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Review of “The Nine of Diamonds”

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Review of “The Nine of Diamonds”
To truly understand “The Nine of Diamonds” requires some background. “The Nine of Diamonds” is a group of magicians that meets weekly in Edinburgh, Scotland in an underground bar that’s in the shadow of the impressive and well known Edinburgh Castle. Furthermore, the “nine of diamonds” is considered an unlucky playing card that’s known as “the curse of Scotland.”

The fruit of this organization is the namesake “The Nine of Diamonds,” an intriguing book of close up magic for intermediate to advanced magicians. The book teaches a series of useful sleights as well as some great tricks. While the book’s emphasis is mostly on card tricks, there are non-card effects as well. It’s an insightful and informative tome that is an enjoyable read.

Sleights and Techniques

The book begins with sleights and techniques. My favorite was the Angled Afterburner card control by Jason Alford. It’s an excellent control that can withstand close observation and is useful anytime that you want to bring a selected card to the top of the deck. It resembles the mechanics of a well known move that’s often employed during an “ambitious cardroutine. I have often thought that the move would work well as a generic control, and Alford has done it.

Two of the sleights offer means to reverse selected cards. Touch Reverse allows you to switch and reverse a specific card while FIRP allows you to reverse a card as you faro the deck. There are some flourish-style moves. Popout Pass Revelation causes a card to pop out from the side of the deck after you perform a pass. The Reguritator Revelation offers a visual production of a card that is as novel as its name.

The book teaches a couple of card stacks: the Fiend Stack and Bart Harding Stack. Both rely on calculations so you don’t have to resort to rote memorization. As long as you understand and can perform the calculations, you will know the location of any card. And you’ll find other features built into each stack.

Beyond cards, the useful Himber Vanish Variation offers a “click-style” vanish with coins. While the idea of combining a click pass with a Himber coin vanish is not original with the book’s authors, this variation is supposed to result in a more audible “click” (“clink?”). Since I’m not familiar with the Rosenthal click pass upon which this is based. I can’t comment on its relative effectiveness. I can conclude, however, that this is a useful sleight when you want to vanish a single coin from among two and have a table upon which to rest the coins.

OK Show Me Something

After learning some moves, it’s time for tricks. Jack's Departure from the Stage is based on an Alex Elmsley routine. Here, a selected and signed card is placed between the four queens and the packet is set aside. The selected card vanishes and is found reversed in the deck.

Amass Aces is a “collector” style effect with the four aces that can be performed impromptu with a borrowed and mixed deck. A spectator freely selects a card and places it face down in a face-up, spread deck. The four aces are brought out of the deck and set aside. The four aces are discovered to sandwich three cards which turn out to be three of a kind. The fourth card to make up the four of a kind turns out to be the spectator’s selected card. This one relies on an intriguing glimpse that is apparently original with the trick’s creator, Neil Stirton. Also, the deck is mostly handled by the spectator which makes this one particularly strong.

Employing the earlier “Regurgitator Revelation” move, Regurgitor offers a production of a spectator’s selected card between two cards that are being held “Cannibal” style. In Radical Decency, two jokers visually transform into two selected cards. Still Smiling is a sandwich style effect that is based on a Roy Walton trick. The two red aces eventually “sandwich” a spectator’s selected card after some amusing byplay.

Here’s a different plot for a card trick. Frankenstein's Bunny offers a selected card that is marked by a bunny that’s drawn by a spectator. The four queens are lost in the deck and somehow turn face up. After some byplay with the four queens, the “rabbit,” the spectator’s selected card, is found among the queens. With playing cards, you have apparently produced a “rabbit.”

Minus 52

“The Minus 52" section of the book teaches non-playing card effects, mainly, with coins. In A Small Price to Pay, you offer three predictions of a coin that will be selected: 1) the denomination, 2) the resulting heads or tails from a spin and 3) the coin’s date. Coins are gathered from spectators and you write down the three predictions. After a coin is selected and spun, your predictions prove to be correct.

The book offers two versions of classic coin effects, both by Ian Kendall. Quick n Dirty Three Fly offers a three-fly-style coins across routine with solid handling. I appreciate the way that the routine removes the “tapping” that is found in many three-fly style routines and allows for a clean-up at the end. Quick n Dirty Hanging Coins is a take on the classic “hanging coins” plot where multiple coins vanish - apparently rendered invisible and hanging them in mid air. This one makes use of the Himber vanish taught earlier and requires sleeving.

For those of you who like mentalism, the Zen Stack offers a great stack of Zenner (ESP) Cards that diabolically combines two great principles. The stack looks random but is easy to master and use. With the stack, you can perform an effect where the deck is cut and a spectator appears to be sending you images and you are able to receive and identify them.

Some Assembly Required

There are some definite crowd pleasers here. I Don’t Trost You is a poker-themed effect. A deck is shuffled by multiple spectators and astoundingly, a spectator deals himself four aces. Based on an Arthur Buckley effect, Buckley’s Angels has the magician trying to produce a four of a kind based on a spectator’s freely selected card. However, the three “wrong” cards that were produced ultimately turn out to be the “right” cards. And the “wrong,” previously displayed cards are now found in the magician’s pockets.

The aptly named Another Flippin’ Collectors offers a solid collectors plot with cards combined with a four of a kind. The unusual Sesame Street offers a version of "do as I do." This one requires two decks of cards that are dedicated to the effect and it’s got a great revelation that requires a close-up mat. I really like the twist and this one is not hard to learn and perform.

The chapter’s remaining effects are probably more for magicians than lay audiences. Lazy Man's Memory Test offers a means to discern a number of cards that have been cut as well as a selected card. It’s all based on a stack. I’ve been wanting to make use of a stack that I’ve been working on for several years (the Nicola). I’m intrigued with this effect.

Two Faced Mother FIRPer offers an apparent demonstration of palming but you’re not and the card ends up in a surprising place. Finally, Any Card at Any Number offers a variation on the classic effect. I like the description: “amaze your fellow magicians, bore your friends.”

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