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The Magic Memories (79)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Dissertations with a magic subject; Fred Kaps on theory; More Complete Giobbi; Part 2 of the List of Tricks & Bits From Sharing Secrets; Jesus Etcheverry RIP.

These are The Magic Memories 79, gone online Sunday, July 3rd, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Magic Dissertations

Ignatios Vakalis, who is a Professor of Math/Comp. Sc. , at California Polytechnic State University, wrote in to ask about a statement I made in the trick called “Stickler” in my book Stand-up Card Magic (p. 242).

There I write, right at the beginning: “In 2002, a 220-page dissertation was written about my version of the Card Stab. It received the academic honor of summa cum laude. This is no guarantee the trick is good, but it may be unique in its academic credentials.”

The photo below shows its cover, and to see the table of content of Beccaro, Manuela – Tesi di laurea (2002), CLICK HERE.

This is now twenty years ago, hard to believe 🙂 The way this came about is that I got invited by the Circolo Amici Della Magia (CADM) in Torino, Piedmont, Italy, to perform and lecture at one of their yearly conventions.

This club is an amazing one, as they have over 300 members, and that’s more than the whole Magic Circle of Switzerland! They like me so much, that they made me a Lifetime Member, and since then I visit at least once a year, usually in October or November at truffle time (what a coincidence…), do a chat on Friday evening on any subject, and a full-day Masterclass on the Saturday (I have reported about this and my extended visit to Piedmont in The Magic Memories 49).

Manuela Beccaro, the girl friend of a club member, was going into her last year at the University of Vercelli, where she studied literature and linguistics at their Department of Humanities. Briefly: When she saw me do my Card Stab it occurred to her that she could do her Master paper on the linguistic structures in the art of deception as used by a performing magician. Fortunately, the performance was taped, and from there she went.

The book depicted above also contains a DVD with my show (in Italian), but please don’t ask me where to find it, as I have lost touch with the lady, but I think she’s on Facebook…

Rumination – On Theory

Recently I paid a visit to my friend Werner Nussbaumer. He’s now 94 years old, absolutely clear in his head, and is determined to get to Vernon’s age (98), or more 🙂

In the photo below you can see Werner and me after a lovely lunch, and Werner performing a complex coin routine, a combination of Slydini, Vernon and some of his own vintage – all classics, all great.


Werner is a past president of the Magischer Ring Schweiz (MRS), the Swiss magic circle, and knew (almost) every magician of his generation.

Each time we meet, that’s twice a year, he gives me material he no longer wants to keep. In the past he was so kind as to gift me with a large part of his magic library, and on our most recent get-together he gave me three boxes with various kinds of publications, one of which with old Lecture Notes.

Now, Lecture Notes are a literary sub-genre within the ample panorama of the magic literature, and a most interesting one. Although I’m no collector, as I’ve mentioned several times, having been the organizer of almost all the lectures for my magic club here in Basel, I have assembled hundreds such writings, some mere “notes” in the true sense of the term, others actual “books” (the UNESCO defines a book as being any non-periodical publication with more then 50 pages, excluding the covers…). All of them, though, make for a great resource of great minds (well, most…), and always great memories.

Among the Lecture Notes Werner presented me was the original edition Ken Brooke published of Fred Kaps’ lecture he gave in London in 1973. For your reading pleasure I extracted the very first page, which deals with some of the insights gained by this World Champion of Magic. To read the one-page article CLICK HERE.

If you are interested, there is quite a bit of material out there about Fred Kaps, and which is not on the Seeing is Believing DVD set, e.g., the audio interview produced by Martin Breese in 1986, It’s So Simple – Fred Kaps, or the interviews done by Pat Page and Cy Endfield (!) and which can be found in the Pat Page Audio Archive

More Complete Giobbis

What started out as nothing more than a humorous remark is becoming a “running gag”: Ian Kent was the first to send in a photo with his collection of my publications. Meanwhile I have assembled a folder of lovely photos.

Below is the one Roland Heuer from Stuttgart sent in, now a retired professional violinist who, together with his wife Ikuko, herself an accomplished violinist, worked in the orchestra of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, nothing less 🙂

“Musician” and “Magician” not only make a “minimal pair”, a term from linguistics, they also have a very special mutual understanding, as they both express themselves through an instrument.

And in the photo below you can see Michele Isenburg’s “Complete Giobbi”. Michele is an engineer who lives in Milan, Italy, and on his display you can see three spiral-bound publications, all PDFs which he had printed and bound, and that’s what I do, too, with my favorite PDFs, otherwise I hardly read them… The leather wares are all made in Florence and go with the trick published in Card College and in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction; can you guess which tricks?

List of Tricks & Bits From Sharing Secrets – Part 2 (11-20)

Part 1 of this list brought in a few positive reactions, so, encouraged by it here is Part 2, which catalogues the “practical” (as opposed to “theoretical”) items from Sharing Secrets:

11 – p. 45: “The Goldin Pass”. Notice footnote 22 which leads to my lengthy article on the genesis of the move in Ask Roberto. This is possibly the Card Control I’ve seen Juan Tamariz use most of the time, and that says it all.

12 – p. 49: “Handling in practice”. This really is a “check-list”. To use it print it out, briefly discuss it with a friend, and then ask him to watch you perform a trick with special focus on one or several of the points listed. As an alternative, record yourself performing a trick in front of an audience, or just in front of the camera, and upon reviewing it use the points in the list to check how you are doing. This all is very subjective, of course, but will still sharpen your eye towards this important subject.

13 – p. 51: “Oil and Water… and More Water”. This extension of the “Oil & Water” plot was quite a craze in the Seventies and Eighties, one of the peaks in the packet-trick-wave (similar to  fashion, or Corona, trick-genres come and go in “waves”). I remember that the first time I heard about it was that Fred Kaps would perform it, at that time “the reference”, of course. Aldo Colombini came up with the first version I started doing, then Richard Vollmer showed me his etc. It probably all started with Roy Walton’s “Oil & Queens”, then went the way of (un-)natural selection via Fulves, Marlo, Solomon etc.

The version I publish here is my favorite. In spite of its tight description, it is constructed with clock-work precision and works like a charm. It also makes an excellent exercise for practicing False Counts & Displays, as well as handling of double cards in a group. To do this trick really well is quite a challenge…

14 – p. 53: “Positive Insertion – Delayed Elmsley Count”. This entry contains a concept that warrants opening a new note in your notebook under the heading of “Elmsley Count – Details of Handling”, namely how to deal with the problem of a face-up Elmsley Count that displays the face card twice.

Can you come up with at least three additional technical procedures (strategies) to solve the problem? My note on the subject has 23 entries… if you ask, I might tip a few 🙂 in an upcoming The Magic Memories.

15 – p. 55: “The Intelligent Injog Shuffle and Cut”. This is arguably the best method of retaining the position and order of a top stock for magical purposes: You really shuffle, then you really cut, and you end up having performed a false shuffle. If you think about it, it drives you nuts – a paradox of life,  if there ever was one. Not using this is like throwing away a winning lottery ticket.

16 – p. 61: “Matching the Cards”. Dai Vernon considered this the best trick for laymen. Indeed, he used to open his card act with it when he worked the Close-up Gallery of the famous Magic Castle (he shaped it with his presence from its beginning in 1963 virtually to his death in 1992). The description is terse, but complete. For a detailed discussion go to the “Free Downloads” of the webshop, or simply CLICK HERE. It is a lovely opening trick to lead into any four-of-a-kind routine; in this case you start out with the set-up deck, no need to go through the set-up-procedure.

Consider doing this in a parlor station using stemmed glasses… (see “A Comedy of Errors” in Stand-up Card Magic, p. 144).

17 – p. 63: Both “Cut and Leave” and “Off-handed Ambitious Card” are two ploys to be remembered and used – both are so good!

18 – p. 73: “Managing Mangement”. In itself this entry is an excellent scheme to add one or several extra cards to a deck that has been shuffled by the spectators.

As so often, this contains a super-ordinate technical concept that warrants the creation of a separate note in your notebook “Adding Card(s) Secretly to a Deck”. How many methods can you come up with? I won’t torture you this time by telling you how many entries my note on the subject has 🙂

19 – p. 77: “The Midwife Theory in Practice”. This is one of the most practical, easiest and safest packet switches. No more comment… maybe one: See “Lesson 37 – Packet Switches” in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, and there “The Bluff Switch” (the first in the series). Know what: I had completely forgotten about this one I came up when I was in my Twenties until I set out to write the scenario for the videos… this is so good, I have to mention it myself (with apologies to Ricky Jay).

20 – p. 81: “To Remove a Deck From a Box”. Basic, Watson, basic…

That’s it for another series of ten, and I’m afraid I will have to bring yet another list in the next The Magic Memories, even if nobody is asking… (I’m enjoying this too much myself).

My Friend Jesus Etcheverry

Yesterday I received the infinitely sad news that my dear friend of many years Jesus Etcheverry has eventually lost his battle with cancer and passed away. Jesus and I were very close and have shared many a memorable moment since our first meeting well over 40 years ago. Right now I’m too emotional about the situation, but will tell you more about this exceptional man with anecdotes, photos and some private video clips in upcoming The Magic Memories. My thoughts are with his family, especially with his wife Carmen. Below you can see Jesus and me, here in Bilbao, his native city, after a dinner in one of our favorite restaurants (subjects discussed: magic, gastronomy, more magic, wines, further magic, life, still more magic).

All the very best – and I look forward to more magic chat in the upcoming The Magic Memories 80,

Roberto Giobbi

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