Equivoque — Biggie Sized


A classic joke from my high school days, after a trip to Wendy’s, would be to hold your Biggie drink in one hand and grab your genitals with the other and say, “I’ve got my Biggie in one hand and my drink in the other.” Good times.

In regards to yesterday’s post, a few people wrote in asking, “How do you do equivoque with 25 items?”

Well, I don’t exactly. It’s just part of the selection procedure. I’ll explain. Let’s say I want to force one coin among many. Here’s what it might look like:

I have everyone at the table toss any change they have into a pile in the middle of the table. I ask them to mix up the change, swirl it around the table, or whatever. Then I ask one person to divide the change into a few small piles. “We’re going to eliminate three of the four piles.” I have people select piles to be eliminated and they’re pushed off to the side. The coins from the final pile are laid out in a row on the table and they are eliminated until we’re down to one coin: the force coin.

The basic idea is just to introduce the force item into the procedure after a number of free choices have been made.

So they make the pile of change and mix it up. They make a number of small piles from that change and I tell them they’re going to eliminate all but one of the piles. The choose piles one-by-one for elimination. There is nothing unusual or suspicious about this, because it’s legitimately fair.

Once we get down to one pile, that’s when I introduce the force object. So if it’s a coin, then the coin is in palm and I’ll either push the pile towards them and drop off the palmed coin OR I’ll introduce the coin in the process of transition the coins from a pile into a row. No one ever notices the added coin.

At this point I’m down to 6-8 coins and I’ll use a combination of 2nd and 3rd wave equivoque to narrow it down to one coin. (The exact wording will depend on the objects I’m using. My “generic” equivoque script is likely to be in TOY, the next book for supporters of the site.)

When I first started doing this procedure, it was with folded pieces of paper with something drawn or written inside, and during the procedure I would introduce the force piece of paper that was folded in a slightly off-kilter manner which I could recognize easily. At first I didn’t know how it would be received. There were two ways this could play out.

  1. Because of the free choices at the start, the spectator’s guard would be down for the less free equivoque choices later on.

  2. Because of the free choices at the start, the equivoque portion would—in comparison—feel even more awkward or unfair than it might otherwise.

In my experience, it’s definitely been option #1.

There is something so casual and uncontrolled about this procedure that it seems to quell their suspicion. Think of it in terms of a card force (another way I’ve used it). I ask you to shuffle the deck and cut it into a bunch of different piles. How many? However many you want. It doesn’t really matter. 7 or 10 or whatever feels right. Then you have a totally free choice to discard the packets one by one until we’re down to a lone packet.

This feels so free and easy. I’m barely paying attention. Clearly I’m not trying to force a card on you. We’re just going through a process to narrow down the full deck to one card. .

Once we get to one pile, I spread them in front of you (adding in a palmed card). You then narrow down those cards to one (via equivoque). And yes, it’s not as free from then on, but I think good-will you generate during the clearly fair opening choices helps camouflage the equivoque later. At least that’s been my experience.