A couple people wrote to ask why I didn’t just use the George Sands’ “Prime Number Principle” (PNP) to force an item from a circle as in Monday’s post, The Wrath Force.
First, let me describe a simple demonstration of that principle for those who are unfamiliar with it. Put five cards in a circle. Designate one of those cards your force card. Now start with the card one card clockwise from the force cards. That card will be the count of “one.” Count any number less than five around the circle starting with the “one” card. When you land on a card, turn it over, it’s been eliminated, but keep it in the circle. Continue counting that number again starting with the next card in the circle. Eliminated cards are still counted. What will happen is that you’ll eliminate every card except your force card. This is similar to the force I described Monday, just much simpler since you don’t need to remember a bunch of rules.
So why didn’t I just use that? Well, for a few reasons.
Reason #1 - I was set on using five objects (as I had Quinta in mind). And with 5 objects, using that principle as a force isn’t great (at least not in a circle formation). You can’t use the number 5. The number 1 looks stupid. 4 doesn’t look great either—you just end up eliminating cards in order around the circle. So only two numbers work and/or look any good.
Reason #2 - I misunderstood something about the PNP which I’ll get to in a second.
Reason #3 - I liked the idea of using dice to choose the number. My theory was that if I used the PNP and they picked 3, they’d think “Well, probably everyone picks three. There aren’t that many numbers between 1 and 5.” And they’d be close to right. The force I described on Monday allows them to use any number between 1 and 12.
Reason #4 - The PNP just wouldn’t work with the effect I created the force for.
But, now I’ve come around on all those reasons. I’ll tell you why.
1. With the PNP you don’t need to use 5 objects. You can use any prime number of objects. So if I used 7, I would had twice as many numbers that worked and looked like a random elimination (2, 3, 4, and 5). 6 works too, it just doesn’t look as random because the objects get eliminated linearly.
2. The thing I misunderstood about the PNP is as follows… you’ll see in the write-up I linked above (and in most of the other write-ups I’ve seen) that it says the principle works with any number less than the prime number you start with. But unless I’m mistaken (which is possible, I’m dumb), it works with any number at all, as long as it’s not a multiple of the number of items you start with. So if you start with 7 items, every number will work except for 7, 14, 21, etc.
3. So… that means with 7 cards, we can still use a couple real or imaginary dice. And the force will work as long as they don’t choose/roll a 7. If they do roll a 7, it’s easy enough to get around that. Just say, “Okay 7, great. Oh wait… we have seven items here. We’ll just keep counting around to the same object. Pick any number other than seven.” And you’re good to go.
4. The reason I created the Wrath Force as written up Monday was for something in the next book that wouldn’t work with the PNP. Because it’s for supporters, I can’t give too much away. But I’ll say this, it’s not a card force and it doesn’t involve any counting at all. And it perfectly mimics a method of selection almost everyone has done in their lives at some point. Originally I needed the more complicated version of the force to make my idea work, but I think I have a simplified version that will work. I just haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. If it ends up working, you’ll see it in the book.
So using the Prime Number Principle is really the way to go. It’s so much simpler. Here’s how I would use it in the context of a card force.
The Violence Force
(Because the cards are in a circle, I’ve been naming these forces after Dante’s circles of hell. Look at me, I’m a smarty-pants!)
This combines methods to make a really impenetrable force. It’s not going to be your everyday force, because it’s very process-heavy. You might think a lot of process would weaken a force. In some circumstances it can. But I don’t think that’s an issue with this force as I’ll explain later.
It will be easier if the force card has a mark you can identify on the back, but it’s not necessary. Having a joker in the deck is good too, but also not 100% necessary.
You hand the cards to the spectator to shuffle.
You take them back and remove the joker. In the process you cull or cut the force card to the top.
You tell the spectator to cut the cards into “a bunch” of small packets. You want about seven or eight packets. Keep track of the packet that was formerly the top of the deck.
“We’re going to eliminate the entire deck down to one card. To do that, we’ll eliminate seven of these eight packets. Give me one packet to eliminate.”
The packets are given to you one at a time. You flash them to show the cards that are being eliminated. As the packets are handed to you, you’re reassembling the deck in your hands. If the packet with the force card on top is eliminated, just make sure that it ends up back on top of the cards in your hands. Simple.
You’re down to one packet, either it already has the force card on top or it will when you palm the force card off the cards in your hand and push the remaining packet towards the spectator.
If necessary, have them add or subtract cards to that packet to get to seven (you don’t mention the number seven to the spectator because you don’t want that number to seem important). Here’s the easiest way to do it.
If there are more than seven cards—for example, 9—spread them between your hands face-up, but with the last one held as a double, hiding the force card. “You eliminated those piles randomly, not knowing what was in them. Now I’ll let you make an intentional choice and just name a couple of the cards here and they’ll be eliminated as well.” The card(s) they name are removed.
If there are less than seven cards—for example, 5—flip over the eliminated cards and swirl them on the table. “You eliminated these piles randomly. Now you have the chance to give a couple cards a second chance. Which ones do you want to add back in?”
Arrange the seven cards in a circle. Place their finger or a marker of some sort on the card one card clockwise from the force card. Now you can tell them what’s going to happen and be very direct. “You’re going to choose any number you want. We’ll start with the card you’re on as one and count clockwise. Whatever card we end up on will be the eliminated card. And we’ll continue like that until we’re down to one card.”
You can go the dice route, the invisible dice route, or just “name a number that’s not too large, because we’re going to be counting up to it at least 6 times.”
Thinking of it now, I might disqualify 7 before they have a chance to choose it or roll it. “Name any number. Just not 7 because we have 7 cards and we’d end up just counting around and around to the same card.”
Follow the process and eliminate all the cards until you’re left with one, the force card.
There are so many layers to this: mathematics, sleight-of-hand, and genuinely free choices, that it will be very difficult for them to understand how this could be a force.
I know a lot of you are thinking, “I wouldn’t use that. I want something more direct. ‘Point to a card.’ ‘Touch a card.’ ‘Name a card.’”
I fully get that instinct. But the truth is, a direct and “quick” force can often be dismissed with an “Easy Answer.” Did he make me touch that card? Does everyone name that card? Etc.
Layering methods helps eliminate some of those Easy Answers.
Yes, but isn’t it obviously a force? If it wasn’t, why would you go through this whole process? Why not just have them name a card?
That’s a good point, and it’s a problem with many process-heavy forces. Think of the 10-20 force where you’re asking for a number, counting down to that number, then adding the digits and counting down again. That’s a very bizarre process.
But in this force, all of the process is for the same reason: to eliminate cards. First we’re eliminating packets, then once we’re down to a handful of cards we’re eliminating them one at time. It all feels like one type of process continuing throughout the force.
And there is a logical reason to do it this way rather than have them just name or touch a card. That reason is drama.
“I’m going to have you select a card. Actually I’m going to have you eliminate 51 cards. Usually a magician will just have you pick one and you never really know if you picked it freely or if maybe he forced it on you somehow. That won’t be the case here. You will watch 51 different options fall away based on your decisions and chance. So you’ll actually see the consequences of your actions every step of the way. Here, shuffle up the deck.”
And you can make a big deal every step of the way as you show them the ramifications of their decisions. In the right situation, this type of “slow motion” force can be incredibly strong.
Let’s take a quick break from this discussion to look at the…
Questionable Cafe Claim of the Day
Later in the same post…
“These tricks are PERFECT for TV! (Also, you can’t do these on TV.)”
This is reminiscent of my Tinder profile where I talk about how great I am at eating pussy and then tacked onto the end it says, “Oral sex not included in our date. Contact SansMinds for cunnilingus.”
Damn, guys. So, I just had a chance to perform The Violence Force, as written up above. (I wrote part of the post a couple days ago, it’s now Thursday evening as I write this.) That thing is super strong. Stronger than I expected. Yes, it’s process-y, but it feels like a cohesive process. We’re whittling down the deck to one card in ways that involve choice and chance.
When I want to test out a force I always choose an effect where “force” should be the obvious answer. If a force is the easiest answer for an effect and they still don’t offer that as a potential explanation, then you’ve got a good force.
I also like to use an effect that doesn’t have an inherently exciting revelation. I don’t want to mistake their excitement for seeing fireworks in the sky spelling out their card to color my impression of how the force went over.
Here’s what I did. There were two decks on the table. One happened to be marked. I told my friend Mike to shuffle that deck while I looked through the other deck. I acted like I was considering something, but really I was just waiting for him to finish shuffling. When he was done, I noted the marks on the top card and removed the matching card from my deck, gave it to Mike, and told him to sit on it without looking at it.
I then went through the force as written above. Once the cards were in a circle I was pushed back well away from the table.
When the remaining card matched the card under his ass he said, “What the good heavens? You indubitably never ostensibly touched the blessed cards!”
(Actually, what he really said was, “What the fuck? You fucking never fucking touched the fucking cards!” But my critics have informed me that smart people don’t need to use bad words to make their point. So I wanted to make my friend seem smarter. But I don’t like lying to you readers. Sorry, Mike.)
He was wrong though. I had touched the packet when I pushed it towards him, loading in the palmed card, and when I spread through to see how many cards we had. He had ten, and rather than eliminate three, I had him add in one “second chance card.” The nice thing about the Prime Number Principle is that it works with any prime number so you have some flexibility. (It just doesn’t work with 280,859, for some reason. Seriously. I swear. Try it out.)
I think the reason he didn’t remember me touching the cards is that there is a very hands-off feeling when anything of importance is happening (when cards are being eliminated) that I think carries over for the whole force.
I really like this combination of principles. And adding a marked deck to it just makes it that much more impossible to figure out. This is likely going to be one of my go-to forces when I want a more drawn out procedure.
He’s no longer with us, but thanks to George Sands for the Prime Number Principle. I’ve never taken a deep dive into his work, but his Sandsational Rope routine was something I bought on one of my first visits to a magic store when I was young.
Also, that picture looks like it was taken in front of the same blue background my school pictures were taken against when I was a kid.
He couldn’t have possibly been in elementary school in the 1980s, could he?
Wait… no… hold on…
I just found this picture. He was clearly in high school in the 1980s.
We’re about a month away from the rise of the Full Harvest Moon, and this will be the third year where I will take that time to make some decisions about the future of the site. I think I know what my plans are. They’re similar to the plans I had last year to take things more underground, but I didn’t follow-thru on that like I wanted.
I’d like to get an idea of how you read the site so I can decide if what I’m thinking makes sense. If you read this site with any regularity, please fill out the form below.