Magic Trick: The Diagonal Pass

This is a very useful variety of the two-handed pass, by means of which cards placed simultaneously in different parts of the pack are at once brought together. Say, three cards have been selected by various spectators. The performer presents the pack to each in turn, requesting to have the card chosen placed in any portion of it. The chooser thereupon pushes the card between the others, which are not opened out by the performer, but merely presented in a compact body. The card is not permitted to be pushed quite home, the performer withdrawing the pack in time to prevent this. The pack is presented to the two other selectors of cards, and, when the three have all been placed in it, the performer apparently pushes them home with the right hand. What he actually does is thus described: Nip the three cards by the still protruding portions between the thumb and middle finger, across their width, and, in the act of pushing them into the pack, turn them obliquely sideways sufficiently to cause the right-hand top corners to project a quarter of an inch from the pack. The length of this projecting portion will be rather more than an inch, and is easily hidden from the spectators by means of the first and second fingers of the left hand. The top left-hand corner must be pushed down out of sight, and it will then be found that there are two considerable projections on the side and bottom of the pack. The right-hand one is hidden by the palm of the hand, and the lower one by the little finger. The pack, as it appears at this stage of the trick, held in the left hand (the right hand being removed for the sake of clearness), is shown at Fig. 34.

As the cards are supposed to be pushed home along with the rest of the pack, it is advisable to actually remove the right hand for a short time, the performer commencing to say what he is about to do with the cards. When he subsequently brings the hands together again, for the purpose of making the pass, the thumb and second finger of the right hand should again nip the upper end of the pack. A simultaneous twisting movement is made with both hands, the right hand turning the pack to the right, whilst the left turns the three cards to the left, until they are clear of one another, when the motions are reversed, the three cards being placed either on the top or at the bottom, as the performer may desire. He will find it easier to place them at the bottom, as they come more naturally there. The position of the left hand remains the same throughout, the three cards being held in position by the pressure of the little finger at the lower right-hand corner. The making of the pass must be covered by a slight swinging movement of the two hands in any direction. Some performers, finding it rather difficult to push home several cards into the desired position simultaneously and neatly, make the pass each time a card is placed in the pack. It is open to the learner to adopt this method if he so pleases, but he is more liable to detection; besides which, the feature of the pass is the showing the cards all in different parts of the pack, and then apparently pushing them home at one and the same time.

Fig. 34.

An alternative method is to push the cards down, with the projecting corner on the thumb side of the left hand, and then, by straightening the cards at once, leave half an inch or more of the whole width of the chosen cards projecting from the bottom of the pack, instead of having them diagonally across the pack, as is shown in illustration. A trial will show the learner that this method is an expeditious one, but my reasons against its use are twofold. Firstly, too much of the cards to be passed is exposed, and, secondly, the act of pushing them down is extremely likely to carry along with them indifferent cards intervening between two of them. This is especially likely to be the case with cards that are at all worn. The reason for this is that there is no stop to the body of the cards, which stop is provided, in the method shown at Fig. 34, by the little finger, during the whole of the operation. The act of pushing the cards transversely down, from the opposite side of the pack to that depicted, renders it impossible that the little finger can be in position on the lower side of the cards at the most critical time, the commencement, to prevent any but the desired ones from being pushed down. Its presence just at the corner seems to me to be very essential to the effective performance of the pass, combined with security from mishap.

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