The venerable equivoque

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The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 1st, 2003, 9:38 pm

Hi, I am trying to improve my handling of the venerable equivoque (aka magician's force). Please feel free to comment and criticize my script, in fact I am looking for critique for: "Those who put ego in front of their magic will never make any progress in our art".

I am using equivoque in the setting of a book test to force one book out of three (I have also tried one out of four but found it less effective).

1) I approach the spectator with the three books in my hands: "Please take any two books".

2a) She leaves me with the force book: "...and put them on the table. We are left with one book and this one shall we use."

2b) She took the force book and an indifferent one: "Please give me back one of the two books and..."

2b1)She starts giving back the force book, as I take it: "... put the other one on the table. We are left with one book and this one shall we use."

2b1)She starts giving back the indifferent book, as I take it and put it back on the table: "... you are left with only one book and that one shall we use."

PS: If the force book ends up in my hands (2 out of 3) I emphatically raise it above my head while I deliver the line about using this one.

What do you think? Any pointers?


Posts: 180
Joined: April 7th, 2008, 10:49 am

Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby troublewit » November 2nd, 2003, 5:32 am

At steb 2b, try saying, "and which one would you like ME to have?" This way, if she gives you the force book, you display it with emphasis, and say "Allright, I'll use this one." If she gives you the neutral book, you thank her and put it down along with the other neutral book, and say, "Allright, we'll use the one you like so much!" Since she held on to this book after the other two are eliminated, this makes a lighthearted (but subtle) reinforcement that this was her favorite of the three.
The difference between this wording, and the way I read yours is that it avoids using a phrase like "...And so this one is left." In my mind, I think when we point out that we have eliminated other options, we may be stressing the method more than is necessary. An effective wording puts the emphasis on the Force Book, rather than on the discarded ones. I hope this helps :)
Christopher Klocek
337 N Wood St
Griffith, In 46319


Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 2nd, 2003, 7:23 am

Troublewit's advice about emphasizing the Force book rather than the discards is very sound. I would also recommend obtaining Phil Goldstein's "Verbal Control" booklet, if you don't already have it. It offers perhaps the best description in the literature of how to perform equivoque deceptively.

I personally feel that asking the participant to take two books in the beginning is illogical. That doesn't mean, of course, that it might not "fly" given a nonchalant attitude, but I would suggest a different approach. If your performing conditions allow the use of a table, you might have all three books on the tabletop. The force book is on the right, the center book is pushed slightly further than the others in the direction of the participant, and your left hand rests directly behind the book on the left. Because you are almost touching the left-hand book it will likely not be chosen. Because the center book is in the prominent position, and seems like an obvious choice, it will also likely be ignored. There is a strong chance that the book on the right will be "freely" chosen to begin with. If not, continue by having the participant pick up one more book in their other hand. If the force book remains on the table, perfect. The "discards" are handed to you, you step away from the table and let her look at her "choice", which remains on the table. If, on the other hand, the second book she picks up is the force book, you take the book remaining on the table and set it aside yourself (in a bag or on the edge of the table). Now ask her to hand one to you. If it's the force book, lift it up and display her "choice", then offhandedly have her place the "discard" remaining in her hand on the other book or in the same bag. If she keeps the force book, you casually put the "discard" away with the other discard and you're set to go.

The point here (and I stress that this is hardly original with me) is that, in an equivoque sequence, each round of "choices" needs to be different from the previous round and seem to have been how you intended to proceed from the beginning. The problem with step 2b is that she is taking a book from you only to hand it right back. This doesn't make sense. If you need to have the three books in your hand to begin with, you need to find somewhere else for her to put the discards. For instance, if you really want her to take two books initially, and one of them ends up being the force book, you could ask her to put one in a bag on the table. If it's the force book, have her take the bag and you're set to go. If not, after she puts the discard in the bag you casually follow suit with the book in your hand and she's left with the force book.

The idea of using a bag is, of course, only one example used to illustrate an approach to this type of sequence. I'm simply trying to emphasize that you should avoid any procedure in which she repeats an action with no justification (taking something from you only to give it back).


Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2003, 12:10 am

Phil Goldstein's "Verbal Control" will indeed sharpen your thinking radically about the equivoce. I bought it for $4 at the 1997 TAOM convention.

It is Goldstein's suggestion, as I recall, to start off by saying: "We have to eliminate some books and keep some books." That sets you up to either eliminate or keep books, but doesn't specify which one. This is helpful, since your procedure may imply one or the other. I've used this preface in all of my equivoces.

Also, why not just use three gaffed books? I do that in all of my book tests: All of the choices are gaffed. Or, if you don't want to spring for more gaffed books, just do the Hoy book test (miscall method) with the ungaffed two, if those are chosen. Then, after you perform the Hoy miscall test, set them aside and proceed with the book test you set out to do.

Instead of having the spectator pick up two books, you might try instructing them to place their right hand on one book. If they touch the right one, stop there. If not, ask them to then place their left hand on another book. By specifying right hand first, it makes it more logical that you would then use the left.

By having them pick up two books, the spectator gains more power, and could more reasonably say, "I like this one, not that one!" clutching it to his/her chest. They sometimes do that, believe me, if they like one book over another.

Phil Goldstein essays long and eloquently about flooding the spectator with words and attitude, and I'm sure that works well, although it's not everyone's style and can backfire in the wrong hands. Read "Verbal Control": It will open your eyes.

I've been worrying about my own equivoce technique, and as a result, ran it past the excellent thinker Rick Maue at his recent lecture in L.A. He said that my equivoce was fine, and that I was obviously just suffering from magician's guilt.


Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2003, 9:19 am

Three tiny points for you.
1.) The previous advice about using three gaffed books is great.
2.) Looking at them for a moment and then looking away so you need only to glance through your eyes in a sideways glance state "Would you take a book please..." (If they take the force book <I keep the force to their right> then you are all set but if they did not take the force book you say:) "...and place it on that chair for me."

Then you pick up the two books and ask them to "chose one. That was a free choice was it not?". Proceed with your effect.
3.) The Equivoque Choice by Jack Dean is easily purchased (we carry it) and contains all you need to know about the use of Equivoque. When done poorly it is transparent but when done properly you can catch magicians off guard with it.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
Serving the world for unique, real world mentalism for Professional Entertainers.


Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2003, 6:00 pm

Thanks to everybody. Some great pointers. I was aware of Goldstein's book but I haven't got around to buying it yet, I will now.

By the way, Paul, the book test I am using the equivoque with is yours. So, no gaffed books there, also because the presentation is about the sea (see my other thread) and the books are classics that have to do with that.

I particularly like the idea of starting with the books on the table.

Thanks again for all the input, it is much appreciated.

John LeBlanc
Posts: 903
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby John LeBlanc » November 4th, 2003, 6:41 am

Originally posted by Giorgio GetJet Tarchini:
I was aware of Goldstein's book but I haven't got around to buying it yet, I will now.
Any time I've dropped in to see Dick at H&R Magic Books there's been a handfull of them. $5 a copy if memory serves.

Which reminds me...I'm way over due for a visit.

John LeBlanc
Houston, TX


Re: The venerable equivoque

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2003, 12:49 pm

If it is my book test, then you chose well! ;-)
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
Where mentalists always find great material

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