After Hours Magic (eBook) by Gordon Boyd $20.00
185 pages, 7 photographs
Available at: http://www.althatchercardmagic.com/
In the interest of clarification, the subtitle of this eBook is “A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic”. Mr. Thatcher was a creative conjuror from Ohio who specialized in card magic. Unless you spent time in Ohio, attending the Magi-Fest or hanging out with the boys at the IBM ring in Columbus, Mr. Thatcher’s name might not ring a bell.
Prior to his death in 2005, Mr. Thatcher documented his clever card creations in the form of hand-written notes. To pay tribute to Mr. Thatcher and to bring his magical contributions to the attention of a broader audience, his friend, Gordon Boyd transcribed the notes and produced this eBook containing 68 of Mr. Thatcher’s card effects.
Thirty-one of these effects previously appeared in Bill Miesel’s Precursor magazine.
Mr. Boyd’s writing is adequate and he does a fair job of teaching Mr. Thatcher’s material. He dutifully cites Mr. Thatcher’s inspirational sources. Unfortunately, the text is plagued by numerous typographical and spelling errors. I gnashed my teeth as the author repeatedly used “suite” instead of “suit” and “loose” instead of “lose.”
The photographs are blurry and not particularly helpful.
The material in this eBook consists of Mr. Thatcher’s methodological variations of well-known plots. There are estimation effects, spelling effects, poker effects, ambitious card effects, predictions, coincidence effects, stop tricks, transpositions and divination effects.
In many cases, these variations improve the original methods. In some cases, the variations are little more than personalizations.
Most of the material requires no more than an intermediate level of skill.
There is no way in hell that I’m going to provide obsessively detailed descriptions of all of these effects. I will tell you that I liked 17 of them.
A number of Mr. Thatcher’s methods involve the Australian Deal, or transferring cards from the top to the bottom of a packet while spelling cards. I dislike those techniques, so those effects didn’t cause my rope to rise.
Twenty-eight of the effects rely upon a Breather Crimp. When used wisely, the Breather is a wonderful tool. Unfortunately, many of Mr. Thatcher’s applications of the Breather suffer from the same problem. After the participant mixes the deck, the performer retrieves the deck and cuts it.
Wrong, oh wrong, wrong, wrong! If the performer allows a participant to mix the cards, the participant must have the final cut, not the performer! Despite some performers’ delusions, when they give the deck a final cut, a sentient participant immediately realizes that the performer’s cut has altered the order of the deck.
Why would the performer need give the deck a final cut after it was randomized by the participant? The participant must logically conclude that the performer cut the randomized deck to return it to some type of order that is required to bring the effect to a successful conclusion.
It’s for that reason that I didn’t like the majority of Mr. Thatcher’s Breather-based effects.
I do want to highlight one cool technique that may have been created by Mr. Thatcher. After researching the literature, I haven’t been able to track down anything quite like it.
It’s called the Cull-Place Shuffle and it is described in the context of Mr. Thatcher’s “Nine - Seventeen” effect. That effect seems to have been inspired by the “7-16” effect found in Volume l of The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley.
The technique’s moniker may be a bit misleading. When I think of culling, I think of the Hofzinser Spread Cull. Apparently, Mr. Thatcher was using the broader definition of “cull”, because this is an overhand jog shuffle technique.
The technique, which involves quick, simple calculations, allows you to move multiple cards from their current positions in the deck to different positions in the deck. This type of artifice comes in handy for a number of effects, including poker demonstrations in which the performer can deal himself, or a nominated player, the winning hand, regardless of the number of players.
While I liked 17 of these effects, none of them blew me away and caused me to swallow my tongue. But then again, I’m very picky. Still, that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating Mr. Thatcher’s creativity and the merits of this material.
And let’s not forget that Mr. Boyd is asking a mere $20.00 for this eBook! When was the last time an author offered to sell you 68 effects for $20.00? That is a remarkably inexpensive price tag! I commend the author’s generosity.
If you’re a wildly creative scholar of card magic and possess advanced technical skills, this eBook probably isn’t for you. But if you’re not a member of that exclusive coterie, I think you’ll find much to enjoy in After Hours Magic.
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