Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Re-Deal Force

This force, used to cause two spectators to locate the four Aces, is explained in “The Mathemagician” by Bill Simon in Sleightly Sensational, 1954, p. 8. Two years later, Hen Fetsch published a simplified handling of this idea, Ace Discovery“, in Impromptu Card Routine, 1956, p. 1. Fetsch's procedure eliminated repositioning two Aces from the top to the center of the deck, and this handling has to this day remained the standard approach. Shortly after this, Al Leech applied the Re-Deal principle to forcing cards. The force cards start on top of the pack, a spectator deals any number of cards into a pile, then re-deals the pile into a number of piles equal to the number of force cards, which places them on the tops of the piles for one to be chosen. See Leech's “Spectator Does a Trick” in Cardmanship, 1959, p. 6.

The Re-Deal Force is an extension of an older idea found by Reinhard Müller in the anonymously authored Hocus Pocus kürtzweilige approbierte Kahrten-Künste, second edition, 1669. There it is explained how the performer first glimpses the top card of the deck, then deals the cards in rotation into six piles. He picks up the first pile, which has the glimpsed card on the bottom, and deals its cards onto the other five piles. He stops the deal when he reaches the last card and, instead of dealing it, while shutting his eyes he displays its face to the spectators. Keeping his eyes closed, he gives the card to someone and asks him to return it to any pile. Since the performer has forced the glimpsed card, he can then find it.

In 1914, an early, single-pile application of the idea was included as part of “Armspach's Card from Pocket” by O. W. Armspach in The Sphinx (Vol. 13 No. 1, Mar. 1914, p. 9). Several cards that are to be forced are secretly positioned at the bottom of the deck. Rather than dealing into multiple piles, only one pile is formed by the spectator, who first cuts the deck in half and then deals the bottom half onto the top half. The magician instructs the spectator to take the appropriate number of cards from the top of the deck, these being the force cards that began on the bottom. Armspach specifically denies credit for this forcing procedure, writing, “This principle of forcing one or more cards is not my original trick, but as far as I know the use to which it is put is original.”

Another single-deal form of the idea was published in 1923. The cards to be forced are again secretly positioned on the bottom of the deck, and a spectator deals the entire deck out into a number of piles equal to the number of force cards. He then takes the top cards of the piles. Two examples of this single-deal force principle were given by Dr. Reed Rockwood in The Sphinx, Vol. 22 No. 8, Oct. 1923, p. 231, in an article titled “The Force.” See forces 23 and 24. These variations are primitive and cumbersome, but are related to the Re-Deal Force. (The Rockwood article and two forces were found by Max Maven.)

The re-deal idea has also been applied to repositioning cards. Hal Merton used the idea in a card at any number trick called “Hal Merton's Card Wonder” in Mahatma, Vol. 9 No. 2, Aug. 1905, p. 17. Merton starts with the selection on top of the deck. The spectator deals to the named number, failing to find the selection there. The dealt pile (now having been reversed due to the dealing procedure) is placed back on the deck for the feat to be tried again. The selection has been automatically positioned at the named number, so the second attempt is performed successfully. The same repositioning idea was later used in spelling effects.