Magic Trick: A Game at Napoleon

The performer forces five cards in succession, as quickly as he can, and remembering the whole five. Practice in the preceding trick will enable him to accomplish this, at first, rather difficult task, in public, it being simple enough to remember five cards when one has nothing else on hand at the same time. It is best to force all five cards on one person, who retains them. If forced upon different people, they must be afterwards collected in one hand. Giving the pack to another of the company, the performer asks for any five cards to be given him. This done, he tells the holder of the forced cards that he is about to play a game at "Napoleon" with him. For the sake of effect, he may allow one half of the company to see his hand, the other half looking over the hand of his opponent. In this way, universal interest is excited. Should the opponent have a poor hand, the performer may give him the choice of saying how many tricks he will declare. Should the opponent have at all good cards, however, then the performer must say, "I declare first." What he declares will, of course, depend upon the cards; but, in nearly every case, he can go "Napoleon," one condition of the trick being, as he will explain just before playing the hand, that the opponent must play the cards as called for by the performer, who, of course, must not make his antagonist revoke. With this proviso, it is wonderful how often it is possible, even with the least promising cards, to win all five tricks; the cases in which four only are possible being very rare. A couple of sample hands will be instructive.

First Hand.—The opponent's cards are:

The performer's being:

He declares "Napoleon," and the hand is played as follows

1. Performer plays and calls for

2. Do. Do.

3. Do. Do.

4. Performer plays and calls for

5. Do. Do.

Had the performer's highest diamond been less than the opponent's ten, then only four tricks would have been possible.

Second Hand.—The opponent's cards are:

The performer's being:

He declares "four," and the hand is played as follows:—

1. Performer plays and calls for

2. Performer calls for and plays

3. Performer plays and calls for

4. Do. Do.

5. Do. Do.

Should the opponent, by any chance, hold an overwhelmingly superior hand, such as, for instance, five high cards of one or two suits, and the performer low cards of the same suit or suits, the latter must say, as soon as he realises the state of affairs, "Ah! I see, I haven't the ghost of a chance against you with this hand; have I?" at the same time throwing down his cards, faces upwards, and demanding a fresh hand. Of course, the astonishing part of the trick to the spectators is the fact of the performer being able to call the opponent's hand, card for card, and no one cavils at the absurdity of permitting him to do so utterly regardless of the general rules of the game.

The performer can, of course, make sure of winning the whole five tricks every time, if he pre-arranges to give a poor hand to his opponent; but a great deal of the fun lies in the fact of good cards falling to insignificant ones. If the performer arranges to have five fairly good cards, three of them of one suit, with a big one at their head, on the top of the pack, it may be as well, as, when he asks for five cards, they are sure to be given him from that position ninety-nine times in a hundred. Should the five cards drawn prove, by accident, the masters of them, then, of course, shuffle the pack before asking for a hand from it. Personally, I like as little pre-arrangement as possible about the trick.

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