Full Review of London's International Magic Convention

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/24/12 11:12 AM

The MacMillan family, who run the London magic shop International Magic, have been putting on an incredible convention for decades in the heart of London. This year's was no different--a bang-up job by book and MC Noel Britten and Martin, Georgina, and the rest of the MacMillan's.

I'm always amazed that I don't see any Americans attending the convention. London is one of the great cities of the world, and there's a wonderful opportunity for a vacation and visit to the Magic Circle in addition to the convention! I highly recommend it.

For a full review, look here:
http://www.magicweek.co.uk/
and scroll down for the link to Matt Field's write-up.
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Postby Richard Stokes » 11/24/12 03:10 PM

Yes, I attended the weekday festival and the weekend convention and found it exhausting but very worthwhile.

Spanish magicians Woody Aragon and Juan Tamariz dominated proceedings with their highly entertaining lectures and mystifying evening shows.

Americans Rick Merrill and Steve Bargatze produced classic moments of comedy - their psychic blindfold routine was hilarious.

Michael Vine, Derren Brown's eccentric manager, won me over with his rambling confessional anecdotes.

Rob James evening show was cleverly constructed, but he hit a sticky spot while performing Mark Elsdon's Inevitable.
In the original routine, the coincidence effect is supposed to be 15 million to one against! Robs chosen spectator happened to be a statistician who could instantly see through these dubious probabilities. (Ha, I wonder what the odds are of choosing a statistician as a spectator?)

While on the subject of coincidences, Will Houstons final trick was quite stunning. Despite half the deck being shuffled by the spectator, the two halves ended up with matching cards. Or so it seemed!
Will also showed us how the Charlier cut was originally used as a deceptive pass.

French performer Vincent Hedan demonstrated an impossible card trick. He turns his back. The spectator removes any of 52 different cards from a shuffled deck that has been ribbon spread face down. He hides it in the ungimmicked card case, then closes the spread and cuts the deck. Despite these constraints,
Vincent quickly identifies the random selection.

Arthur Benjamin's rapid calculation math magic might seem corny and daft, but even a jaded cynic like me found it impressive. He looked like John Denver though which unnerved me.

Joe Atmore gave a very confident presentation of Dunninger's radio show. A bonus was the presence of Sophie Alderton who played 'Ace' in Doctor Who - the coolest of his time travelling companions.

Eric Mead seemed a bit frustrated with his audience. Maybe his approach was too cerebral? Nevertheless, I liked his thoughts on manipulating the spectator into finding the four aces.

Jeff McBride also excelled in various guises - his baby gag was the funniest stunt of the week!

I must mention the exceptional late night performance by the gifted psychic Ian D Montfort who conversed with the dead, the undead and the 'about to be dead'.
Randi, that tight-fisted skeptic, might as well pay up his $1m now, as it was clear evidence that the afterlife exists. And that psychic powers are real and relevant.
Ians paradigmatic work defies easy classification, but manages to combine the abilities of a shaman, a pathfinder, and an occult master.
Ian exemplifies that great line of Bob Dylan from Infidels: Ive made shoes for everyone, even you, while I still go barefoot.

And, finally, Bergatze (or was it Merrill?) did a cruel impersonation of Whitney Houston which was very funny. I had to clear my throat afterwards, such was the emotion.
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Postby Matthew Field » 11/24/12 03:59 PM

Nice write-up, Richard. It's Sophie Aldred.

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Postby Richard Stokes » 11/24/12 05:27 PM

Oops, you're right. Got her last name mixed up.
That's Ace though.
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Postby Rob James » 11/25/12 06:25 AM

Richard Stokes wrote: Rob James evening show was cleverly constructed, but he hit a sticky spot while performing Mark Elsdon's Inevitable.
In the original routine, the coincidence effect is supposed to be 15 million to one against! Robs chosen spectator happened to be a statistician who could instantly see through these dubious probabilities. (Ha, I wonder what the odds are of choosing a statistician as a spectator?)

Actually, I stated the true odds of a specific card being at a specific position in two shuffled decks (1/52 x 1/52 = 1/2704) and he decided to argue on stage that the odds were 1/52 which is not true but managed to briefly disrupt proceedings. He wasn't so much a statistician, more of a loudmouth.
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Postby Michel Andenmatten » 11/25/12 07:30 AM

Richard Stokes wrote: Robs chosen spectator happened to be a statistician who could instantly see through these dubious probabilities. (Ha, I wonder what the odds are of choosing a statistician as a spectator?)


There were actually two people on stage helping with the effect, I was the other one. As it happens, I am a mathematician.
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Postby Ross Welford » 11/25/12 11:03 AM

Assuming this was an audience of magicians, it seems pretty mean of a spectator to pick holes in another performer's presentation, no?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/25/12 11:31 AM

THey sell tickets to laymen as well, so it's possible (and likely) that the person was a laymen.
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Postby Richard Stokes » 11/25/12 12:28 PM

Yes, to be fair to Rob, the outrageous probabilities are in the original manuscript.
Rob's presentation modified them.

P.S. I bumped into the 'statistician' at the weekend convention. I said something subtle like: "aren't you the guy who sabotaged the evening show earlier this week?"

He's actually an educational psychologist but his discipline is well versed in statistics and probability.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 11/25/12 03:12 PM

Challenging an untrue statement is hardly sabotage and if it happened more often it might encourage magicians to have an inkling to be reasonably knowledgeable about the subject at hand.

And I'm speaking from personal experience.
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Postby Noel Britten » 11/28/12 05:25 PM

Great to have you at the Convention Richard - you're always welcome... as is everyone :-)

The dates for next Festival are November 11-15 2013, and the Convention itself from November 15-17 2013.

I know as the talent-booker I'm biased but with the outstanding Convention facilities of the Mermaid Theatre and some of the world's best magical talent every year I can't believe people let this event pass them by.

Unlike some Conventions, none of our events clash with one another unless they are then later repeated - that means you get to see EVERYTHING that's advertised, no difficult decisions to be made between having to attend one event or another.

With the addition of the Festival of Magic in the week leading up to the Convention this week must now represent the best value in magical hedonism in the UK. If you booked for ALL the Festival and Convention events this years (and many did!) you would have signed up for over fifty fantastic hours of magic over the seven days with 27 lectures, 13 individual shows, the presentation of the David Berglas Award, the Close Up Competition and much much more - which works out at just over 4/$6.50 an hour - unbelievable value especially considering this year talent line up which included

Jeff McBride
Juan Tamariz
Simon Drake
Eric Mead
Rick Merrill
Stephen Bargatze
Arthur Benjamin
Woody Aragon
Michael Vincent
Will Houstoun
Vincent Hedan
Richard McDougall
Michael Vine
Morgan and West
Anthony Owen
Rob James
Oliver Meech
Luke Jermay
Ian Rowland
Chris Cox
Joe Atmore
Richard Wiseman
Peter Lamont
Thomas Fraps
Card Ninja
Neal Austin
Ian D Montfort
Ouka
JoJo
Lukas


Hope to see you there again next year!
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