or the next one to count down to the selection.

I leave the presentation to you, or check mine in the book.

Later addition: In order to eliminate any memory work, have spectator deal the cards face up, so you see exactly which card to use as the “countdown card”. This also gives you an automatic out, in case she deals over her selection: Simply use the “Circus Card Trick” ploy, i.e. stop her a few cards past the selection and say, “The next card to be turned over, will be your card.” Do not wait until she turns over the card, but directly reach into the pile of dealt cards and turn the selection face down. If she prematurely turns over the next card, without missing a beat reach into the pile and turn over the selection saying, “No, this one!”

Not as good as the original trick, but good enough. Alternatively, go the way of “The Trick That Cannot Be Explained” by using the card she stops at to get to the selection. Or make up your own out, there are some nice solutions 🙂

The Finest Magic of Pedro Lacerda

Just received the book from my dear friend in Portugal, Pedro Lacerda. Pedro justifies a book, and well, here it is!

The Finest Magic of Pedro Lacerda

Pedro is one of those few inspired amateurs who could compete with any seasoned professional.

He gained a lot of performing experience in the eighties and Nineties, did several lecture tours that took him around the world, but then decided to follow Vernon’s advice to keep magic as a hobby (he does so at a very high level) and became a very successful businessman in Portugal.

Best of all, of course, for most of my readers: The book is in English! Although occasionally it shines through that the author is not a native English speaker, all is absolutely intelligible and clearly explained, with lots of excellent photos.

In the first 86 pages you will learn more about Pedro Lacerda, the person, and magic in Portugal in general. Also, that he is one of Ascanio’s “spiritual sons”, which shines through in his thinking and performance. The tricks and techniques are all from his performing repertoire and most effective.

All is interesting, really, but two pieces stand out: First, his borrowed ring on tie – this is one of his signature pieces.

Lacerda’s signature piece: Ring on Tie

Second, his signed card to piano key, a pièce de resistance he used to do when he performed in a magic bar in Portugal during his most active days: In the deck of cards suddenly a piano key appears, as the pianist at the same time plays a wrong key. It turns out that the performer’s key is the one missing from the piano, while the signed card is now in its place in the piano. Good and original.

This is your chance to get a piece of outstanding Portuguese magic in your library.

For more information about the book and how to get it, email the author Francisco Mousinho at or Instagram: francisco_mousinho.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (161)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Pause for lack of a clear view…

These are The Magic Memories 161, gone online Sunday, January 28th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

All went well after my two-eyes operation, and I thank all of you who sent get-well wishes.

However, I have to wait for yet another week to get new glasses that allow for effortless work in front of a computer screen and a clear view for driving etc.

So, I decided to take this week-end off 🙂 I look forward to being back next week-end with the The Magic Memories 162.

photo credit: pixels-rebeca-gonçalves

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (160)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Thoughts on “And Yet It Is!”; The Mathematics of Shuffling Cards (Diaconis); The Missing Link (cardinimagican YouTube channel); Still One-Eyed…

These are The Magic Memories 160, gone online Sunday, January 21st, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Thoughts on “And Yet It Is!”

“And Yet It Is!” is a card piece I describe in my book Stand-up Card Magic ( p. 119) and also perform on my first Penguin Live Video Lecture 1, the one devoted to stand-up magic with cards and reflecting pretty well the content of the homonymous book.

The trick is really a good one as it can be done in practically any situation, for a small audience and also for a large one, it has rhythm, enough situation comedy but not too much to ruin the effect, a double-reality climax, is easy to follow, and last but not least is an excellent exercise to practice basic techniques (a Force and a Top Change), assistant management and presentation. It is definitely not for the beginner but the ideal trick for the medium to advanced practitioner who likes performing. If you have never done the trick, you will be amply rewarded if you learn it and will then have a trick to keep in your active repertoire for a lifetime.

The trick itself, by the way, seems to be an old one whose originator is lost in the annals of magic, but which was popularized by Pat Page, who liked to perform and explain it in his lectures.

Although the trick can be done with any freely selected card (use a key card location if you do!), in my opinion best results are obtained if the card is forced.

In Stand-up Card Magic I suggest forcing the Jack of Hearts (JH), and then use the Ten of Hearts (10H) to top change. This makes the final transformation clear and visible even in a larger auditorium, and even those spectators who claim not to know cards can understand and appreciate the effect.

That claim, incidentally, that occasionally is brought forth by a spectator that he (or she) doesn’t know cards is just silly, because if they are literate – and most are (!) – they can read numbers and letters, and everyone in the civilized world recognizes a spade, a heart, a flower (club) and a diamond – so, is it that they don’t know? All these people want is attention, and I give it to them by replying, “Of course you do, you just didn’t know until now!” This inevitably causes a communicative laugh. But I am digressing…

Here is a small idea for the trick that occurred to me recently and that gives me that extra bit of confidence when classic forcing the JH.

Have the JH on top of the deck, immediately followed by the 10H.

Bring the two cards to the lower third, and hold break above them. Spread the cards between the hands trying to classic force the JH, BUT since you know that the 10H is following right after the JH, you have an extra leeway. When opening the spread a bit to make it easier for the spectator to take a card, spread both cards, so he can take one of two.

Although this is just one card more, if you have ever tried the Classic Force you know that this little thing is an enormous help. When the spectator looks at the card, casually cut the other card to the top and if you are like me, who does not like taking risks, glimpse it to make sure you know which of the two he took (I use the “Top-card Riffle Glimpse” from Card College 1, in my opinion the very best top-card glimpse for magic). Obviously the trick word regardless of which one of the two is initially selected.

The Mathematics of Shuffling Cards

Here is a book that was published recently and that might interest some of you.

The Mathematics of Shuffling Cards, by Persi Diaconis and Jason Fulman, explores the mathematics behind the question of how many times a deck of cards should be shuffled for effective mixing, using shuffling techniques such as riffle, overhand, and table smooshing.

It encompasses probability, combinatorics, and algebra, with applications to magic tricks and gambling, and also draws connections to advanced mathematical fields like Lie theory, algebraic topology, and stochastic calculus. Suitable for upper-division courses and researchers in mathematics, statistics, and computer science, the book offers insights into the application of probability theory in diverse realms, including card games.

Prof. Persi Diaconis and his latest book

Diaconis is the guy who ran off with Vernon at age fourteen, spent a few years with Vernon on the road (that would make quite a novel!), only to then go on to become one of the world’s most renowned statisticians. I met him on three occasions, and spent several days with him, and one day I might report about this, too 🙂

Talking to Denis Behr about the book and other publications by Diaconis, several of which relate to the world of magic, historically and technically, he sent me an interesting link: If you want to read and try to understand math of the highest degree as (sometimes) related to magic, you can find almost all of Diaconis’ scientific papers BY CLICKING HERE.

The Missing Link

Years ago I had founded a small “magic chat group” of a dozen people, not so much for “chatting” as I do not particularly like that, but with the idea that each member would contribute one item per month, usually without further discussions as this usually consumes more time than we have… The group’s name, by the way, was ViVaLuBa, and I challenge anyone to guess how it came about and what it means – don’t worry, it is not so important 🙂

The contribution could be an unpublished document or video, a short or long essay on any topic that somehow relates to magic, an opinion, a book review, an anecdote, etc. You get the idea.

If you consider that at the outset the group’s members were Max Maven, Pit Hartling, Howard Hamburg, Marco Pusterla, Reinhard Müller, Toni Cachadina, to name just a few, you can imagine that twelve times twelve high-caliber contributions made a more than just interesting addition to each member’s magic year.

Peu à peu the members thinned out, however, until only six were left, and then we stopped the project which had run a few years and provided all of us with a great time and exchange of excellent ideas.

In some future Magic Memories I might share a few items, although the consent was that all contributions were strictly confidential. Meanwhile, some of the members have sadly left us, such as Jesus Etcheverry and Max Maven, and so I will decide in their name what to release and what not.

YouTube Channel by cardinimagican

One of the contributions came from my dear friend Stefano Rezzonico, who is one of those enlightened amateurs not many will know, and it came in form of link to a YouTube channel most of us were not aware of at the time.

The channel is named cardinimagican, and it contains mainly videos from the Spanish and South-American magic culture, so almost all is in Spanish language, but a lot being visual, you will be able to appreciate it anyway.

To get to the channel CLICK HERE.

Still One-Eyed…

That’s it for today, my friends, as I am still visually handicapped, waiting for the cataract operation on my second eye (not to be confused with my Second Sight…) on TUE, 23rd JAN 2024. Until then my eyes are out of sync, and I can only spend one or two hours in front of my beloved computer screen. I hope that with the second eye done view will return to normal, better than before… more in the next The Magic Memories 161.

BTW of “One Eyed”, if you have access to the books, check out “One-Eyed Jack Sandwich” in Lorayne’s My Favorite Card Tricks (p. 4), a good book… and Paul LePaul’s “The One-Eyed Jacks” in The Card Magic of LePaul ( p. 146), a sensational book…

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (159)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Did You Know This? Trivia for Presentations; Little Update on Unexpected Agenda – On the Memorized Deck; Pirate for a Day

These are The Magic Memories 159, gone online Sunday, January 14th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Did You Know This? Trivia for Presentations

Did you know that wine grapes are the most cultivated fruit worldwide?

The species is named Vitis vinifera (“the one that bears the fruit”). For one bottle of wine they need ca. one kilo (ca. 2.2 pounds) of wine grapes.

When I read that I thought, “Who needs to know that?” What a piece of useless information, well, at least for most of the world population.

But it did send me to my non-magic library, which is well-stocked with ca. 1’000 books, of course not to be compared to my magic library with over 3’500 books, not counting the 30 meters plus of bound and unbound magazines…

part of the non-magic library

I have a section in it that does not fit in any of the other sections, and in my mind I call it “trivia”, armed with just a few dozen books. Three of them are written by one Hanswilhelm Haefs titled Handbuch des nutzlosen Wissens (“handbook of useless knowledge”).

Yes, I know, it’s in German, but a quick search with Google, searching “books on useless knowledge”, brought forth a plethora of publications in English, the name of which confirmed that its content is at least as useless as that of the equivalent literature in German, only that in English they seem to know more useless things than in most other languages (I did not check Russian or Chinese, though…).

Books like these are definitely useless, as you will for instance learn that in the USA there are more psychoanalysts than postmen, that men fall out of bed more often then women, and that the Inuits use refrigerators to avoid that their food freezes.

So, what’s the point of all this?

As you know I am fond of finding presentational ideas for tricks, or at least ideas for a prologue, which begets an epilogue, and both beget a presentational theme for the trick.

So, you could say that by exploring the unnecessary there is a good chance to find the necessary, call it a kind of serendipity.

In any case, nothing seems to be too trivial as not being worth one’s attention, especially if it leads to an amusing, informative, and ultimately “entertaining” performance, “entertaining” meant in the artistic sense of fascinating an audience, based on the Aristotelian “Logos” and “Pathos”, through the performer’s “Ethos”.

It is not so complicated, after all, is it? Yes, sure, simple but not easy, Mr. Burger.

Little Update on Unexpected Agenda

In The Magic Memories 157 I promised to keep you posted on the progress of the Unexpected Agenda, the book project I am currently working on as much and as often as I can.

I have already worked several hundred hours on assembling and rewriting about 450 entries from the several thousand notes I have taken in the past fifty years; ultimately I will need “only” 366 items, so almost one hundred will have to leave (how about a Leftover Agenda...).

There is a lot left to do, I expect ca. 1’200 work hours just from me, not counting photos and illustrations taken and edited, layout, two proof-readings, corrections, preparation of final PDF for print, printing, binding, packaging, shipping to me and distributor, 20kg boxes schlepping, unpacking, managing orders, signing, repacking, shipping, all of that plus other minutiae, to ultimately sell ca. 2’000 copies in ten years… So, my advice to anyone who is thinking about writing and publishing a book is DON’T!

Although many of the concepts, thoughts, philosophies never get dated, most of what will go into the book is of more recent vintage, findings I came upon in the past years as a result of my synergetic studies of many topics.

It is certainly the advantage of getting older that now I see things more as being part of a much larger context, while in the first decades of my magical life I focused a lot on details. Now both things, breadth and depth, are coming together, and I hope that it will show in the new Unexpected Agenda.

More on this later. Here is for your entertainment pleasure a yet unedited entry that will go into the book concerning the benefits of using a memorized deck. Enjoy.

On the Memorized Deck

The following ideas are an answer to several readers who wrote in to ask for my comments on the use of a memorized deck.

Generally speaking, stacked decks can be divided in two big categories: Partial stacks and complete stacks. The complete stacks can again be split in mnemonic stacks (e.g., Tamariz Menmonica, Aronson Stack) and circular stacks. Finally, circular stacks consist of mathematical stacks (e.g., “Si Stebbins”) and rosary stacks (e.g., “Eight Kings”). So far for taxonomy and terminology, a basic requirement for the understanding of a topic.

The mastery and use of a memorized deck has several advantages over other systems. Here are a few thoughts to start you thinking about the subject.

  • Card Index: Technically a memorized deck is also an efficient “Card Index”, i.e., it allows you to access any card at any moment. Although this can theoretically be done with mathematical stacks, too, a mnemonic stack is much fast: This is especially practical when using two decks.
  • Partial set-ups: It is a great memory aid when you have to remember a sequence of cards: Rather than learning a new order, take a sequence from your memorized deck. An example is “Card Call” from Stand-up Card Magic, where I need to memorize ten cards. I simply take the first ten cards of Mnemonica and thus do not need to learn a new order; this alleviates stress and gives me self-confidence in performance.
  • Selection & Control: Replaces selection and control phase, as you can simply have a card named out loud, and then locate it instantly. In parlor and stage work, or any stand-up situation for that matter, having a card named saves a lot of time. However, you also lose the impossibility factor. For it is not the same thing to (false) shuffle the deck and have a card named, as to have a deck shuffled by the spectator, then have her reach into the hand-spread to take any card. In such a situation she can see that she has a choice of fifty-two cards (!),  then to replace the card and shuffle the deck herself. As always: You have to pay the price, as you cannot get something for nothing, and as the saying goes, even death costs your life.
  • Quite generally speaking learning a mnemonic system can be helpful to improve your memory, or at least improve the way you use it by instilling memory aid techniques. Although Tamariz in his book Mnemonica teaches a “shortcut system” to memorize the order of the cards and their position in the deck, the classic method is to have an image for every position and one for every card, and then create an association between the two. Since this article is not supposed to be a course in mnemonics I refer you to the technical literature (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Card Magic, Chapter 20 – The Nikola Card System). If you are a native speaker of English, you can use the system as it is ready to go, but if you think in another language you will have to adapt the system to words and images in your own language. I remember how it took me several days to do that, many years ago (!), but it was a lot of fun. And then it took me another several weeks to apply the mnemonics to the complete deck. When I then visited with Juan Tamariz and he explained to me his own system, I had to unlearn the entire thing! I think I have told this story somewhere else in my writings, but I do not remember where…

Pirate for a Day

Sorry to keep today’s The Magic Memories a bit shorter than usual, but my ophthalmologist prescribed a maximum of three hours a day woking in front of a monitor for the next few days.

This is as a consequence of a cataract operation I had to undergo on Tuesday. The surgery itself is ambulant and is over in about twenty minutes, which is not bad if you consider that they are taking your old lens out of your eye and replacing it with another, sort of a transposition… I do the same thing with cards much faster and less invasive 🙂

All is good, but in ten days they will take care of the other eye.

I think I am going to ask them if they can implant a lens that allows me to look into the future… hey, here is another presentational idea, “I have a new lens in my eye that allows me to look into the future.” Obviously, to be believable, you will have to do the operation…

Anyway, for a day I looked like one of those one-eyed pirates 🙂

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (158)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Happy New Year message; Ask for a Personal Inscription; The Magic Memories 2021, 2022, and 2023 All-in-one PDF; Is the Classic Pass Necessary?; Irv Weiner aka Mr. Fingers with videos “Three-way Odyssey” and “Irv Weiner on Campus”

These are The Magic Memories 158, gone online Sunday, January 7th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Happy New Year!

Thank you to all who wrote in with best wishes for the new year – please receive my greetings here: May this year bring you health, peace and enough money to enjoy it, and may it also bring all of us closer to perfection in magic!

Representatively for all who sent greetings, here is what Roger Curtis from the Magic Circle London wrote:

Happy new year Roberto!

These Magic Memories are fantastic to read and are a real weekly highlight.

They are full of such interesting, well thought out and educational inspiration both from a magical and general perspective. It is so generous to you to give this to the magical community as a gift and please don’t stop!

Thank you.

Thank you, Roger, and all others who wrote in during the year.

I have thought about dropping these The Magic Memories several times, as they take me a lot more time than you imagine. But then it is messages like this one that make me continue. It is not so much that I would not know what to write, far from it, as I eat, drink and breath magic all day, and could therefore go on forever. No, it is just sometimes the doubt of things that I write not being as relevant to others as they are to me.

Therefore, please let me know what you would want to read more about, and ask questions which I might answer, sooner or later. 

Also, tell me if there are things you do not like so much, or with which you do not agree. Please be candid when doing so, as I do not have such a thick skin, but rest assured that I can listen.

Ask for a Personal Inscription

I am not using The Magic Memories as a platform to sell my books, videos etc., only exceptionally will I make reference to a creator of mine of it fits the rest of the content.

However, I know that most who read this blog have also bought one or more of my offerings, and are recommending them to others. So, I would like to take this occasion to tank all of you who help promoting whatever I have published and will publish in the future: Your comments on the social media and on the forums (or “fora”).

Please remember and tell your friends that you can ask for a personal inscription in and on all items you order from me directly, but this must be mentioned on the online-order form, as there are too many who are giving my books to others; it is mostly women who give to their boyfriends, husbands, and sons – I wish there would be more men giving to women…

RG signing books after a lecture in Bologna, Italy, ca. 2003

For anything needed you can always get in touch with me through the “CONTACT” menu item on my webshop. But please understand that I cannot get into a lengthy correspondence, nor answer questions that get answered by themselves if you read the item descriptions on the webshop, or if you read the instructions carefully in my books 🙂

The Magic Memories 2021, 2022, and 2023 All-in-one PDF

At the end of 2021 I made up a rather detailed Table of Content for The Magic Memories 2021, and if you are interested, you can download the PDF HERE.

I could not find anything for The Magic Memories 2022, so must have skipped that one… but I made up one just now for you, copying my own pro memoriam and making it into a PDF: You can get it HERE.

Finally, to download the (briefly) commented Content of The Magic Memories for the year 2023 CLICK HERE.

If anyone reading this wants to gather all The Magic Memories of the year 2023 in one PDF, you have my blessing, and if you do, please send me a PDF-copy to share with our community.

I made only brief comments to the items included, but it should suffice for anyone use the “search” function to find most contents… and you can add your own, if you wish.

Is the Classic Pass Necessary?

In compliance with my own resolution made above of answering questions, here is one that dates back over a year (oh my!).

Emir Kumalic from Vienna, Austria, asked a question several others have asked before: “Why did you not include the chapter on ‘The Classic Pass’ in your video course Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction?”

Indeed, the Classic Pass is taught in Card College 2, the book, but not in the Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction video series.

RG’s hands doing the Invisible Pass from CC4

There are three reasons for this.

One: Although I do use the Classic Pass occasionally, and can also do it unseen in front of a lay audience, I cannot do it invisibly if the camera focuses on my hands. Neither can 99,9% of those doing cardmagic (see “Two” and “Three” below).

Although everyone with a little performing experience knows that doing a sleight for a film or photographic camera, as opposed to doing it for a human being who normally has two eyes and a brain (we hope), especially a beginner who is learning from a video will simply judge from what he or she sees on the video, and because they “see something” will decide this cannot be done and be discouraged. Therefore, I have opted to leave it out on video, and teach it in print, where anyone who is over-talented and practices a few hours a day, for weeks, for at least one or two years, can indeed learn it, for all the information you need is there.

Two: The second reason is closely related to the first, as in the fifty-one years (as of 2024) of doing magic and watching thousands of magicians, I have only met a handful who can do the Classic Pass imperceptibly if you look at their hands. Yes, there are hundreds who can do it imperceptibly in the context of a performance with the adequate psychological staging and misdirection, and I count myself among these.

Also, I would like to say, thatI I do not know of any effect (mind you “effect”, not “trick”) that could not alternatively be done with another technique and look and feel at least as good for a lay audience.

I know that some “experts” will tell you this is not true and that I do not know what I am talking about, well, take it from me, who is also considered an “expert” by many, that they are wrong 🙂

Of course, that is all just my opinion; I have to repeat this at least once a year in this blog and in other writings of mine.

Certainly, if you do a Color Change with a Classic Pass, everyone at a magic convention will admire you, but if you do the same effect, i.e., transforming a card into another one, by using a Palm, which is a lot easier (and clearer in effect!), if properly done, you will get a knowing nod at best. (BTW: To do the Color Change with a Palm reread “The Side-slip Color Change” in Card College 3, and see it done in “Lesson 34: Color Change – Classic Color Change” of the Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction video series).

However, to a lay person it will not matter by what technique you obtain the transformation. What does matter, though, is how it affects the spectator emotionally and intellectually, our eternal Aristotelian Logos and Pathos.

So, if you just transform one card into another, nobody really cares (an exception being if you do a beautiful little routine as did José de la Torre – see The Magic Memories 71).

BUT, if you have a card chosen, then fail in finding it by displaying a wrong card, then you have added a conflict that gasps for a resolution, and what better way of resolving a conflict than by the power of magic (in a theatrical, artistical sense, of course).

I did not understand this myself, until Juan Tamariz in one of our innumerable sessions, taught this to me when I was a young man.

Only now do the spectators get involved – head and heart – and can feel the cathartic effect when the magic happens, when a wrong becomes right, when in a symbolic battle the good defeats the evil in an esthetically pleasing impossibility.

Erdnase, in 1902, said that the pass has yet to be invented, which can be done invisibly under all circumstances.

And Stanley Collins writes in his Gems of Personal Prestidigitation (p.77), a rare publication reprinted as an appendix in Edwin Dawes’ Stanley Collins – Conjurer, Collector, and Iconoclast: “If you must control a selected card by means of the outmoded double-handed pass, at best a barbarous device for the purpose, don’t withdraw the hands in an endeavor to cover the sleight. always thrust the hands toward the drawer of the card. By this means, the sleight even if done as badly as it is usually done, is less likely to be detected.” Collins wrote this in 1920!

Three: In Card College 4, the book, and in “Chapter 49 – Advanced Pass Techniques” of the video series Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, there is a whole chapter on different kinds of passes, which in my opinion are easier and more practical than the Classic Pass, such as “The Spread Pass”, “The Bluff Pass”, “The Simple Pass” (very good!) etc., or in Stand-up Card Magic the “The Parallel Shift”.

All of these Passes plus others I did not mention, are discussed in detail in my video course Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction.

The topic deserves to be discussed in a lengthy essay. I won’t do it here. But in my opinion you should invest your time in learning all the other techniques on the course properly before devoting time to a sleight you will very probably never use. But then again you might belong to the 1:10’000 who can do it properly 🙂

Hope all of this was of some help.

Irv Weiner aka Mr. Fingers

To close this week’s The Magic Memories here is a goodie as a little additional New Year’s Present. 🙂

Some of you will remember my narration in The Magic Memories 152 of what I called “The Samelson Reunion”, with Peter Samelson, P. G. Varola, his wife Helen, and Mauro Massironi, a meeting on Lake  Maggiore (Switzerland and Italy).

In one of the many discussions Peter brought up the name of Irv Weiner, whom I knew only from one single trick, “Three-way Excursion” in  “Chapter 41 – Packet Switches” from Card College 4. You can see me do the trick in “Lesson 37: Packet Switches” of the Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction video series, there called by a different title, “Three-way Odyssey”, because it comes in a considerably updated version.

As a last-minute extra that I originally did not intend, I will give you the performance part of this new version, with a first phase that is not in the book plus a super-clever packet switch that is also not in the book, however, the core trick, the triple transposition, is all Irv Weiner’s, with just some handling adaptations by me.

To see me perform “Three-way Odyssey” CLICK HERE.

Final display of “Three-way Odyssey”

Now back to Irv Weiner: The video you are about to watch shows that Mr. Weiner’s technical skill, originality and presentational abilities all far surpass what most of us knew about this gentleman.

The clip comes courtesy of Scott Martell, who put up the video in the first place and from whom we may expect a book about the life and work of Irv Weiner sometime in 2024 (we hope!),  Peter Samelson who facilitated the contact, and myself.

In this recording Irv Weiner, aka Mr. Fingers, performs for a small group on Northern Illinois University campus circa late 1970. The quality is not very good, but you will be able to see and hear everything necessary, that’s the point. To watch the video CLICK HERE.

Have a successful start into the New Year 2024 – I look forward to chatting with you in The Magic Memories 159 next Sunday.
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The Magic Memories (157)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: (Very) Quick End-of-year Review; New Year’s Eve – Sylvester: An Anecdote; Addendum to “How Did You Do That?”; Giobbi on Vernon’s Hand-to-hand Card Transfer (video clip & PDF); Roberto Giobbi: Complete Bibliography, Status December 2023 (PDF)

These are The Magic Memories 157, gone online Sunday, December 31st, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

(Very) Quick End-of-year Review

As you are reading this it is the very last day of the year 2023, at least for those who are living according to the Gregorian Calendar, and most of us are therefore probably getting ready to celebrate this event in some way or another 🙂

It has been an eventful year for me, for magic, and for the world at large.

As far as I am concerned, I have reported many of my undertakings, travels and adventures in these The Magic Memories, which all who care can easily access HERE, so I can spare us that part.

As for what happened in the world at large in 2023, you will find excellent reviews of the most important events online. It is not to be overlooked that these events have impacted our small magic world in significant ways, fortunately not only negatively, but due to the return to a mostly “normalized” life after almost three years of hiatus also in a very positive way, bringing back live shows, conventions, etc. I hope you had your share of it, as did I.

In reference to the Magic World itself, looking at all the publications, tricks, conventions and various events that marked the current year, I can only say that magic is still going strong, possibly stronger than ever, certainly quantity-wise, but in spite of all the mediocre ideas, products and shows, also quality-wise.

Briefly: As we leave a forceful magical 2023 many signs point to a even more successful and eventful 2024. I wish you and I to be part of it.

So, for me personally, I will try to keep in touch with you through The Magic Memories, provided I do not receive too many protests (tomatoes, eggs, etc.), I hope to complete the Unexpected Agenda, the book project I am currently working on as much and as often as I can (see the “Little Update on Unexpected Agenda” in the upcoming The Magic Memories 158). Plus the many things that will come up and are unplanned.

New Year’s Eve – Sylvester: An Anecdote

When I turned to magic professionally in 1988, many wonderful things happened to me.

One of them was that my much admired friend Gaetan Bloom, on of the geniuses in our world of magic, who apparently thought highly of me, without asking me recommended me to one of the most important and influential agencies in Europe, Tavel International Agency with headquarters in Paris, and owned by Monique Nakachian, whom I would only much later meet personally, in 2006, when we both sat in the jury of FISM 2006 in Stockholm!

So, I got an unexpected call from Mrs. Nakachian with a proposal to work for three weeks in the famous “Cabaret du Casino” of Monte Carlo; that was in January of 1989, and it is a story I have told in one of the previous The Magic Memories. If I haven’t, and someone tells me so, I’ll catch up in a future post.

Her customer seemed to have been so pleased by my magical offerings that a few months later she called again, asking me if I was free at New Year’s Eve to do magic in a holiday resort. She offered two options: One, somewhere in the Arabian Emirates (can’t remember exactly where), and two, on an island of  the French Antilles.

Although I had already a computer at that time and used it to write my first books, articles, contracts, etc., no Internet was available, yet.

So, I had to rely on my high school knowledge of geography. Unfortunately, geography was one of my least favorite subjects, like most others… which is why I somehow thought the Antilles to be those islands in the Mediterranean Sea (yes, I know… now).

Therefore, without further checking, I decided to take the destination that was nearer by, just a short flight, I thought… We quickly agreed on everything over the phone, and Mrs. Nakachian promised to send the contract by mail in the next days (no email, let alone PDF-attachments, at that time…).

After hanging up I proudly declared to Barbara, my wife-to-be in 1990, that I had just got a booking on the mediterranean island of the Antilles…

Barbara, to this day smarter and more knowledgeable than I, looked at me disdainfully and without missing a beat said, “The Antilles, my dear, are in the Caribbean Sea, and Fort de France, where you have to fly to, being the largest city of Martinique.”

Gulp!!! Too late…

But the punchline has yet to come…

Mrs. Nakachian called again two days later, “Mr. Giobbi, I’m sorry to report that there is a problem with that booking on Sylvester…”

Oh, my.

“This period is peak season in the Caribbean, and we couldn’t get any flights on that day. You will have to fly in four days earlier and stay another three extra days before you can get your flight back. Is that a problem?”


However, she quickly added, “But of course you’ll be given a standard guest room with view on the sea, and all drinks and meals will be taken care of.”

OK, no problem!

To appreciate the situation, you should know that the hotel in question was the Hotel Meridien, a five-star hotel considered the best on the island of Martinique, owned by Air France, at least at that time it was.

I was then told the regular weekly rate for half-pension was around $ 10’000 per person (according to the inflation calculator $10,000 in 1989 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $25,539.71 today).

Definitely, no problem!

I had a direct flight from Paris to Fort de France, which is part of French Territory, was transferred by private boat from the airport to the island, and then taken by limousine to the Hotel Meridien.

Well, frankly, I had never been in a place like that before! Decadent luxury pure: White sand beach as far as you could see, palm trees, blue waters all around, a cocktail bar and a restaurant, all in style to fit the local environment, briefly, possibly the preliminary stage to Paradise.

I remember I worked some two or three hours doing close-up during the dinner of Sylvester, and then spent the rest of the days, before and after, sun-bathing on the beach, swimming in the Caribbean Sea, taking part in several excursions and outdoor pursuits, as well as dining on local langoustes, lobster and wine, with no-limit cocktails before and after, all free of charge, in the company of some beautiful people…

This is were I thought: This artist’s life is going to be a hard life! But I survived it, and many similar adventures thereafter…

Addendum to How Did You Do That?

In reference to last week’s discussion of what to answer when a spectator says, “How did you do that?”, Gordon Meyer from Chicago wrote in and agreed to share his answer:

“Hi, Roberto – First off, thank you for the good ideas!

Secondly, well, I’m happy to say I was one of those 300 Secret Twitter subscribers and loved it. It was innovative and interesting.

Finally, the real reason for this note: When asked “how did you do that?” I often reply “Well, the deeper question is ‘why did I do that'” — delivered with a raised eyebrow and a small laugh. My internal dialog for this is that the magic points beyond the trick, but you’re missing it!

Thank you, Gordon, a good answer. Not all will get it, but for those who do, it might be a start to an interesting conversation that opens a door into our Magic Kingdom to them.

Giobbi on Vernon’s Hand-to-hand Card Transfer

In order to make this week’s The Magic Memories, the last of the year, not a chatter-only one, here is a little sleight-of-hand bit that those might like who like this sort of thing… and it will keep you busy for a while 🙂

In my Evernote Notebook I have a lengthy note on so-called “Hand Transfer Techniques”, i.e., methods that allow objects, mostly cards (!), to be transferred imperceptibly (that’s the idea…) from one hand to the other, and sometimes back again.

Looking through it in search for items to put in the upcoming Unexpected Agenda (a part of the entries will be, like in the other Agendas, original and/or little-known techniques and technical refinements) I hit on Dai Vernon’s method that was described in Hugard’s & Braue’s Expert Card Technique, in the third edition of 1950. Since this chapter is missing in the first two editions and the reprints thereof that many seem to have, I have taken the liberty of copying the original description for you HERE (the book is now out of copyright and in the public domaine). You may know this already, and if you do not, I suggest you do a little read before proceeding.

In difference to Vernon’s technique, which I could never get to work 100% for me, I simply use friction to get the card from the palm of one hand to the palm of the other hand. No further description is necessary, I think: Simply watch the video a few times and those who are used to tackle such things will get it, for the others it should just look amusing 🙂

To watch the twelve-second video CLICK HERE.


Roberto Giobbi: Complete Bibliography, Status December 2023

Since these The Magic Memories mark not only the end of the year 2023, but also the end of the third year of publication of this blog, I thought I would give in to the request of several of my readers who asked if there was a list of all my publications.

The Complete Works of RG

Well, if you really want to take the time to sift the evidence, HERE IT IS as a PDF.

Ok, now let’s all get ready for the countdown for 2024, have an excellent transition, and Happy New Year! (I entered “best firework in the world” into my search engine and GOT THIS – whether you agree or not, enjoy!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (156)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas – The Complete File (PDF); Secret Twitter; Feedback – Graved Lax – Variation on “Wild Business”; How Did You Do That – Ten Answers… And Some More

These are The Magic Memories 156, gone online Sunday, December 24th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

The Magic Advent Calendar of Good Ideas – The Complete File

What started out as a spontaneous idea in a discussion with my wife Barbara – she who illustrates all my books (!) – has become an unexpectedly successful full-fledged “product”.

It started out as a “small” idea…

It seems to have pleased more people than I had anticipated, and also got some heartfelt comments from all around the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who wrote in with kind and encouraging words and have sent in thoughts of their own.

Several have missed the first issues, and the reason for it is that they were not on the newsletter list although they thought they were. The explanation is that about two years ago the laws for mailing have changed, at least they have so in Switzerland, not sure about the rest of the world, and everyone who sends out mails to a list had the get the express OK of the subscribers to be on that list. And to my knowledge there is no other way of sending out a thing as The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas than sending it to a mailing list.

What sounds legalese and is legalese boils down to one simple thing: I had to delete my list, and you had to re-subscribe to the newsletter. So, many who had subscribed before were thrown out without their fault and my intention.

Bottom line: If you want to receive next year’s The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas, or any other message, ideas, product etc. from me, please go to right now and enter your email into the subscription field (you can unsubscribe anytime with just one click). Even though you might think you are on the list (TEST: If you did get my daily mails with The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas, you are on the list and do not need to act, if you did not get it, you are not on the list and therefore must subscribe.)

At any rate, here is for your file a PDF with the complete twenty-four items of The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas, as a gift, free of charge, with my very best wishes for the Holiday Season and the New Year!

To download the PDF CLICK HERE.

PS: Yes, you can send this around to your friends 🙂

Secret Twitter

The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas is an obvious member of the “Agenda-Family” of which Secret Twitter holds a special place in my heart.

Not only was it terribly labor-intensive; the low price and the fact that we sold less than 300 units made it completely unprofitable.

So, although I am an artist, I am not stupid, as my friend Aldo Colombini used to say, and I will never again embark on such a project.

Still, looking at it again from a distance, I must say that it is full of great ideas, if you will forgive the immodesty: If, from the over 400 entries, you extract the ones that are meaningful to you, you will have your personal PDF of “Good Ideas” to occasionally revise – this will be worth many times the lowly asking price.

Here is what a reader wrote in answer to “A Quick Trick” published in The Magic Memories 154:

OMG! I love this trick BUT even more, I went back to look at the Magic Advent Calendar…which on 19 Dec, lead me to the Secret Twitter and I started reading some of the tweets… which should be named treats!

Even though I had read them before, I was astounded that I gained even MORE re-reading them!

Come to think of it: Several have asked how they can thank me for this full year of The Magic Memories, always delivered on time (0:07h!) and The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas, all free of charge, plus the several PDFs and video clips included in this year’s posts.

Well, why don’t you make a gift to both you and me, and order Secret Twitter; 50% of the amount will go to me, the other 50% are for Chris from To get Secret Twitter,  CLICK HERE.

Secret Twitter by Roberto Giobbi


It’s certainly nice to get all your feedback, thank you 🙂

Please understand and forgive that I cannot answer each and every one personally, but if I think that it is of general interest, I will publish it here in The Magic Memories with your consent.

Graved Lax

JR Russell from Seattle wrote in to say that he will be preparing Graved Lax for the festive days.

So, all of you who do not know what this is about go and enter “roberto giobbi graved lax” in the YouTube search field, and you will have an excellent dish to celebrate the New Year. Note that the preparation and the presentation are on two separate short videos.

JR pimps his Graved Lax up by adding a few dashes of Gin to the marinade which has then 48 hours time to marry with the Lax – what bridal nights!

… preparing Graved Lax


Wild Business for the Holiday Season

Marius from Kiel, Germany, wrote in to offer a swell variation of “Wild Business” discussed in The Magic Memories 155. It is most fitting for these days, but is also an open door to adapt to almost any topic, situation and target audience (Trade Show magicians hear hear). In Marius’ own words:

Dear Roberto,

Thank you for all the effort you put into these Magic Memories, it is always a pleasure to read. Here’s a little idea I had for a Christmas themed card trick for the holidays based on “Wild Business” I’d like to share with your readers:

Material needed: 9 double blank playing cards, 9 Christmas themed stickers (all alike, e.g. a star), a bunch of different Christmas stickers (snow man, Santa Clause, candy cane …).
Preparation: Prepare the cards as in “Wild Business”, i.e. put the same sticker on each of the eight blank cards, leave one of the cards blank. Set the nine cards up as described in “Wild Business”.

Performance: Start by saying “As it is Christmas soon I will show you how a Magician produces Christmas cards” (this obviously makes for a nice word play: playing cards / Christmas cards). Introduce the blank cards as described in “Wild Business”. Now introduce the bunch of different Christmas stickers as possible motifs for your cards and force the “correct” one (in this case the star) on a spectator via your favorite method, thanking the spectator for choosing a nice motif for the Christmas card. Proceed as in “Wild Business”, i.e. attach the sticker to the double blank card saying something like “this will be our prototype for the Christmas cards”. Proceed as in “Wild Business” and magically produce nine nice Christmas cards. (As I don’t own a himber wallet my trick ends here, but you could certainly add the vanishing-stickers-part).

Greetings from Kiel, Germany and happy holidays!

How Did You Do That – Ten Answers… And Some More

Today is Christmas Eve, a day that makes many wonder, for various reasons.

And I just wondered if I had ever written about that question we all get more or less often when we perform our “miracles”: “How did you do that?”

Yes, in the Theory Chapters of Card College Volume 2 I have touched on the subject very briefly (p. 473, in the sub-chapter “Outs for Disasters and Disturbances”), and later in a lengthy essay on “Smart Answers to Stupid Questions” (if memory serves me right this appeared only in German language), and also in Secret Agenda (“How Did You Do That?”, entry of FEB 20, p. 59).

For those who still do not have Secret Agenda, neither as a book nor as a PDF, here is the PDF of the page as a further gift to you – CLICK HERE.

May I suggest that you read the short one-page article from Secret Agenda before proceeding. BTW: Einstein’s quote in the article is not complete, it should be: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Because knowledge is limited.” Don’t know how that was left out…

Over the years I have collected answers, some amusing, some serious, some not so good (I list them here anyway because the “not-so-good-answers” also teach a lesson). Here is a selection, for your edification and use:

“I don’t even know myself!” (Kuda Bux – read in Perovich’s The Vernon Companion)

Slydini says to Dick Cavett at the end of his One Coin Routine, when asked, “How do you do that?” Slydini, “How I do? I don’t even know myself!”

“Better to take pleasure in a rose than to put its root under a microscope.” (Oscar Wilde)

“It’s a profession.”  (RG)

“If a wise man points to the moon, don’t look at his finger.” (Confucius?)

“What really has meaning in art is joy.
You don’t need to understand.
What you see makes you happy?
Everything is here.”
(Constantin Brancusi)

Someone once tried to understand music. He took a violin apart, but he could not find any music inside.

An atheist Cosmonaut said to a believing brain surgeon: “I’ve been navigating the universe for years, but I could never find God.” The brain surgeon answered: “I’ve been operating on thousands of brains, but I could never find an idea.”

“Like the Gauls – I take a magic potion!”

“You’ll have to admit that if there is no trick, it’s great, but if there is one, it’s even stronger.” (Myr & Myroska, in: Rémi David, Philosophie de la magie, p. 70)

“You don’t have to understand, for to understand is only the second step. You have to feel.” (Jorge Luis Borges)

„Well, you may find it difficult to believe, but it is a complicated thing, and it requires talent, thought and a lot of practice.“ (RG)

And, inevitably, I also asked ChatGPT for ten answers, which I’ve listed below without changing a iota, but frankly, I do not think that they are very good ones. Well, maybe #2? Let’s see what you think:

1. “Oh, it’s all in the wand – it’s a very magical piece of wood!”
2. “Trade secret! I’d tell you, but then I’d have to vanish you too.”
3. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to turn you into a rabbit. It’s a whole process.”
4. “I’m actually a wizard in disguise. Shh, don’t tell anyone!”
5. “Well, it’s a mix of Hogwarts training and a dash of unicorn dust.”
6. “I can reveal my secrets, but it requires signing a pact with the mischievous trickster spirits.”
7. “I summoned the spirits of Houdini and Merlin for a crash course in magic.”
8. “It’s a closely guarded secret passed down from magician to magician via carrier pigeons.”
9. “I attended the School of Enchanted Deception – you’ve probably never heard of it.”
10. “Trade secret, or as we say in the magic world, ‘Abracadabra-nDA.'”

I you have an answer that you like and use and want to share with me and the community reading The Magic Memories, please send it in via the “Contact” item on the homepage, i.e.,

That’s it for today. Our son Miro is visiting from Zurich and staying with us over the Xmas days, and Rafael will join us tomorrow for Xmas Eve, with gifts and a dinner in all gemütlichkeit. And now I’ll join Barbara and Miro for a yummy Swiss Raclette (it has to stink a bit, or else it’s not real cheese)!


I’ll be back for the last The Magic Memories of this year on the 31st December.

Meanwhile, wish you all an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi

Posted on 2 Comments

The Magic Memories (155)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Replacement for #7 The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas; It Really Happened – Anecdote: Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?; Sunday Magic at the Zauberring Basel (“Wild Business” PDF and YouTube clip)

These are The Magic Memories 155, gone online Sunday, December 17th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Replacement for #7 The Magic Calendar of Good Ideas

As several among you will have noticed, I smuggled in a duplicate item into The Advent Calendar of Good Ideas, just to see if you pay attention 🙂

Thank you to all those who wrote in, and here is the correct entry for the 7th December:

On December 25th, the day after the last entry, I will gather all the daily posts into one single PDF, with a title page and a short foreword, and you will be able to download all in one document, from which you can then extract your favorites, if you wish to do so; and I’m considering placing them in a poster some may want to print, but I’ll have to convince my free labor assistant (my wife Barbara!) to do that, because my skill stops at a Center Double Lift…

It Really Happened

I just finished re-watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, with Robert Morley (outstanding!), Jacqueline Bisset, George Segal, Philippe Noiret etc., directed by Ted Kotcheff.

My edition of the DVD contains a “Making of…” with a lengthy interview with director Kotcheff that I found most interesting. To me such personal interactions are much more fascinating and useful than most of the modern “making of” that show a lot of action from the movie. I am interested in the “constructivist” aspect of a film as it relates to how we construct our magic. Yes, a big subject not much has been written about, well, maybe another day…

cover of the German version

In the movie chef Jean-Claude Moulineaux – a fictitious name, of course – prepares a “Canard pressé”, a pressed duck, for a dinner at Buckingham Palace. Briefly, a roast duck carcass is slowly pressed and crushed between two silver plated metal plates to extract the remaining juice and blood, which is then used to make a sauce and served on top of the sliced duck breast.

Pour le petite histories (english: anecdotally) it may be said that the dish, first served in the 19th century in “La Tour d’Argent” in Paris, a restaurant that remains legendary to this day (although some say it lost some of its glamour and quality, although I cannot confirm this, since the Bistrot cuisine in Paris is so excellent, that I only very rarely go to the overpriced star-studded places when in la grande capitale).

Anyway, as I was enjoying the film, it reminded me of a story that really happened to me at the very beginning of my professional career (ca. 1988):

I was performing close-up in “Schloss Böttstein”, one of the many castles here in Switzerland, that have been bought by large companies, refurbished, most nowadays hosting a high-end hotel and/or restaurant.

On one particular night, Harry, the tenant of the castle, had invited the owners and chefs to the most prestigious restaurants in the area. There were about thirty of them, and they had finished dinner, when Harry asked me if I would do some magic for them.

So I did, and judging by their reactions they liked it 🙂

I was invited to stay with the guests and have coffee and drinks. Who am I to refuse such an invitation?

At some point Harry asked for everyone’s attention and presented an object which he explained he had obtained from a recent auction. Expectantly looking at his guests, with an impish smile on his lips, inquired who knew what this was.


Nobody seemed to have any idea.

So, Harry, who wanted to play yet another practical joke asked me: “Roberto, you, who are such a good magician, would you know what that is?”

Well, it so happened, that just a few days ago I had seen for the first time the above-mentioned film, were the duck press is used to kill Moulineaux, and I immediately replied, “Sure, Harry, this is a so-called duck press. It is used to put the carcasse of a roast duck into it, in order to press out all its juice, which is then used as a base for the sauce of ‘canard pressé’!”

This is how a duck press looks

I was the hero of the evening, and my magic forgotten… what a moment of triumph which I remember to this very day!

Sunday Magic at the Zauberring Basel

I wanted to mention this a while ago, but get to do it only now: In November of this year I was asked to participate in our club’s “Sunday Magic”, a monthly magic show that was initiated and capably conducted by Kevin Stieger.

It is a kind of “Open Stage”, where members of the club can try out new material, and confirm some old one, too 🙂 Plus Kevin always invites one or two magicians who are traveling to be part of it, although it is all done on a voluntary basis.

The event lasts almost two hours, with a break for drinks, and as long as it exists it has always sold out. It takes place in the club venue of the Zauberring Basel, my local magic club, hosted in a small theater, so we can offer our audiences close-up as well as stand-up and stage.

The Sunday Magic Team of November 2023

Kevin put me as the closing “act” of the first part, were everyone did close-up at a table with the audience sitting around it.

See the photo below, where I just started performing my “Wild Business” routine as the opener of my “act”. I put “act” between inverted commas, because I do not have an act, neither for close-up nor for stage, at least not by the standard definition, as I do not think it is necessary. Over thirty years of quite successful performances on four continents have proven that this works, at least for me. Of course this does not mean that to have an “act” in the traditional sense is not a good idea. I hope to be able to comment on this subjects and others related to it, such as scripting etc. in a future The Magic Memories – you might have to remind me of it…

In case you are curious, here are the pieces I did:

I opened with “Wild Business” (see the link to the video clip as well as the PDF with the explanation of it below), continued with my handling of “Gipsy Thread” (on my video “Penguin Live – The Act”), followed by “The Deck of Missed Opportunities” from my book Confidences, and finishing with “Fantasy – Reality”, a lengthier routine combining Pavel’s “Traveling Queen” discussed in The Magic Memories 69, which I combined with the climax from “Prediction at a Risk” from my book Stand-up Card Magic, using Louis Lam’s wonderful finale with money coming from the envelopes initially not chosen, the chosen one containing the prediction of the selected card (Lam’s idea is in his publication Be Deceived, there called «Coincidence», p. 19, from 1939, proving that it is worth perusing older publications without having to buy all that new stuff…

To watch me do “Wild Business” many years ago at the British Magic Close-up Symposium CLICK HERE.

And if you are eager to perform this piece, or are just interested in learning about the background of it, as a little gift to you, I extracted the article that explains the trick plus the short essay on how to use mind mapping in magic, from the Genii issue that had me on the cover in November 2009; HERE is the PDF.

That’s all for today, folks – look forward to chatting with you next week-end.

Wish you all an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi