The First 11 by John Holt

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Tom Frame
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Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
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The First 11 by John Holt

Postby Tom Frame » August 24th, 2011, 5:11 pm

The First 11 (ebook) by John Holt 7.50 / $12.30
29 pages, 10 photographs
Available at:

Here we have the first published collection of close-up magic from John Holt. The author includes brief presentational suggestions for each effect. The accompanying photos are clear and helpful.

I commend the author for writing this material instead of releasing it as a cheesy DVD or download. His writing is unpolished, but comprehensible. He does an adequate job of teaching the material. The text contains numerous typographical and grammatical errors. A competent proofreader is an invaluable resource.

Mr. Holt credits those whose work has inspired him, but he didnt dig nearly deep enough into the published record.

False Overhand Shuffle: In this false shuffle, the author employs not only the standard in-jog, but also a less common technique. Edward Victor published this concept in Magic of the Hands, in which he attributed the idea to Albert Verity.

Mr. Holts handling is easy to execute and it looks casual and sloppy, just the way I like it.

Twirl Double Lift: Mr. Holt teaches a flourishy double turnover. When compared to many of the extreme displays of card jugglery, this technique looks pretty tame. But I dont dig flourishy displays.

No lay person has ever turned a card face up in this manner. Nor have they ever seen another lay person use this affected technique. While I can see how this technique would appeal to some folks, I dont like it.

BSBCS: A participant shuffles the deck. The performer looks away as the participant cuts the deck, removes a block of cards and replaces the cut-off portion. The participant shuffles her packet of cards and ensures that they are all different. She remembers the face card of her packet and places the packet on top of the deck. She finishes by giving the deck an overhand shuffle.

The performer turns around and names several cards that he believes were in the participants packet. He achieves limited success. He spreads the deck face up and reveals the participants selected card.

This effect was inspired by Richard Osterlinds Card Calling from his Breakthrough Card System booklet. I dont have that booklet, so I cant make a comparison.

I abhor the segment in which the performer attempts to divine the other cards that the participant didnt select. Asking her to recall cards that she wasnt asked to remember is, well, rude. I would never put a participant in that kind of anxiety-provoking position.

Participants have a hard enough time remembering one card. Hearing the performer name other cards may cause her to forget the card that she was supposed to remember.

If you eliminate that segment of the effect, you are left with mundane magic employing an ancient method. I dont like it.

Sidetracked Transposition: A participant freely names any four of a kind, say the Kings. The performer removes the Kings from the deck, displays them and tables them in a face-up pile. The participant freely removes three other cards from the deck. She places these cards face-down beneath the face-up King packet.

The performer attempts to divine the three selections, but he fails. He picks up the tabled packet and spreads it face up to view the participants selections. He turns the selections face down and tables them.

The performer places the four Kings in a face-down pile in front of the participant and asks her to cover it with her hand. He asks her to name any King, stating that he will cause it to vanish from her packet and travel to his packet.

The participant counts her cards face down and discovers that there are only three cards. The performer removes her named King from his packet, proving that it vanished from her packet and appeared in his packet.

The participant turns her cards over and discovers that the remaining Kings have transformed into her three selections. The performer turns over his three cards and reveals that they have transformed into the other three Kings.

This is Mr. Holts version of Dorian Rhodell's effect Sidetracked, from his DVD, The Avenue. While the effect is the same, the author has altered the method so that the dirty work is completed before the effect begins.

This is a very strong, surprising effect! It requires precise timing and deft participant management, but the killer effect is worth it.

Mr. Holts original effect ended with the two packets instantly transposing. There was one effect.

He sent the effect to Mr. Rhodell, who recommended performing it as Ive described it. In Mr. Rhodells handling, the participant witnesses two effects. The first effect consists of the participants named King traveling from her packet to the performers packet. The second effect involves the transposition of the packets. A bonus effect, requiring no extra work! I really like it.

Credit Card Theft: A participant freely selects a card and signs its back. The performer places her face up selection beneath her hand. The performer selects a card, turns it face up and swipes it under the participants hand, like he was swiping a credit card. He turns over his card, revealing the participants signature on its back. Her card is clean.

In addition to the credit card presentation, Mr. Holt suggests a presentation based upon Paul Harriss Hi There Baby Cakes from The Art of Astonishment, Volume 3.

The literature contains many versions of the Signature Transpo effect from which to choose. While not Earth-shattering, the authors method is economical and effective. I like it.

Anniversary Waltz: Two participants freely select cards. One participant signs her card on its face and the card is lost in the deck. The second participant signs her card on its back and it is lost in the deck. The performer spreads the deck face-up to reveal that the two selections are now side by side in the middle of the deck.

He removes the selections from the spread and places them between the participants hands. When they open their hands, they discover that the two cards have merged into one card, with their signatures on its face and back.

I really wish that Mr. Holt would had created a different named for this effect. His failure to do so muddies the published record and could cause confusion among those who study it.

This is not the Anniversary Waltz. In Doc Easons popular effect, the cards fuse back to back, resulting in a double-faced card.

Mr. Holts version more closely resembles J.G. Thompson, Jr.s Joint Signature, which appeared in The Pallbearers Review in October, 1970. Though presented as a signature transposition, that effect produced a single card signed on the face and back, just like Mr. Holts version.

At one point in the method, the performer is holding one of the selections face up in his left hand. He uses the entire deck to flip the selection face down for signing. What? Nobody would do that. A four year old kid can turn a card over with one hand.

I prefer the original Anniversary Waltz and several other variants, including Fusion by Richard Kaufman, Gene Maze and David Arthur, which appeared in Mr. Kaufmans CardWorks in 1981. I dont like it.

Eliminator: The performer writes a prediction on a piece of paper, folds it and tables it. A participant deals and eliminates cards until only one card remains. The participant opens the prediction and discovers that the performer correctly predicted the remaining card.

Common sense suggests that cards that have been eliminated from an effect should be discarded or somehow taken out of play. You know, like tossing them off to the side?

In Mr. Holts odd handling, instead of discarding the eliminated cards, he collects them in one hand until he holds all but the final two cards. He then shuffles the two remaining cards while holding the damned discards. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Nobody executes an elimination procedure in that manner, unless the method demands it. I dont like it.

Two Card Transpo: As the oft used moniker suggests, two cards transpose, twice.

The authors handling of this classic effect is effective and requires no duplicate cards. I like it.

Absolutely Positive: The performer tables a folded prediction. He gives the participant three imaginary coins and instructs her to place them in a row on the table. The participant eliminates the coins until one remains. She decides if the remaining coin is heads up or tails up. This procedure occurs while the participant remains silent.

The participant opens the prediction and discovers that it is blank. The performer directs her attention to a coin lying on the table. It is the selected coin, correctly oriented.

This is Mr. Holts version of Max Mavens Positive/Negative from his VideoMind DVD. Im not familiar with Mr. Mavens method or presentation, so I cant offer a comparison. He also employs a Derren Brown technique from his Invisible Deal effect.

This is a strong, well constructed effect. I like it.

ESP Card Force: This is a technique for causing a participant to choose either the star or wavy lines card from a standard ESP deck.

The method strikes me as being a bit heavy handed and rather obvious. I dont like it.

T.C.P. E.S.P.: The performer introduces five ESP cards and an envelope. A participant shuffles the cards, thinks of one of them and tables it face down. The performer correctly divines the card.

The participant mixes the cards face down, chooses one randomly and tables it face down. The performer correctly divines the card.

The participant mixes the cards and deals them into a face down row on the table. She eliminates cards until one remains, say the star. The performer removes the star card from the envelope.

Mr. Holt offers two additional versions that required more props.

There is nothing new here. This is a common effect that employs common methods. Its likely that your first attempt to explain its methodology will be correct. I dont like it.

While this material is by no means revolutionary, I liked four of the effects and really liked one of them. In this day of overpriced, one trick downloads, five effects for twelve bucks is a good value.

"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The First 11 by John Holt

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 24th, 2011, 7:07 pm

"Fusion" is not a variation of "Anniversary Waltz."
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