The Open Prediction Project - A Review

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Postby David Alexander » 12/19/08 12:39 PM

There have been a few classic card plots or problems as they are sometimes called, that have held the magic communitys interest for a long period of time. Two immediately come to mind, primarily because the two foremost exponents of the effects have kept their methods private. Any Card at Any Number aka The Berglas Effect is one and the other is best known as 51 Faces North made famous by Stewart James. While David Berglas has performed his version of ACAAN for dozens of magicians, Stewart James, ironically, is on record as having performed 51 Faces North just twice for magicians.

The formers plot is in the title and the latter is a simple plot with a stunning effect. If you dont do it, you should. In the classic definition of the effect a prediction is written and, if desired, revealed. From a shuffled deck that can be borrowed (and even incomplete) a spectator is instructed to start dealing cards face up one at a time. At some point they may set one card aside, face down and unseen and then finish dealing through the rest of the deck looking for the predicted card. It is not seen. The tabled card is revealed and it matches the prediction. The magician touches nothing except writing the prediction which is held by a spectator. The effect is stunning, especially when done for magicians.

Stewart James, legendary creator of magic, devised a set of criteria that raises the effect to miracle class and claimed to have a method that satisfied all of his conditions. He published a number of solutions but never THE solution, apparently taking that method with him to the grave. Over the years some of magics cleverest minds have set themselves the task of solving the problem with varying degrees of success.

The latest entry into the scant literature on the subject comes from Thomas Baxter, a well-posted professional magician and mentalist who lives in Canada. (In the interest of full disclosure, Tom is a close friend, but our friendship does not color this report. Tom did not ask me to write this review. I like the product and as such, others should know about it before it becomes unavailable.)

Tom wanted to research and publish a history of this fascinating effect but decided to do more. He invited people to send him their solutions, but rather than give a free ebook for every submission (which might prompt less than quality creations to get a free book) Tom chose to reward those he selected for inclusion by conducting a contest. Nearly 100 creations were submitted from all over the world. Appropriately, 51 were chosen.

The premise is simple: the ones that were chosen are entries in a contest where the winner will receive $1,000, the winner being chosen by the buyers of the book. Each buyer gets one vote. Only buyers of the book can vote and all votes will be checked for legitimacy. It is a clever premise that has proven its value as it has attracted a wide variety of quality ideas with contributors ranging from amateurs only in magic a few years to well-known and highly successful professionals with decades of experience. Tom includes three of his own ideas, but as editor and publisher, he is NOT eligible to win.

The 51 solutions range from an out-of-the-box thought experiment by an amateur who conceived, but did not actually build, what might be the most expensive trick deck in the world to more practical ideas and routines from the likes of Michael Weber, Marc Paul, and Barrie Richardson. All the solutions are clever and all have varying degrees of practicality and appeal. Some are marvelously complicated and others quite direct.

The entire 200-page book makes an interesting read, both for the history of the effect and the performing material. There are stage versions and impromptu versions of the effect as well as self-working versions. Literally, theres something for everyone in this collection.

As editor Tom also resolved a pet peeve of mine: the clear explanation of unfamiliar sleights. Tom includes descriptions of the needed work when it is something out of the ordinary.

Besides a detailed bibliography of previously published solutions Tom closes the book with his thoughts on the publication of what is claimed to be Stewart James real solution. Toms take is interesting and he makes a strong case for his opinion.

Like his previous offerings this ebook will have a limited availability. If you have any interest in this effect you would be wise to buy it now before it becomes unavailable. Its only $35 by PayPal and you can only get it from Tom. Full details on how to vote are included with the purchase.

http://www.thoughtcontrol.ca/TheOpenPredictionProject/
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Postby Bob Farmer » 12/19/08 01:50 PM

I don't know what Tom Baxter's opinion on the "real solution" is. Allan Slaight came across the solution in Stewart's notes and published it. Gordon Bean had already published something very similar. As Allan knows more about Stewart James than anyone else, I think in case of a tie I'd go with his view on the matter.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/19/08 04:21 PM

Tom's opinion occupies 12 pages of a 200 page book. If one agrees with it or not - and forming an opinion requires it be read - a disagreement with his opinion is no reason not to buy the book. The selected solutions alone are worth the price.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 12/20/08 03:57 AM

The book sounds fascinating. I have always found that studying variationsof magic, music, visual art, writing, etc.provides great insight into the form. My money is on Michael Weber to win. When there's money on the line nobody delivers like Mike. The only problem is that $1,000 might not be enough; if Mike had a killer handling it might be worth more than a grand just to keep it secret.

With all due respect to the genius of Stewart James and to Bob Farmer ;-) I have to say I feel that "51 Faces North" is a clever routine, it's not really the Open Prediction.

Here's the Open Prediction effect:

David Alexander wrote:From a shuffled deck that can be borrowed (and even incomplete) a spectator is instructed to start dealing cards face up one at a time. At some point they may set one card aside, face down and unseen and then finish dealing through the rest of the deck looking for the predicted card.

In 51 Faces North, the spectator thinks of a number less than 10, removes that many cards from the top and bottom of the deck, a trick is done with those cards, and then the magician makes a prediction, after which the spectator deals to the card at the number they originally thought of, and that card matches the prediction.

These are not the same trick.

Don't get me wrongI think the routine is fascinating, and the way it uses the first phase to set up the third phase is extremely clever. And I was thrilled to read it, just because of its history. But I do not think it is the Open Prediction.
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Postby Stan Willis » 12/20/08 09:10 AM

Pete,

If you would be so kind as to refer me to where this description of the effect 51 Faces North can be found I would appreciate it.
I worked out a method very similar to what you describe, never seen it anywhere in print, but didn't think it was worthy of inclusion in Tom Baxter's project.
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Postby T Baxter » 12/20/08 12:28 PM

Stan:

I believe that Pete was referring to the routine that was published in Penumbra, in the inaugural edition.

T. Baxter
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Postby David Alexander » 12/20/08 12:58 PM

For completeness, here are Stewart James' conditions for the effect.

1 Borrowed cards may be used.

2 The deck is ordinary and might even have cards missing. You dont have to know which cards, or how many are missing. You only have to be sure that the card you predict is there.

3 You do not need privacy with the cards to set something.

4 The deck is never out of sight for a moment.

5 No card or cards are stolen from or added to the deck.

6 Borrowed writing materials may be used.

7 It is described as a prediction at the time of writing. The prediction is the name of a card. It is known to all before the first card is dealt.

8 Strictly impromptu. No time alone to set-up the cards or special tools necessary.

9 No alternative meanings or effect.

10 Nothing but the borrowed articles used.

11 When the spectator stars dealing the performer does not know where the predicted card is. It would not help to know with this method. Nor does the performer know the location in the pack of any other card.

12 The performer never knows when the spectator will leave a card face down until after they have done so.

13 The spectator deals straight through from top to face, the only variation is when he leaves a card face down.

14 It is not a once-in-a-while trick. If the instructions are followed, it cannot fail.

15 The cards are never handled by the performer from first to last, at any time immediately before, during or after the trick.

16 The spectator checks that the face down card is the predicted one.

17 This method could be used by someone for criminal purposes.

18 While part of this method is already used in Magic, it is not a well-known method for use with cards. It could be used for other than cards.
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Postby T Baxter » 12/20/08 01:13 PM

Yes. Those are Stewart's conditions when describing his effect, 51 Faces North. Stewart had lots of other versions (82!) of The Open Prediction that didn't adhere to those conditions.

By the way, David Alexander is one of the only performers I know of who has a version of The Open Prediction that truly adheres to all of Stewart's conditions for 51 Faces North. It plays EXACTLY as described in the original Paul Curry challenge. No added phases, etc. As far as I know it is unpublished.

- T. Baxter
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/20/08 01:47 PM

I'm having trouble parsing the rumors and innuendo about conditions and effect here and have come to wonder if the effect as stated and the conditions as given 1-18 above are what's offered in the product. The impression I'm getting in reading all this is that there's a rumor two folks have something working and neither have given their working methods and script for this effect into our literature or this product.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 12/20/08 01:53 PM

Stan,

Yes -- the first issue of Penumbra contained the long-lost manuscript for "51 Faces North." If you go to Bill Goodwin's home page it shows issue 3 as sold out but not issue 1, so perhaps a copy is still available. If not, I would bet money that the Magic Castle library has a copy, since Bill is the librarian.

Strictly speaking, and this is an annoyingly technical point and not a serious objection, 51FN as written does not meet James' 12th condition. In the write up, when the spectator is doing his final deal, the magician asks if the spectators is thinking of the number 1, and if so, to deal the first card face down; if not, face up. The magician then repeats this gambit each cardare you thinking of the number 2? Are you thinking of the number 3? etc.so that the magician does (again, in an annoyingly technical way) know that the spectator is going to deal the card face down before the spectator actually does.

If I may be so bold, this strikes me as a very bad presentational idea, as it heaps attention on the fact that it is not the spectator choosing which card to leave face down but the number making that decision. You could certainly instruct the spectator to deal cards and leave the one at their number face down, which would address this point.

I have heard of David's solution to the OP but haven't seen it. Come back to the Magic Castle, David!
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Postby T Baxter » 12/20/08 02:25 PM

Jonathan:

The link at the end of David's review http://www.thoughtcontrol.ca/TheOpenPredictionProject/ will lead you to an info page for The Open Prediction Project. The page clearly describes the product on offer.

The other discussions here refer to Stewart James's effect, 51 Faces North (the method for which he chose not to reveal or publish) and David Alexander's method for The Open Prediction (which he has also chosen not to publish).

The Penumbra magazine under discussion purported to reveal the true solution to Stewart James's 51 Faces North.

Hope that makes things more clear for you.

T. Baxter
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Postby David Alexander » 12/20/08 03:02 PM

Pete, of the 30 or 40 magicians who have seen my version of 51FN, several post here. I'll let them comment if they choose to. Their decision completely and they are under no obligation either way.
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Postby Stan Willis » 12/20/08 11:34 PM

Pete,

Thank you for clarifying the reference mentioned in your previous post regarding the description of Fifty-One (51) Faces North. I have a close friend who has a copy of the initial Penumbra Magazine and I will review the explanation therein.
If I can read into this a little further Fifty-One Faces North contains a clever way to get the spectator to choose a secret number instead of allowing the spectator to deal one card face down whenever he likes as in The Open Prediction. I can't help but think that perhaps this is what Stewart James meant when he said "It could be used by someone who is a crook" i.e. obtaining information unknown to you without the spectator really knowing it. Thanks again!
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Postby T Baxter » 01/18/09 11:31 AM

Many thanks to all who have purchased The Open Prediction Project. I've been gratified by the great comments and reviews.

Just a reminder that the opportunity to vote for your favorite submission will end on Jan. 31st, so please email me your vote soon. The author of the submission that receives the most votes will be paid $1,000. for their creativity.

Cheers,

T. Baxter
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Postby Zig Zagger » 03/09/09 06:14 PM

Any news on the winner and the number of submissions, please?

Thank you!
"It was the age of the hot dog."
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Postby Scott M. » 03/09/09 06:30 PM

Check the thread over at the Cafe -- that's where the voting was posted. The winner was the Hector Chadwick contribution,"Jonny's Dilemma." Runner-up was "Path of a Sherpa."
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Postby Zig Zagger » 03/10/09 06:31 PM

Usually not my favorite kind of place (too much skim milk, sort of) - but I will check!

Thanks, Scott!
"It was the age of the hot dog."
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Postby T Baxter » 03/10/09 11:19 PM

There were 51 submissions to The Open Prediction Project from 12 different countries. The U.K.'s Hector Chadwick's contribution got two more votes than the nearest contender, and was voted best contribution to the collection buy those who purchased the ebook. He was paid $1,000.00 for his efforts.

I'm currently accepting submissions for an anthology of nail writer effects. Those interested can email me at: tom@thoughtcontrol.ca .

T. Baxter
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Postby Stan Willis » 03/11/09 09:44 AM

Not to mention too much newborn infant baby formula.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/11/09 12:45 PM

Stan Willis wrote:Not to mention too much newborn infant baby formula.


With all the ego stroking and venal activity that goes on - i would not trust that the white splotches all over the place are dripped baby formula. Now spread your wallet wide for the latest ebook offering from this month's hot magician Newbini who's offering "yet another twenty tricks with used baggies and rubber bands".
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Postby T Baxter » 03/11/09 10:31 PM

I saddens me to say it, Jonathan, but although you write more eloquently than most at the green place, despite your scholarship and experience the post you've just made here is every bit as venal and ego-laden as anything I've read by newbies at The Cafe.

What you've written here has nothing to do with the subject of this thread and offers nothing to illuminate anything or to inspire anyone.

T. Baxter
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/11/09 11:11 PM

T. Baxter wrote:I saddens me to say it, Jonathan, but although you write more eloquently than most at the green place, despite your scholarship and experience the post you've just made here is every bit as venal and ego-laden as anything I've read by newbies at The Cafe.

What you've written here has nothing to do with the subject of this thread and offers nothing to illuminate anything or to inspire anyone.

T. Baxter


Oops, you're also Newbini? I was going for a joke about the baby formula (low level pablum) being sold at the magic cafe.

I might have been affected by your opinion had you sent it to me in private. Though since you posted it in public I'm supposed to dismiss any personal content and just ask if your next project has to do with baggies or rubberbands.

And you are correct, it was off topic. For that I apologize.

Is anyone here exploring one of the OPP items and having good results? I was tempted to purchase a download today and would like some feedback from those who are new to trying this effect.
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Postby T Baxter » 03/11/09 11:26 PM

Much better.

If you'll send me your email address, Jonathan, I'll happily send you a complimentary copy. I'd be interested in your informed opinion.

cheers,

T. Baxter
tom@thoughtcontrol.ca
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Postby rgemagic » 05/01/13 08:37 PM

I read this book and it took me about a week and in truth it was one of the most painful books i have ever read!

Dont take this out of context, being dyslexic reading the same premiss ever time I found very difficult however I have got a routine that is a killer from the book and although i have had to create a handling for when it doesn't work, as hoped, when it does it is pure dynamite!

Angelo Carbone said it would never work but when it has REALLY counted so far it worked every time. but this doesn't mean every time i have performed it, ever billionaire i have shown it to however it has never failed!

if like me you struggle reading there are some gems in it but you have to be prepared to really look.

I have heard about one that sold and of course that sound brilliant however i also know only a select few will ever be able to get it and i am aware I am not one.

having played with the idea a bit i believe for the lay audience it is better when they select a card which become the prediction and it is found when you don't know what the card is, but this is not the original idea i know
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