The Pass

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The Pass

Postby performer » October 27th, 2018, 6:32 pm

Some time ago I mentioned on the Magic Cafe that I in my great and wondrous wisdom decreed that it was essential to shuffle after the pass was made. This provoked an uproar from various silly people (mainly card trick introverts who have never performed for real human beings on a consistent basis) that it was in no way necessary to shuffle after the pass was made since nothing was supposed to have happened. They relied on their so called perfect invisible pass which I believe isn't as invisible as they seemed to think.

Anyway, after great bouts of procrastination I am now up to Chapter 12 of my annotations of the Royal Road to Card Magic. so at least I have passed (no pun intended) some way after the half way mark of the book. And what is this chapter about? The Pass of course! I noticed to my great delight that most of the tricks in that chapter include shuffling after the pass just like I said. I decided to capitalise on this and posted some remarks about it. Here you are:
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This matter of shuffling after the pass reminds me of an online discussion I had on the Magic Café forum. All my life I have shuffled the cards after doing the pass as a control. I always knew instinctively it was the right thing to do. Perhaps I adopted this philosophy because it is mentioned it right here in this very trick and in the one following. However, various magicians argued vociferously against this philosophy on the grounds that if you do the pass well there is no reason to follow up with shuffling. I do not agree with this one bit and I will explain my reasoning when we get to the next trick after this one. It is called “Righting a Wrong” and I believe that is exactly what I will be do to refute the points made by others. In other words “righting a wrong”!
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And then a bit later I wrote:
.......................................................................................................................................................................................................
..As I mentioned previously a lot of magicians are against shuffling after the card is replaced and the pass is made. They reason that there is no necessity to do this since the audience will assume the card is lost in the deck and there is no need to muddy the waters since all is how it is supposed to be. They say that if you are going to shuffle anyway you may as well use one of the other controls where you do this such as the overhand shuffle control etc;
They may be correct regarding the last point since these other controls have made the pass outmoded to a certain extent and there is not the same necessity to use the pass as a control method as there used to be in days of yore. However, it is a very good thing to vary your methods and the pass still has a place where this is concerned. I do use the pass myself as an alternative method for certain tricks.
So the arguments put forward by others that it isn’t necessary to shuffle after the pass seems logical at first but not when you dig a bit deeper. The reason I advocate some kind of shuffle keeping control of the card after the pass, is that although in theory everyone assumes the card is lost somewhere in the deck, this assumption may not be as accurate as one might imagine. Some audiences can be very sharp animals and can sense something is not quite right. The true facts of the matter is that very few magicians can do the pass so perfectly that not a flicker or suspicious movement can be seen when spectators are looking at their hands. They really have to use misdirection and it is generally not good policy to execute the move when undue attention from onlookers is on the hands of the performer.
A lot of magicians kid themselves that their pass is undetectable but I really believe that it may not be as deceptive as they think it is.
Even when misdirection is used there may a chance that an astute spectator senses that things are not quite right. Or even if the execution of the move is beyond perfection. Possibly the body language or the demeanor of the magician gives the game away. The onlooker does not know what has happened but he somehow senses that “something” has happened. Of course this scenario will not happen at every performance since not every spectator is as astute as my example. However, why take a chance?
So I shuffle “just in case” my execution of the pass is not enough to satisfy the more observant members of my audience. The shuffling cements the idea in their minds that the card really is completely lost. It is a kind of insurance against astute audience members sensing something is not quite right.
I do find it interesting that some of the tricks in this chapter give examples of shuffling after the pass is made while still controlling the location of the selected card. Of course in “Righting a Wrong” you are compelled to shuffle the cards in order to get it eight from the top!
However, here is one last point to consider. In days of yore when the pass was the only method of control available the magicians of the day almost universally had a standard procedure. They would not shuffle the cards themselves but would get members of the audience to do it! They would palm off the selected card and then hand the deck out to be shuffled. After doing so the deck would be returned and the card would be secretly replaced. A leisurely procedure to be sure but one which fitted the times. My point is that the magicians of the day didn’t think, “The audience assumes the card is lost so there is no need to shuffle” They realized instinctively that audiences needed a bit of extra convincing.
There. I rest my case!
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OK. The real reason I posted this was an excuse to procrastinate further on the writing of the actual book which I find very tedious indeed. Still, it might give you all something to chatter about and at the same time inform you that the book is actually being written albeit slowly. I could have done the entire thing two months ago if I had the will power but I don't so I didn't . Anyway it will possibly give you all something to chatter about.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 28th, 2018, 7:57 am

Oh and guess what? I have just noticed this description in the Royal Road about the spread pass. Note what it says about an overhand shuffle!

"Make the pass in the usual way, but, as soon as the upper part of the deck has been transferred to the bottom, spread the cards of that packet with the left thumb on the fingers of the left hand, stretched out flat for their support. At the same time make a short quick remark, such as, "You see your card remains in the middle of the deck!" Close the spread smartly and execute an overhand shuffle, controlling the card as may be necessary.
A slight swing of the hands from left to right will help to make it appear that the spreading of the cards is all that has taken place."

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Re: The Pass

Postby MagicbyAlfred » October 28th, 2018, 11:53 am

I agree with Performer’s thinking and analysis on the pass. My feeling on this is that If all is as it should be in the eyes of the layman after the pass is made, I.e., they believe “nothing had happened,” that means in their perception their card is not truly lost. The layman’s experience with cards is primarily (if not exclusively) playing card games. So, to them, the cards are not truly mixed up until and unless shuffled. By the same token, if the cards are not shuffled after the card is replaced, then it is not truly “lost.” Ergo, to establish conviction that the card is lost, the deck must be shuffled.

From my own point of view, it is 10 times stronger if the SPECTATOR does the shuffling, as opposed to the one whom they believe (and correctly so) to be the sneaky, cheating sleight-of-hand using magician. So, passing (or otherwise controlling) the selection to the top or bottom, followed by palming off the card and handing the deck to them to shuffle is optimal.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 28th, 2018, 12:30 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:From my own point of view, it is 10 times stronger if the SPECTATOR does the shuffling, as opposed to the one whom they believe (and correctly so) to be the sneaky, cheating sleight-of-hand using magician. So, passing (or otherwise controlling) the selection to the top or bottom, followed by palming off the card and handing the deck to them to shuffle is optimal.


Indeed. That was the standard procedure in the days of Professor Hoffman. The magician would do the pass, palm the card off and give the deck out to be shuffled by various spectators. I think this is very powerful procedure and can be done in the correct prevailing atmosphere. particularly if the audience is relaxed and in no particular rush. It is quite a leisurely procedure and nowadays when the pace of life is a bit quicker you have to be careful that this doesn't slow things up too much.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 28th, 2018, 2:44 pm

One of the points of using the Pass instead of another type of control is that the deck is NOT shuffled afterward by the magician. There is no visible way of potentially controlling the card.

Doing a Pass and palming off the card, or doing a Side Steal, or doing a Diagonal Palm Shift, all allow the spectator to shuffle the deck afterward.

However, as has been shown in the past 100 years, none of this is necessary. If the spectator replaces a card in the deck, and you then pause for a few seconds before doing a Double Undercut, the spectator is no less convinced that the card is lost in the deck than if he shuffled it.
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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 28th, 2018, 3:00 pm

Well, in virtually every single trick in the Pass chapter of the Royal Road to Card Magic the cards are shuffled after the pass so if it was good enough for Hugard and Braue it is good enough for me. Besides it gives me something to write about.

Still, since Richard is here and he is a writer perhaps I can ask him something. What is his method of finding time to write and how does he go about it? Does he write a bit each day or a lot all at once and how much time does he devote to it? Does he suffer writer's procrastination? I certainly do and it is the bane of my existence. It is at its worst when I have to write technical descriptions of sleights which I find absolute purgatory. I prefer to tell stories and write opinions but when it comes to explaining which finger goes where it makes me want to scream with the drudgery of it! Oddly enough I think I can do it reasonably well--it is the actual forcing myself to do it in the first place that is the problem.

I could finish these annotations in a few weeks if I put my mind to it but alas my mind wants to go somewhere else and as a result it could take several years at the rate things are going. I am glad I wasn't asked to write Greater Magic anyway. That would have taken me about a hundred years or so.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 28th, 2018, 7:43 pm

There's an item in Royal Road in the pass section, maybe the third card routine after the pass is described, which has you running a some cards onto the selection after the pass. Righting a Wrong?
This is one of those feats—so dear to the hearts of all audiences, and all magicians—in which the mystifier apparently himself becomes the mystified. He fails but in the end turns the tables in striking fashion. Nothing pleases an audience more than to catch the infallible wizard in an apparent failure. They enjoy his discomfiture for the moment, then are amazed and intrigued when he emerges triumphant.
1. Have the pack shuffled, take it back, and have any card removed and noted.
2. Have the card replaced and pass it to the top.
3. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the chosen card, which becomes the eighth card from the top.
4. Invite the spectator to name his card, which let us say is the ace of hearts, and instantly say, "Eight cards down!"
* continues
That the item?

Looking at the book it's the first item, "Off Agin, On Agin, Finnegan!", using the pass after a more classical card load which could likely do with some more explanation. Performer - any suggestions on that that routine?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 28th, 2018, 8:02 pm

It is indeed. And a very good trick which I used to do a lot at one time. And of course you have to shuffle to be able to do it. But there are other tricks in that chapter (in fact virtually all of them) where the pass is described then right after doing so it tells you to shuffle the deck. Now I did consider it possible that the authors of the book just wanted some tricks to fit into the Pass chapter and used anything where a card was selected. Then they talked about shuffling because that was the way it was normally done and hadn't even thought about this point of not shuffling after doing the pass.

However, I believe for most performers they MUST shuffle after the pass is made for "just in case" reasons. Somebody on the magic cafe asked me what I meant by "just in case". He said "Just in case of what?". The answer is just in case you are bloody useless and the audience suspect you are doing the pass because (A) your technique is faulty or (B) your body language and general tenseness gives the game away or (C) they don't like you because you are smarmy, overconfident, talk too much and they want to harass you by watching you too closely and look for any excuse to trip you up.

So, if you use the pass for a control method then do as I say (and the Royal Road says) and shuffle the bloody deck just in case. And even if I am wrong (which of course I never am) then what have you got to lose anyway? Shuffle to make sure.

Now yes. You CAN do what Richard says and do a double cut. In fact when I was a beginner that is exactly what I used to do to control selected cards. However, as my knowledge grew greater I ended up with better control methods including the pass which by a complete fluke l learned and mastered in ten minutes from Professor Hoffman. It must have been a bloody good description and I wish he was annotating the Royal Road to Card Magic rather than me. I really detest trying to describe technical moves hoping to God that people would be able to understand what I am trying to say.

You get to appreciate the expertise of people like Harry Lorayne, Ganson and Hugard/Braue who can write technical prose with clarity once you try and do it yourself. I think I am managing quite well but it really is very difficult to do.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 28th, 2018, 8:12 pm

I have just written a very bad description of the Erdnase colour change. I can barely understand it let alone anyone else although I suppose it might do once the illustrations clarify it. I have a good mind to steal it from Erdnase himself and substitute that instead. I am sure he won't mind since he is somewhat dead at the moment and I don't think the book has any copyright any more. And even if it has nobody is going to sue me over a couple of paragraphs. I might even mention that I am taking it direct from Erdnase to keep everyone happy.

After all I have been a thief my entire life and I see no reason why I should stop now.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 29th, 2018, 12:08 am

performer wrote:Still, since Richard is here and he is a writer perhaps I can ask him something. What is his method of finding time to write and how does he go about it? Does he write a bit each day or a lot all at once and how much time does he devote to it? Does he suffer writer's procrastination?


Different projects take different amounts of time, often based on external forces. When I added almost 400 pages to my reprint of Greater Magic in 1994, the Jones family gave me about 90 days to get the book to the printer. Normally that job would have taken many months. But I did it in the period allotted and it worked.

Some, like my new book on DeLand, have taken 20 years. I had little biographical information for years, then Bill Mullins began doing research on digitized old newspapers on the internet and all of a sudden I had part of a biography. Then Bill Kalush told me about the DeLand material at the National Archive and I had the rest. Mullins continued to find new material (because more information is being digitized every day) up until a few weeks before we sent the book to the printer! The biographical material--the writing of it and integrating it into the existing text--added more years. Then additional years passed while I waited for color printing to become affordable.

But as for diving in and writing a book on sleight of hand (something I'm about to embark on yet again), it's usually done in a frenzy of labor, day and night, for as long as it takes. Nothing relaxed about it: all the information has to remain in my head so I know what I'm writing about as I get deeper into the book. This was easier before I had to come to a dead stop to put together an issue of Genii.

I'm also much older--literally almost 40 years since I wrote CoinMagic, The Complete Works of Derek Dingle, and David Roth's Expert Coin Magic. I cannot concentrate the way I did then. You figure out new ways to work. The best thing I ever did was give up illustrating!
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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 12:42 am

Thank you Richard. I might try the frenzy method and get the damn thing out of the way.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 1:11 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Looking at the book it's the first item, "Off Agin, On Agin, Finnegan!", using the pass after a more classical card load which could likely do with some more explanation. Performer - any suggestions on that that routine?


I might have. I do know that I annotated that trick. One moment please and i will check.

OK. I just checked. I did write some ideas. The only problem is that if I reproduce them here they will be out of context without the rest of the text. Let me think for a moment. OK. I just thunk. Perhaps the best way is to reproduce the entire thing and hope it comes out right. It will be a bit long but at least it will give people who do not have the Royal Road or are too lazy to look this up the trick in all its entirety. Here we are: I have no idea how to make the annotated bits come out in red on this forum so I will have to put them in block letters.
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OFF AGIN, ON AGIN, FINNEGIN!
When the student has progressed to the point of making the transposition of the two packets fairly smoothly, the following feat will afford excellent practice:

TO BE HONEST I NEVER GOT AROUND TO LEARNING THIS TRICK ALL THOSE YEARS AGO WHEN I FIRST STUDIED THE ROYAL ROAD TO CARD MAGIC. I READ IT, QUITE LIKED IT, BUT NEVER DID ANYTHING ABOUT IT. HOWEVER NOW THAT I AM DOING THESE ANNOTATIONS, NATURALLY I HAVE BEEN REVISITING IT AND I MAY GET AROUND TO BELATEDLY WORKING ON IT! HOWEVER, I THINK I WOULD ALTER CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE HANDLING AND I WILL DETAIL THOSE ASPECTS HERE.

A spectator shuffles the deck, which is then placed on the magician's left hand. The magician cuts at any point indicated by the spectator, and the spectator removes the top card of the lower packet, notes what it is, and replaces it. By simply tapping the back of the card with the packet he holds, the magician causes the noted card to vanish and the spectator verifies the fact by examining the packet.
The cards are replaced on the magician's left hand and he taps it once more making the missing card reappear.
1. Have a spectator shuffle the pack and then place it face downwards on your left hand.
2. Have him indicate the point he wishes you to cut at, and lift off the cut, taking the cards between your right thumb and middle fingers. Invite him to lift off the top card of the remainder, note it, and replace it.

HERE IS THE FIRST SPOT WHERE I THINK I WOULD ALTER THE HANDLING. I MAY BE WRONG BUT I DON'T REALLY SEE THE POINT OF HAVING THE SPECTATOR INDICATE THE POINT HE WISHES YOU TO CUT AT. TO MY MIND IT SLOWS UP THE ACTION AND REALLY ISN'T NECESSARY. MY INCLINATION WOULD BE TO SIMPLY CUT THE DECK AT RANDOM SOMEWHERE NEAR THE CENTRE WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE SPECTATOR. HE NOW REMOVES THE CARD, NOTES IT AND REPLACES IT. AFTER HE DOES SO MY INCLINATION WOULD BE TO FLIP THE CARD FACE UPWARD WITH MY RIGHT FOREFINGER TO SHOW THE IDENTITY OF THE CARD. I SEE NO REASON FOR KEEPING IT SECRET. NOW I WOULD FLIP IT FACE DOWNWARDS ONCE AGAIN REPLACING IT FACE DOWN ON THE DECK AS BEFORE.

3. Announce that by merely tapping the back of that card with the other packet you will make it vanish. Strike downwards with your right hand, so that the packet it holds will hit the top card of the left-hand packet near the edge of its right-hand side, and count "One!"
4. Repeat the blow, but this time press the tips of the left fingers against the top card of the packet in the right hand and backslip the card onto the lower packet as the right hand moves smartly upwards. Thus the backslipped card is instantly and imperceptibly folded onto the back of the top card of the lower packet, the noted card. Count "Two!" and rapidly repeat the blow with your right hand, counting "Three! Off agin, Finne-gin!"

SOMEHOW I HAVE NEVER BEEN COMFORTABLE WITH THE ACTION DESCRIBED ABOVE AND PERHAPS THAT IS THE REASON I NEVER PURSUED THIS TRICK. I MUCH PREFER THE NATE LEIPZIG SUBTLETY ALREADY DESCRIBED IN THE BACKSLIP CHAPTER (CHAPTER 8) WHERE YOU TURN THE HANDS AND POINT TO THE FACE CARD OF THE UPPER PACKET. IF I WERE TO DO THIS TRICK MYSELF I WOULD MAKE USE OF THIS IDEA INSTEAD. HERE ARE THE DETAILS.

LET US ASSUME THE FACE CARD OF THE UPPER PACKET IS THE KING OF DIAMONDS AND THE CARD REMOVED FROM THE LOWER PACKET IS THE THREE OF SPADES. I WOULD EXECUTE THE LEIPZIG SUBTLETY AS DESCRIBED IN CHAPTER 8, EXECUTING THE BACKSLIP, AND POINT TO THE KING ON THE FACE OF THE UPPER PACKET SAYING, "YOU KNOW, IF I TAKE THE KING, THEN RUB IT AGAINST THE THREE A STRANGE THING HAPPENS" SO SAYING YOU TURN THE CARDS FACE DOWN AGAIN, RUB THE OUTER LEFT CORNER OF THE KING IN A SMALL CIRCULAR MOTION AGAINST THE BACK OF THE TOP CARD OF THE LOWER PACKET WHICH IS NOW NO LONGER THE THREE BUT AN INDIFFERENT CARD.

5."Would you believe it," you say, "your Finnegin card has vanished. Look!" The spectator removes the card on the top of your left-hand packet; the moment his eyes travel to its face, make the pass, but retain your grip of the lower packet with your right thumb and forefinger and carry it away, leaving the original top half of the deck lying on your left hand. All eyes will be on the card the spectator removes, and by the time they are looking at your hands you have the chosen card snugly on top of the packet in your right hand.
6. "Your Finnegin card has vanished completely, as you can see." Holding the packet upright, spread the top cards with your left thumb; or you may allow the spectator to take the packet and run through the cards.
7. Square the packet on your left hand as before. Repeat exactly the same actions as in steps Nos. 3 and 4, or repeat the actions described above in my annotations counting and saying, "On agin, Finnegin!" Have the card named and have the spectator turn it face upwards himself.
Note that, when a spectator removes the added card, your hands should be close together, but, immediately the pass is made, move the right hand away a foot or more.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Brad Henderson » October 29th, 2018, 9:38 am

it seems to me that the question shouldn’t be what moves should follow other moves, but what condition we want the audience to believe exists in regard to the order of the cards.

If we want the audience to believe the card is lost in the pack, then a shuffle following the control makes sense. If we want then to believe the card is in the MIDDLE of the pack, then shuffling is foolish. A shuffle can bring the card to the top or bottom. And if the trick depends on the audience knowing the card is in the middle - such as an ambitious card routine - then to shuffle after the pass is a mistake.

so the question isn’t what moves follow what moves, but what moves lead the audience to draw the specific and necessary conclusion desired for maximum impact of the effect.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Brad Henderson » October 29th, 2018, 9:42 am

i should add, if we want the audience to believe the card is lost, then using a pass seems like a a case of hauling gravel in a Lexus. Sure you can do it, but why? A simple over hand shuffle control works just as well, or the shuffle based control Mullica used to use all the time.

the pass is the perfect move for those times when it is critical for the audience to know that the order of the cards has NOT been manipulated.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 11:58 am

Brad Henderson wrote:
the pass is the perfect move for those times when it is critical for the audience to know that the order of the cards has NOT been manipulated.


Providing the execution of it plus the body language plus the demeanor of the performer does not give away that the cards HAVE been manipulated! And I believe that 50% of the time this is what happens. So why take chances? Shuffle the pack and be done with it!

I do agree of course that it depends on what trick you are doing. I only use the pass on occasion as a control anyway --most of the time I use an injog overhand shuffle. I certainly use the pass for other purposes that are not for controlling cards.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Al Schneider » October 29th, 2018, 2:06 pm

The pass is great for theater magic. But is not good when doing virtual magic.
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 3:01 pm

What is virtual magic? Is it something to do with quantum physics?

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Re: The Pass

Postby Ian Kendall » October 29th, 2018, 3:07 pm

I wrote this a few years ago in MUM. I still stand by it.

Let’s look at the actions from the perspective of the audience.
The magician proffers a deck of cards and asks for one to be selected
(and more on this in a moment). The spectator takes a card
from the deck, looks at it, tries not to forget it, perhaps shows it
around, perhaps writes a name on the face, and then the card is
placed somewhere in the middle of the deck.
Read that paragraph again, and try to work out what happens
next, the thing that will shatter the illusion for the spectator. Take
a moment, I’ll wait. It happens a lot, and I’ll wager that you have
either seen it done, or even done it yourself. The answer: the magician
does something with the deck. Right after the card is returned
something happens that negates the fair and, above all, natural
procedure that has gone before. The cards are shuffled, flourished,
spread, or cut, and this changes everything. Up to this point, the
spectators know that their card is somewhere in the middle of the
deck, but they don’t know where, exactly. Once the magician does
something with the deck, all bets are off, and that conviction of the
card being lost is gone. It’s an important point, and one that needs
to be considered when using controls.


The pass is a wonderful tool when used well; there should not be the 'suspicion' that something has happened (and luckily, this is relatively easy to do with thought).

Since I'm in the mood for quoting myself, something else from an earlier book:

In this lesson we will be looking at the Pass. Long considered by many as one of the bêtes noir of the card world, its reputation as one of the ‘mythically hard’ moves comes not only from the dexterity required to execute the sleight correctly or the presentational skills needed to cover the action, but from magicians telling other magicians that it is a hard move. It is the great self fulfilling prophecy of magic – a myth perpetuated by retelling over time that has built the humble pass into something that many magicians avoid completely.

This is a shame since the classic pass is one of the most useful controls to have in one’s arsenal of sleights. The ability to control a card in a split second, using only natural movements and with no apparent manipulation at all is too good a prize to give up easily, yet there are almost as many reasons, or excuses for not taking the time to learn as there are magicians.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 3:19 pm

I disagree with the first Ian Kendall quote and agree with the second one. I think in many, many cases the punter thinks something has happened when the pass is executed. And even if they don't it doesn't do any harm whatsoever to shuffle the deck and really convince them the card is lost. In fact I think they visibly relax when you do that. I know I am right. People are suspicious of magicians. I am psychic after all and know these things.

And I do agree it is not a difficult sleight. I always thought it was until I got brave enough to study it and mastered it in 10 minutes. It took me years to learn the double lift though.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 29th, 2018, 5:18 pm

Mark, one must differentiate between those who do the Pass well vs. those who do the Pass poorly. For those who do it well, this is a non-issue. For those who do it poorly ... well, they should be doing something else.
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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Yes, but the ones who do it well still may give it away for other reasons. Body language, demeanour, overly suspicious spectators, exposure on the internet etc; etc; Sometimes although you can't see a thing but the guy is holding the cards in an unnatural manner or he looks just plain shifty. Or they look so pleased with themselves after they do the move. In any case when I learned the pass all the books said that nobody could do the move without misdirection and there was always a little flicker or something to give the game away. They stated plainly that there was no such thing as a truly invisible pass. Since these books were written before 1954 they cannot possibly have been wrong. I know that other methods have developed since then but since these methods came after 1954 they don't really count. I have seen some alleged hot shots on video doing the "perfect pass" but none of them have convinced me that my cynicism is incorrect.

So, since nobody really knows what is going through the minds of the spectator (except me because I happen to be psychic) I deem it a safer policy to shuffle the cards "just in case". It can't hurt and it might help. Furthermore that is how it was done in Professor Hoffman's day when magicians would palm off the card and let other people shuffle them.

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Re: The Pass

Postby chetday » October 29th, 2018, 7:04 pm

I can't do a flawless pass to save my life, but I can write, and I'll second Richard's comment about burrowing into a project and then working in a frenzy until it's done. I spent something like five years fiddling around with my first novel back in the early 80's. I'd work on it for an hour a day for several weeks and then I'd get trapped having to do the stuff that paid the CasaDay bills. Boom, there went all the good intentions and structured work habits right out the window -- not to mention that the plot and characters and themes and all that literary stuff that require intense concentration and that I had worked out so carefully in my mind... all that faded, too. A couple of years passed and I'd occasionally pull the book out of its box (yeah, I was still banging away on a manual typewriter in those days), but I just wasn't making a lot of progress.

Then in May of 1985, I took a solemn oath to spend my entire summer vacation (I spent the first half of my working life teaching English) to get that first novel finished. I followed up on the oath by getting up early every morning, having a bite to eat, and then sitting down to write. The first week was hell because I started trying to micromanage where I'd been with early drafts, various chapters, the price of typewriter ribbons, and so on until I thought I should take up tight rope walking instead of trying to be a novelist.

At that point, about ready to say the heck with my solemn oath, I just decided to sit down and let the damn thing write itself.

Oddly enough, once I made that decision, that's exactly what happened... some part of my mind/being/whatever tapped into something outside of myself (this sounds mystical and weird but it's true) and new characters showed up and fit right in with the old ones, the plot took unplanned and unexpected detours, and the dialogue that used to sound so stilted to my ear now sounded like it came out of the mouths of real people.

Long story short... I finished the book with two weeks or summer vacation to spare, send it off to an agent, who liked it and took me on, and she sent it out to a few publishers, and, hallelujah, an editor at the paperback division of Simon & Schuster bought the novel for ten million dollars!

Well, that last part's a huge lie... it was more like $7500, if I remember correctly, but the point's the same: the book never would have been finished if I hadn't entirely given myself over to it.

Mark, I recognize that writing a magic book with fingering details and so on is an entirely different project, but I suspect Richard's frenzy of labor point, which I'm trying to reinforce here would hold true for you, too. Just sit down and give yourself over to it and wrestle that sucker to the ground until it taps out and you have a completed manuscript. It may not be the joyous and wonderful experience I had with my first novel, but at least the project would be finished and you'd have another piece of your legacy.

Richard, as an aside, I've been enjoying your work since the Almanac days, and I very much admire the legacy you've carved out with your enthusiasm, diligence, and, no doubt, plenty of frustration. And that's not to mention the generations of magicians who have, and will, keep your work alive for as long as people still care about magic.

I apologize for going on so long.

With that said, I'll go on just a little bit more because I want to end with an insight from the prolific speculative fiction writer, Harlan Ellison: "People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it."

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Re: The Pass

Postby Ian Kendall » October 29th, 2018, 7:07 pm

If you are doing a pass when the spectators are looking at the deck, or without any form of misdirection, then you have more important issues to look at before you work on the pass...

An invisible pass is one that the spectators do not see; if that happens when they are looking elsewhere, then you're fine.

Again, you seem to be focusing on people who cannot use the pass effectively. Blanket proclamations do not work on such a wide spectrum of variables.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 7:27 pm

I have completely lost interest in the pass now that Chet has supplied splendid misdirection for me by writing about writing. I haven't read it yet but I am going to thoroughly. I learned the Pass years ago. I now require assistance not so much in writing but trying to find the best way to overcome inertia in writing. Procrastination in writing. Enthusiasm to write. All psychological things that are MUCH harder than the writing itself. In fact the only reason I am chattering about the bloody pass on this thread is to avoid writing about the bloody thing in the Royal Road to Card Magic.

Thankfully I am past that chapter now and on to the flourishes chapter. And that looks like even more hell on earth than the pass chapter. Still on we go.................

I shall now read Chet's post. It looks promising at first sight.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 29th, 2018, 7:36 pm

chetday wrote:I can't do a flawless pass to save my life, but I can write, and I'll second Richard's comment about burrowing into a project and then working in a frenzy until it's done. I spent something like five years fiddling around with my first novel back in the early 80's. I'd work on it for an hour a day for several weeks and then I'd get trapped having to do the stuff that paid the CasaDay bills. Boom, there went all the good intentions and structured work habits right out the window -- not to mention that the plot and characters and themes and all that literary stuff that require intense concentration and that I had worked out so carefully in my mind... all that faded, too. A couple of years passed and I'd occasionally pull the book out of its box (yeah, I was still banging away on a manual typewriter in those days), but I just wasn't making a lot of progress.

Then in May of 1985, I took a solemn oath to spend my entire summer vacation (I spent the first half of my working life teaching English) to get that first novel finished. I followed up on the oath by getting up early every morning, having a bite to eat, and then sitting down to write. The first week was hell because I started trying to micromanage where I'd been with early drafts, various chapters, the price of typewriter ribbons, and so on until I thought I should take up tight rope walking instead of trying to be a novelist.

At that point, about ready to say the heck with my solemn oath, I just decided to sit down and let the damn thing write itself.

Oddly enough, once I made that decision, that's exactly what happened... some part of my mind/being/whatever tapped into something outside of myself (this sounds mystical and weird but it's true) and new characters showed up and fit right in with the old ones, the plot took unplanned and unexpected detours, and the dialogue that used to sound so stilted to my ear now sounded like it came out of the mouths of real people.

Long story short... I finished the book with two weeks or summer vacation to spare, send it off to an agent, who liked it and took me on, and she sent it out to a few publishers, and, hallelujah, an editor at the paperback division of Simon & Schuster bought the novel for ten million dollars!

Well, that last part's a huge lie... it was more like $7500, if I remember correctly, but the point's the same: the book never would have been finished if I hadn't entirely given myself over to it.

Mark, I recognize that writing a magic book with fingering details and so on is an entirely different project, but I suspect Richard's frenzy of labor point, which I'm trying to reinforce here would hold true for you, too. Just sit down and give yourself over to it and wrestle that sucker to the ground until it taps out and you have a completed manuscript. It may not be the joyous and wonderful experience I had with my first novel, but at least the project would be finished and you'd have another piece of your legacy.

Richard, as an aside, I've been enjoying your work since the Almanac days, and I very much admire the legacy you've carved out with your enthusiasm, diligence, and, no doubt, plenty of frustration. And that's not to mention the generations of magicians who have, and will, keep your work alive for as long as people still care about magic.

I apologize for going on so long.

With that said, I'll go on just a little bit more because I want to end with an insight from the prolific speculative fiction writer, Harlan Ellison: "People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it."


Absolutely wonderful and I thank you very much for it! I have often thought I should have been a writer rather than a magician but I suppose that would just be a different way of starving for a living. Still, now is the time to do it in my twilight years I suppose. However, I think I will try to avoid magic books in the future that require technical prose about which finger goes on which corner of the deck. The tedium and limits on sarcasm and humour are quite restrictive I am afraid. I am cursing both Hugard and Braue daily at the moment.

I bet I could write a novel. However, I imagine the rejection rate from publishers would be very high for that possibility. You did well to get it going so quickly.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 30th, 2018, 5:56 am

Ian Kendall wrote:If you are doing a pass when the spectators are looking at the deck, or without any form of misdirection, then you have more important issues to look at before you work on the pass...

An invisible pass is one that the spectators do not see; if that happens when they are looking elsewhere, then you're fine.

Again, you seem to be focusing on people who cannot use the pass effectively. Blanket proclamations do not work on such a wide spectrum of variables.


I can assure you that I am never wrong and have an answer for everything as a result of my brilliant mind. First I do use misdirection every time I do the pass. And I do it very well indeed as befits my superb ability in these matters. However, just because they are looking elsewhere does NOT mean you are fine. Why? Because audiences are intelligent animals (providing of course they do not hail from certain parts of Northern England). Misdirected spectators are just as liable to suspect chicanery as people who burn a magician's hand. They may well think, even subconsciously, "I wonder if he did something when I looked away" particularly if your misdirection is too obvious.

Not in every case of course but why take chances? The Royal Road to Card Magic is my Bible in these matters and EVERY trick in the Pass Chapter mentions shuffling the deck right after doing the pass. I therefore have to follow the indications in my Bible.

Now it did occur to me this morning that when I do the Side Steal I do not shuffle the cards afterwards which might seem to indicate a double standard. Why would my arguments not apply to the Side Steal too? I thought I would have to come up with a reason for this. All I could come up with at first was that it was my gut feeling never to shuffle after a Side Steal. But where does this gut feeling come from? I think I have figured it out and it gives me a counter argument even if it is wrong. But I don't think it is. With a Side Steal the spectator knows it is ALREADY in the middle. With the pass they see it away from the deck and they know at one point it wasn't in the middle and since the magician is a nefarious person (at least I am) they may be suspicious that it won't remain in the middle since it wasn't there before.

Something like that anyway.

Not that I care. I am just writing this as a distraction to overcome writer's procrastination which is still upon me regarding the Royal Road. I will have to have a blitz on it just like Chet and Richard advised. It reminds me of what Winston Churchill said about writing. He said,

"Writing a book is an adventure to begin with, it is a toy and an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”

He also said, "If you are going through hell just keep going". Here he was referring to the war effort but it could apply to writing a book also. Or watching magicians trying to do an invisible pass.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Bob Coyne » October 30th, 2018, 1:43 pm

Mark,

You claim to have a difficult time getting yourself to write, and I believe you. However, when you write here in this forum, it just seems to flow and is usually very entertainingly and clearly written. So you seem to enjoy writing more generally, judging by the quantity :-)

Given that it's all just writing (and on the same basic subject matter -- you and your take on magic), maybe all that's needed is a mindset adjustment. The trick is to trick yourself while doing your Royal Road annotations into thinking that you're just posting comments (in a similar flippant style) to your readers here instead. Plus I suspect that any readers of your RR annotations would enjoy the style coupled with the content. It doesn't all have to be dry "put this finger here" type stuff.

If the mental trick above requires too sustained a use of imagination, you can "leak" certain excerpts along the way to reinforce the illusion. And maybe that's what you're already doing, without fully realizing it, with this stuff on the pass. Also, after writing it in your cheeky, fun style, you can always later go back and edit it to make it as respectable (or not) as you like. The resourceful writer failing to change the subject improves the method!

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » October 30th, 2018, 3:00 pm

I like writing certain things. The difference is that when writing a book you have to wait for months, sometimes years before you get the audience reaction whereas on a forum you get it straight away. The other problem is that writing technical details of which finger goes bloody where on which corner of the deck is very tedious indeed and indeed takes ages to do if you want to make it reasonably clear to the reader. It is one thing writing in an amusing manner about something non-technical and another thing trying to chatter about the Hoffelrimmer Pass and the Durante double cut ( I just made them up) while trying to keep awake while doing it.

Another problem I have with the Royal Road in particular is that it is so well written already that it is difficult to add much to the description. Still, at least I have studied the book thoroughly and over the years have come up with little improvements on my own which I have been able to add. But I have just discovered this morning that I have been doing the "Pretty Cut" flourish the wrong way for the last 50 years or so! I must have either read the description wrong or came across another variation in some other book. Mind you it still works so I am not going to change.

But it isn't just technical things that dissuade me from writing. It took me 4 years to write "The Lives of a Showman" but I know perfectly well that it would have taken me three months if I had put my mind to it. Again procrastination took over. The result was worth it in the end as I got some fantastic reviews with regard to that book except from some miserable git from the Magic Circle.

I remember the late Barry Richardson phoning me up raving about what a great book it was and he said it would make a good movie. He called me up out of the blue and I had never met or spoken to him before. And Richard Webster who has sold ten million books of his own gave it a rave review too. But I had to wait for all this. Years in fact because that is how long it took to write the damn book in the first place.

Perhaps I should trick my mind to imagine the Royal Road is already written with the plaudits flowing in but with my luck the end result is that the book might end up as crap with all sorts of bad reviews not necessarily from the Magic Circle misery.

Still, I am looking forward to including as an appendix to the Royal Road annotations my own little book on card magic for beginners along the style of the Royal Road and it was written about 40 years ago or so. I only got up to five chapters so that is a superb example of supreme procrastination! But at least these five chapters will make an appearance.

I have now started on Chapter 14. Only 6 chapters left to go. I bet I could finish the entire thing in a week if I really tried. But it ain't gonna happen. And the reason it ain't gonna happen is because I am talking to you now.

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Re: The Pass

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 1st, 2018, 2:40 pm

Performer Wrote: "Sometimes although you can't see a thing but the guy is holding the cards in an unnatural manner or he looks just plain shifty."

True, and the last thing you want to do when doing the shift is to actually look shifty.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Christopher1979 » November 3rd, 2018, 3:02 pm

I personally don't agree to shuffle after a pass. My reasoning is that if i was to shuffle after a pass then why don't i just shuffle and control the chosen card to the top or bottom without doing a pass first. Doing a pass and a shuffle to me seems like more work than is needed. The whole idea of a pass is to make it look like nothing has happened. If your shuffling after the pass that seems like a contradiction to me.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » November 3rd, 2018, 3:49 pm

Christopher1979 wrote:I personally don't agree to shuffle after a pass. My reasoning is that if i was to shuffle after a pass then why don't i just shuffle and control the chosen card to the top or bottom without doing a pass first. Doing a pass and a shuffle to me seems like more work than is needed. The whole idea of a pass is to make it look like nothing has happened. If your shuffling after the pass that seems like a contradiction to me.


I have already covered this point in my annotations. Here is the relevant extract:

"As I mentioned previously a lot of magicians are against shuffling after the card is replaced and the pass is made. They reason that there is no necessity to do this since the audience will assume the card is lost in the deck and there is no need to muddy the waters since all is how it is supposed to be. They say that if you are going to shuffle anyway you may as well use one of the other controls where you do this such as the overhand shuffle control etc;
They may be correct regarding the last point since these other controls have made the pass outmoded to a certain extent and there is not the same necessity to use the pass as a control method as there used to be in days of yore. However, it is a very good thing to vary your methods and the pass still has a place where this is concerned. I do use the pass myself as an alternative method for certain tricks."

In other words you are indeed better off shuffling and getting the card to the top. However, if you wish to vary your methods and decide to use the pass to do so then it is advisable to shuffle afterwards JUST IN CASE your pass is not so wonderful as you think it is. And nine times out of ten it bloody well isn't. Magicians tend to suffer from a disease known as "laughing ears" which is an old showbusiness term meaning you are not quite as clever as you think you are.

And I do not agree that shuffling after the pass is "more work than is needed" That is because it IS needed! In fact it is absolutely essential JUST IN CASE.

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Re: The Pass

Postby Christopher1979 » November 3rd, 2018, 5:04 pm

performer wrote:
Christopher1979 wrote:I personally don't agree to shuffle after a pass. My reasoning is that if i was to shuffle after a pass then why don't i just shuffle and control the chosen card to the top or bottom without doing a pass first. Doing a pass and a shuffle to me seems like more work than is needed. The whole idea of a pass is to make it look like nothing has happened. If your shuffling after the pass that seems like a contradiction to me.


I have already covered this point in my annotations. Here is the relevant extract:

"As I mentioned previously a lot of magicians are against shuffling after the card is replaced and the pass is made. They reason that there is no necessity to do this since the audience will assume the card is lost in the deck and there is no need to muddy the waters since all is how it is supposed to be. They say that if you are going to shuffle anyway you may as well use one of the other controls where you do this such as the overhand shuffle control etc;
They may be correct regarding the last point since these other controls have made the pass outmoded to a certain extent and there is not the same necessity to use the pass as a control method as there used to be in days of yore. However, it is a very good thing to vary your methods and the pass still has a place where this is concerned. I do use the pass myself as an alternative method for certain tricks."

In other words you are indeed better off shuffling and getting the card to the top. However, if you wish to vary your methods and decide to use the pass to do so then it is advisable to shuffle afterwards JUST IN CASE your pass is not so wonderful as you think it is. And nine times out of ten it bloody well isn't. Magicians tend to suffer from a disease known as "laughing ears" which is an old showbusiness term meaning you are not quite as clever as you think you are.

And I do not agree that shuffling after the pass is "more work than is needed" That is because it IS needed! In fact it is absolutely essential JUST IN CASE.


I am not claiming to have the worlds best pass actually far from it. All i know is this. If a spectator picks a card and places it in the center of the deck and in the process of putting the deck on the table you have performed a pass, if you have performed the pass well then the spectator just thinks you have placed the deck on the table after their card has been placed in the deck. On the other hand if you then do a shuffle you are then doing twice as much work for what?. You are then just drawing attention to the fact that some "jiggery pokery" happened.

I also think that unknowingly if you don't have confidence in doing the pass you can then proceed in doing a second sleight to try and cover the first.

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Re: The Pass

Postby performer » November 3rd, 2018, 5:36 pm

If, as you say, you don't have the best pass in the world you MUST shuffle the cards afterwards. God help you if you don't. If it was good enough for the magicians in Professor Hoffman's days it should be good enough for you. If it is good enough for the Royal Road to Card Magic it should also be good enough for you. And most of all, if it is good enough for ME then it should certainly be good enough for you! I have been doing this stuff a long time you know...............

I should know what I am doing by now.

You are not "drawing attention to jiggery pokery" by shuffling. However, you may well be doing so by not shuffling. And you are NOT doing twice as much work. I find false overhand shuffling as natural as breathing. I can do it in my sleep. Oh, and incidentally I can also do the pass in my sleep too. It is as natural as breathing when I do it and just as good, if not better, than any other alleged hot shot that does it. Nobody can see a thing. But I don't take chances. When you shuffle they will visibly relax and know all is well.

It is exactly the same psychology used in the double undercut control. If you cut the deck once to lose the selected card the laymen might feel a tiny bit suspicious. However, when you cut them a second time they feel satisfied the card is lost.

The trouble with alleged hot shot technicians is that they do not understand the human mind and how it works. They are so focused on technique that they don't see the wood for the trees. Well, I bloody well do. I have made it my business to do so for decades.

The bottom line is that you don't need to use the pass as a control anyway. There are plenty of other easier alternatives. However, if you do use it then in God's name shuffle the cards after the execution (or in most cases murder) of it , depending on the circumstances of the trick.
Laymen may not know what has happened but 50% of the time they will know that something has happened.

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Re: The Pass

Postby The Burnaby Kid » November 4th, 2018, 1:20 pm

One of the problems with the pass is that there aren't all that many applications for it that can't be replaced by other methods, including, for instance, a shuffle followed by a DL to show the card isn't on top. Generally, in terms of useful... erm... uses for the pass, we're looking at Walton's Pass At Red, a sandwich effect to bring the sandwich cards to the middle, Cavorting Aces, and as a phase in an Ambitious Card Routine.

There were a couple of tricks at the time RR was published that would have made decent uses of the pass. Card In Hand/Rossini Card Stab is one, since (assuming the pass is done well) the spectator both has a target to stab for, as well as the impression of distance between the card they're stabbing for and the card taken from the top of the deck for them to stab with. That said, the effect tends to play well enough without the pass that it's often taught using some open control. Some other tricks in the same vein are a bit more obscure.

Darwin Ortiz pretty much nailed the theory behind the importance of the pass in Designing Miracles. I humbly attempted to build on that by adding applications of the pass that make sense of using that specific control versus a regular, open control. You can read that here if you like.

https://theburnabykid.com/nwmb/JACK/

The pdf is free. I've been told I'm a terrible capitalist.
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Re: The Pass

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 4th, 2018, 2:39 pm

The Burnaby Kid wrote:One of the problems with the pass is that there aren't all that many applications for it that can't be replaced by other methods, ...


As a control for a selection, there is some truth to that. But the Pass also has wider applications in color changes, and effects where a card(s) travels rapidly thru the deck. A sandwich effect quickly loses its effectiveness without a Pass to trap the selection.

What would the plan be without a Pass? Cut and shuffle the deck so that the mates can trap the selection? That won't work very well. How else would a face up card travel to the top in an Ambitious Card routine? A well executed Riffle or Jiggle Pass gets the job done in a beautiful and visual manner.

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Re: The Pass

Postby The Burnaby Kid » November 4th, 2018, 2:50 pm

Oh, don't worry, I agree. That's why I listed what I thought were useful applications of the move.
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Re: The Pass

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 4th, 2018, 4:00 pm

There are so many great ways to use the Pass that I can't count them.
At the top of the list is as a card control.
I've also noticed that the people who most often criticize the Pass are the ones who can't do it well.
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Re: The Pass

Postby Ian Kendall » November 4th, 2018, 4:12 pm

The problem with replacing the pass with another control is that the replacement is almost never more efficient than a pass.

Also, as Richard mentioned, I've never met anyone proficient with the pass who advises against using it; it's always people who cannot (or think they cannot) use it effectively.

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Re: The Pass

Postby The Burnaby Kid » November 4th, 2018, 4:30 pm

Ian Kendall wrote:The problem with replacing the pass with another control is that the replacement is almost never more efficient than a pass.


If the pass can be done deceptively, then sure, this is an advantage that certainly benefits the magician. Whether or not it benefits the effect, however, is up to what the effect needs, and that includes, amongst other things, the audience's perception of the effect.
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Re: The Pass

Postby Ian Kendall » November 4th, 2018, 4:52 pm

That's the whole point. If you can use a pass correctly, then in the eyes of the spectator, nothing at all has happened; they replaced the card into the deck and that's it.

However, if you have to use bizarre covers for the pass, or do something _after_ the pass, then that illusion of 'nothing happening' is weakened (I explained my thoughts on this at the top of the thread).


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