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The Magic Memories (62)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 62, gone online Sunday, March 6th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Pat Perry’s Close Theatre

I’ve meant to write about my friend and professional magic colleague Pat Perry and his amazing “Close Theatre” a long time ago, but each time I start this blog I get carried away by some topical event. However, today is the day, as my friend Christian Engblom likes to say (next time you see him ask him to tell you the joke of the French, the Italian and the Finn bragging to each other about how often they make love).

Swiss-born Pat Perry, originally a draftsman in construction engineering, turned to magic full-time at the beginning of the 1990s.

Like several of his colleagues from Zurich, he learned from one of the best: Jim Cellini. Jim had relocated to Zurich, Switzerland, and was teaming up with Pedro Bedognetti, who at that time owned a swell brick and mortar magic shop called “Pedro Magie”. This was later taken over by Hörbi Kull, who organized some remarkable magic events and conventions (the history of magic in Switzerland might surprise many, but we’ll leave this for some other time).

Jim had not only released some of his creations with “Pedro Magie”, he also became a tutor to several talented young people who patronized the shop. And Pat Perry was among the most talented.

I had the pleasure of seeing him grow up and improving his artistic qualities from year to year: He started out doing close-up magic, quite successfully for corporate and private functions, and now owns his own theatre!

In-between he collaborated with one Archibald, and together they came up with an absolutely unique act that won them first prize in the category of “General Magic” at the FISM World Magic Convention in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2003. I had the good fortune of sitting in the audience for the occasion, and was as enthralled by their performance as everyone else – they received a well-deserved standing ovation, and the title of World Champions. You can see  a one-camera recording of their performance BY CLICKING HERE (although it does in no way do justice to the live performance – but you get an idea).

Last October (2021) he kindly invited me to perform at his theatre, which I did with a 75-minute “infotainment show” (I guess that’s what they call this nowadays) titled “Think Differently – How to Deceive Others But Most of All Yourself”. I got the idea for this over twenty years ago from my much admired friend Lennart Green, and I plan to one day tell you a bit more about it, including giving the detailed script, as I believe it might be interesting and even useful to some of you.

Anyway, Pat also has a yearly show he calls “Pat Perry and Friends”, where invites two colleagues to perform in a 75-minute show with him. Below you can see Arthur Roscha, Pat Perry and myself posing for a before-Corona show.

Advertisement Photo for “Pat Perry & Friends”
Roberto Giobbi doing Close-up at CLOSE

Pat’s Close Theatre is a true jewel – if you get a chance to come to Zurich, Switzerland, which you should do anyway, try to catch one of Pat’s shows – book well ahead, as even now, shortly after the Corona restrictions have been lifted, the theatre is sold out weeks in advance. The venue offers a first-class view from every seat, either on the table-top for close-up magic or for parlor-style magic just behind the table. The theatre has everything needed in sound, light and video equipment, and all the superfluous is left away.

I could obviously go on forever telling you about the show etc., but suffice it to say that Pat, who specializes in Mental Magic and Close-up, delivers a highly sophisticated performance and leaves a deeply impressed and entertained audience behind.

His theater has 76 seats, the ticket is an average of $ 70, and you get some extra close-up magic taking place in the attractive bar located just next to the theatre, and performed by the master himself. Here are a few pictorial impressions of the magic in the bar and in the theatre.

Arturo Brachetti

Two weeks ago I made an improvised trip to Italy that came about in this way – a nice example of the Butterfly Effect (see Sharing Secrets, p. 28): I have bought a small magic library from a magic friend and mentor who has now retired from magic. The book collection BTW has over 600 volumes, and I have now at least 400 volumes in double, so if you are interested, send me an email, and I’ll send you a PDF-list (ca. 40 pages long!). However, keep in mind that this might only be interesting for those living within the European Community (I ship from Germany), as shipping outside of it is becoming prohibitive (if the parcel goes over 5 kg), and you might get better deals from second-hand bookshops on your own continent.

Anyway, with the books came the complete file of the German magazine MAGIE (from 1918 to today!), Magische Welt (another 75 years), and Hokus Pokus, the Swiss magazine (founded in 1939). Sadly, almost nobody is interested in old magazines anymore, but I was reminded of the library of Don Silvio (see The Magic Memories 49), with over 22’000 volumes on magic. Upon calling him it turned out he missed exactly those three magazines. Not wanting to make the full trip to Cherasco, a six-hour car drive, I asked if we could meet half-way between Basel and Cherasco, and imagine my surprise when he said: “I’ll be in Varese tomorrow to attend Arturo Brachetti’s show, why don’t you come along.”

Now you must know that Don Silvio was Arturo’s first magic teacher, and Arturo, whenever he can, will promote Don Silvio’s foundation for Children of the World. Briefly: I drove to Varese, a comfortable four-hour car drive, had lunch with my good friend Gianfranco Preverino (more on him in another blog), and in the evening we got VIP seats, courtesy of Arturo, with whom I had conducted a lengthy interview for Genii years ago, but which unfortunately was never published…

What to say about Arturo’s show? In one word: Phenomenal!

His inspiration originally was Fregoli, the Italian and then world’s most renowned quick change artist, but I must say that even Fregoli would agree that Arturo has by far surpassed him.

Brachetti is a highly creative and original performer, and his show cannot be put into words.

In one of his most interesting talks he says that the difficulty of quick change are not so much the changes themselves (as if those were not difficult!), but the motivation why the change occurs. Arturo and I have discussed this several times, and we both agree that this is of course exactly the same in magic: Why do you do this and that? There must be a reason, and it must be captivating to the intellect and the heart – Logos and Pathos (a missing chapter in Sharing Secrets).

The show has to be one of the largest revue-type shows I’ve ever seen, in my opinion more spectacular than even the Las Vegas shows I’ve seen (he travels with two huge trucks where I could fit my house into…). Nonetheless, it is essentially a One-man Show. Amazingly enough, Brachetti manages to impress with state-of-the-art revue-type elements, such as special effects that mix music, laser and video, but at the same time he always stays personable, speaks with the audience from time to time, and at all time keeps up an engaging communication. There are not many shows like this, and right now I can only think of Penn & Teller, who also manage to fill a huge theatre, and at the same time do “big illusions” and stay on an almost one-to-one basis with the audience.

I can only say that if you ever get a chance to get a ticket to Brachetti’s show, grab it, as you will remember it for a long time. Since he speaks in his shows, you will “only” be able to see him in countries that speak Italian, French or English (as far as I know…). But that’s not so bad, is it?

There’s a lot more I could tell you about Arturo and when I first saw him as a young chap debuting at Manfred Thumm’s Magic Hands Convention in Böblingen (1979?) with a ten-minute magic and quick change act… and today he’s a celebrity, a mega star in the world of theatre, with countless TV appearances to his credit (see “Best of Magic”) and numerous of the most prestigious awards in the performing arts. What a pleasure to have been able to follow his career and be friends with him! (If I manage to find the interview, I’ll put it up here…).

Unknown (?), Arturo Brachetti, Gianfranco Preverino

Update on Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction & Good-bye

That’s all for today, folks – look forward to chatting with you again in one week’s time.

The Magic Memories (63) might then be a short one only, as on Sunday, 13th March, the plan is to tape the “show-time-part” with some 25 tricks from Card College Volume 4, plus the detailed explanation of them the following two days, to complement the fourteen technical chapters we’ve already taped last week. Looks as if this is going to be another up-to-ten-hours-long tutorial reflecting Card College 4 – the Book.

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (61)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 61, gone online Sunday, February 27th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Thoughts on Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction

I’m writing this on Saturday morning, and Guillaume and I just finished yesterday taping the technical chapters of Card College 4. Wow, what a deed 🙂 In two weeks time we are scheduled to tape the show part with about 24 performance pieces and their explanation. The cumulative duration of volume 4 will be short under that of volume 3, and between eight and ten hours – I will be able to tell you more once all is edited and assembled.

After several weeks of preparing, it took us two full days to get just this technical part into the box, a total of fourteen chapters, with over one hundred techniques, plus innumerable references and additional mentions of concepts, thoughts, psychological and, yes, even some philosophical considerations.

In spite of the wealth of material, comments and opinions, I truly hope to have been able to remain truthful to my own credo, that of never be trivial and not to waste neither my time nor the time of my future students. Yes, I know, it is somewhat of a fine line I walk whenever I’m writing, lecturing or taping anything related to magic, as I’m putting myself into the role of a teacher, who is supposed to know more than those who are reading or watching me. It has, though, never been my intention to appear aloof or to talk down to someone who knows less, and I truly hope that my sincere enthusiasm for the art and science of magic, card magic in particular, shines through all of my “teachings”. All these things I do are really borne out of my own necessity and passion to try to understand a universe that becomes bigger each time I myself learn more about it. Although I truly enjoy doing all this, I’m also humbled each time I approach a new subject, and I start to get an idea what Socrates meant when he said, “I know that I know nothing”, possibly the wisest utterance in the history of civilization.

The Preparation

Back on track: It took me weeks of preparation, just to get all the material from volumes 3 and 4 back “at my fingertips”, and then to script the content and how to best present it, to what degree of detail, and what examples to use to make it understandable in context.

Obviously, when you’ll be watching this, and hopefully getting some new information from it, so as to expand your own magical horizon and learn new thoughts, tools and performance material, all of this hard work should be as invisible as the proverbial 90% of an iceberg, and everything you hear and see should look as easy as pie 🙂

Anyway, in all those preparatory weeks, I went through the material I had essentially written before 1994, that was the date when Card College 3 & 4 first appeared in the original German language. I was then possibly at the peak of my technical evolution. In the past weeks I had to relearn quite a few sleights I’ve rarely been using since those times.

I hope this doesn’t sound like blowing into my own horn, as it is not meant to be, but coincidentally, when putting order to my things in between heavier work, to relax, so to speak, I came upon my very first “official” publication The Cardmanship of Roberto Giobbi, edited by Walt Lees, published by Magico of NYC in 1984. And here is what Walt Lees wrote in the foreword (I had completely gotten about these kind words).

Walt Lees interpreted by Alexander Allen

I first encountered Roberto in December 1980, when he was brought over for the “International Day of Magic” by Ron MacMillan. Within a few hours of his arrival, several people came up to me and asked, “Have you seen that Swiss lad? He’s terrific!” In fact, I never got to see him work then, althoughI did sit in on an informal session that he had with Juan Tamariz.

It was not until 1983, that our paths were to cross once more. Roberto was in this country for six months, studying the language and was able to meet him many times for sessions and discussions. I found that, unlike so many people, who gain a reputation for digital dexterity, he was, in fact, a deep thinker. Far from being a mere finger flinger, Roberto spends most of his time thinking about and studying the finer points of misdirection, acting and psychology. Sit talking to him for a little while and you will very quickly find yourself in a discussion about audience control, spectator handling and the manipulation of people’s perceptions. These are of far more importance to him than twenty new double lifts or the latest flourish.

This attention to the finer points of presentation clearly manifests itself in Roberto’s performances and, we hope, to some extent in the material in these pages. It shows up most clearly in his handling of the riffle force, described herein, but is there, in all of the other items, just below the surface.

We would like to make it clear that this booklet is not intended for the beginner. The magic explained, although not complicated or difficult, does require a good, basic grounding in card work and a fair degree of performing experience. Given these two requirements, the reader will find some very practical, useable material.

Walt Lees July 1984


End of quote.

The Riffle Force Walt mentions is, by the way, the one discussed in Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction Lesson 16 – The Force 2, the same as in Chapter 15 in Volume 1 of Card College; in my original it is in Volume 2, but this is another story I might tell another day…

The Choice of Hercules

As I was saying, this prep work forced me to look at my own work from yet another viewpoint. I realized that in the coming decades, after 1994, I rarely or even never used some of the techniques and concepts I had described in the books. 1988 was when I left my secure job at Autodesk in Switzerland and turned to be a full-time professional. I consider myself very fortunate that I stayed an “amateur” at heart, pursuing all those things that were of no direct relevance to the success as a performing professional.

Nonetheless, I had to make a few decision, e.g., should I spend time to learn and perfect a Middle Deal, a Bottom Deal, a Classic Pass, a five-hand-run-up Riffle Shuffle and a Table Faro Shuffle, or should I invest the thousands (I’m NOT exaggerating) of hours to study psychology, communication, staging and other matters that are – in my opinion – far more important for a successful, communicative, artistic and memorable performance (some would call this complex construct merely “entertainment”).

This is considering the fact that after decades of study and experience of (card) magic I can truthfully say that there are virtually no card problems using the aforementioned sleights that cannot be solved equally well (!!!) with other sleights and strategies. Mind you, not that these “surrogates” were easier, no, not at all, EVERYTHING well done requires understanding AND practice, but they don’t take up so many hours. Above all, studying strategies rather than mere sleights has far wider application potential.

The Utility of the Useless

This leads to several questions, one of which is why I should have included them in my Card College books in the first place.

One, because at that time I was using practically all of the items from the books at some point or another in one or several tricks and presentations, so the content is a reflection of what I was doing. This practical experience and the sincerity coming from it make up a great part of the authenticity of these books. At the time I was simply passionate about the subject and trying to present it in the most didactical and meticulous way possible. Nowadays I realize that this is one of the major reasons why the books have been so successful to this very day.

Two, because Card College – a title Stephen Minch and I came up with in an attempt to translate the German Grosse Kartenschule (literally “Big School of Cards”) – is Kindergarten, Primary School, High School and College/University, in chronological order, volumes 1 and 2 being from Kindergarten to High School, volumes 3, 4, and 5 being University. To follow along with this analogy, we know that what we learn in Primary School are the basic skills we need almost 100% for the rest of our lives, those from High School we can forget up to 80%, and those of University, well , depending on the discipline, you can forget about 40%. It is only afterwards, when you enter “real life” that you recognize how to deal with and solve the daily problems.

So, if you agree with this simplified math more or less, you will also understand that with Card College I wanted to precisely define, accurately describe and pleasurable teach not only what is absolutely necessary – the Basics from volumes 1 and 2 – but also the subjects that are part of the infinite universe of card magic.

This is why I have dealt with advanced Palms and the Side Steal (volume 3), or with Culling and Stacking Systems (volume 4), when 95% of most people performing card magic would be well served with just the Spread Cull (volume 1 of the American Edition) or the Top Palm, and would probably never use one of the sophisticated culling or stacking techniques. But, similar to University, it is a good thing if you’ve heard of these things, and practiced them to a certain degree, without then using them in real life. You might agree if I say that in magic, as in life, these things become part of our personality and competence. And this is something our audiences feel, as they are experts in reading these subliminal signals, even though most do not know that they have this skill…

Now, I have tried to the best of my knowledge and abilities to discuss all those topics (including the “Classic Pass”!), so that you get a good grounding in those subjects (e.g., Estimation!). And similar to University, if you want to specialize in the subject, the door to this infinite universe within the universe has been opened to you. As such I believe that the books, and now the videos, are helpful to find your own way in an informed manner, rather than just navigating through the infinite galaxies of Internet (YouTube…) and getting lost… not always, but more often than not.

Closing Comment

When I started writing this week’s blog I intended to simply briefly mention the Card College video project I’m currently working on, not at all for commercial reasons, but just because this is what occupies my mind and time at the moment. But it turned out to be a much longer rambling, one subject leading to the next. Ah, what a beautifully complex thing the Art of Magic is! If you’ve been reading up to here, it means I could catch and keep your attention, and there’s a little lesson there, too 🙂

All the very best for the coming week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (60)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 60, gone online Sunday, February 20th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

I’ve received some lovely feedback on the book list I started in The Magic Memories (58), so here is the second part, as promised.

Several who wrote in commented on books I mentioned, others suggested additions, and still others said my list sent them back to books they have in their library but haven’t touched for years – well, what more can you expect from a little Sunday Blog 🙂

For the readers who joined us now and for whom this is the first blog, let me remind you that this is a very particular list, namely of the fifty books I would like to keep if I had to give away the remaining 3’950… plus 40 yards of magazines… check back on the foreword in The Magic Memories (58).


The (ca.) 50 Books I Would Like to Keep – Part Two

26. Kaufman, Richard, Williamson’s Wonders. Williamson is one of the few geniuses of our time, and along with Tamariz, Bloom, Andrus, Ascanio, Vernon, Slydini (and a few others…), he reminds me of the incredible privilege and pleasure I had to meet all these people in my lifetime, and to be able to call almost all of them my friends. I saw David for the first time when he visited Switzerland in the early eighties on his first lecture tour. Since then I have rarely seen such a wonderful synergy between virtuosity in execution and brilliance and ease of presentation. This book has some of his best ideas.

27. Lang Neil, C., The Modern Conjurer. I’d keep this as representing the rich literature of the time (Prof. Hoffmann, Sachs etc.). Of particular interest are the over 500 photos in the trick descriptions, most of them depicting Charles Bertram and Mademoiselle Patrice (the wife of the author!).

28. Le Paul, Paul, The Card Magic of Paul Le Paul. For simply being one of the best books on card magic, and for sentimental reasons.

29. Marlo, Ed, Marlo in Spades. The very first of Marlo’s publications I bought from a dealer at a magic convention as a seventeen-year-old, a revelation of sophisticated card magic. I practiced the first item, the “Barnhard Fan Steal” for years, until I found a way of doing it using the Flat Palm rather than the Classic Palm as suggested. I made quite a reputation for myself at my club for performing the hard stuff from the book, at a time were most did just simple self-working card tricks.

30. Marlo, Ed, The Cardician. For being the first “big” book by Marlo I read.

31. Marlo, Ed, Revolutionary Card Technique. When the Dollar was still high toward the Swiss Franc, and I was a student with little money, the booklets by Marlo were terribly expensive, but I got whatever I could from Marlo, together with a friend. Now Magic Inc. has brought them together in a collected edition.

32. Mendoza, John, The Book of John. For being one of the first books with really well-described professional performing material. His routine for the Benson Bowl inspired mine that I use to this very day. I’d want to keep his other book, John – Verse Two, too (I performed the McDonald Aces by Mary Wolf from this book on my very first TV appearance on Swiss TV…).

34. Miller, Charlie, Magicana. For the immense amount of practical material and insight, but also as a souvenir of meeting Charlie, who came to my show when I performed for the very first time as a young magician in the Close-up Gallery of the Magic Castle. We then met at the main bar downstairs and had a lovely conversation, albeit too short. I regret I did not ask him to meet again.

35. Minch, Stephen, Ever So Sleightly – The Professional Card Magic of Martin A. Nash. For having been one of the very first books with card magic of a performing professional, a revelation for eighteen-year-old Young Giobbi. And for having hosted him in Switzerland, translated his lecture and be taught personally some of his “inner secrets” during some memorable private sessions. His other two books, Any Second Now and Sleight Unseen, I’d smuggle in, too.

36. Minch, Stephen, Daryl’s Ambitious Card Omnibus. This signed copy with a heartfelt inscription will always remind me of a friend who is sorely missed… and of his exceptional magic talent. And the content of the book is great, too.

37. Minch, Stephen, The Vernon Chronicles Vol. 1, 2, 3. For being the cream of the material that went into Bruce Cervon’s famous Castle Notebooks (later published in five high-priced volumes). Volume 2 is my favorite, as it contains some of the great “smaller works” of Dai Vernon’s, but as the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa once wrote (from memory), “The full moon reflects in the huge ocean, but also in the smallest puddle.”

38. Minch, Stephen, The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley Vol. 1 & 2. For being the “complete works” of yet another genius I had the pleasure of meeting several times in my life. The first time was after the books had seen publication, in London, in a pub called “The Phoenix” (fitting name as Elmsley had “literally “risen from the ashes” with these books). Gordon Bruce had kindly set up this meeting. After I performed a few things for him, one using an Elmsley Count, of course, he gave me one of the nicest compliments I ever received, when he said, “You have very innocent hands.”

39. Nathanson, Leon, Slydini Encores. For having been the first book I bought describing the magic of this genius. I practiced every trick in the book… and performed a few over the years. As a 21-year-old I had the privilege of meeting Slydini personally, at one of the Ron MacMillan conventions in London, and I saw him lecture! I would like to take the other books about his magic with me, too, of course…

40. Nelms, Henning, Magic and Showmanship. For being possibly the first “theory” book I read. Almost every page has underlinings, highlights and comments at the margin. Although most of the tricks used to illustrate the concepts are not very good, the book remains to this day a useful and practical resource for anyone who aspires to perform before real people (not magic friends or YouTube clips).

41. Page, Patrick, Magic by Gosh – The Life and Times of Albert Goshman. For having known Albert, and having met him on several occasions, hosted him in Switzerland, and translated his lectures several times, but also because he always told me that I was the first to pre-order and pay his book! I’ve seen his act live many times, and I never got tired of it – a true original.

42. Perovich, Mike, The Vernon Companion. For having been a book that has truly fascinated me after a longer period of not reading magic books, at least not many. Without knowing each other personally, I sent Mike several pages of questions. He answered with a ten-page letter (!) responding to all my queries, and more. We’ve since become very friendly and correspond regularly.

43. Ponsin, La nouvelle magie blanche dévoillée. This book from 1853 preceded those by Robert-Houdin, Hofzinser, Devant, Bertram, Roterberg and Conradi, and contains some of the finest plots of card magic. This book alone would keep me busy for years.

44. Robert-Houdin, Jean-Eugène, La vie d’un artiste. For being the first magic (auto-)biography I ever read, and for being one of the two best, to this day, when I have read hundreds.

45. Robert-Houdin, Jean-Eugène, Comment on devient sorcier. For being possibly the first book written by a professional performer, with lots of original material, wonderful plots, useful techniques and an inexhaustible amount of practical advice. The first book by a highly creative and skillful artist with a superb capacity of introspection and the ability to put complex matters into simple words; with lots of “theoretical” concepts (the eye, the pause etc.).

46. Stars of Magic. For being the most important document of the magic of New York’s “Inner Circle” (plus Allerton from Chicago and Bertram from Toronto).

47. Stowers, Carlton, The Unsinkable Titanic Thompson. I have hundreds of publications on gambling and cheating, among them dozens of biographies, most of them by so-called “converted gamblers”. This I would want to keep as it was possibly the first of its genre, and simply… because.

48. Tamariz, Juan, The Five Points in Magic. For having been the book by Juan that I translated into German for the Magic Hands Convention by Manfred Thumm in Böblingen 1982 – I was 22 years old then. But what was even more, I translated his 90-minute Live-Lecture at the convention eight (!) times. Toward the end I knew the lecture by heart, and my translation came before Juan even spoke the words. We had a very good time.

49. Tamariz, Juan, Sinfonia en mnemonica mayor vol. 1 & 2 (Mnemonica). I was the first outside of Spain to whom Juan explained his mnemonic system to the n-th degree, after he had fooled me time after time with his ingenious concoctions. Back home I fooled the pants off the boys (no girls doing card magic then) with what I had learned. As far as I know I was the first to use Juan’s mnemonica outside of Spain, and these magnificent books remind me of it. Besides, I would learn a lot of what he told me then and which I have forgotten.

50. Tamariz, Juan, El arco iris (The Magic Rainbow). For being the most important book on magic, and because it contains all those theories, thoughts, tricks etc. that Juan has been telling me in the hundreds (thousands?) of conversations we had in the past 44 years.

2 Bonusses for the full deck

51. Vernon, Dai, Revelations (edition of 1984). Although I must be one of the few who dares saying that you do not need to study Erdnase in order to become a good magician, this version has Vernon’s comments and is a lesson in how to study a book, any book. And for having one of the best forewords in magic (by Persi Diaconis).

52. Vernon, The 20 $ Manuscript. I was able to acquire a “pirate copy” of its time; precisely the fact that it is a “fake” of a legendary publication makes it twice as interesting…

Another Bonus for the First Joker

Waldmann, Werner, Grosse Zauberschule. Not a good magic book at all, BUT for nostalgic reasons, for it was this book, discovered in a public library, at age fourteen, that opened the window to my future.

…And the Second Joker, Of Course!

Although I have not included them, I would also want to keep one copy of each of my own books, in the original language (that’s another 18 books…).
As I finish this list, I realize that there is at least one substantial personal story attached to each of these works, actually a part of my life in some cases, a mirror of what I’ve lived, if you will. This then might be the main reason why I would want to keep them, as they are a memory of my life.
It might make an original autobiography of mine, with encounters and events related to each book (My Magical Life Through Books, maybe…). Hmmm, how about that for a new book project!? You tell me…

“The Prophecy” and “The Red Card”

By the time you read this, everyone who ordered “The Prophecy” from me should have received it – if you haven’t, please let me know via the contact form on the webshop. If I had had the time and contacts, I would have released this in a very limited quantity, and at ten times the price. In this case Penguin Magic is the publisher and producer, so it was produced in a large quantity, very reasonably priced. However, there is always a price to pay: One batch of the wallets has an elastic band that is a bit too tight. It is really only slightly, and won’t interfere with its use, especially not in the routine delivered (“The Prophecy”), but I understand that a few are a bit unhappy about it. I apologize, but in such cases authors are at the mercy of factors they cannot control.

HOWEVER, in this particular case you can fix the problem (in case you have one of those wallets): Seize the elastic band with both hands between thumb and forefinger, and then pull on the band in opposite directions. Do this by moving from left to right over the band’s entire length. This will weaken the band, and after a few “work-outs” you’ll find the wallet looks as it should.

In any case, regardless of what “prop” you buy, you’ve always got to work it in, even with playing cards and coins this is the case, of course.

As for “The Red Card”, my batch arrived a bit late due to storms in the USA and other logistic problems, but I shipped a few days ago, and everyone should receive his and her parcel by the end of next week. If you don’t, let me know.

“The Prophecy” and “The Red Card” are pieces with a similar phenomenon: A prediction. Therefore, it goes without saying that you should not use them together in the same act. I use them alternating as closers or as an encore, and found myself using “The Prophecy” even more than “The Red Card”, although the latter is a bigger fooler for magicians than the former.

Update on Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction

We’ve finished taping the techniques, the performance and the explanations of the performed tricks (22!) of Card College Volume 3, and now my friend Guillaume is editing the eleven chapters, most of which are over one hour long! I revise and make additions, with references to books to check, these have to be installed, then checked again – a monumental task, I can tell you! But it looks good. And in spite of the enormous effort necessary, it is nothing compared to writing, editing and publishing a book. I know what I’m talking about 🙂

Right now I’m writing the treatment for the technical part of Card College Volume 4, and we will tape next week (4 days!), and then in another two week’s time we’ll tape the performance and the explanation of the tricks. We’re right on track, and we should be able to release end April or early May, in time for my birthday 🙂

Wish you all an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (59)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 59, gone online Sunday, February 6th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

“Palindrome Cards” from Card College Volume 3

We’ve just finished taping all the technical part, as well as the performance and the explanations part of Card College 3 for the upcoming Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, the video-pendant to the book, similar to Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction, which was the video interpretation of the volumes 1 and 2 of Card College.

There will be almost all the sleights from the book, plus 21 tricks to illustrate their use in a real-life performing situation. So, that’s plenty. Although the editing is still going on (a lot of work my friend Guillaume Cerati handles beautifully), I can tell you that this is going to be quite massive, and all for a very reasonable price, I promise.

You will be able to get the complete course, or just individual chapter-lessons, one of which I already know is one hour and twenty-two minutes long! That’s just the one Lesson 24 on “Assorted Techniques and Refinements”, mirroring Chapter 28 in Card College 3, and I plan to put this at your disposal at around $6. Agree? I hope to thus keep pirating to a minimum.

This week’s gift for you is a teaser from Lesson 28 on advanced multiple lift techniques, namely the “The Palindrome Cards”. If you have the book, you can find it in Card College Volume 3, p. 585. Notice the incredible coincidence: The trick starts on a palindromic page number, page 585! Can that really be a coincidence? As my friend Daryl used to say in his performances, “Is he man, is he beast!?”

“The Palindrome Card” is my elaboration and original interpretation of a much simpler idea by Verall Wass and Noel Stanton, two names you’ve likely never heard of. You can research them on Internet – entering their name along with “magic” in Google, for instance, will lead you to the respective archives, with further information.

There are several things which I find interesting about this trick.

First, it is exemplary for a trick that gains a lot through a proper presentational idea. The curious but otherwise meaningless effects are reframed and appear larger than life.

Second, it is definitively what Ascanio called a piece of “minor art”, i.e., it is neither a blockbuster nor a reputation maker, but still will reflect all you are in magic, because it requires the same attention as a larger piece. For once, I will “steal” my own text from Confidences (out of print), where I briefly discuss the subject as a preamble to a trick there called “Guaranteed!”:

Minor and Major Magic

A magic performance, whether formal or impromptu, when it is looked back on by you and your audience, is a complete experience. Although a detailed discussion of this issue would require a book in itself, the essence can be explained in a few sentences, with a succulent analogy:

A gourmet meal has several courses, maybe five to seven, even more if the portions are small. Of these, only two or three are major courses, such as one important starter, a main dish and a featured dessert. The remaining courses are conceived as appetizing transitions between the others and act as delicious “marriage brokers”. Such courses are the amuse-bouches, which tickle the palate at the beginning of the sensual journey: the soup, say, that allows the patron to move effortlessly from the fish and seafood to the plat de résistance, as the French colorfully call the main course. Then there is the sorbet, sometimes called un trou (a “hole”) by the French, a very small course, served after the main course or cheese board, which gives the mind and body a little rest, and seduces the customer to explore the dessert. And finally we come to the petits fours or friandises, fireworks of tiny sweets that accompany coffee and liquor, maybe even a cigar.

A magic performance—similar to a gourmet meal as an act of seduction and sharing—has a similar construction, although arguably with a greater artistic intention. There is a captivating opener, a smashing middle effect and a memorable finale. Between them are smaller pieces that consolidate the major effects, pieces that allow the performer and his audience to become acquainted and get personally closer. This makes the whole experience rich and pleasurable, a complete happening.

Neither in gastronomy nor in magic are these connective “minor works” treated as less important or done with less passion and talent than the “major works”. They are just not as complex, prominent and loud, but they are equally conducive to the magic atmosphere and experience. They require the same discriminate attention from the performer as do his other works. As Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), the famous Portuguese poet, said, “The full moon is reflected in the large ocean, but also in the smallest puddle.”

Third, “The Palindrome Cards” is what we’d call a ” Packet Trick”, which is a genre of its own in card magic. Here I’ll refer you to the entry of DEC 27 in Hidden Agenda (also out of print) where I deal with the problem I believe most packet tricks suffer from. To save you the time to search for the book in your book shelf, here is the PDF of it – just one page – as a reminder (CLICK HERE). “The Palindrome Cards” is arguably the most elegant way to get around the question: “Why use a packet?”, as the cards are taken from the complete deck for a plausible reason, and at the end reintegrated into the balance of the deck. It’s a very nice excursion into the microcosm of the deck, if you will 🙂

This is performance only, and it is not yet the final version, which will have a still better resolution. However, it will give you an idea of the set, which we’ve kept on purpose to a minimums, as we did with Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction. Remember that this is not a “show video” to show to friends, but part of a didactical video, it’s main purpose being to show how one or several sleights discussed in the preceding technical section are managed in a performance piece. You’ll notice an interesting phenomenon, though, namely that even with only two spectators you can still experience the timing, the misdirection and the typical reactions you would get from a lay audience. The lady on the right in the set is my wife Barbara, who knows everything, but still reacts as if she saw this for the first time, and the lady on the left is Astrid, a long-time friend of the family and who is a complete “muggle” reacting exactly according to script, with the difference that there is no script, her reactions being 100% authentic.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, and that it wetens your appetite for the complete project (scheduled for release end April 2022).

To see the preview of “The Palindrome Cards” CLICK HERE.

Next week we’ll continue the book list started in The Magic Memories 58.

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (58)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 58, gone online Sunday, February 6th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Several posts ago I mentioned book lists and had various readers who asked me to elaborate on that, so here are a few thoughts…

On Books and Related Matters

In an interview with Jorge Luis Borges, who is more than just casually connected to conjuring, and which was held in his magnificent private library in Buenos Aires, he quotes the pre-socratic philosopher Heraclitus to have said, “You never step into the same river twice.”
Heraclitus was talking about the passing of time: Everything changes with time, things are never exactly the same when you revisit them. Borges used this thought as an analogy when the reporter asked him if he had read every one of the books in his library. His sage answer was, “You never read the same book twice”, explaining that some books he had even read several times.
Although my magic library with about 4’000 volumes in 17 languages doesn’t even come close to Borges’s book collection, I haven’t read all of them, but a few dozen I’ve read several times, and each time I “rediscovered” a new book.  Incidentally, I “stole” Heraclitus’s thought for my Secret Agenda, talking about the problem of performing the same trick over a long period of time, something professionals do more than amateurs, and I said, “You never perform the same trick twice.” Let’s leave this for some other time…
So, talking about interviews and books, a question I’m often asked is the typical, “What books would you take to a desert island.” Now, that’s a tricky question. Most will expect a recommendation of “the best magic books”. BUT, there are no “best magic books”, in my opinion. Let me explain.
If you asked me what I think are the ten most important and influential books in magic, I’d give you a list that is completely different than if a beginner asked me what ten books he or she should buy and read first.
There is just no point in recommending to someone, who starts in magic, the books by Robert-Houdin, Edwin T. Sachs, Professor Hoffmann or Erdnase, who all wrote landmark books, or Bobo’s Coin Magic or David Roth’s Expert Coin Magic to a beginning coin enthusiast, the latter being far better served with Shigeo Futagawa’s Introduction to Coin Magic, an unjustly little-known book.
And of course you get a still different list if you ask any famous magician with what books he or she started his or her career.
Consequently, the list for the desert island, at least for me, would be again another one, as I would choose books I either haven’t yet read, or books that have lots of ideas, but superficially described, such as Hugard’s Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, not a very good book by my standards, but with lots of incomplete material I could still finish, to paraphrase André Gide, Nobel prize in literature, who once said, “I  love the unfinished, I can still complete it.”.
Thinking about these different types of lists, I challenged myself to make one of the fifty books I would want to keep if, for whatever reason, I was forced to give away all the rest.
After I had made the list, I asked myself why I would want to keep that book rather than another, and that’s how it became a “commented” list.
It ended up being longer than I had expected, taking me several days to complete by looking through my library and reflecting about the criteria of choice, some of which I had to make up for the occasion because I was not always conscious of why I considered this a book to keep.
Hence, to keep this readable, I will split the list in two, and here is the first part, in the hope you might find it interesting for reasons only you must know (I’ll give you mine). Here it is, in alphabetical order of the author’s last name.
Me (ca. 1990) in my Library studying Le Paul’s Card Magic (in the background a mind map for Card College 3&4)

The (ca.) 50 Books I Would Like to Keep – Part One

  1. Abrams, Anthony, Annemann – The Life and Times of a Legend. For the sheer amount of ingenious material, mental magic for magicians, not just mentalists, and a lot of card material. There are other very good books on mental magic, but if I was forced to keep just one, it would be this one, also because Annemann was the first mentalist I was exposed to in my reading carreer. A close runner-up would be the complete file of The Jinx (reprinted as three books).
  2. Andrus, Jerry, Andrus Deals You In.  For having met Jerry personally on various occasions: In 1982 I even spent an afternoon with him on a boat on Lake Geneva, and he performed almost the whole of his book for me, or so I remember…
  3. Aronson, Simon, The Aronson Approach. For being the first book I bought from this super-mind in magic. In 1996 I was booked to perform at a SAM convention in Las Vegas. When I came back to my room I had a message from Simon who invited me to stay with him in my stop-over to Chicago on my return trip. We had never spoken or correspondet before, he just knew me from my books! I stayed for almost a week in his and Ginny’s wonderful home, where I met John Bannon and Dave Solomon. Dave came with a bottle of “Opus One”, my first of several…
  4. Ascanio, Arturo, Navajas y daltonismo. For having been the first book I read from this genius of magic. In 1979 I first met him at the FISM convention in Brussels, and soon after I visited him at least once a year until his untimely death. He wrote the foreword to my Card College Volume 3. He soon started to call me his “son in magic”, the first one of a eclectic family, and I consider him one of my spiritual fathers: Yes, I have several – it’s magic, so it’s possible 🙂
  5. Ben, David, Dai Vernon: A Biography. For being arguably the best of the biographical works about the Professor, closely followed by Dai Vernon – A Magical Life by Bruce Cervon and Keith Burns, as well as Karl Johnson’s marvelous double-biography The Magician and the Cardsharp. I have both a connection to Ben and Vernon: David invited me as the guest of honor, together with Stephen Minch, to the prestigious private convention 31 Faces North, held in Toronto in 2007. And Vernon I met on three occasion, the first in London at Ron MacMillan’s One Day Convention in the early Eighties. I’ve written about this in an earlier post.
  6. Bloom, Gaetan, Full Bloom Vol. 1. & 2. For Gaetan being a friend of many years I greatly admire as one of the few geniuses in magic. He got me the first booking to the Casino de Monte Carlo through his agent Monique Nakachian, when I started out as a young professional in 1988. The creative mind of Gaetan just leaves me speechless – these tomes are full of it. For practical use, and for inspiration.
  7. Bobo, J. B., Coin Magic. For having been my first “full immersion” into coin magic. A book that kept me enthralled for years, and I practiced almost every item in it, and performed quite a few.
  8. Csuri, Frank, The Dr. Daley Notebooks. For having been the first of its genre for me to discover, for having provided dozens (hundreds?) of ideas and inspirations, and for leaving me almost as many times clueless.
  9. Decremps, Henri, Le testament de Jérome Sharp (1786!). For being the first didactical work on card magic, the third in a series of five landmark books, of which the first was La magie blanche dévoilée (White Magic Unveiled). I’ll keep this book as a representative of the early French magical literature that contains most of what matters in magic.
  10. D’hotel, Jules, La prestidigitation sans bagages ou mille tours dans une valise vol. 1 à 8. For being the “French Tarbell”, an infinite source of beautiful ideas.
  11. Etcheverry, Jesús, La magia de Ascanio vol. 1., 2 & 3. For containing the complete work (tricks, techniques, theory, interviews etc.) of my spiritual father in magic. Capably rendered by one of my closest friends in magic, Jesús.
  12. Fischer, Ottokar, Kartenkünste (Hofzinser’s Card Conjuring). For being arguably the most inspiring magic book in German I ever read, and for the pure genius that oozes out of it: Original tricks, marvelous techniques and poetic presentations.
  13. Fu-Manchu, Illusion Show. For being to this day one of the two best magic biographies. Tamariz told me that Fu Manchu’s show was the best Revue type show he has ever seen in his life. After reading the book I believe him.
  14. Ganson, Lewis, The Dai Vernon Book of Magic. Each and every item in this book is downright fantastic, and you could become a professional magician just by the material in this book alone.
  15. Ganson, Lewis, Dai Vernon Inner Card Trilogy. This L&L publications unites the first three books of the Inner-Secrets four-volume-series, the fourth being Dai Vernon’s Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic, which I would smuggle into the trilogy, with some kind of false count… Written in Ganson’s inimitable straightforward style.
  16. Garcia, Frank, Million Dollar Card Secrets. For having been one of my favorite books for material in my beginning years, regardless of the controversy that accompanied it.
  17. Garcia, Frank, Super Subtle Card Miracles. For the sheer amount of practical items… and of course because of his “Super Meatloaf” recipe that every magician who is invited for dinner at my home for the first time gets to taste. This book, and the one before, made many happy customers.
  18. Gardner, Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. For being the only book in this list I haven’t really read from cover to cover, but I’d do now…
  19. Gaultier, Camille, La magie sans appareils (Magic Without Apparatus). For being one of the great classics of French magic literature, a treasure trove of splendid ideas.
  20. Green, Lennart, Masterfile. This is the only set of DVDs, instead of a book. Of all the magicians I’ve known in my lifetime Lennart remains the most perfect imperfect human being I’ve ever met: I profoundly love and admire him. I’m infinitely saddened that I cannot get together with him anymore, but am thankful for the many sessions, meals and adventures we’ve shared, at my home, and around the world. Unfortunately there is no written work that does justice to this man’s genius, only plenty of videos, of which Luis De Matos’ is the most comprehensive.
  21. Hilliard, Greater Magic. Similar to Expert Card Technique for being among the most read works in my library, however, just the chapters on card magic (I haven’t read the rest…). A new discovery on each reading.
  22. Hugard’s & Braue’s Expert Card Technique. For having possibly been the book I’ve read most often. With each reading I discovered something I had overlooked or forgotten. I’ve taken this at least three times on a two-week vacation, only this book and a few decks of cards, and every morning I got up an hour earlier to study it.
  23. Hugard, Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. For being an inexhaustible resource of ideas, most unfinished, so I can still complete them (see the introduction to this essay). Ideas on topics you wouldn’t even imagine they existed…
  24. Jay, Ricky, Learned Pigs And Fireproof Women. Again, I would keep this book as a representative example of the para-magic genre. Besides, it reminds me of the several personal encounters with Ricky Jay, e.g., at the FISM convention in The Hague in 1988, where he congratulated me on the award in Card Magic. Years later I visited him when he was curator of the Mulholland Collection in Los Angeles. He would show me Max Malini’s notebook, but only from a distance🙂, and then let me view his TV show “Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women” even before it aired. I did a short interview with him (published in the German MAGIE magazine), but after half a dozen questions he interrupted, “OK, that’s enough.” A man as brilliant as eccentric.  And he invited me for lunch – I had my first pastrami sandwich then… and wondered how the New World came to be a superpower on eating sandwiches for lunch…
  25. Kaufman, Richard, Expert Coin Magic. Until then I knew David Roth only from photocopies of lecture notes unobtainable in Europe that Ron Wohl kindly made for me –  unfortunately the originals were double-sided, and Ron must have quickly run them through his Xerox, so I ended up with the notes missing every second page (I spent weeks trying to figure out the missing links…). Later I got to know David quite well, he spent several days in my house, and I organized and translated a couple of lectures for him here in Switzerland.

Ok, folks, that’s it for today – the second part to follow in the next post.

The Red Card

As I’m writing this, the news reaches me from Penguin Magic that they’ve finally released one of my pet effects “The Red Card” – I’ve knocked the socks off some of the brightest minds with this piece, now its there for you, and it brings tears to my eyes to see that they are offering it for peanuts ($ 39.50) – I would have paid $ 1’000 at the time for the secret alone, let alone the props to go with it. Anyway, you can get it from the Penguin webshop, or from me directly, as soon as I receive my batch.

Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction Update

As you’re reading this (if you read it on SUN or MON, February 6th and 7th), we are in the course of taping the effects in Card College Volume 3 and their detailed explanation. This is going to be a heavy-weight of several hours… If all goes well, Volume 3 AND Volume 4 should be canned by the end of February, and after editing, released late March/early April 2022. Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (57)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 57, gone online Sunday, January 30th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp – welcome!

More Thoughts on “Righting a Wrong”

Kenn Ball from South Carolina had some nice things to say on the last post, and then asked, ” Finally, I’d like to chime in and say that I, for one, am keenly interested in your further thoughts on “Righting a Wrong.” Please do share them in a future post!
OK, your wish is my command. For those who are new to The Magic Memories and wonder what we’re talking about, below is the short text in question as an easy reminder:

1. Have the pack shuffled, take it back, and have any card removed and noted.

2. Have the card replaced and pass it to the top.

3. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the chosen card, which becomes the eighth card from the top.

4. Invite the spectator to name his card, which let us say is the ace of hearts, and instantly say, “Eight cards down!”

5. Deal seven cards and prepare for a double lift, as you say, “Will you name your card again?” Turn over the two cards and show an indifferent card, which let us call the nine of clubs.

6. Appear disconcerted by your failure, and turn the two cards face downwards as one. Remove the top card—the spectator’s ace of hearts—and toss it face downwards on the table to one side. “Let’s get rid of that nine of clubs,” you say grimly. “Don’t worry. I’ll find your card, if it takes all night.”

7. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the top card as in step No. 3. The nine of clubs, which is supposed by the audience to be on the table, is now eighth from the top.

8. Weigh the cards in your hand, as if making a calculation, and say in a puzzled tone, “That’s very curious. I still get a vibration of eight. Perhaps your card is at eight this time.”

9. Deal seven cards and say, “This card could be any cardexcept, of course, the nine of clubs, which is on the table—but my vibrations tell me that it is your card.”

10. Turn the eighth card and show that it is the nine of clubs. “Curiouser and curiouser!” you say. “This can’t be the nine of clubs. I put it on the table. Unless . . .!” Turn over the table card and show that it is the spectator’s ace of hearts.

End of trick description (from Royal Road to Card Magic).

To see my comments on the control phase of the trick (Steps 1 to 3) see The Magic Memories 56 (CLICK HERE).
So, let’s pick up from there: The selection is eighth from the top of the face down deck.
The next problem is a presentational one: Why do you know that the selection is eight cards down? Maybe you just quickly riffle the deck toward yourself, commenting laconically, “OK, I got them.”
This would be an intriguing remark that makes the following statement, “Eight cards down!”, more consistent. It is not necessary to make a big deal of this, or even to give a talk about subliminal perception, something which would shift this trick from the class of “impossible tricks” to “improbable tricks” (another big subject…). Anyway, think about it.
Now comes the countdown: You deal seven cards face down in a pile to the table, and then turn the next two cards over as one displaying an indifferent card, not the selection. To now simply discard it is fishy. So, how about if this was a Joker? It would make more sense to say something like, “Oh, the Joker. I should have put that away at the beginning, it doesn’t count.” Nobody will now anticipate the climax. Besides, you can do the old gag of saying that the Joker of course represents every card, so you have, after all, not failed. The amusing situation this produces will take the heat off the discarded card.
Now, to set up for the next phase, simply replace the dealt seven-card-packet on top, and the Joker will be back at position eight. The original write-up doesn’t say what to do with the cards counted off, and it tells you to again run seven cards. Now, as you’ll know, running a higher number of cards always entails a little risk, especially of you have dry hands, or if the cards are not new. It’s so much easier, and logical, to replace the previously dealt cards, and a supreme example of an Intelligent Move. You could follow-up with an Intelligent Injog Shuffle and Cut (Sharing Secrets, p. 55) to retain top stock, and then proceed as per original instruction.
When I first read “Righting a Wrong” this seemed like an obvious solution, and I wondered how authors of the caliber of Hugard and Braue could overlook that. I’m sure others will have come to the same conclusion. As a matter of fact I had my friend Michael Frohnmeyer from Germany write in offering precisely this solution; (many) years ago he translated Garcia’s books into German, so he should know 🙂
How do you get the Joker in position to do the above, I hear some of you ask?
You might do it this way: At the beginning have the Joker on top of the deck, a crimped card eighth from the bottom, followed by seven x-cards. Now do the “Tabled Ribbon Spread Control” from Card College 1 (p. 143), to wit: Ribbon-spread the cards face down and have one selected. Gather the cards, Swing Cut the top portion on your left hand, have the selection replaced on top (of the Joker), drop the rest on top, thus placing the “key card block” on top. After a Positive Insertion (Sharing Secrets, p. 52) cut the crimped card to the bottom, maybe using  my Accidental Pass (see Secret Agenda, p. 36, or refer back to The Magic Memories 56 with a screenshot of the entry), and you’re in business.

With all respect and admiration for a “classic”, this one trick shows why Royal Road to Card Magic is outdated. However, it is a source that forces you to think!

Flash News on Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction

I’m glad to have received such positive feedback on my latest video project, thank you for all your encouraging comments!
My friend Guillaume Cerati, who does all the camera and editing work starts to send along the first edited lessons from Card College Volume 3 for me to comment, add sub-titles, credits etc.
Look at the  screen shot below: Yes, this is a profession of its own, and I’m glad I met Guillaume who does this beautifully. He has the latest camera equipment, one of which can deliver total, half-total and close-up from the same angle, so it’s three cameras in one. Plus we are using a close-up camera at an angled top-view and yet another for shots from behind. So, we’re actually using five (!) cameras!
Another thing we use is a uni-directional microphone, like they use in the movies, so I don’t have to wear that clip microphone that looks bad, and is a hassle whenever I move outside of the studio. I really wonder why in all my other recordings they made me wear one of those… With all respect to the previous producers, but this one Guillaume and I are going to self-produce, is going to be the best of all!
Unfortunately we had a first set-back: Guillaume caught Corona, and we have to postpone the taping of the tricks (twenty-two, some of which not in the book!) that go with the technical lessons of volume 3. Fortunately he’s vaccinated and boosted, so has only a mild course, and we’ll be able to pick up work on February 6th. Release is still scheduled for April 2022. I’ll keep you posted.
Coming in the The Magic Memories 58
In answer to several requests I received, in the next post I’ll talk about my favorite magic books, but in a special way.
Stay tuned 🙂 – and meanwhile have an excellent week.

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (56)

Hi everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 56, gone online Sunday, January 23rd, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Thoughts on Righting a Wrong, Royal Road to Card Magic, the Pass and the Table Faro Shuffle
Several wrote in to ask about my opinion on “Righting a Wrong”, the card trick from Royal Road to Card Magic that I mentioned last week. CLICK HERE for a quick reminder (see Curiosity 6: Curious Card Trick).
I’ll do this in two or three installments in order not to make the posts too long. My first thought refers to the control used at the beginning to bring the card to eighth position from the top, I quote:

1. Have the pack shuffled, take it back, and have any card removed and noted.

2. Have the card replaced and pass it to the top.

3. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the chosen card, which becomes the eighth card from the top.

End of quote.

I said it before, and I’ll repeat it here: Royal Road to Card Magic was one of the most important books of its time, and nobody and nothing can take away its status as a “Classic”, in the sense that it belongs into the history of the magical literature as a landmark book, the very first to have systematically rendered the card magic of its time in a didactically attractive form.

Nonetheless, time and many creators have changed the landscape of magic and brought a lot of innovation, some useless, some visionary and beneficial. This concerns not only the techniques and their handling, but also the construction and of course the presentation of the tricks, as well as the challenge of teaching all of that to a modern audience. This is a highly complicated thing to do – there are few who know this better than I, believe me.

The control above shows that in this sense Royal Road to Card Magic ist dated. I know that this is a delicate thing to say as this is a book still recommended by many who can justly be called “experts”. The reason, however, they do, is that they grew up with the book, as I did, they learned from it, and there is no reason for them to relearn what they already can do, so they have no reason to look around for more recent developments. Their recommendation can be looked at as a statement about their own biography, not as a contemporary recommendation.

Let’s stick to the facts and look at the control above.

The first step contains a fundamental idea that should be identified and defined as it contains a timeless concept, namely that before a card is selected the deck should be shuffled and cut, ideally by a spectator, but at least by the performer.

Simply ask a friend to offer you a card for selection from the unshuffled deck, and then do the same thing, but this time you shuffle and cut the deck before you select a card. What did you notice? Yes, it feels much “better” to take a card from a shuffled and cut deck than otherwise. In my essay “Thoughts on Controls” in Confidences (pp. 43) I call this the “Preliminary Phase”, and every technique, not just Controls, has such a phase. Identify and define it, and you’ll have a better technique. So, this is something to be remembered and implemented.

Then, in step 2, a Classic Pass is executed, followed by a False Shuffle retaining the selection on top. You can find this technical procedure in almost the whole of the magic literature of the first part of the 20th century and before: The Pass was THE recognized way of controlling a card. Today, most will agree that this is nonsense, especially if followed by a shuffle. First, there are only about a dozen persons in the known universe, if at all, who can do an invisible Classic Pass. And even if they do, it has bad angles. I have nothing to add to what Erdnase said already in 1902 in his The Expert at the Card Table:

The shift has yet to be invented that can be executed by a movement appearing as coincident card table routine; or that can be executed with the hands held stationary and not show that some manœuvre (sic) has taken place, however cleverly it may be performed. (p. 98, lines 18-12 in the CARC Bible Edition).

Second, if you follow the Pass with a False Shuffle, regardless of what type, why do a Pass in the first place?

Either do the Pass and then do not handle the deck anymore, or forget the Pass, and then do just a shuffle & cut: Simply shuffle to the break and thus control the selection to the required position.

My assumption is that since even the old-timers knew that a Classic Pass won’t go unnoticed if done by 99% of the performers, a False Shuffle would at least confuse the issue and (hopefully) still convince the alerted spectator that the card was lost. For let’s never forget what the most important thing of a Control is: It is not the technique, not the handling, not the presentation, but the fact that the spectators are convinced the card is lost, and that’s a purely psychological thing.

Doing the Pass and then shuffling is like doing a Double Lift and then a Second Deal instead of simply dealing the top card.

In the case of “Righting a Wrong” a simple, convincing and safe way of getting the selection to 8th from top could be to start an Overhand Shuffle and ask the spectator to call ‘stop’. Have her replace her selection on top of the shuffled-off cards, then continue the shuffle by running seven cards, injogging the next (or injogging a small block), and then shuffling off. Let the deck slide in Dealing Position, obtain a break with the little finger under the Injog, cut about half the cards above the break to the table, cut at the break, finally drop the remaining cards on top, leaving the cards unsquared (see “Waiter’s Theory & Actions of Recall” in Sharing Secrets, p. 118).

A moment later square the cards and pick them up.

This is what Ascanio would have called an “Intelligent Technique” (s. “Intelligent Movements”, Sharing Secrets, p. 54), i.e., you have really shuffled the cards, you have really cut the deck, nonetheless, the selection has been controlled to the 8th position from the top. All are “Active Techniques” ((see “Active/Passive Techniques”, Sharing Secrets, p. 18), all has an innocent handling Gestalt.

Another method could be to crimp the bottom card as your key card, then shuffle seven cards to the bottom,making the crimped key card 8th card from the bottom. Now do the “Key Card in a Ribbon Spread” from Card College 1, p. 138, to have a card selected, and then replaced under the key block. Now shuffle and cut to the crimp to bring the selection to 8th from the top. I would use my “Accidental Pass” (it is not a Pass 🙂 from  Secret Agenda, where it is titled “Bridge Control” – see the screenshot below for your convenience (and note the comment in red).


But there is yet another implication, maybe even more interesting.

The authors of Royal Road to Card Magic (actually Jean Hugard wrote it, and Fred Braue was a contributing editor) had found a very good didactical form: a sleight was described in the first part of a chapter, then one or several tricks using that sleight would illustrate how to apply it in context. This formula is so good, that I took it over for the dicactical form of my own Card College books!

However, I also know about the weakness of this method: You have to come up with good tricks. And then you can’t use sleights that have not been taught, yet, because they will be discussed in some later chapter. So you end up at times having to distort a good trick just to fit in the sleight taught in the technical section of the chapter.

I think that this is what happened here: “Righting a Wrong” is a trick to illustrate the chapter on the Classic Pass. So the authors looked for a good trick that required a control, and because the Pass had to be used, it was used. You will have noticed that although the Pass appears in Card College Volume 2 (Chapter 19), it does not in Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction, the video interpretation of the first two books.

This is because in my opinion the Classic Pass is one of the two most overrated sleights in the entire realm of card magic.

You do not need the Pass to become successful in magic, and I’m not talking about Siegfried & Roy, Copperfield, Silvan, Paul Daniels etc., I talk about high-caliber card experts such as Juan Tamariz, René Lavand, Ascanio, Pit Hartling etc. – I’ve never seen any of them use a Classic Pass. Yeah, not because it was invisible :-), no, because they never used one.

Virtually every problem where the Pass is used can be solved by other more deceptive and safer means. And the very few effects that require a Pass exclusively (I cannot think of a single one right now…), well, you can replace them with similar ones, or just leave them out, there are so many other good ones!

On the other hand – and that’s not a contradiction – in Volume 4 of Card College I have discussed several other kinds of Pass that I consider useful in certain situations (remember that there is no technique that will solve every problem in every situation – like tools of a tool box).

To conclude these ramblings, you might find it interesting to know that the so-called “Bluff Pass” (Card College 3, p. 555), created by the British Frederick Montague and published by Goldston in Westminster Wizardry (n 1928 !), was of course not a Pass. It was meant to substitute the Classic Pass, which as already mentioned was the established control method, and because of that the author added “Bluff”. It might very well have started the search for new control methods, and thus shook one of the prevailing beliefs of its time, creating what would nowadays be called a paradigm shift. As you can see, the small world of magic always reflects the large world of real life. A most relevant topic to ponder… but not today.

On the Table Faro Shuffle

BTW: If you wonder what I consider the other most overrated sleight today (2022), it is the Table Faro Shuffle.

I have to laugh when I see the ads for the “traditionally cut” cards, meaning they are cut from bottom up, thus facilitating the Table Faro or a Hand Faro done by starting from the bottom. However, no performer in his or her right mind, who works for a professional fee, would take the chance of doing a Table Faro, at least not a Perfect Table Faro, as the risk of missing is too big.

There might be just a handful of people on this planet who could, but neither I nor you belong to them, agree? We do the Faro in the hands where you can immediately see mistakes and correct them, but most of the time you’ll use a Partial Faro to create a set-up or shuttle a card to a certain position.

Knowing that a mistake will almost always occur at the end of the Faro, not at the beginning, and knowing that 90% of the set-ups are on top and not on bottom. If you want to avoid risks – and that’s what a professional does – you don’t do a Faro bottom up, but top down, as taught in Card College 3 Chapter 35  🙂 Therefore you use cards cut top down, and leave the “traditionally cut” cards to those who practice techniques as a Zen discipline, or who perform for YouTube or magician friends, where mistakes do not matter. Both activities are laudable, but differ from the real world of performing. There are exceptions, of course, but just a few, such as the brilliant Richard Turner.

On rereading this post I realize that what I wrote might sound controversial to some, more than usual in my posts. So, let me state: It is never my intention to be controversial, and in none of my writings, videos, lectures or similar do I pretend to know more or better than others. I simply express my opinion that is made up of now almost five decades (that’s FIFTY years!) of studying magic and performing it as an international professional performer. If you agree and I have maybe even told you something you didn’t know before, then that’s good. If you don’t agree, it might still be good, because it made you reconsider the problem under discussion, and confirm your opinion about it, or create a new one, different from mine. In all cases it is important to me to be respectful of each others experience and opinion, and we might simply agree to disagree.
To finish this week’s post on an amusing note, here are a few…
Paraprosdokian Sentences
  • I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it. –Groucho Marx (to a lady)
  • He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house. –Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • Standing in the park today, I was wondering why a frisbee looks larger the closer it gets…then it hit me. –Stewart Francis
  • There are three kinds of people in the world – those who can count, and those who can’t. –Unknown
  • The company accountant is shy and retiring. He’s shy a quarter of a million dollars. That’s why he’s retiring. –Milton Berle
  • I saw a bank that said “24 Hour Banking,’”but I don’t have that much time. –Stephen Wright
  • Always remember my grandfather’s last words: “A truck!” –Emo Phillips
  • Half of all marriages end in divorce—and then there are the really unhappy ones. –Joan Rivers
  • If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker. –from The Simpsons (1989)
More on this topic and how to relate it to magic in the next post. Meanwhile:

Receive my very best wishes for a good week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (55)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 55, gone online Sunday, January 16th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Curious Things From “Curious” Times

In the hope you are doing well, here are bits and pieces from my end that will be interesting to those of you who take an interest in this type of things…(to freely paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie).

The online dictionary defines the term “curious” as: “Arousing or exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicable or highly unusual; odd; strange.” And its archaic use is given as: “Made or prepared skillfully. Done with painstaking accuracy or attention to detail. Careful; fastidious. Marked by intricacy or subtlety.” Now, how is that for a subject for this week’s The Magic Memories?

Exactly what you and I are interested in, isn’t it? So, to stay magical, here are seven curiosities, from seven different areas of life, in no particular order, but all relating to magic, of course – sometimes you just have “to do a little think” to find the connection…

Curiosity 1: Curious Cards

I don’t consider myself a collector of playing cards, but like many of you, cards are my instrument, and their history, nature and characteristics have fascinated me since I started making them my means of expression. If you are a newcomer to card magic, I enthusiastically recommend getting some information about the arguably most versatile instrument in the whole realm of artistic magic. There are of course books on the subject, which are usually beautifully illustrated, and if a few among you write in to tell me that you are interested, I shall be happy to recommend a few of my favorite titles.

Meanwhile you can hardly do better than checking out the blog “Frequently Asked Questions: An Essential Guide for New Playing Card Collectors” by my dear friend EndersGame from Australia, who is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject. CLICK HERE to get (almost) all your questions answered.

Knowing something about the history of cards is more than just trivia, it is a way to better understand and connect to what is the extension of our hand and mind. A more profound understanding of playing cards will strengthen the emotional relationship you have with what you do, and therefore imbibe any performance with your Ethos. The audience will feel this, and the result will be a more artistic performance. It’s a complex and beautiful thing worth thinking about…

Curiosity 2: Linguistic Curiosity

The longest English word to be found in a normal dictionary of English is:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)

Its German translation is Quarzstaublunge (15 letters).

The English word is 300% longer than the German, but the English version of Card College, compared to the original German version, is about 10% shorter. Wonder what that means…

Curiosity 3: Curious Competition

Last year during the Lockdown the Getty Museum launched what they dubbed “The Getty Challenge” and encouraged followers to reinterpret famous paintings. See the photo below for a particularly felicitous “magical” sample: On the left you can see  Swiss painter Albert Anker’s (1831-1910) “Boy with Slate”, and on the right Swiss magician Pat Perry holding the first German edition, spiral-bound (!), of Card College Volume 3 (Grosse Kartenschule). If that’s not curious, they’ll have to redefine the term 🙂

I should add that Pat Perry, whose artistic growth I had the pleasure of following from his beginnings as a young magic enthusiast to today’s successful professional status, deserves a lengthy entry in this series of blogs, and I just made a note to do so in one of the next editions.

I cannot fail to note a similarity between the titles of most works of art and those of magic tricks: both are purely descriptive, with no pretense of originality, such as Vernon’s “Slow Motion Aces” and Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror”, or “Ambitious Card” and again Picasso’s “Bather with Beach Ball”. Albeit unimaginative, they are intuitive terms that immediately tell you what the work is about. Besides, a genius worries about the content, not the title. Makes sense to me.

To see more excellent examples of the “Getty Challenge”, CLICK HERE. Disregard the text, if you don’t read German, just click through the images, and you’ll spend an uplifting minute (doesn’t take longer).

Curiosity 4: Curious Shipping for Signed Card

I see that some have tried to order a signed card via my webshop, but then aborted the ordering process. I assume that they got scared by the high shipping costs calculated automatically by the system. Let me tell you, its’ easier to learn Dr. Jacob Daley’s “Double Peek and Bilateral Side Steal” (from Expert Card Technique, p. 470), than to change the shipping calculation system of a webshop. So, here is my offer: if you want a signed card, DO NOT go over the webshop but send me an email. I’ll send you a PayPal payment request over EURO 10, which you’ll have to pay, and will then snailmail you a priority letter with the signed card, framed on a nice postcard, and signed with my Montblanc Heritage 1910 with Irish Green ink to your first name (please specify!).

Curiosity 5: Curious Illusion
For reasons of copyright I won’t reproduce the next item here, but if you CLICK HERE, you will be redirected to a site with several interesting illusions, chief among them a famous photo of Houdini that switches back and forth from full-face to profile, quite curious.
Curiosity 6: Curious Card Trick

The word “curious” appears three times in the suggested patter for the following trick, so it fits the criteria for this week’s themed The Magic Memories: It comes straight out of Hugard’s and Braue’s Royal Road to Card Magic, titled “Righting a Wrong” (p. 172):

This is one of those feats—so dear to the hearts of all audiences, and all magicians—in which the mystifier apparently himself becomes the mystified. He fails but in the end turns the tables in striking fashion. Nothing pleases an audience more than to catch the infallible wizard in an apparent failure. They enjoy his discomfiture for the moment, then are amazed and intrigued when he emerges triumphant.

1. Have the pack shuffled, take it back, and have any card removed and noted.

2. Have the card replaced and pass it to the top.

3. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the chosen card, which becomes the eighth card from the top.

4. Invite the spectator to name his card, which let us say is the ace of hearts, and instantly say, “Eight cards down!”

5. Deal seven cards and prepare for a double lift, as you say, “Will you name your card again?” Turn over the two cards and show an indifferent card, which let us call the nine of clubs.

6. Appear disconcerted by your failure, and turn the two cards face downwards as one. Remove the top card—the spectator’s ace of hearts—and toss it face downwards on the table to one side. “Let’s get rid of that nine of clubs,” you say grimly. “Don’t worry. I’ll find your card, if it takes all night.”

7. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the top card as in step No. 3. The nine of clubs, which is supposed by the audience to be on the table, is now eighth from the top.

8. Weigh the cards in your hand, as if making a calculation, and say in a puzzled tone, “That’s very curious. I still get a vibration of eight. Perhaps your card is at eight this time.”

9. Deal seven cards and say, “This card could be any cardexcept, of course, the nine of clubs, which is on the table—but my vibrations tell me that it is your card.”

10. Turn the eighth card and show that it is the nine of clubs. “Curiouser and curiouser!” you say. “This can’t be the nine of clubs. I put it on the table. Unless . . .!” Turn over the table card and show that it is the spectator’s ace of hearts.

End of trick description. As I’ve said before, Royal Road to Card Magic was a groundbreaking book at its time, like the Ford Model T was, but if you wanted to buy a car today you wouldn’t want a Ford Model T, would you? The trick is full of flaws (that’s the “curiosity”), but with the knowledge of modern card magic you will be able to take this inherently interesting plot and turn it into a really elegant card miracle. If you are curious to know how I did it, I shall be pleased to write about it in one of the upcoming posts.

Curiosity 7: News for the Curious

Yes, for those who are curious what I’m doing in these times and have asked how things are going, here is a bit of news that might please some of you: Friday noon of this week I finished taping the complete technical part of Card College 3 – Personal Instruction, where I demonstrate and discuss all the techniques from Card College Volume 3, in a similar format I did with Card College 1&2  – Personal Instruction. If all goes according to plan, we’ll tape the trick sections and explanations at the end of January, then do the same for Card College Volume 4 in February. You can peek into the studio we set up in the basement of my home below. More infos to follow at regular intervals.

All the very best for the coming week – check back Sunday, 23rd January, as always at 0:07!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (54)

Hi everyone!

These are The Magic Memories (54), gone online Sunday, January 9, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Cours de Cartomagie Moderne

Volumes 1&2 of Cours de Cartomagie Moderne

My year started with a wonderful surprise when I received the new edition of Card College in French, titled Cours de Cartomagie Moderne. These are the first two volumes, which really belong together as I’ve explained several times. Volumes 3 and 4 are scheduled for June 2022, and the fifth and last volume should be out by the end of this year, so the series will then be completed. My ancient publisher in France had let the books go out of print for several years, so that only pirated PDFs and prints circulated. I hope that those pirates who received or bought for little money an illegal copy will now show a spark of decency and buy the newly released books.

Ludo Mignon and his Marchand de Trucs located in Lorient, Bretagne (F), have done an excellent job producing a beautiful hardbound volume that is still very handy and practical to use as a learning manual. So, this is your chance to learn or improve French. I’m not joking. Years ago, Pit Hartling, yes, THE Pit Hartling, one of the few geniuses in the world of magic, told me he had learned Spanish by buying my Card College book series in Spanish, there called Gran Escuela Cartomagica: Because he knew the German version (Grosse Kartenschule) by heart, yes, that’s what he said… if I remember well 🙂 he would use the Spanish text to learn the language.

For the younger among my readers – young by age, I mean, as we are all young by heart thanks to magic – I’m saying: Learn at least one foreign language. And there are two ways of doing so. One, get a hobby like magic and read most of it in the language you want to learn. Two, find a girlfriend or boyfriend who only speaks that language. My recommendation: Do both! (That’s how I learned English…)

Seriously: If you want to buy a copy of volumes 1 and 2 of Cours de Cartomagie Moderne (buy them together, for Vernon’s sake!) you can get them directly from the Marchand de Trucs webshop HERE.

Magic & Cheating & Gestalt
Interdisciplinary study is one of the  most interesting ways to learn, because it forces you to think: You get a piece of information in one discipline you may find compelling, and now you look for a way to apply this idea to the discipline of your interest. In magic Dai Vernon was certainly one of the pioneers in this, as he researched how gamblers and card cheats would proceed, and then transferred what he learned to magic. This doesn’t happen automatically, you have to think.

As an example let’s take the so-called Bubble Glimpse. In this Glimpse the deck is held face down in dealing position as the left thumb presses the top card against the second finger thus causing the card to buckle at its outer right corner and divulging its index. If the “bubble” is minimized and the left forefinger is placed over the top edge of the deck’s outer end, it will be effectively covered.

In practically all instances in which I’ve seen this move done in magic, the performers made some undefinable gesture in the air or just stared down at the deck without reason, making it an “unnatural” and therefore suspicious movement. The question is: How can the glimpsing action be imbedded into a recognizable, harmless Gestalt and thus achieve invisibility. (See Sharing Secrets, p. 42 “Gestalt”, p. 18, “Active/Passive Technique”, p. 60, “Invisibility”). Admittedly, it is not always easy to come up with a good answer. To make things even more difficult (who said it was easy?) the approach to get to it is not always the same.

One way of tackling the problem is to ask where the sleight comes from and how it was originally used. Since up to ninety percent (!) of all card sleights in one way or another come to us from gambling, it might be a good idea to look at the world of the card cheats first. I will be happy to write about this subject on another occasion—for the moment you’ll have to simply trust me.

In our case of the Bubble Glimpse the Gestalt of the sleight is that of the dealer looking at his hole card while still holding the deck in his left hand. This always occurs when the dealer’s up card is either an Ace, a Ten, or a picture card, in which case together with the card in the hole he might have a Blackjack (21). In this action the Bubble Glimpse is perfectly covered (photo 1), and the glimpsed top card can then be retained for the dealer’s own use or dealt to a partner by means of the Second Deal. The Glimpse is greatly exaggerated in the photo for clarity – in reality the left forefinger affords cover, and the “bubble” is minimal, just enough to see the index.

Now let’s come back to the question of how to give the sleight a Gestalt that makes sense in the context of a magician’s performance. It can obviously be used as described above within a gambling demonstration, but that will not be often. A much more useful approach would be to touch the tips of your right fingers with the left first finger and say, “I have very sensitive fingers, you may touch them.” Then let a woman touch your fingers, but withdraw the hand when a man wants to. The moment the fingers touch will bring the deck into a similar position as the one explained above with the Blackjack dealer and facilitate the Glimpse (photo 2), but additionally provide a humorous situation which will cancel the glimpsing action from the spectator’s sensory memory. So this situation will afford a double cover. First, we have a harmless looking handling Gestalt; second, we erase the action from the spectator’s memory.

The Gestalt just described can be used in many other ways, such as indicating a spot on the table where the spectator shall place something, or pointing to the card case, or opening the flap of the card case, which might contain a prediction—as long as the context fits, anything goes. (And of course the technique itself has to be immaculate, but we don’t need to mention that, do we?)

Yet another handling Gestalt can be obtained if you wanted to glimpse the second card from the top. The right hand shows the face of the top card as the left first finger points to it. The action forces the left hand into the necessary position for the Glimpse, and the card held in the right hand affords perfect cover (photo 3).

As you will appreciate, both are excellent Gestalts for magical applications and come straight out of Hugard’s and Braue’s Expert Card Technique (pp. 100-101). Now that you understand the approach you will find it easy to come up with at least five more ways.

Sal Piacente on Casino Cheating
The following was meant to be my contribution to this week’s The Magic Memories, and the above merely the introduction to it. But the introduction has turned out to be a brief discussion on an important topic, I feel, so you get two for one 🙂
The link below was mentioned in the “The Eye” section of Genii, and I forward it to you in case you missed that – I bet most did 🙂
I like the video for various reasons, but what I did not like was the detailed exposure of the various “Peeks” (really “Glimpses”): Unlike other techniques exposed, these are those used in magic. Now you see the link to the above…
It is one thing to expose a deck switch nobody uses (!) and a packet switch that is used only in card cheating. However, it is an entirely different conversation to expose a sleight actually used in magic. Cheating is illegal and wicked and it is good to expose for protection, magic is a performing art, and it is not good to reveal its tools. That’s my opinion.
So-called “Gambling Exposés” have become a downright “genre” of magic, but as far as I can say only in Anglo-Saxon countries, especially in the USA – you find almost nothing of that for instance in Europe.
People like Richard Turner have a show that consists practically only in exposing and demonstrating sleights and strategies used in card cheating, and he’s very successful with it. I’ve met Richard, who is a most charming gentleman,  years ago at a magic convention in Las Vegas, and we had a very pleasant session and a fine dinner together, so I’m the last to criticize him or anyone working in this line. That’s not the point. However, I personally do not like to talk about the methods we magicians use, unless they are “old” methods and immediately reframed by a magical effect. This is what we call “Gambling Demonstrations” in magic, as opposed to “Gambling Exposés”.
Anyway, to come back to Sal Piacente’s interesting video, to watch it CLICK HERE.


What I liked is that Sal Piacente comes across as a person who knows what he’s talking about, and here there is something to be learned that is hard to put into words, and something to contemplate this week.

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (53)

Hello everyone,

…and Happy New Year! Welcome to The Magic Memories (53), unexpectedly gone online on January 2nd, 2022, at precisely 0:07 hours.
Too much has been said already by too many on what we already know, briefly: These are hard times, and nobody has a clue what’s going to come.
As a constructive sceptic I would therefore say that what all of us can do, who have no power to make decisions at global level, is to keep doing what we do as best as we can and share it with others: Do the right things, and do them right, a good motto.
This reminds me of a quote of mine I put in Secret Agenda, and which I stole from a famous musician, but I changed one word: “Magic cannot change the world, only people can. But magic can change people.” I keep reading in books and articles, and hearing in interviews, that the purpose of magic is to entertain and to take people’s mind off the daily struggles. But if magic is to be an art, as so many would like it to be, then it has to be more than that. Definitely, good art does “entertaining” in the sense that it speaks to the mind and the heart in an aesthetic way. Nonetheless, mere “entertainment” is not art’s main purpose. Magic, or any other art form for that matter, is not supposed to “mis-direct” from life, but to offer an alternative view of life, to “direct” or “re-direct” to keep the analogy. Let this be my “New Year Message” that I humbly offer for you to further think about, if you like. For the big question is: What has magic to offer in this respect? Well, you could, for a start, read or reread what I wrote in my essay “The Benefits of Practicing Magic” – CLICK HERE to read the PDF. I promise it will trigger more thoughts that will lead to answers to this fundamental question.
The Magic Memories is Living on in 2022
As you will have guessed from my last post, I have decided to continue this little non-profit project. I thank all those of you who have written in to say that they cannot live without it (I’m paraphrasing this from memory…).
Although it takes quite a bit of time, the “situation” is such that I won’t be traveling and performing in the months to come, therefore I might as well devote some time to what I also enjoy doing very much: Read, think and practice, and then share with those who have a similar taste as I have. When, after High School, I started my studies of linguistics and literature at the University of Basel, it was with the intention of becoming a High Scholl teacher (maybe a professor at College later?). Fortunately, in the 5th semester it dawned upon me that it might not be what I expected. To tip the scales was a seminar offered by one Professor Stamm, considered the major expert on Shakespeare in Switzerland, titled (from memory): “The origin of village names in South-West England in pre-Shakespearian time”. Then and there I decided that this was too far away from real life, and that this might be a reason why teaching is such a hard job.
Later, when I started to do lectures and write books, I realized that I had become a teacher in spite of all; seems as if I could not escape my destiny. If I don’t get any serious protests, I will from time to time tell you a few events and stories from my magical life; in hindsight a lot of them are quite amusing.
PDF of The Magic Memories
Please consider the linked PDF as this week’s contribution: I’ve sat for several days over it and compiled all the contents of the 52 posts, plus a few comments of mine for each item. There are three reasons it took me so long:
First, I am a slow typer, over here we call the system I use “The Eleven Finger System”: ten fingers search, one types. I vividly remember when Bill Kalush visited with me, and we sat at my computer to do some research. When he saw me type, he stared at me, and after recovering from the surprise, he said in disbelief, “And that’s how you wrote all your books?”
Second, I stopped at most posts to reread them, and thanks to my terrible memory, I was so pleased to find some excellent ideas, which I immediately made notes of (many of the ideas in the posts came to me shortly before or even as I was writing, and I had missed putting them in my notebook).
Third, it was a lot of work, but I already complained about this, didn’t I 🙂
I hope the PDF will make it easy for you to go back to some of the posts, and if you find an idea you like, do as I did: Open a note in your paper or electronic notebook, copy and paste it, and add a few of your own insights.
To see and download the PDF CLICK HERE.
Thanks to Barbara
Last but by no means least, as the saying goes, I would like to thank my wife Barbara who has provided most of the graphic material for these posts, including, of course, the headers with the little pictorial hints to topical subjects. Some of the graphics, though, are entirely my responsibility. The difference is easy to recognize: If it is well-done, sharp, original and looks professional, then it is Barbara’s work, all other is mine…
Wish you good luck for the first week of the New Year!
Roberto Giobbi