The Connor/Combs/Jerx Code

Today's post is another iteration of the card code first mentioned in this post. This was something I was originally thinking about in regards to using with a Google Home or similar device. But it could also just be used with another person as well. In fact, if that person was on the other end of the phone, they wouldn't even have to have the code memorized. They could just be working off a cheat-sheet. Then you could do a very fair version of "The Wizard" phone effect, where the "wizard" could be on a speaker phone or skype or whatever the whole time, and there is no secret talking needed.

I find coding a card interesting to think about. Normally, I don't feel the need to "crowd source" methods on this site. Not because I think the methods I come up with are brilliant, but just because I know they're good enough for my purposes. But when it comes to ways to code a card, I think this is the sort of thing where a lot of minds expending a little thought on the subject may be better than one mind expending a lot of thought on it. Over time, we can probably make incremental improvements and refinements to the idea to the point where we have the simplest and strongest method possible. Even if we don't reach that goal, I still find it an interesting topic to consider and work on.

This idea is a variation and—to my mind—a simplification of the code that I originally published from Brian Villa Connor. It keeps the best parts of Brian's code, but makes other parts of it more intuitive. And it has the benefit that it includes the jokers and the advertising card. That's good because if you throw a deck of cards on the table that includes the advertising cards and you ask someone to select any card, there is a good chance they'll take the advertising card thinking they're being clever.

This system comes from Chris Combs with some minor changes from me, just in regards to some language used. If it seems complicated, you just need to read it a couple more times. It's pretty simple. I'm not someone who is great at learning/remembering these sorts of things, but I think you could learn it in about 12 minutes. (There are only 12 "pieces" to the code and they're easy to remember.)

The Connor/Combs/Jerx Code

So, remember, the goal here is to ask Google Home (or another type of virtual assistant) or another human to name a playing card, and in the asking we are coding the card we want them to respond. 

In this system we will break down the values into three groups of five. Those groups are

Group 1. A-5
Group 2. 6-10
Group 3. Jack, Queen, King, Joker, Advertising Card

The code follows this format:

"Hey Google, [code suit] [code group] [code position in group]."

That assumes you're talking to Google, of course. If instead you're talking to your friend Todd, it would start, "Hey Todd." Or, "Hey Dipshit," because, let's be honest, Todd's a dipshit.

For this example we'll assume we're coding the Queen of Hearts.

Coding the Suit

This is the same suit coding from Brian's code mentioned in the previous post.

Spades - "Please" 
Hearts - "I'd like you to"
Clubs - "Can you"
Diamonds - "I want you to"

The mnemonics for this, as mentioned in the previous post are:

  • "Can you" = Clubs > Both start with C
  • "Please" = Spades > Both have the P and S sound
  • "I'd like you to" = Hearts > When you "like" something online, you often click a heart.
  • "I want you to" = Diamonds > You want money (you greedy bitch).

So at this point the code for the QH would be:

"Hey Google, I'd like you to [code group] [code position in group]."

Coding the Group

The groups are easy to remember, as I indicated above. Group 1: A-5. Group 2: 6-10 Group 3: J,Q,K,Joker, Ad Card

The coding for these groups comes in the form of asking for assistance. 

Group 1 (A-5) - [Say Nothing]
Group 2 (6-10) - "help me and"
Group 3 (J, Q, K, Joker, Ad) - "do me a favor and"

There's no real mnemonic for this, but there are just two phrases to know: "help me" and "do me a favor." The coding is correlated to the length of the phrase. For group one you say nothing. Group two is the shorter phrase. And group three is the longer phrase.

So, now for the Queen of hearts we have:

"Hey Google, I'd like you to do me a favor and [code position in group]."

Coding Position in Group

Each group has 5 cards, and so we need to code which position that card is in. This is pretty easy. For group 1, each value corresponds to its position, that is to say, if the card is a 2, then it's in the second position. For group 2, you just subtract 5 to find the position. So a value of 8 would have a position of three. And for group 3, the positions are fairly intuitive as well: Jack=1, Queen=2, King=3, Joker=4, Ad Card=5.

The coding of the position comes when we ask Google to select a card. This might seem like 5 random phrases to memorize, but there's a pretty easy mnemonic for it.

Position 1 - "pick a card."
Position 2 - "choose a card."
Position 3 - "think of a card."
Position 4 - "name a card."
Position 5 - "select a card."


Position 1 - Pick a card - "Pick a card (any card)" being the primary (#1) phrase associated with card magic.

Position 2 - Choose a card. - Choose and Two have the same vowel sound.

Position 3 - Think of a card. - Think and Three both start with TH.

Position 4 - Name a card. - "Name" has four letters.

Position 5 - Select a card. - There isn't really a mnemonic for this. But "select" has the most syllables and it's the final option. It's not hard to remember.

Going back to our example, a queen is going to be position 2. So our complete code phrase is:

"Hey Google, I'd like you to do me a favor and choose a card."

Other Examples:

Here are the codes for five random cards. (Well, sort of random, I just used the 28th-32nd cards in Mnemonica stack because they provide a good mix of suits and high/low values).

Three of Hearts: "I'd like you to think of a card."
Eight of Diamonds: "I want you to help me and think of a card."
Five of Clubs: "Can you select a card?"
King of Spades: "Please do me a favor and think of a card."
Jack of Diamonds: "I want you to do me a favor and pick a card."

As I said, I think this code is relatively easy to learn and that the phrasing seems very natural, for the most part. 

You don't need to have the code ready instantaneously. Let's say you spread a marked-deck face down on the table in a big mess. (Face down because all decks are marked decks when they're face up.) Someone selects a card and pulls it towards them. You see it's the Six of Spades. You turn away and ask them to put it in their pocket without looking. Then you ask them to gather up all the cards, square them, and put the deck in the box. From a truly scattered deck this could easily take 20-30 seconds. Maybe more. During this time your back is turned and you're just building the code in your head starting with the suit.

Internal Monologue: Okay, it's a spade, so I start by saying "please." It's a 6 so it's in the second group, so that would be "Please, help me and...." And it's the first position. First equals "pick." So it would be "Please, help me and pick a card." 

As I mentioned above, if you have further simplifications, I'm happy to add more slashes and attributions to the name of this code. Or if you have something that looks at the coding issue from an entirely different angle, I'd be interested in hearing it. (In Friday's post I'll be offering another code that I think is probably more interesting than this one, but less usable. However, with some thought perhaps we can make it more so.)