Magic Squares (presentation etc.)

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Postby Bill Wheeler » 08/04/03 12:24 PM

Recently I have been praticing making Magic Squares (using the system described by Corinda) and I had a number of questions that I hope prompt further discussion.

1) Aside from an occasional convention or lecture, I rarely see other magicians....do people still make Magic Squares as entertainment? (Related to this I have thought of using the persons month and day they were born to derive a "magic number" so August 4th would be 804...I'm sure this would have occurred to someone else).

2) Have there been significant developments since Corinda wrote up the method he used? (I'm more of a card guy, my mentalism library is pretty small)

3) Is it customary to "skip around" as you write up the magic square--so as to disguise that there is a sequence that you use to fill the squares? Or will people be impressed regardless?

Thanx for reading

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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/04/03 12:46 PM

Magic Castle prez Dale Hindman features a magic square in acts for both magicians and laymen. Chuck Hickock opens his Mentalism, Incorporated (book title) act with one. There are some good presentational thoughts in his book. Mike Rogers published a great idea on them on Joe Stevens' Gemini site, but perhaps this will be in the new book?
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Postby Ted Leon » 08/04/03 02:19 PM

Liz ane I use the Magic Square as the second effect in our shows. It is very well received and
weeks later people remind us about how amazed they were by it. Very strong effect.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/04/03 04:24 PM

Harry Anderson played at a comedy club in Birmingham, AL recently, and closed with a magic square. He simultaneously did an effect where a spec picked a card, called off the 51 he did not pick, and Harry revealed it (I don't know if he clocked the deck, or something simpler).

His paper for writing the square was something like 4 ft x 4 ft, folded so only one panel was visible at a time. He would fill in an entry, refold so a blank panel was showing, and fill a new entry.

It played okay, but I got the impression that he was "trying out" the effect, rather than it being a piece that he was already comfortable with.
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Postby Bill McFadden » 08/04/03 07:00 PM

Jamy Swiss did his "The Honest Liar" show in Washington, DC in (I recall) April of 2001. He used the magic square as his opener! Truth to be told, I cringed at first - then realized he was frying the house. He nailed the audience with a contemporary presentation of an old chestnut; the speckies belonged to him for the rest of the set! :cool:
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/04/03 07:09 PM

Go check out Harry Lorayne's methods in "Reputation Makers" and "The Magic Book." I've seen him kill with both methods. The one in "Reputation Makers" requires more memory work, but the one in "The Magic Book" is simple enough that even I could do it! Considering that all my friends and family knew I was a mathematical imbecile, they were pretty impressed. Lorayne really sells these things, too, and explains how to do well.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 08/04/03 07:38 PM

Marc Salem opens his show with it as well and it really seems to 'wow' the audience. He uses it as an exercise to warm up his mind - kind of mental calisthenics.

There is a wonderful little book by Doug Dyment called Mindsight that describes the magic square and methods for doing the effect over and over again, as in walk around situations. It's a very good book and you can get it online.
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 08/04/03 10:32 PM

I've never actually performed it, but Lewis Jones' method in Ahead of the Pack (reviewed in Genii last December, I think) is very easy and worth checking out, and there's also some stuff in Fulves' Self Working Number Magic. In the Lewis Jones method you follow a certain order, but it seems fairly random to the audience.
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Postby Doug Dyment » 08/05/03 08:38 AM

I've long used the magic square (essentially the method published in my Mindsights ) in trade show environments, as well as for walk-around at private parties (where it's a great giveaway when done on the back of your business card, using a number that is meaningful to the participant; believe me, they will keep that card). Many performers (as has been previously posted) use it as an opener.

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Postby Bill Wheeler » 08/05/03 08:46 AM

Thank you all for the helpful responses! I actually should probably say this in all the threads I've started or read.

At the very least I know this is a darn good effect and I have some idea where to go from here.

And Edwin, your rhino is awesome...
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Postby Bill Cushman » 08/05/03 03:51 PM

I have two presentations that take the magic square out of the realm of a clever math trick and I have found they get a great response. On a previous post on this subject, Larry Becker complimented me and said that my approach is original as far as he knows. Doug Dyment, my hero when it comes to the magic square, concurred. As this is soon to be published Id be interested if anyone knows of a precedent.

In the first presentation, I frame it as an example of subliminal messages. After briefly looking at a completed magic square, the participant names a number and that is the number that all the rows, columns, etc add up to.

This "proves" that their number wasn't free choice, but the consequence of the repeated subliminal suggestions implanted throughout the square. The response I have found this generates is along the lines of, "How vulnerable am I to suggestion?" as opposed to "How did you calculate so quickly?" I find this preferable in many situations.

The second presentation, utilizing the same method, is to frame it around the claim that we all possess savant-like abilities. I state that many savants skills are based on unconscious pattern recognition and that the magic square is an ancient tool to activate this process.

The completed square is flashed, a number is named and it is found that all the rows, columns, etc add up to this very number. The participant has unconsciously recognized the pattern. Again, this takes them away from thinking about my skills and this time turns the focus to theirs.
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Postby CHRIS » 08/05/03 07:23 PM

For a combiniation of a magic square with a visual effect see The Ultimate Magic Square

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Postby Edwin Corrie » 08/05/03 10:10 PM

Originally posted by Bill Wheeler:
And Edwin, your rhino is awesome...
Thanks! Where did you see it?
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Postby Bill Wheeler » 08/06/03 11:55 AM

Originally posted by Edwin Corrie:
Thanks! Where did you see it?
I think I saw it in a book by Steve Biddle (it had a pteradactyl by Fumiaki Kawahata). I also saw it in the book "Origamido". :D

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Postby Guest » 08/06/03 01:25 PM

There is a magic square routine inside of the new
Myster School book called "Numbers". It's by Todd Karr and seems like a great trick. I wish I had the time to work on it now but there are other things in the book calling me first.
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 08/06/03 10:16 PM

Great books, both of them. Happy folding.
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Postby Guest » 08/07/03 09:57 AM

Larry Becker's "April's Not so magic square" comes to my mind. Definately worth checking out.

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Postby RichHead » 08/08/03 12:19 PM

There are some good presentations of the Magic Square in The Mind and Magic of David Berglas.
One that comes to mind is a diamond shaped square (is that a contradiction of terms)where not only do all the rows add up to the lucky number but the four corners of the square represent the person's numeric date of birth
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Postby Guest » 08/19/03 08:01 PM

Strange question:

Has anyone, other than Paul Daniels, ever done a huge magic square? :help: I would really love to perform my magic square routine (actually Lorayne's) for the audiences of 600-1000 that I will be in front of starting in September, but can't work out in my mind a way to do it big enough for these size audiences.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

DonB!
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 08/20/03 02:05 PM

Jon Stetson does a very funny magic square routine that gets a great response...
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Postby Scott Sullivan » 08/20/03 02:23 PM

DonB,

I've loved Magic Squares ever since I could remember. Probably explains the Aerospace Engineering path I took. Anyway, I have been doing magic squares for closeup gigs for the longest time and wanted to "bump" it up to stage. (I typically do this with certain effects I am learning when possible, like the egg bag, torn & restored bill, etc).

I am currently playing with a giant dark red cloth Magic Square grid. It has a loop sewn along the length of the top edge like a backdrop does. This way I can hang it on stage at any point in the show. The empty grid is sewn on in a bright (egg) color and the soft side of dark velcro is sewn onto each square. I have a small briefcase size box (okay, it IS a briefcase) with flat, lightweight plastic numbers with the hard part of the velco on their backs. This way in a show, I can make any number by sticking the digits on the cloth. The whole thing resets for my next show, packs pretty darn flat and can be seen by all. Plus, in my opinion, looks better than a plain giant pad of paper.

Feel free to use this idea. The way things work in magic, someone else probably already came up with this in 1880 sans velcro.

Warm regards,
Scott Sullivan

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Postby Guest » 08/21/03 12:01 PM

Thanks for the unique ideas Scott.

Don
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Postby Oliver Corpuz » 09/04/03 07:28 PM

At this year's Abbott's Get together, John Archer from the UK did a 4x4 magic square for his finale. Not sure what method he used, but it seemed to be "magic" in more ways than other magic squares I've seen. Presentation was quick and to the point, e.g. name a number between 34 and 100 and I'm challenging myself to do something amazing in just 26 seconds... time me. The number is called out and he quickly fills the last square in just as time expires. Then John rapidly showed the many ways it summed up to the called out number. What was important was John did everything quickly and didn't let the presentation drag on at any point. It played very well, especially with the many lay people in the audience.

Also, want to mention that in the Mind and Magic of David Berglas book, David says his wife Ruth first suggested to make a person's birthdate appear in the square. Ruth's suggestion inspired the creation of the Berglas Magic Square. David claims to be the first to use a presentation to make specific numbers appear in the magic square and that the birthdate appearing in the four corners gives a proper ending to a trick that needed an ending. Showing the many ways everything totals to the same number can get boring really quick.

I think the system for a 5x5 square Corinda uses is too much work. In Bert Allerton's The Close-up Magician, I came across a really, really easy method of quickly composing a 4x4 magic square. It is called "Simplified Magic Sqaure". Even I can do this method lighting fast and I really suck at math. Basically, after a number is called out (between 24 to 100), you only need to do four simple calculations (addition or subtraction) to fill in four key positions on the 4x4 grid. All the remaining 12 squares will have the same fixed number each and every time (you can memorize them or have these fixed numbers on a palmed card). The resulting grid will have 22 ways to sum the called out number. I don't think there is an easier method using a geniunely called out number with fewer or simpler calculations.

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Postby Doug Dyment » 09/05/03 08:07 AM

Oliver wrote:
The resulting grid will have 22 ways to sum the called out number. I don't think there is an easier method using a geniunely called out number with fewer or simpler calculations.
The method described by Allerton (which is "rediscovered" in quite a few other books) is indeed very simple, but it can be improved upon. The method described in Mindsights uses slightly simpler math and creates a square with 24 strong ways to add up to the (freely) chosen number (there are actually 26 ways, but two of them are somewhat less interesting, so I rarely point them out, in the interests of time).

In addition, the version in Mindsights can be used with numbers of any size, which although possible with Allerton-type squares, tips off the method (try it with a larger number, such as 99, and see how "unusual" the square becomes).

But most important of all (especially to walk-around and trade-show performers) is the fact that the technique in Mindsights can be repeated. You can create squares for multiple people (even with the same target number), and they don't all end up looking alike.

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Postby Guest » 09/22/03 11:31 AM

Those interested in Magic Squares might be interested in this link (from the magic cafe) - a free magic square generator.
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... forum=82&0
This will allow you to use many magic squares using different numbers to reach the same total.
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Postby Guest » 09/24/03 08:28 PM

I can certainly endorse the Allerton method. Very simple and powerful. I think magicians tend to underestimate this trick. They imagine it is long winded and boring.
Mind you, it can be when it is not done properly.

I once saw a very tedious demonstration of this at where else-a magic club!!!!

I think it was the president of the club who did the demonstration too. He is deceased now so I know he will not read this.

It was truly awful. He did it as slowly as possible and insisted on adding up each line laboriously.It must have taken a full 15 minutes for him to get through the thing.

A friend of mine had to do a write up for the Linking Ring of the performance. She is a very tactful type and wanted to be nice but truthful. And she truthfully thought that the performance was excruciatingly boring.

She solved the problem by saying ".......... did a very thorough demonstration of the magic square"
I nearly died of laughter when I read the word "thorough" It was certainly that.

I had an idea once which I think quite practical. I must confess that I have never tried it out though. And for all I know some hot shot mentalist or other may have already thought of it.

You have the usual numbers of the square already written in advance. You present this as a prediction effect. You ask for any number between 24 and 100 (Allerton method) When the number comes in you use a nailwriter to fill up the missing spaces. You then show that you predicted the whole thing. I bet this would be amazing.

The magic square (provided it is not given a "thorough" presentation)is a very powerful piece of magic. Or mentalism if you want to be pedantic about it.

I have used it quite often when doing psychic readings. In a previous life I was a professional psychic. I did literally thousands and thousands of readings over a period of 15 years.

Sometimes I would get a repeat customer who had been many times and I had run out of things to say to them. Or sometimes I had run out of things to say with very tight lipped people. After doing some rather detailed numerology I would then do the magic square. I would say "this will not tell you anything about your life but it will prove that numbers are amazing" Thus would I (by faulty logic) validate the numerology that they had just received.

I would tie the thing in by saying that ancient warriors would carry a magic square into battle with them as a talisman to protect them.

Anyway they would always be terribly impressed with the square even though it told them nothing about their lives. They would not gasp(you don't want that in a reading anyway) but they would look extremely puzzled and always gave me a strange look.

Incidentally, I do not normally recommend under any circumstances doing tricks of any kind during a reading. The Magic square fits somehow and is done as a last resort.
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Postby Doug Dyment » 09/25/03 09:20 AM

angelic wrote:
He did it as slowly as possible and insisted on adding up each line laboriously.It must have taken a full 15 minutes for him to get through the thing.
I have on more than one occasion found it somewhat amusing (when I could stay awake) to watch someone who claims to have the mathematical dexterity to rapidly produce a magic square, but struggles painfully with the simple task of adding four numbers together to reach a known total!

I don't use the Allerton or similar methods, as I do a lot of trade show and walk-around performing... where it would quickly be noticed that you were doing the same square over and over, merely changing four of the numbers (it also doesn't cope very well with large numbers, as the four "special" ones look out of place). The one I use (" Flash Squared ") is faster anyway.

But those who do use it should at least exploit the fact. Because it is always essentially the same square, learn to add the various combination quickly, thus emphasizing the breadth of your mathematical skills. You don't even need to add all four numbers: just add the three lowest ones, and then call call out the total (which you already know anyway).

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Postby Guest » 10/27/03 07:38 AM

I also liked the Paul Daniels one. As I remember it - this started off with the magician secretly getting to know the number they wrote down. Obvious methods come to mind.

The you attempt to divine the method but keep "getting it wrong", guessing numbers and writing into the square. When it's completed it appears that you've had 16 guesses but not done it...until they add up the verticals, horizontals, sub-squares etc etc.
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Postby Guest » 10/27/03 01:26 PM

Oliver Corpuz referenced the most excellent Berglas book and the use of a birthday as the magic numbers for a magic square. The only problem with that method for those on the west side of "the pond" is that we usually give birthdates as month/day/year rather than day/month/year.

Fortunately, Banachek figured a way around this for us and I put it in an Excel Spreadsheet. Once you know a person's information, this will automatically calculate it for you. It also includes the formula so you can do it anywhere, any time.

So, Bill Wheeler, and/or for anyone else who would like to have it (and who can open Microsoft Excel), I would be glad to freely e-mail you a small file that you can use. It is a fun and very personal presentation when you use someone's birthday.

yours,
Scott Wells
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Postby Bill Wheeler » 10/27/03 02:16 PM

Originally posted by Scott Wells:

Fortunately, Banachek figured a way around this for us and I put it in an Excel Spreadsheet. Once you know a person's information, this will automatically calculate it for you. It also includes the formula so you can do it anywhere, any time.

Whew! Not a moment too soon Scott, as I had started to commit the "Berglas Square" to memory. Rearranging the square had occurred to me, but I was being lazy. I will email you sometime soon. Thanks for your generosity.


Incidentally, I found a couple of other interesting citations for Magic Squares that weren't mentioned on this thread....including one by Stewart Judah (an often unsung hero in magic). I will post more when I have time.

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