Chicago Opener

Discuss the tricks and sleights which appear in Genii.
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Ryan Matney
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Chicago Opener

Postby Ryan Matney » February 8th, 2016, 3:55 pm

Tom Stone has an interesting solution to the Chicago Opener in the Feb. Genii. But shouldn't the original trick be credited to Al Leech who published it first under a different name?

Certainly Everhardt and Jim Ryan would have been aware of the Leech book published by Magic Inc. of Chicago.
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Joe Pecore » February 8th, 2016, 4:16 pm

Ryan Matney wrote:Tom Stone has an interesting solution to the Chicago Opener in the Feb. Genii. But shouldn't the original trick be credited to Al Leech who published it first under a different name?

Certainly Everhardt and Jim Ryan would have been aware of the Leech book published by Magic Inc. of Chicago.


He published it as "Hot Card Trick No. 1" in 1950: http://geniimagazine.com/wiki/index.php ... ago_Opener
Share your knowledge on the MagicPedia wiki.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Ryan Matney » February 8th, 2016, 4:47 pm

There ya go!
I wish Leech would be credited for this trick as he deserves full credit and he is generally underrated anyway!
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Tom Stone
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tom Stone » February 8th, 2016, 5:03 pm

Ryan Matney wrote:But shouldn't the original trick be credited to Al Leech who published it first under a different name?

Yes, I messed up, and I don't really know why.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 8th, 2016, 8:10 pm

Leave Tom alone ... He's working on another column.
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby performer » February 8th, 2016, 8:16 pm

Just lately I have been becoming a bit of a fan of Al Leech, particularly after reading his legacy book. I really like his material.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Mr. Charming » February 9th, 2016, 10:32 pm

So TS is going to be in charge of the new Magicana... awesome...!

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 10th, 2016, 9:32 am

Using the line: "I won't find your card, but your card will find itself..." First reveal as usual. Yeah I know it's a bad word play on that self help/discovery thing.

Following up from what Tom observed at the end of his column - that as you spread the cards around on the table they can include the odd backed card already there... 'oh there it is'...

What if you slide out the face down first selection from the tabled spread deck and miscall it, then use that to scoop up the card on the table and hand them both cards? At that moment they don't know you already knew the identity of that second selection.
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 10th, 2016, 11:24 am

No, Tom is not the new editor of Magicana.
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Chris Randal2 » April 3rd, 2020, 2:34 am

I recently came up with a stand up version of Chicago Opener that is being released by my buddy Scott Alexander on his new stand up card dvd. I always loved the effect but wanted to do it in a comedy club/ stand up setting and now have a solution to the problem. Now the effect plays to the back of the house and fixes some staging so that it actually plays in a stand up situation. I haven’t seen what Mr Stone is doing but as a giant fan of his work I’m sure it fantastic

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 3rd, 2020, 3:08 pm

I was misreading Tom Stone's routine to imagine the cards spread faces out to the audience. The first volunteer touches the card they want. You then add a blue card for a display... anyway back to misreading other stuff ;)
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Chris Randal2 » April 3rd, 2020, 6:57 pm

Tom Stone wrote:
Ryan Matney wrote:But shouldn't the original trick be credited to Al Leech who published it first under a different name?

Yes, I messed up, and I don't really know why.



What a gentleman Tom is no drama and takes immediate responsibility because he actual does care about credits. It’s happens even to the best of us and Tom is one of the best of us. I’m still really working hard and his amazing Benson burner that really is a showstopper. I saw him close the Palace show at the castle with that routine and was blown away at how he made a close up trick play SOO big on a stage and as a closer. I know this topic was about Chicago opener sorry to get off track but when Toms name comes up that memory is literally burned in my mind.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Paco Nagata » May 22nd, 2020, 9:54 am

I love a Doc Eason interesting routine by linking
the colour changing deck effect with the effect of "Chicago Opener." That is, after showing that all the cards have changed from blue back to red back, we have a blue back card to perform the effect of "Chicago Opener" right then. The result is great for a sequence show. You can find it in his great collection of 3 DVD volumes “Bar Magic.”
"The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician"
https://bit.ly/2lXdO2O
"La pasion de un cartómago aficionado"
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Rob2100 » October 9th, 2020, 12:39 pm

I saw it on a Michael Ammar tape in the 90s called Red Hot Mama.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 2nd, 2024, 10:41 am

I've just written an article on the "Chicago Opener" for my Ruseletter. Interestingly, my variation, "Two Hot to Trot," is very similar in effect to Tom's "Stockholm Opener", which I like a lot. The addition of two cards with different-coloured backs is a nice touch.

Read Corrupting the Classics: Chicago Opener

Like Tom, I'm also not a big fan of the standard presentation for "Chicago Opener". Having a second card change colour helps a lot.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 4th, 2024, 4:59 pm

I've also managed to finish a blog article that I've wanted to write for a while on Eugene Burger's opinion of the trick. Basically, he thought "Chicago Opener" sucked.

Is Chicago Opener a Good Trick?

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 5th, 2024, 9:23 am

I don't know anything about the trick and have never performed it. I bet I know why Eugene Burger didn't like it though. I understand the trick needs a double lift. Or maybe even more than one for all I know. Poor old Eugene always hated the double lift and I have always suspected that he couldn't do the move properly hence his distaste for it. It does take a fair bit of practice and it took me ages and ages to learn. (I learned the pass in ten minutes but that is another story!) I ended up with a ton of good methods for the sleight which I use quite frequently. One sad thing is that probably because of those disgusting "reveal" videos on you tube I find that too many laymen and acne ridden teenagers know about the move and I do not approve.

I have a suspicion that Chicago Opener is a good trick since it came from the nimble brain of Al Leech. I shall have to investigate it further before I drop dead.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Philippe Billot » May 5th, 2024, 12:17 pm

About the double lift, who wrote : "...at its best it is a feeble device: at its worst it is an abomination." ?

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 5th, 2024, 12:59 pm

"Chicago Opener" (aka "Red Hot Mama") makes absolutely no sense, however it is a great trick to perform for lay audiences. Gets a huge reaction. No question about that.
Chris Kenner also doesn't like using the Double Lift, and he could certainly do it as well as anyone on the planet if he wanted to.
But most people whom I consider to be among the best card workers (Vernon, Miller, Daley, Ascanio, Dingle, Jennings, Hamman, Maze, et al.) certainly were able to do a variety of Double Lifts well. And they used them often.
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 5th, 2024, 3:09 pm

It can make sense. One merely needs a better frame

And you can 1)take all the heat off the double or 2) perform it without a double.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 5th, 2024, 4:22 pm

Philippe Billot wrote:About the double lift, who wrote : "...at its best it is a feeble device: at its worst it is an abomination." ?


Eugene Burger!

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Philippe Billot » May 5th, 2024, 5:47 pm

Absolutely not...

Stanley Collins!!!

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 5th, 2024, 6:36 pm

Yes, that wonderful line is from Stanley Collins. I know Roy Walton wasn't keen on the double lift, either.

I enjoy performing "Chicago Opener", and it gets a great reaction from audiences due to the surprising appearance of the odd-backed card. However, I also find the usual "magician in trouble" presentation illogical. Interestingly, Al Leech did not use this presentation. He used a different one, changing the colour of the back of the card by blowing hot breath onto it. Then he blew on the face of the card to transform it to match the second selected card.

Eugene didn't like using the double lift full stop and thought its placement in the routine was problematic. He also thought that the trick's end state telegraphed the method used in the first phase (displaying two cards as one). These are all valid criticisms. But, as others have alluded to, proper technique and timing can solve most of these structural issues.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 5th, 2024, 11:35 pm

Philippe Billot wrote:Absolutely not...

Stanley Collins!!!


You are correct. I got confused because I know Eugene Burger quoted Stanley Collins to boost his argument for his own distaste of the move.

The main problem with the move is what Cy Endfield (or was it Lewis Ganson) described as "Double Lift Indigestion". In other words you can have too much of a good thing. Don't overdo it! Oddly enough the Royal Road to Card Magic says exactly the same thing before describing probably the worst double lift known to mankind. Anyway this is what the Royal Road had to say about it:

"When used in moderation and properly done this sleight is one of the most useful and deceptive of modern card sleights. Unfortunately many cardmen do it badly and far too often. We would caution the student first to execute the sleight perfectly and then to use it sparingly and discreetly."

This was written when I was about 5 years old but it is just as true now as it was then. Come to think of it even more true nowadays.

In any event neither Eugene Burger or Stanley Collins knew what they were talking about. However, of course I always do and to prove how effective and strong the sleight is look at the reaction right at the end of this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUXlYWtMF_A&t=15s

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 8th, 2024, 9:06 am

Here's another brief post about the "magician in trouble" aspect of the trick:

Muttenz-Chicago Opener by Roberto Giobbi

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 8th, 2024, 10:48 am

Marty Jacobs wrote:Here's another brief post about the "magician in trouble" aspect of the trick:

Muttenz-Chicago Opener by Roberto Giobbi

Marty


I read that very cursorily indeed and I will read it properly when I get time. However, the bit that I did notice is your disapproval of the "magician in trouble" idea. I imagine this disapproval is something to do with your personality and performance style. I approve HIGHLY of it especially since it recently earned me $25,000 ! I use the premise very frequently indeed and find it highly effective possibly because I frequently get things wrong for real anyway so it doesn't seem out of place. I find it a fantastic procedure particularly useful when dealing with hecklers. I have seen aggressive hecklers become my biggest fans when using this idea. You have to do it in a humble manner rather than a "Ha, ha! I am much cleverer than you" manner and it works fantastically well.

There are so many fantastic tricks using this idea, particularly with cards. Here are a few: Design For Laughter, Dunbury Delusion, Now You See It, 3 and a half of Clubs and many more.

I suppose it has to fit your personality but I would never disdain one of the most powerful tools in magic.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 8th, 2024, 5:47 pm

Hi Mark,

I use the "magician in trouble" idea for a few pieces I perform. I'm aware of your remarkable performance, Mark. Most magicians don't do it as well as you do, though. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading that! ;) My general dislike comes from the fact that most magicians don't have the acting chops to pull off a "magician in trouble" or perverse magic act.

This theme also doesn't work particularly well with Al Leech's "The Hot Card Trick", but it does work much better with the routine that particular blog post was about ("Muttenz-Chicago Opener").

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 9th, 2024, 7:55 am

As I mentioned I don't know much about Al Leech's trick. I suppose at some point I had better exert myself to look into it. For the moment however, I consider this to be a sterling item of a sucker trick and a good argument for the concept.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh_CzrPwCrw

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Dave Le Fevre » May 9th, 2024, 12:26 pm

Tarotist wrote:the bit that I did notice is your disapproval of the "magician in trouble" idea. I imagine this disapproval is something to do with your personality and performance style.
I have to agree. I know several conjurors who are slick, polished, professional, charming, but something going wrong with their performance would be most unconvincing.

Whereas I often use what Gerald Deutsch called Perverse Magic, where what happens surprises and baffles me. It's a nice approach, but it's not compatible with all personalities.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 9th, 2024, 3:16 pm

Dave Le Fevre wrote:
Tarotist wrote:the bit that I did notice is your disapproval of the "magician in trouble" idea. I imagine this disapproval is something to do with your personality and performance style.
I have to agree. I know several conjurors who are slick, polished, professional, charming, but something going wrong with their performance would be most unconvincing.

Whereas I often use what Gerald Deutsch called Perverse Magic, where what happens surprises and baffles me. It's a nice approach, but it's not compatible with all personalities.


This is very true. Another version of the too perfect theory! If someone is slick, perfect and never makes a mistake I imagine it does make things difficult for them! I, on the other hand make genuine mistakes all the time. Every performance in fact. However, it STRENGTHENS my work rather than weakens it. No space to explain why. However, it also has the added advantage that sucker tricks of the "magician in trouble" variety are more convincing in my hands.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 10th, 2024, 7:50 am

To be clear, I'm not arguing against the "magician in trouble" gambit wholesale. I actually like it when it is done well because it adds some much-needed conflict to proceedings. However, so many magicians do it badly or too often.

I also like the concept of perverse magic. Pipo Villanueva has some great "perverse" routines with cards and coins (Perverse Silver is a beautiful routine, in particular).

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 10th, 2024, 11:32 am

Just a thought on the routine as regards using a double lift or turnover in context:

After the first selection and with the deck still in hand...
Spread through the cards until he odd backed card shows up. Then spread a few more so you can catch a break for the double in a moment.
Take the cards above and turn that packet face up and spread it on the table (usually right to left). Do you see your card here?
Bring your hand back to the talon for what comes next. Catch a break under the top odd backed card.
With your other hand (usually left hand) take the cards below that odd backed card (now a double card) and turn them over and spread them on the table face up. Or here?
And now ... do the Stuart Gordon Turnover to show the face of the double card. Notice you're in an applause position.
After a beat use that double card to scoop up that first spread of cards.
Reach down with your hand (usually right) and scoop up and turn over the tabled cards and replace them under the talon.
Now table the top odd backed card as you offer to repeat the effect.

What do you think?

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jack Shalom » May 10th, 2024, 11:53 am

Jon, certainly an option, but that's still a lot of attention on the double, and now it's not even shaded by the rest of the pack's border. Not sure that that mitigates any perceived double lift problem.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 11th, 2024, 4:36 am

Hi Jonathan,

That's a very intriguing handling. Honestly, I'd need to try it under heat to see if it feels right. Even if it doesn't, I love the idea of drawing out the dramatic moment in this way. It also helps combat the thought of duplicate cards.

So long as the cards stay aligned, I'm not sure we always need the shade of the deck. Obviously, the double lift does need to be performed snappily in this situation. In fact, snapping the double after you reveal it would be a good idea (as Pop does in "Chicago Surprise").

And, of course, if you used some sticky stuff, this handling would work particularly well.

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 12th, 2024, 12:25 am

The magic moment is the card changes color. Whether or not it’s the selected card is really just about accuracy rather than mystery. So - first phase; LOOK at the card that’s selected when they pick it.

Make the card change. Since they know that you know the identity of their card, no one cares at the time of the double. Again - the interesting bit is the color change. Confirming it’s the right card is really just closure.

NOW - force this second card and this time make a point of NOT looking at it.

So now we have an escalation of condition between the first and second phase.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 13th, 2024, 11:52 am

@Brad, that suggests a slightly different routine.
1) The first effect being to make a card change back color. Why fuss for a selection if the effect is changing a card back?
Spread the deck, pull out a card and make it change back color. (Then set this card aside - face down)

2) The second effect being a touched (and noted) card changes back color. (set this card aside face up)

3) The third effect being a selected card the magician does not look at change color. This is where that first tabled card gets reused as a callback - to show that it is that selected card.

This would need a small change to the setup ... but... maybe a stronger routine?
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 13th, 2024, 1:20 pm

I don’t think it suggests that

Having worked on this a few years ago what I noted was that people exclaim when they see the cards back has changed.

Showing that it’s their card is anticlimactic. And if you think about - makes it nothing more special than any other pick a card and I find it by some means

So - have the card picked. Returned. Show it’s changed colors. Whether or not you know the card doesn’t matter and I can assure you having done it many times while seeing the card they picked, it doesn’t matter.

Now set it aside and go into the second phase and in fact; you could also look at this card too. Again, that’s not an important aspect of the effect which is indeed one of card changing.

Though I do think the faux escalation is a nice touch

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 14th, 2024, 12:15 am

I see that the secret of this great trick is plastered all over you tube which means it will sooner or later not be such a great trick at all. I am astonished that nobody seems to care.

Incidentally, and I may of course be imagining this, I think I have seen this trick described in a particular book but under a different name. It is a very good book indeed by a deceased author. I shall check things out when I have a chance but I seem to vaguely remember it is along the same lines.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 16th, 2024, 1:14 pm

Yes, it was also published as "Red Hot Mama" by Jim Ryan in 1980 in the book Entertaining Card Quickies by Phil Willmarth. See Obscure Origins: Chicago Opener or Red Hot Mama.

Brad, I'm not sure I understand your analysis of the magical plot. "Chicago Opener", "Red Hot Mama", or "The Hot Card Trick" begins as a location effect and ends with a surprise transformation. The whole reason for transforming the back of the card is to locate a spectator's chosen card. The second phase is a surprise transformation of the face of the odd-backed card to match a second selected card.

If you know the identity of the card, you have no motivation to turn its back a different colour. So I think it is important not to look at the first or second selection.

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 16th, 2024, 1:25 pm

Marty

Why must the trick be presented as an identification? There are countless means to find a selected card. What makes this special? It’s the fact the card changes color

And in performance you see this born out.

People react at the revelation of the back having changed. THAT’s the magic. AND it’s the phenomena that’s actually congruent with the second phase.

Our mistake is in thinking and presenting it as a card location and not what it really is - a card changing trick.

If you present it that way - then the second phase is even more impactful as it’s congruent with the first. And you can lose the magician in trouble aspect which few people manage to pull off convincingly AND leads to confusion and a weaker revelation

But to the original point. Watch the audience when you do the trick

When they see the back change they react. Do they react as strongly when you show them it’s the correct card?

No. They already assumed it was.

So why intentionally program an anticlimax on the first phase? Why not put the spotlight at the amazing and unique bit.

As George Kirkendall used to say- you don’t use a Lexus to haul gravel.

If you want to find a card there are more amazing and entertaining ways. This is a trick about cards changing

And if you think about it. There is just as much motivation to change the color of a card as there is to find one.


Causing a card to change color is a perfectly valid effect. And much more interesting than merely identifying one.

The reason you show the face of the card is to prove you changed the correct card. Trust me - knowing the card does not in any way lessen the audiences reaction to the effect AND allows you to escalate the premise in the second phase by NOT knowing the selected card. Which is a faux escalation but allows one the opportunity to create the illusion of escalation as a transition


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