John Keyes' "Last Resort"

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John Keyes' "Last Resort"

Postby jkeyes1000 » May 4th, 2017, 12:50 pm

Recent discussions in this forum about The Pass and other matters inspired me to come up with an uncharacteristically simple card routine which I think novel enough to submit for approval. Mind you, it’s virtually impossible to be both simple and novel. This is a sort of compromise for me, a refrain from the complex, so please take that into consideration.


The magician, using an ordinary deck of playing cards which may be borrowed and need not be new or complete, fans it for the participant so that he or she may see their faces. The volunteer is asked to choose one and mark it if inclined. Neither the faces of the cards nor the marking upon them are seen by the performer, as he holds them upright with their backs to him.

The fan is folded and the pack is squared, keeping the selected card in its midst. The deck is shuffled casually and crudely in an effort to dispel any suspicion of deliberate manipulation.

With the pack in one hand, the magician announces that he will “draw the chosen card upwards from the middle to the top” using a flambouyant conductive gesture with his free hand. When this is achieved, he takes a peek at the uppermost card and asks the participant to name the one that he or she picked.

Reluctantly, the performer reveals the top card. With a sickly demeanor, he shows that it is not the right one. He idly inserts it into the centre for the pack as if to bury it, but halts before fully immersing it.

“There are, of course, other ways to retrieve your card. Let me see....” Picking up any object resembling a wand, the magician foolishly waves it at the card which is sticking up out of the deck with its back to the spectators and mutters an amateurish “Abracadabra!”. But his expression remains grim as he peers at the face of it from his own vantage. Dissatisfied, he flicks it with his forefinger, two or three times, in a dramatic, but vain exercise.

“I don’t like having to use this rubbish, but I’m afraid it’s all I’ve got left.” The performer extracts the operative hand from his pocket and gingerly sprinkles a pinch of glitter over the upright card. If he is out of this substance, he may use granulated sugar, salt, pepper, or something similar.

Blowing the bits of tinsel off the deck, his eyes widen curiously. Then arching his brows in a self assured manner, the mystifier dextrously clips the card with two fingers and snaps it to expose the face once more. “Is this your card, perchance?”. It is indeed.


The selected card is controlled to the top of the deck by means of the Turnover Pass in this routine (although any technique will do). Here I start with a vertical fan that faces the participant, thus face down when held horizontally.

The spread is squared and a break is made with the little finger above the volunteer’s card.

Having executed The Turnover, the pack shall be face up. This I see as an advantage, an opportunity to engage in a very natural series of 'random’ shuffles. Without hesitation, the magician may grab the face up deck, mix it clumsily, and still manage to keep the chosen card on top regardless of which mode of interweaving he employs. And in like fashion, when the pack is turned face down. The impression given by shuffling the cards first one way, then the other, is that of extraordinary variety, and therefore of virtually doubtless disorder. The performer appears a bit more reckless than those that do it redundantly each time (always face down), and also seems the antithesis of the highly skilled card sharp.

Because the selected card is actually at top, the entertainer must do a Double Lift in order to “get it wrong”. Both cards are slid into the deck as one, after which their backs are turned to the onlookers (as the performer scrutinises their faces). The two are pushed downward together, but when the magician 'changes his mind’, and pulls the card back up again, he secretly leaves the “bad card” at half mast. The forefinger of the hand holding the pack (hidden thereby from the spectators’ view) can plunge it in and effectively lose it, the chosen card then standing alone.

The only precaution is to keep the two cards perfectly square the whole time, utilising the fingers of both hands (the one sidling the deck, along with the extended cards’ lower half; the other, the upper portion of the Double Lift), so as to avert any embarrassing protrusions.

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Re: John Keyes' "Last Resort"

Postby MagicbyAlfred » May 6th, 2017, 3:33 am

Thank you for sharing this. Some clever handling. Sounds like it would be an entertaining routine...

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Re: John Keyes' "Last Resort"

Postby performer » May 6th, 2017, 6:51 am

I haven't read it yet but I bet they will alll criticize it even if it is wonderful. That is what all nitpicking magicians do. It is in their DNA I am afraid.

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Re: John Keyes' "Last Resort"

Postby jkeyes1000 » May 6th, 2017, 12:38 pm

Thanks Alfred! And Mark, I welcome and fully expect criticism. I myself never stop finding fault, improving routines wherever I can.

For instance, I would rather dispense with the little finger break. It always seemed awkward to me. I find it’s much better to extend the little finger, keeping it in full view during the turnover. Instead, I support the upper half of the deck (above the chosen card) with the first, second and third fingers of my left hand. This allows me to sort of lever the top half with my index and/or middle finger as I close the fan (simultaneously lifting it up and over the bottom half with my right hand), for a clean, quiet, and slow pass.

I encourage the reader to work out his or her own most comfortable moves. The hardest thing in learning a new trick in my opinion, is following instructions to the letter. It is also the least advisable. To get the gist of it and immediately tailor it to suit yourself is far wiser.

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Re: John Keyes' "Last Resort"

Postby jkeyes1000 » July 11th, 2017, 11:35 am

Since posting the above routine, I have made a few revisions which have greatly improved the effect. The chief innovation is simply getting the participant to sign (or mark) the back of the card after you get it to the top (by means of the Turnover Pass). Recall that you have a!ready got them to mark the face of the card.

When you reveal the “top card” (using the Double Lift), and sheepishly acknowledge that it is not their card, even a fellow magician is likely to dismiss the possibility that you actually performed The Pass, so you have set them up for a mind blowing climax.

You then casually stick the Double Lifted pair into the middle of the deck, as if to tuck the “wrong card” away, keeping the back of the deck to the spectators, but on second thought, leave it protruding half way, with the marked back clearly in view.

Explain that there are other ways to retrieve a selected card, and proceed with any bit of business (waving a “magic spoon” or sprinkling pixie dust), while discreetly pushing the Wrong Card down (behind the marked card).

All that remains is to snap the still standing card forward to show that it is not only the correct number and suit, but beyond doubt, The Very Card they chose, as it bears their markings on both the back and the face!

Another little thing I discovered in testing this routine is that it is a good idea to try to get the volunteer to reinsert his or her card into the face up fan LEFT OF CENTRE, regardless of where it came from. The reason is that, when you do The Turnover, you will have a larger portion of the deck in the operative hand, so that even when performed very slowly (as I do), the “half” that you are switching to the top seems thick enough to be the full deck. If you just keep the lower “half” hidden by your right hand (or whichever one you favour), the move will be virtually undetectable.

Also I thought I would mention that I prefer to use a new deck that I have provided, rather than request a borrowed one, because if you have any doubts about your ability to do a Double Lift flawlessly, you had better not chance it with an unfamiliar deck. The cards might not want to go along peaceably. With a new pack of your favourite brand, you know what to expect. And if you are a working magician, you could give the deck away as a souvenir of your miraculous work, with a business card glued to the face of the box.

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