Chicago Opener

Discuss the tricks and sleights which appear in Genii.
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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 16th, 2024, 3:21 pm

I understand that there are different ways to present the effect. Al Leech performed the trick as a colour change and a transformation. But you can present it as a prediction or a demonstration of psychological influence. I've developed a handling that includes a double colour change followed by an impossible transposition. I've also presented it as an appearing and moving ink effect. Roberto Giobbi has a good analysis of the effect in his book Sharing Secrets (I mentioned this in one of my articles on "Chicago Opener").

The location effect is secondary, but it is still a crucial component of the trick's construction. I also don't feel that the revelation is anti-climatic. Yes, most audiences assume that it is their card when they notice the odd back, but they still want to see the face of the card. They need closure. I know this because I have a handling that delays the confirmation that the odd-backed card is their chosen card. The revelation provides a neat full stop to the first phase of the trick.

If I only wanted to present a colour-changing back effect, I wouldn't perform "Chicago Opener". Instead, I'd perform something more startling, like a Bertram Colour Change (in fact, I've used this after performing "Chicago Opener" to nonchalantly transform the red card back to blue). Actually, I'd perform a full Colour Changing Deck routine, something like "Colour Burn" by Dave Forrest.

Marty

Brad Henderson
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 16th, 2024, 3:54 pm

What makes the Chicago owner effect interesting is the second surprising change - which you cannot accomplish with a Bertram or similar technique.

So the kicker is a color chsnge too. So for clarity, it stands to reason and is born out in practice, that making both phases congruent leads to a stronger response. After all, fulfillment produces a stronger result than surprise.

I would suggest that the reason your spectators care about the identity of the card is precisely because you make the identity of the card important. If you don’t, then they won’t. Also if you don’t - then the double lift has NO heat on it!

Here’s the problem with the way people think about the effect / they work from the start and try to justify or make sense of the ending.

Much better to start at the end and set up the beginning to make that the strongest conclusion possible. And the conclusion is about the card changing. Not finding it.

And in truth the effect isn’t even about the card changing. The effect is about surprise - but how can you be surprised when you expect to be surprised?

And that is the art in the trick - managing a surprise that is also fulfilling.

And it can be done. In fact - I will put my handling of the trick up against anyone’s and I guarantee that a lay audience will have a stronger response to this approach than any of the conventional published attempts.

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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 16th, 2024, 4:26 pm

I do not disagree with you about the strength of the effect itself or the importance of surprise in the routine; I think we agree that "surprise" is the theme of the trick. However, the magical plot does include the location of a freely-selected playing card. As you've likely guessed, my approach to "Chicago Opener" is strongly influenced by "Chicago Surprise" by Pop Haydn. I like his description of the effect:

"The magician, through sheer force of will, can cause the ink printed on a card's back or face to change dramatically."

Even Pop, in his "Chicago Surprise", presents the first phase as a location effect (using his "trained eye"), a theatrical device I also adopted in my performance of the "Chicago Opener". This approach often leads people to believe it's a standard pick-a-card trick, only to be pleasantly surprised when they see the odd-backed card.

I also like your "faux escalation" idea and have used something similar. For example, the first participant takes a card, and the second merely thinks of one (thus justifying the hands-off nature of the Hindu Shuffle Force).

The performer knowing the identity of both cards at the point they're selected doesn't enhance the trick's overall impact. In fact, it may weaken the trick if your audience expects you to find their card.

Marty

Brad Henderson
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 16th, 2024, 9:15 pm

Interestingly. My jumping off point was also POP’s routine. Specifically it came from working with someone who kept trying to present it but invariably it came off as confused and out of joint. (Having said that, it doesn’t when pop does it. But that’s because pop is a highly skilled performer who can overcome weaknesses in structure through other techniques)

Having said that - the trained eye concept is a bit of nonsense. It’s not meant to be taken seriously as a location means. It’s the juxtaposition of the promise of subtle secrets with a giant off color backed card.

The effect is STILL ‘the magicians changed the color of the back of the card - or the back changed itself, I suppose). The dramatic frame is an intentionally silly premise of how would the magician find the card. It’s not what’s ‘really’ happening.

I contend - I think, having only thought about this aspect - that this dual layer of dramatic methods is in part the reason the classic effect always rings ‘off key’

If you analyze what happens as ‘reality’ - it just does add up as most people do it. Why did the card change? What didn’t it change? Why did it change there?

Now the fact is, the changes (done deceptively) are magical. Card changes always are. But the trick as normally presented works in spite of itself.

Give yourself permission to see it for what it is; and not what we’ve convinced ourselves it is - and you will have a stronger trick

I wish I had my routine written up. I’d be happy to send it to you. I think you will see how it solves a lot of problems. I did it at a small convention last year and one of the other guest presenters commented specifically ‘we didn’t know we were watching red hot momma until over half way through’.

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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 18th, 2024, 8:35 am

The magical effect is a double transformation (I agree on that point). The plot, however, does involve the location of the first selected card, at least in the Al Leech original and popular variations like "Chicago Surprise". Here's how Pop describes the plot:

A red-backed card is freely selected from a red-backed deck. The back of the chosen card changes color to blue so that it is easily found. The blue-backed card is placed under a saltshaker, the spectator’s finger, or even under the spectator’s foot. Then another red-backed card is freely chosen from the deck. The magician, by merely snapping his fingers, changes the face of the blue-backed card to the face of the second freely chosen card.

The magician's ability to change the colour of the back of the card is a key element in the plot, making it easily found. However, if the identity of the first selection is known, the plot loses its coherence. While the "trained eye" presentation may seem nonsensical, it's this very aspect that I find appealing as it fits with my style of performing magic. If you adopt this approach, your actions must align with your stated intentions. In this context, it wouldn't make sense to know the identity of the cards before their backs are transformed.

Having written several articles on the "Chicago Opener" plot, I'm always eager to learn from other people's experiences and see different approaches to its handling. While I'm open to the idea of performing the "Chicago Opener" without the location element, I'm yet to be convinced that this would enhance its impact. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this someday.

After reading Is Chicago Opener a Good Trick?, Rudy Tinoco shared a couple of video performances of his approach to "Chicago Opener", which explore presenting the effect as the magical manipulation of ink:

Chicago Opener
Chicago Opener Rethought

I already use the "X Marks the Spot" idea with "Chicago Opener" and "Chicago Surprise". However, I like some of Rudy's touches (the bit with the pen and it running out of ink) and will probably incorporate some of his ideas into my current presentation for the trick.

Marty

Brad Henderson
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 18th, 2024, 1:04 pm

The identification isn’t an effect. It’s a gag. The magic as pop clearly points out is the magician changes the color of the back. You can eliminate the bogus premise if using it to locate the card and you have lost absolutely nothing to the effect. And if you CAN cut something and lose nothing, then there is no point in having it in the first place. It’s a vestigial tail that should be amputated

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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 18th, 2024, 2:11 pm

I really don't understand your argument. The primary magical effect is the transformation of the back and then the front of the card. However, the trick does begin with the apparent location of a freely selected playing card. Yes, this is quickly understood to be a joke, but it is still an essential part of the magical plot connected to the "Chicago Opener".

Sure, you can perform it without these elements, but you've provided nothing that suggests doing so is a good idea. The gag element of the trick provides an opportunity to be playful with your audience and, in my experience, makes the trick more engaging and entertaining as a result. So, I do think you lose something by cutting the bogus premise.

Marty

Brad Henderson
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 19th, 2024, 1:07 pm

The bogus identification “gag” is not critical to the trick is it?

If you can perform the trick without that element, which you can, it is by definition NOT essential. (It is, in fact, just an excuse for changing the back of the card for the first phase. There are other presentational choices possible; yes?)

And while YOU may like it, that’s no case for it being necessary or even helpful to the clarity or impact of what actually DOES happen, is it?

How can you be interested in getting into the depths of a trick, to try to tease out the absolute strongest approach, when you aren’t willing to cast aside choices, albeit long held and often repeated choices, that stand in the way of a better experience for your audience?

Unlike you, I’ve done the trick both ways.

How can you judge until you have, as well?

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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 19th, 2024, 1:47 pm

You're making a lot of assumptions about what I have or haven't done. I have tried it both ways, and I prefer the playful approach. My script is heavily based on Pop's script for "Chicago Surprise" (which he warns in the manuscript is essential to the trick's success). The gag is necessary in this context. But, of course, there are alternative ways to present the trick.

I also regularly perform a variation without the gag that involves the transformation of two cards. I even shared it on my blog: "Two Hot to Trot". In this version of "Chicago Opener", I focus all my attention on the colour changes, and it does get a great (but different) reaction. You might not like the method, however. But it works well for me.

I have also performed the original handling without the joke, but I prefer to include it. In fact, I've performed many of the published variants on this timeline:

Card Plot Chronologies: The Hot Card Trick

I'm certainly willing to try it your way when/if you share your particular handling. I'm really puzzled why you're giving me a hard time about this. Simply looking at the detailed analysis I've conducted of the plot on my blog should show you that I do strive to make my magic as powerful as possible, and provide my audience with the best possible experience.

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 21st, 2024, 4:51 pm

I have been watching demonstrations of this trick on You Tube. The "reveals" irritate me intensely but even worse are the boring presentations. The exposures probably won't do any harm because I doubt any layman would be able to sit through the agonising so called "performances". Watching paint dry would be more exciting.

I may be wrong but from what I have been able to endure, the trick seems to have a certain similarity (at least the opening sequence) to a Harry Lorayne routine in the "Magic Book". I strongly suspect Harry's version to be the better one.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 22nd, 2024, 10:42 am

Tarotist wrote:I have been watching demonstrations of this trick on You Tube. The "reveals" irritate me intensely ...
If thine eye offend thee...

The best counter to bad work is to post or link to good work. Let the bad stuff become neglected due to attention to the good stuff.

Show em how it's done and post a link here. Then we can leave nice comments and that would become a popular link :)

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Brad Henderson » May 22nd, 2024, 12:55 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Tarotist wrote:I have been watching demonstrations of this trick on You Tube. The "reveals" irritate me intensely ...
If thine eye offend thee...

The best counter to bad work is to post or link to good work. Let the bad stuff become neglected due to attention to the good stuff.

Show em how it's done and post a link here. Then we can leave nice comments and that would become a popular link :)


The only outcome to that is good Material gets performed by more bad magicians. Why feed the den of thieves?

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 22nd, 2024, 2:14 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Tarotist wrote:I have been watching demonstrations of this trick on You Tube. The "reveals" irritate me intensely ...
If thine eye offend thee...

The best counter to bad work is to post or link to good work. Let the bad stuff become neglected due to attention to the good stuff.

Show em how it's done and post a link here. Then we can leave nice comments and that would become a popular link :)


Very well. This must be "good work". Nearly 3 million views and nigh on a thousand comments (plus another 1000 comments on Facebook)
There are indeed a tiny few comments from silly "magicians" who say they are just old tricks, not realising that the tricks have very little to do with being a good magician.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id4703fH33o

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Marty Jacobs
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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Marty Jacobs » May 24th, 2024, 1:10 pm

Tarotist wrote:I have been watching demonstrations of this trick on You Tube. The "reveals" irritate me intensely but even worse are the boring presentations. The exposures probably won't do any harm because I doubt any layman would be able to sit through the agonising so called "performances". Watching paint dry would be more exciting.

I may be wrong but from what I have been able to endure, the trick seems to have a certain similarity (at least the opening sequence) to a Harry Lorayne routine in the "Magic Book". I strongly suspect Harry's version to be the better one.

Harry included "Color Quickie" in his second book, "Personal Secrets" (refer to page 31). In this trick, a spectator selects a card that matches an odd-backed prediction taken openly from another deck. Then, the prediction changes to match another random card. The handling is intriguing because the magician forces two cards onto themselves!

Marty

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 24th, 2024, 6:49 pm

No. The trick I am talking about is not colour quickie. I don't have the book handy right now but it is not the same trick. I can't remember the title but I do remember thinking it was a damn good effect although I have never tried it myself.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Philippe Billot » May 25th, 2024, 3:48 am

Mark, may be you are speaking about Color Coincidence described in My Favorite Card Tricks (1965) ?

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 25th, 2024, 10:31 am

No. It is not that one either. I shall now curse both of you and go downstairs to find the bloody book and give you the correct information. One moment please.

OK. As I already stated it is in "THE MAGIC BOOK" not A magic book! Page 111. The title of the trick is "The colour changing deck". It has four climaxes, one immediately after the other. I have never done the trick but on an admittedly cursory look I suspect it is even stronger than Chicago Opener.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby chetday » May 25th, 2024, 10:37 am

I followed Mark's lead and went downstairs myself to find my old copy of Lorayne's "The Magic Book." Turned to page 111 and, lo and behold, I had annotated at the trick's title "Learn this one!" Since I haven't cracked that book in probably close to thirty years, I don't recall telling myself to learn the trick. Shoot, I don't recall telling myself to take the toast out of the toaster this morning... but that's another story. Anyway, I'm going to follow Mark's and my own advice and see what I can do with Harry's color changing deck.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Tarotist » May 25th, 2024, 8:46 pm

Actually Chet, if I were you I would not just see what you can do with the trick under discussion I would scour the book for all the other material therein. This is one of the best magic books I have ever read and it is a goldmine of material. It may even be Harry's best book. It is a bit of a tragedy that you haven't looked at it in thirty years! I suggest you make up for that loss of time. It really is a wonderful book.

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Re: Chicago Opener

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 25th, 2024, 11:12 pm

Just a few added reminders for those trying out what I suggested:

First, you already said the card was changed so when you turn it over it's more a pose than a reveal.

Getting a break under the two cards is not so difficult since they are spread in your hands.
You have two beats time to get ready for the double turnover. First the base reaction to the odd backed card; and then the right hand moving away to spread the cards on the table.

Remember to grip the double card from above with second fingertip near the corner and first finger curled in a bit but not yet contacting the card.

If you're looking for an audience cue - wait a beat after the turnover; before using their card as a scoop.

* joking: No extra credit for using a double backer to set up a running gag of the first phase of this routine *
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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