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The Magic Memories (137)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Giobbi in Japanese; Chunk up, chunk sideways, chunk down; Missing Link – Trick Shots.

These are The Magic Memories 137, gone online Sunday, August 13th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

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

Giobbi in Japanese

Just had a lovely visit by Shigeru Tashiro, President of the Nippon Magic Foundation, and its director Sorm Manh.

Doctor Tashiro is a respected plastic surgeon with his own clinic in Japan, but he’s also a tireless benefactor of magic.

Among other noteworthy achievements he has brought Ascanio’s books to the Japanese magic community, as he has a special interest in the conceptual and theoretical aspects of magic. He just published Burger’s and Neal’s Magic and Meaning,  and is now about to translate Sharing Secrets, which should appear within the next six months or so.

Manh, Barbara, RG, Shigeru in the little library of the Giobbi home

I look very much forward to this, as I already have my five Card College books, as well as the Light Trilogy and Stand-up Card Magic out in Japanese, and am told they have all been well received.

Chunk up, Chunk Sideways, Chunk Down

Since we are talking “theory”, here is a concept I occasionally discuss in my lectures and workshops, and if my memory serves me right, I have not yet mentioned it in The Magic Memories.

I will first define it, then give several examples of how to apply it in practice.

The concept, which is really a practical procedure of studying magic, is about recognizing that something is a principle rather than just an individual item, giving it a name, defining it, and then setting it in place within a larger context (terminology and taxonomy). I call this first action chunking up.

Finding another example to apply the concept to is chunking sideways.

And coming up with the details of handling in this other example is chunking down.

Following are a few examples, where I first tell you where and how I identified the concept, and then how I proceded.

No Hands Ma!

In a private session I had with the late Ken Krenzel in New York years ago, he suggested to put the deck on the table when performing «Cavorting Aces», rather than keeping it in the hands, as taught in Stars of Magic, where Jacob Daley’s original version is published.

Thinking about this a little later, I recognized that this was not simply a good idea to apply to this specific trick, but a downright concept, a principle that once recognized and understood could be used in many other situations to dramatically improve a trick.

This was the first step of chunking up. Part of this was to find a good name for that concept, ideally one that was intuitive, so if it was used, even someone who didn’t know its definition could guess what it meant.

So, I named it «No-hands-ma Strategy», a term found in the Urban Dictionary of English. You can read more about it in Sharing Secrets, as it is one of “The 52 Most Important and Practical Strategies in Magic” described there.

Next comes the chunk sideways: Where else could the strategy be used? How about in a phase of the “Ambitious Card”? If you ponder the matter for a little time, you will be able to make a long list – it’s really an easy exercice even a beginner can do, as it works particularly well with so-called “self-working card tricks”, but as you will soon recognize, it will satisfy even the high standards of an expert.

The chunk down will then consist in coming up with the specific handling.

In our example of the Ambitious Card you would show the “ambitious” card by means of a Double Lift, turn the double again face down on top of the deck, place the deck on the table (this is the “No-hands-ma Strategy”), insert the top card into the center of deck, still with the deck on the table, square the deck (on the table!), snap, and finally show the top card has come back. All of this is done with the deck resting on the table rather than holding it in the hands, as you would normally do.

By trying and understanding this one example, you have done the first step of instilling a “theory”. Now apply it to a few other situations, and you will have mastered the concept and be able to apply it regularly in many things you do.

And next time when you see someone else performing a trick, you will catch yourself thinking, “Why doesn’t she use the ‘No-hands-ma Strategy’, as it would greatly improve her trick!”

The No-switch Deck Switch

A reader once asked Dai Vernon in his «The Vernon Touch» column in Genii magazine how a professional justifies putting a deck away and taking another one to perform the next trick.

When I read that I was filled with an instant burst of joy, as it immediately hit me that this is a category of its own in the subject of switching decks.

As part of the chunk up I named it «The No-switch-deck-switch»), and it became the fourth element in a four-part taxonomy of deck switches (see The Art of Switching Decks , pp. 127).

As the chunk sideways phase try to find situations where the putting away of one deck and introducing a new deck would make sense. In The Art of Switching Decks I give a dozen examples, one of them is giving the deck you just used away to the assisting spectator, and then use a sealed new deck for the next performance piece.

The chunk down phase now deals with the specifics of how to do this in detail, e.g., pointing out that the deck you are giving away has a guarantee Joker, so if he uses the cards in his next game of Poker and loses, he should complain with the playing card company (tongue-in-cheek).

Now do a trick using another instrument, only to later come back to cards, but since you gave the deck away, you need another deck. Take out the sealed deck, which has of course been prepared according to the requirements of the trick about to be performed (p. 21/22 in The Art of Switching Decks tells you how to imperceptibly open a sealed deck, tamper with it, and then reseal it so that no-one will be the wiser). As an additional proof that you are using a bona fide deck, show the sales ticket from the shop you bought the deck.

A third and last example:

The Knife Force

A knife is used to force a card (e.g., Ganson, Dai Vernon’s Inner Secrets of Card Magic – on p. 22 you can see a photo of the action) .

Chunk up: An extraneous object other than the deck itself is used.

Chunk sideways: What other objects could be used? A Joker, the guarantee card, a credit card, a bill from a bundle of bills, a pencil…

Chunk down: What would be a reason that makes sense for using that particular item? How should it be handled?

As an example see Vanni Bossi’s “The Card in the Wallet” in Card College 4, also found in an updated version in “Lesson 35: Forces – Part 3” of the Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction video course.

OK, I simply can’t resist giving you a few more examples, as the subject is so fascinating, don’t you think so?

But I will be brief, as by now you have grasped the idea… provided you are still with me 🙂

Overhand Shuffle

Look at an Overhand Shuffle.

Chunk up: The deck is being shuffled by shifting the position of five to seven packets.

Chunk sideways: What other shuffles or actions (!) are there that use the same, or similar, topological characteristics? How about: Hindu Shuffle, Running Cut, cutting packets to the table, dealing packets to the table one on top of the other…

Chunk down: How can techniques normally associated with an Overhand Shuffle be applied to these other shuffles & actions (stock controls, glimpses, key card placements, culling & stacking, estimation etc.)?

Do this in every direction.

Take off the Coat Switch

I read that Arnold de Biere (1876 – 1934) switched an examined egg bag for the prepared egg bag as he took off his coat.

Chunk up: This is a switching principle.

Chunk sideways: Apply to other instruments, such as die, coin purse, deck of cards.

Chunk down: How would it work for a deck of cards? Does the coat need to be prepared in a particular way? Why do you take off the coat? Where do you put the coat once you have taken it off?

Handkerchief Glimpse

in Karl Fulves’s Self-working Card Magic I read that the bottom card can be glimpsed when you take the deck out of the case, a very good, practical and safe method in itself (once you’ve taken out the deck, do a few false shuffles and false cuts to retain the glimpsed card in position, or bring it to the top, or to another specific position).

Chunk up: A deck (or any other object) stored in some kind of container, when extracted allows to glimpse the bottom card (or something else be done with it…).

Chunk sideways: Apply to other instruments, such as die, coin purse, deck of cards.

Chunk down:

  • Handkerchief: The transparency allows to glimpse the bottom card of the wrapped deck.
  • Plexiglass Card Case: Place deck in a plexiglas card case.
  • Envelope: Place deck in an envelope that has a window cut out, or that is transparent (most without a lining are transparent).


in Royal Road to Card Magic the authors Hugard & Braue mention an «Overhand Shuffle Practice Routine» – this is a concept I called “Magic Katas” (chunk up phase).

I realized this was like «Studies» in music or «Katas» in martial arts and could be applied to every instrument in magic, such as ropes, coins, cups & balls, rings… (chunk sideways).

Now chunk down: Develop a «Rope Knot Kata» linking various ways of making knots with a rope into a sequence with the aim of remembering them, and of course practicing them at the same time!

For a practical example see “How to Study Magic – Card Katas”, p. 107 in Sharing Secrets. Also see Ask Roberto, p. 220.

The Missing Link

Under this heading I will occasionally propose one unusual web-link, which you’ll hopefully find inspiring, and if nothing else simply amusing.

Today’s clip is about “trick shots”, however, not from the pool table, but from real life.

If you showed this on your Smartphone or Tablet (a brief extract, of course), you could use it to prologue a performance piece with it.

Which one?

That’s for you to find – in Hidden Agenda I called this “Presentational Problems”, i.e., I give you a presentational idea, and you find a trick in your repertoire that up to now did not have a proper presentation and now, well, it has 🙂

Also see the entry “Film Clip Prologue” for February 20 in my Hidden Agenda. To any performer who uses this idea, this alone is worth many times the proverbial price of the book.

To see the clip CLICK HERE.

Wish you all an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi

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