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Sandwich transposition

A short routine initially built around John Bannon's "Cross-eyed jacks" with the addition of a couple of Harapan Ong's effects from "Principia".


John Bannon's "Cross-eyed jacks" was published in page 32 of the 2017 March issue of Genii Magazine (Steve Valentine on the cover). The effect quickly got my attention because the critical interval (Darwin Ortiz) is quite short and thus the magical effect (Arturo de Ascanio) seems to happen almost instantly.

I was however initially taken back by John's technical solution to the effect: the handling (specifically the card selection and the subsequent maneuvers) felt quite uncomfortable in my hands. Nonetheless, I had the chance to perform the effect several times using John's handling and got some nice laymen reactions. I assume this was due to the fact that the critical interval is short and nothing is done during that time.

After I showed the effect to some fellow magicians, David Bestué liked it and we started to look for alternative handlings (here is his take). We came up with some crazy ideas, but unfortunately they muddled the effect (even a tiny change in the method affects the external effect). In the end, after all the efforts, I was resigned to John's original handling as the best one.

Several months afterwards, I was widening my technique repertoire and was lucky to come up with the handling featured in the video, although it took some time to smoothen the handling (minimizing flashes, tells...). There's no question that John's handling is best suited for all-around performing situations, whereas my variation is more angle sensitive. So, I favor the handling in the video whenever possible and keep John's handling in store for those not-so-optimal situations. Keeping several alternatives at hand helps me as a performer to better deal with different performing environments you might find.

While "Cross-eyed jacks" is a very nice effect, it's quite short. I like longer effects or routines where one can play with its dramatic structure (that's something typical and characteristic of Arturo's magic and his subsequent philosophy). So, while reading Harapan Ong's "Principia" I found some interesting ideas to extend "Cross-eyed jacks". More precisely, I liked "Kaleidoscope production" (page 37) as the initial production and also found that "Michalevator" (page 45) could be used as a transition leading to "Cross-eyed jacks"; as long as the effects flow naturally from one to another, they can be easily and effectively linked together. On a techincal note, I feel that Pablo Doménech's "Doble retención" ("La magia de Pablo Doménech", page 171) is a slight improvement in "Michalevator"'s layout sequence.

Please find below an additional recording of this effect that did not make the final cut due to some hesitation in the technical execution.


Triple spellbound

A three-time triple change spellbound sequence devised by Taesang Lim.


This is Taesang's second take on the spellbound plot featured in his in Secret of Magic's Innocent DVD (under the name "c-spellbound"), where a silver coin changes to copper and then to brass three times!

As well as Taesang's previous spellbound, this is a highly challenging routine where most of the techniques used could be easily adopted to enhance other coin effects. Personally, Kainoa Harbottle's "Steeplechase change", done with the left hand, has been the most challenging to learn.

A small detail for connoisseurs: the retrieving of the coin from the Downs position to curl position is delayed to the moment the silver coin is placed in classic spellbound position (in the original, this was done while the Himber pass was completed). I belive this makes for a more natural handling.

Please find below an additional recording of this effect that did not make the final cut.


Los ases de la tía Enriqueta

This is Arturo de Ascanio's take on Darwin Ortiz's "Hitchcock aces": a typical ace-assembly routine featuring an O. Henry ending. Arturo saw Ortiz's "Hitchcock aces" ("Darwin Ortiz at the card table", page 86) and worked out his variation incorporating his "Ascanio touch". Later on, Darwin saw Arturo's version, reworked his original effect, and republished it as "The new Hitchcock aces" ("Cardshark", page 58). This video tries to replicate the exact handling of "Los ases de la tía Enriqueta" as described in "La magia de Ascanio; estudios de cartomagia; sus favoritos" (chapter 7, page 178 in the original printing and page 171 in the English printing).


Although not stated in the books, Arturo had three major ace-assembly effects:

• Los ases de la tía Enriqueta.

• Ases con amor.

• Los ases de mi examen.

This ace-assembly triad, encompasses Arturo's philosophy and handling that he developed in his life. So, it's possible to get a glimpse of the process behind it by studying all the different versions he developed and performed throughout his life.

Regarding "Los ases de la tía Enriqueta", there are some technical aspects that deserve some thoughts:

• The "get in": Arturo he performed a previous effect ("If you don't pay attention") that served to set-up this one. Although that previous effect is not featured in the video, the core idea is. The point is to make the initial laydown of the aces as deceptive as possible by bypassing the volteo de exhibición (exhibition lift) and maintaining ace of clubs' volteo de devolución (replacement lift). This idea is discussed in the explanation of Ases con amor. In the video, the initial ace production (an Alex Hansford idea) is easily adapted to avoid any later volteo de exhibición.

• The "avanzadilla flotante" (floating double) was widely used by Arturo in all of his tricks. It's a very knacky technique which requires a very soft yet confident touch. Under close watching, it can be seen that my avanzadilla flotante is inferior than Arturo's. In the existing recordings of his performances, he turned the card face-up squared onto the deck and then he proceeded with the avanzadilla. In my case, the help of the left first finger is needed, thus reducing the clarity of the "avanzadilla flotante".

• Arturo's handling of Ken Krenzel's "Slide under switch". Almost all magicians have their own handling of this technique. I'm still working to incorporate Arturo's fine points into my own handling.

Spellbound on edge

A short, modular, and challenging copper/silver sequence devised by Taesang Lim.


This is one of Taesang's takes on the spellbound plot (the other being "c-spellbound"), featuring multiple and visual copper/silver changes. It was first published in Secret of Magic's Innocent DVD.

This is quite a challenging routine: not only are the techniques demanding but the transitions between the changes are also. Smoothness is the third point to work on in order to make the sequence look effortless. That's why it takes months and years to master the whole sequence.

Personally I believe it's worth going through all of the above since it provides the coin magician an arsenal of techniques to use in other coin routines. In other words, while perfoming the routine for magicians might be fine, it would be better to wisely use the techniques while performing other coing effects for laypeople.

Summing up, the key points of this approach to this classical effect are:

• Highly challenging routine to master.

• Highly visual changes.

• Set of techinques to incorporate to other effects.

Backfire sandwich

A multiphase sequence based on Daniel Chard's "Backfire sandwich", John Bannon's "Queenpins" and Kimoon Do's "Largo", featuring four effects: aces production, regular sandwich, reverse sandwich and asymmetrical transposition.


Daniel Chard's "Backfire sandwich" lies at the core of this sequence, which was published in "The expert at the Chard table" DVD. It is a two-phase sandwich routine highlighting an extra kicker to the typical sandwich effect. Another possibility that magicians have experimented with is the transposition of the sandwich cards themselves: Luke Dancy's "Royale with cheese" has seen many variations such as Chris Mayhew's "Casino royale with cheese", Tomas Blomberg's "113 g" (Blomberg laboratories, page 101), Tom Stone's "King castling" (Vortex, page 33) and John Bannon, who published his take under the name "Queenpins" in Genii Magazine volume 80 (year 2017), number 7 (month July), page 38. Each of these variations have pros and cons that are worth studying in order to adapt the underlying idea to other effects. Prior to working out this sequence, I was doing a slight variation of Tom Stone's "King castling", although I kept looking for further improvements. Everything fell into place when I learned Kimoon Do's "Largo" (published in his DVD "Effective), which constitutes a nice eye-catching prelude to what's coming next.

The three sandwich effects featured in this sequence feature an in crescendo approach:

• First, a "normal", although somewhat flashy, sandwich effect is performed.

• Second, a weird effect takes place where the chosen card finds (and sandwiches!) the sandwich cards.

• Third, a weirder effect happens involving an asymmetric transposition.

I personally enjoy asymmetric transpositions (my favourite being Arturo de Ascanio's "El juego de Dolores") since they imply a change in both the identity and the quantity of the objects transposed. This, however, adds and extra difficulty from the methodological point of view; thus making it difficult to devise acceptable methods to accomplish them. This is specially true when objects other than cards are used.

El despertar de Okito (Okito's awakening)

Miguel Ángel Gea's ideas and effects constantly push forward the limits of magic. In 2017 he published "Numismagia y percepción" which is structured around nine concepts related to the brain's visual perception of reality. This okito-box routine belongs to the "geométrico visual" concept (it's also featured in his DVD "Perception shaped as a coin").


The effect could be described as an "Out with four" routine (as per the name in Richard Kaufman's "Expert coin magic"). Internally, the modus operandi could be divided in two parts:

• The first two coins. This is where Gea's "geométrico visual" concept is applied. The key idea is what sometimes is summarized as "la extra sin extra", which I first found in Daniel Celma's approach to coins through the table (published in 1985 in "La magia del centro mágico platense" book). This phase constitutes the novel approach to the method of the effect and, while it's really clever, it's technically demanding yet bold at the same time. The techniques, thinking, and psychology in this phase are repeatedly used by Gea throughout his book and they are worth studying in order to apply them in other coin magic effects.

• The last two coins. This follows a more conventional approach to okito-box coin magic. Gea's original handling for these two coins is quite challenging to execute perfectly. Therefore, a more typical approach using known Okito-box techniques has been chosen.

All in all, while the routine is fun to perform, I find myself preferring Roth's out-in to Gea's when performing okito-box coin magic for laypeople.

Another Charming Chinese Challenge

Troy Hooser’s Charming Chinese Challenge can be considered a neo-classic coin routine that took the magic world by storm since its publication in Destroyers back in 2001. Since then, there have been numerous variations, approaches, and finesses, but all of them retain the core structure of Troy’s original.


Tomoya Horiki's Another CCC could easily be considered a disruptive approach to the original effect. The effect remains the same, yet the reduction in the items used is a major step forward. This, however, comes at a cost and there are some drawbacks that lessen the versatility of Tomoya's approach. These drawbacks are summarised in the following points:

• The effect must be presented while seated at the table.

• It does not require any spectator (the original was done in the hands of a volunteer, thus enhancing the magical effect).

• Angles are slightly tighter than Troy's original.

Whenever the conditions are right, I love performing Tomoya’s approach and the above points are counteracted by the following ones:

• Less items are used, thus reducing the needed handling within the routine.

• Though not related to the magical effect, the modus operandi is extremely clever (specially the second coin).

• Troy’s final phase is a back-and-forth sequence, which I feel lessens the clarity of the effect. Tomoya’s final phase, however, adds a logical ending to the routine which is both shocking and visual to the spectators.

Both Troy’s and Tomoya’s approaches have their pros and cons. If only I could adapt Tomoya’s version to be done in a stand-up situation...

Wild coin

This is one of Mike Gallo's take on the 'wild coin' plot: three copper coins first change to silver and then back to copper.


This wild coin approach is best suited to be presented while seated at the table.

Typically, in wild coin routines one coin is taken at a time, changed, and the put aside inside some kind of container (usually a cup or a purse). While this procedure is inherent to the method used, it lessens the visuals of the overall effect, and thus the effect becomes more intellectual: the audience has to remember that the coins inside the purse are different than the ones remaining on the table, and this detracts from the final transformation.

Mike Gallo's approach tries to solve the above problem: the first two coins change to silver and they are placed and seen clearly on the table, thus reinforcing the visuals of the changing process that is going on. It is only just before the third transformation that the silver coins are placed into the purse. This procedure strengthens the visual contrast of the transformations, especially in the final phase because the time elapsed since the two silver coins are last seen on the table is minimized.

The downside of this approach is that the impromptu aspect of the effect is reduced, since some required extra material might not be always available to the magi.

Okito box: out-in routine

This okito-box coin routine was devised by David Roth and published in Richard Kaufman's monumental Expert coin magic book (this a must-have book for coin magicians).


The original routine is structured in three phases. The very last phase is dropped out from the video. The reason is that I feel it might be pretty obvious for laypeople and that it might add some confusion in the direction of the effect. On the other hand, the last phase gets great reactions when the effect is performed for fellow magicians.

Reflipped sequence

A short routine structured around Yannick Chrétien's Reflipped which could be part of a longer routine. For example, Joshua Jay uses it as the last effect in an oil and water routine.


The above video shows a possible way to get into Yannick's transposition, thus making the routine longer. Yannick's original is beautiful yet lighting fast, so there's a chance the spectators might miss the magic moment. This short routine presents a couple of effects which set the mood and the atmosphere so that the spectators are on track for the final transposition.

The first effect is the appareance of the four queens via the 'Real time' production created by Dan and Dave and published in page 58 of the October 2003 issue of Genii Magazine.

The second effect is Miguel Puga's (Mago Migue). He was already doing it in the 90s and was later featured in his 4-DVD set Allegro, where a nice finesse by Antonio Romero is included in the handling. Unfortunately, almost the same effect appeared in page 254 of 'Blomberg laboratories' without crediting Mago Migue.

Finally, the third effect is Yannick's Reflipped, published in page 84 of the August 2004 issue of MAGIC magazine. Both the Hamman switch and the 180º rotation of the packet come from Joshua Jay's handling.

Special thanks to Animenz for allowing his beautiful cover of Masshiro World to be used in the video.

Triumph sequence

A three phase sequence showcasing different approaches of the classic triumph effec: Reinhard Müller's Miumph, Jerry Sadowitz's Vendetta and So Sato's Bushfire triumph version 1.5.


These versions are radically different from the classic Vernon triumph and, therefore, they are more effective to amaze fellow magicians rather than laypeople. However, I wouldn't hesitate to perform them in informal settings, since they create a strong impact upon laypeople.

Reinhard Müller's Miumph is probably the most direct and to the point version of triumph: it's totally impromptu, without fancy shuffles nor displays; just a riffle shuffle and the selected card is the only one facing up.

Jerry Sadowitz's Vendetta adds an extra climax by producing the selection's mates. This allows for a conving display of the mixed face-up and face-down condition of the deck. It's more technically demanding than most versions of triumph, that's the price to be paid for the main two pluses of this approach. It was first published in Cards hit in 1984, but it can also be found in Card zones.

Finally, So Satos's Bushfire triumph version 1.5 is the most unconventional approach of all three. The chaotic look of the shuffle and the contrast between the initial and the final situation (Arturo de Ascanio dixit) reminds me of Dani DaOrtiz's open triumph. If the conditions are right, this is the version I favor nowadays. The explanation can be found in Richard Kaufman's book 'The Secrets of So Sato'.

Special thanks to Animenz for allowing his beautiful cover of Unravel (from Tokyo Ghoul) to be used in the video.

Worker bee collectors

This is So Satos's take on the classic collectors effect featuring his clever and original "mimic show". It can be found in Richard Kaufman's book 'The Secrets of So Sato'.


Unlike many collectors versions, So Sato's approach only uses two selections, which results in a much more clear effect for laymen. Besides that, the resulting structure of the effect is more flexible, thus allowing for many variations on the handling. Such flexibility is a key point when adapting the effect to different environments (sitting, standing, surrounded, et cetera).

Special thanks to Tam Lu for allowing his beautiful music to be used in the video.

Herbert, the trained rubber band

Denis Behr's take on Hiro Sakai's "Band on the run" (originally published in Steve Beam's The Trapdoor in 1991). This is only the first phase of Denis's version, whose full routine can be found in his book "Handcrafted card magic volume 2" along with other brilliant effects and ideas.


One of the strongest points in this version is the magical erasing of the rubber band, which creates a strong impression on laymen. In addition, placing the wrapped deck onto the mat (something which was not possible in some previous and older versions) constitutes a clever idea in order to induce a hands-off false memory. This is also enhanced by letting the card outjogged until the very last moment.

Finally, I favour Ernest Earick's take on the convincing control (published in his book "By forces unseen"). While it may be more difficult and angle sensitive than other approaches, it is probably the cleanest.

Riffle 'n' roll

One riffle shuffle to stack them all!

Jack Carpenter’s take on the stacking subject, more precisely on the fast stack, where a single riffle shuffle is used to stack the aces for a five-handed poker game. This was published in Jack's "The experts portfolio no. 1" back in 1997.


While apparently just one shuffle is all that is needed to setup the poker hand, Carpenter's brilliant "running load" is used surreptitiously to accomplish the positioning of the four aces. The combination of several techniques, as opposed to just riffle shuffling the cards, makes it possible to deal the four-of-a-kind to the desired hand. This results in a "pretty and to the point" gambling demonstration with the potential to shock anyone who might be waiting for several riffle shuffles to stack the deck.

Perfect stacking demonstration

A "perfect" five-hand poker-game stacking demonstration for connoisseurs. Although the basic idea is probably very old, this approach incorporates Gabriel Moreno's legendary zen-like contribution to magic (nowadays exemplified by Miguel Gómez) as well as minor handling details by Steve Forte, Richard Turner and Jason England.


This routine is an evolution of one of the most direct stacking procedures: give the deck a couple of faro-out shuffles and the cards are stacked for a four-handed poker game. However, this crude sequence poses two problems: first, faro shuffling might look odd in certain situations and second, setting a four-handed game might give a clue on the procedure used. Improving these two points was the main objective of the present approach.

As far as I know, the late Gabriel Moreno was the first magician to perfect riffle shuffling to the ultimate level. His skill in this field is still legendary and probably unsurpassed —those fortunate to have witness his ability speak nothing but miracles about him. Nowadays, Miguel Gómez is perhaps the greatest exponent of Gabriel's legacy, as it can be experienced watching his show "Antología de la cartomagia española".

El juego de Dolores

Arturo de Ascanio’s minor art effect “El juego de Dolores” (named as an homage to his parents’s homemaid) followed by Gabi Parera’s clever corollary (published in his book "Secuencias") where the effect is done backwards.


The effect was originally conceived as a self-working trick (as explained in Pablo Minguet’s “Engaños a ojos vista”), which is still popular among laymen, and later evolved to an asymmetric transposition.

The management of the breaks was the first key point while studying the effect (a process which has been going on for several years). Later on, Gabi's displacement was modified in an attempt to improve its naturalness.

Devil's elevator

A personal approach to Dai Vernon's and Bruce Cervon's "devil's elevator", which was published in Karl Fulves' "Epilogue" (issue16), incorporating some subtleties as well as techniques developed by Arturo de Ascanio.


This approach is the end result of a brainstorm session with highly creative people which is part of a yearly invitation-only magic convention. The goal was to devise a version of this effect avoiding any contact between the two initial packets. While several versions where worked out, this was the one we all felt looked the most natural.

Face-up locator

A Gene Maze effect from "The art of b***** d******."


A fun-to-perform (especially for fellow magicians) effect from the fertile mind of Gene Maze. It also incorporates Ernest Earick's take on the convincing control, which is accomplished using only one hand (a theme applied to other sleights by Ernest) and published in his book "By forces unseen".

The main technique in Maze's effect can be effectively used in many other effects with different purposes. Michael Vincent is an excellent exponent and advocate of this technique.

Rising triumph

This is one of Shigeo Takagi's takes on the triumph effect, which makes use of Ken Krenzel's version of Fred Robinson's "The little wiggle" (also known as "ambitious riser"). The final effect is a combination of the rising card with triumph, and was published by Richard Kaufman and Alan Greenberg in "The amazing miracles of Shigeo Takagi" back in 1990.


"Lost" ace trick

Jack Merlin's ace assembly (one of the fairest ever) as explained in Jean Hugard's and FredBraue's "Expert card technique".


The main goals while studying this effect were:

• Avoiding any get-ready is pivotal, not only in this effect but also in any one in which f**** d****** is used. This includes avoiding any adjustment and repositioning of the cards with the right hand, therefore resulting in a much cleaner handling.

• Avoiding awkward procedures in the packet selection (unfortunately, this cannot be captured in a single-shot video).

Kuniyasu Fujiwara's automatic ace triumph

This is my approach at Kuniyasu Fujiwara's ace triumph. This effect was first published in English in the 2000 May issue of Genii Magazine. Some years later, it was reprinted in Jim Steinmeyer's Ensuing Impuzzibilities as well as in Richard Kaufman's and Steve Cohen's Japan Ingenious.


There are two key points addressed in this approach:

• The original procedure for mixing the cards might be too obvious to some laypeople especially since it is followed by an anti-faro (see Juan Tamariz's Sonata for more information about anti-faros). In order to avoid this, a p****** r***** s****** was used instead. As far as I know, the late Gabriel Moreno was the first person to master and use the p****** r***** s******; the skill he developed is legendary and has not been equaled thus far (a short glimpse can be seen in the documentary El ojo de la cámara: magos como tú, which aired in May 31st 2005). As far as I know, nowadays Miguel Gómez is the only magician that uses the p****** r***** s****** (he calls it m****a c********a) in his live performances.

• I feel that the original turning of the packets looks too linear. Turning both outside packets into the inner ones feels more casual and adds more flexibility in getting the final orientation of the cards.

Oil and queens

My take on Roy Walton's take on the classic oil and water effect. Published in Magic Magazine, volume 22, number 12.


Some brief thoughts about this effect:

• The main goal was to develop a personal handling of the H***** C**** where there is no tell-tale finger switching.

• Another point was to avoid the discrepancy on the number of cards used and counted.

• Finally, the counting the two four-card packets was taken from Pablo Doménech's book "La magia de Pablo Doménech".

Special thanks to Dan Ebbert for his Adobe After Effects scripting help.

Backfire matrix

This is my attempt at Ponta's backfire matrix.


Some brief thoughts about this effect:

• Both the Al Schneider's steal and Paul Harris' steal are used. When the hand is moving towards the body, then the former steal flows better but when the hand is moving away from the body, the latter is much more adequate. Nevertheless, Paul Harris' steal looks much more convincing and natural because it can be done with almost no finger movement al all.

• Since it is a very angle sensitive trick, copper coins work best for this effect (as well as for the other Ponta's matrix tricks).

Holistic medicine

According to Jay Sankey, holistic medicine is ... a more involved, multi-phased routine than I usually perform, but it is so pretty and unfolds so cohesively and naturally that I consider it to be a worthy exception. But remember, give each phase, each moment, it’s due. Strive for an attitude of “goal-less respect” rather than one of “rushing to the finish. The routine can be found on page 51 of Jon Racherbaumer's Sankey unleashed. Sankey's effect easily flows into Juan Luis Rubiales' the Chinese hole (aka abitious coin); consequently I usually perform them together.


I must, however, agree with Amílkar about the many flaws in the internal structure of the effect:

• The first phase is a hole transposition from one coin to another. The fact two holes are shown (one in each coin) just after the transposition it gives away the secret of the transposition.

• Immediately afterwards there is an explanation phase about the totem and its use, which breaks the rhythm of the routine. According to Arturo de Ascanio, such explanation should be made at the very beginning of the effect.

• There are several incongruities related to the purse. At the beginning the coins are taken out of the purse but at the end they are put away into the pockets. Maybe consistency would be enhanced if the coins were taken from the pockets initially... and use the purse just for the totem coin...

Unfortunately, I didn't succeed in coming up with a better construction without sacrificing the clarity of the effect. So, until I find something better I'll stick to the handling in the video. Please let me know whatever idea, suggestion or improvement you might have.

On the technical side, I'm not really fond of the classic Bobo Switch (New modern coin magic, chapter II, page 10). Thus, I talked at length with both Oriol Rusca and Erik about it and finally set to devise a more natural handling for it. That's what I came up with. Though I feel more comfortable with this approach I believe there is still room for improvement.

Special thanks to my dearest friend Antonio Reina for the beautiful piano music; he was kind enough to hand me over the reproduction rights.

Technicolor sandwich

Years ago I saw Miguel Puga "Mago Migue" performing this effect on television, in which he used blue backed aces to find and sandwich a red backed selected card (he had the three cards signed by the spectator). At that time I felt the idea of using cards with a contrasting back design was cool. Looking back over the time I now see it as trick for magicians rather than a practical effect for laypeople.


As far as I know, the original idea was published in Armando Gómez's (Darman) lecture notes from the late eighties or early nineties. According to Mago Migue, whilst the idea is Armando's the handling is Migue's. Therefore, the handling in the video above is totally based in Migue's plus some subtleties devised to further disguise the most critical moments of the effect.

Mago Migue performed more effects in the same television program. Many of them where classic ones, such as follow the leader, oil and water, matrix and so on. There were some great ideas in those performances.

Special thanks to Peter Kater for his song River from his album Piano.

Los ases de mi examen

This is Arturo (1929-1997) at his best. When Fred Kaps performed Cy Endfield's Aces for Connoisseurs (Cy Endfield's Entertaining card magic - part II, page 46) to Arturo, he immediatly fell in love with it. His earlier took on this effect was called Ases para conocedores but he later developed a more refined version (albeit much more technically demanding) which he dubbed Los ases de mi examen, referring to the patter he used. This is a truly sleight of hand masterpiece which calls for an artistic and refined performance.

I first saw Oriol Rusca performing Ases para conocedores and was totally amazed. Anything Oriol does is really amazing. I must also thank Amílkar who helped me with some technical details. He also taught me some nice unpublished culebreo variations.


This version is a tribute to Ascanio and follows his version as closely as possible. Some points are, however, slightly modified in order to humbly smoothen the handling explained in "La magia de Ascanio: sus clásicos", page 156.

The aces layup sequence is a thing of beauty, typical Ascanio thinking and handling. I really like it.

I wanted to avoid as much as possible the use of breaks, since they are pretty difficult to disguise when handling just a few cards as opposed to holding a break with the whole deck. Besides that, my fingers are too short in order to do Dai Vernon's "The wave" (Vernon's push-off in "Dai Vernon book of magic" page 119) which was the handling Arturo favored when adding the indifferent cards to the aces.

Regarding "el culebreo" credit must be given to the two main groups (in Madrid and in Barcelona) of magicians who keep on working on, deepening and expanding Ascanio's ideas and techniques. I'm really fond of the culebreo - expansión con fleje - enseñada sincera - enseñada vertical - extensión de D'Amico/Ascanio en abanico sequence, which allows for some artistic and ethereal handlings.

Though not explained in the book, in the first ace vanish ("el pincel") Ascanio used Pepe Carroll's la hélice after doing the culebreo Las Vegas. Even though I'm working on it and Amílkar has helped me a lot, I still can't do la hélice. That is why I went for the classic handling.

The second ace vanish is probably the most difficult. I first use Miguel Gómez's take on Bernard Bilis's handling for the one hand turnover. Unfortunately, the vanish explanation in the book is poor and scarce. I've tried different handlings and variations, but the one you see in the video is the one I feel more comfortable with. I can't do it with 100% effectiveness using a completely brand new deck of cards, but just after breaking in it I can hit it.

After the second vanish, Ascanio takes the two discarded piles and does a sequence in order to rearrange the cards for the final production. In my opinion this sequence should be forgotten by the spectators right after the trick. Therefore, I humbly believe that Arturo's original handling doesn't accomplish that goal. That is why I have designed a somewhat more streamlined sequence; it is something that it is done almost as if it was an in transit action without paying attention to it so that it will be later forgotten.

In the third ace vanish, credit should be given to Gabi: I first saw him doing a D'Amico/Ascanio spread with 4 cards. I also read some interesting variations in John Mendoza's book (The book of John). After that I modified the handling in order to do the spread with any number of cards: that's what I call "extensión de D'Amico/Ascanio en abanico".

After the fourth ace vanish ("la frotadita") I was lucky enough to find a very simple culebreo variation which makes for a more natural display.

The shuffling sequence is taken directly from Steve Forte. Steve is in a league of his own and in his hands the shuffle is amazingly deceptive. He also does some very fine briefs. Though I don't know the brief technique he uses, I've tried to come up with something similar although it's somewhat bold.

Finally, I favor Bill Goodwin's spectator cuts to the aces instead of the handling (based on John Bannon's) Ascanio used. I humbly feel that Goodwin's approach is much more simple and direct than Ascanio's.

I must also thank Peter Kater who graciously allowed me to use his truly beautiful Solaris song from his album Fire. His music artistically enhances this Ascanio milestone.

Ponta's matrix

A few weeks ago I decided to give Ponta's coin matrix handling a try and performed this sequence at the weekly magic club meeting. Its boldness surely makes for a funny trick to perform.


Some thoughts about this trick:

• Both the Al Schneider's steal and Paul Harris' steal could be used. However, I feel the former fits perfectly in the overall routine feel. It's a pity that Ponta doesn't show the exact technique he uses for the steal (in the DVD you can see different finger movement when he is doing the exposé than when he performs the trick).

• The action of covering/uncovering the outer left coin is pretty unnatural and some clever spectators can notice something strange is taking place. However, the peace, aesthetics and flow of the actions help to hide this fact.

• This is a very angle sensitive routine. Ponta's original handling is only valid for spectators right in front of the performer. I made some minor adjustments in order to improve the angles.

• I personally prefer other matrix (I like a reverse matrix) versions when performing for lay people.

Bizarre twist

Paul Harris' brilliant "Bizarre twist" was first published in "Intimate secrets" back in 1976. Later, Daniel Cros' variation appeared in "Las Vegas close-up" (1978). This video combines both methods into the same effect.


Some thoughts about this trick:

Álvaro suggested that it is probably more magical if the turning of the card upside was done slowly, shaking the hand a few times than doing a single sharp shake. Up to this date, I'm not sure which approach is best...

• Daniel Cros' handling is poorly explained in the Harris' book. The video shows the handling I came up with. It would be nice to know other handlings.

The homing card

Larry Jenning's homing card (following Braue's original idea) is rarely seen nowadays even though it's a brilliant effect that's both entertaining and powerful.

Oriol Rusca was the first magician I ever saw doing this effect. His handling was so smooth and magical that I decided to study it in order to add it to my repertoire.


Some thoughts about this trick:

• The idea of using mate cards was Oriol Rusca's. He didn't like Larry's wrist turn and he thought that using mate cards was the way to go.

Oriol used Pablo Doménech doble retención when counting the cards. He could do that because he used to use Fournier 505 cards which are flat. In this particular effect the doble retención is very hard to do using cards from the US Playing Card Company since they are naturally bent.

• The actual counting handling was devised after Tony Cachadiña showed me his novel technique for both the Elmsley count and the Hamman count. The very same technique was developed independently by Steve Beam at the same time. I feel it nicely fits the effect.

• The last card turnover is Miguel Gómez's take on Bernard Bilis' handling.

Hand mucking

I've recently been studying some hand mucking techniques for an exposé session at the local magic society. That's why there's still a long way to go.


Even though I'm not sure of their utility in a magic context (French magician Bebel successfully incorporates hand mucking in some of his effects), I had a lot of pleasure practicing such techniques.

Steve Forte's gambling demo

Years ago I was amazed after watching Steve Forte performing on "The hidden secrets of magic" TV program which was hosted by the late Robert Urich and aired back in 1996. Whilst Steve's performance lasted slightly less than 4 minutes it was one of the most amazing technical demonstrations I've ever seen. He is clearly on a league of his own. This is my take on it.


To my knowledge, Steve's handling has never been published, although I'm positive he might have shared it to some inner circle friends such as Jason England, R. Paul Wilson and so on. Therefore all I can say is that I'm just trying to duplicate the effect (not the method) I saw.

Early when I uploaded the video on YouTube, some people started guessing and arguing about possible methods and solutions to the effect. Since I strongly feel that such things should not be publicly discussed and that YouTube is not the right place to do so, I decided to turn off commenting on the video.

I personally think this would be useless in a magic context but on the other hand I do like practicing it just because it helps sharpening the skills needed for other techniques which are a plus in the magic field. That's why I've taken it further and, just for training purposes, I do a completely sick and insanely difficult variation (not the one featured in the video).

I'm sorry for the bad video quality. That's the first time I shot a video with a high performance camera and didn't know how to handle the multiple settings for a good shot. That's something I've tried to improve in the videos I shot later.

El juego de Dolores

The best versions of "El juego de Dolores" (Hotel mystery) are Arturo de Ascanio's (the one performed in this video with some minor adjustments to fit my handling) and Gabi's.


Whilst Gabi's version takes a completely different approach and has a very interesting second phase (in which the trick is done backwards!), I really prefer the beauty of Ascanio's maneuvers which were a joy to watch whenever Arturo de Ascanio performed his magical effects.

Please, watch an updated version of this effect here.

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