Fully Booked | Confidences by Roberto Giobbi
By Harapan Ong - Wednesday, February 12, 2020
When the name Roberto Giobbi comes up, people invariably think of his monumental Card College series of books. I’m honestly still in awe at how much material and research those tomes contain - it must have taken ages for Roberto to compile! However, today, we turn our attention to a more recent and a much smaller book of Roberto’s - Confidences.
Confidences has easily become one of my favourite magic books to read in my collection. The reason for this is twofold: first of all, we are talking about Roberto Giobbi here, one of magic’s most respected and knowledgeable authors. His writing style is easy to read, and the references / crediting in this book is of course beyond compare.
But secondly (and more importantly), what I enjoy most about Confidences is the content itself. Confidences is a book that contains a mixture of different items - it describes and explains a few routines straight from Roberto’s repertoire, and also contains a few essays and articles on theory or history of magic. For me, the routines in this book are solid and very well constructed, with very strong and interesting premises. The routines described are all more suited for a more formal performance where you are seated down at a table with a small crowd, which I assume is the most common performing situation that Roberto finds himself in. A few highlights include:
The Trick That Andy Warhol Could Have Explained: Roberto’s take on Vernon’s Trick That Cannot Be Explained combines the best of the original with a little something extra to increase your chances of getting a clean, direct “hit” much higher. If I’m going to perform The Trick That Cannot Be Explained for a formal show, this is the version I will do.
The Deck of Missed Opportunities: A great presentational hook for the now classic “Phil” or “Fred” card trick. The basic effect is that you show a deck of cards with names of different famous people in history that you wish you could have performed for. A spectator, holding on to an envelope, names any card - the name on the back of the freely selected card is Albert Einstein, which is predicted by the name on the envelope they were holding the entire time.
Overture for Cups and Balls: This is how Roberto begins the Vernon Cups and Balls routine. Instead of simply tipping out three balls from the cups or taking the balls out of his pocket, Roberto produces them from under one of the cups, after having shown them unmistakably empty by performing the various cup flourishes (e.g. penetrating the cups through each other and with the wand). If you already do the Cups and Balls, this is just a really elegant opener.
While the routines are great, I personally feel that the most valuable part of this book has to be the essays and articles on magic. Roberto touches on quite a number of topics on theory, which are very well substantiated and thought provoking. One of my favourites in the book has to be the essay titled “The Rossini Insight”, in which Roberto discusses the idea (in great detail) that when it comes to false transfers of small objects, it is generally better to take than to put. In other words, a French Drop (in which you “take” a coin held in your hand) is generally more convincing than something like a Retention Vanish (in which you “put” a coin into your hand). I’m not great at coin magic, but I think that anyone interested in the psychology and theory of what makes a sleight deceptive will benefit greatly from Roberto’s article on this topic. Focusing so much attention on a single sleight like a false transfer, probably one of the most essential and iconic sleights in magic, has really made me think (and re-think) about how I personally frame my own magic routines.
If you are someone (like me) who prefers card magic, you definitely have to check out his essay titled “Thoughts on Controls”. This is a much longer and more detailed article on Roberto’s analysis of different ways to control a playing card, which includes a good description of Ravelli’s Law of Degrees of Freedom. Simply put, Ravelli (the pen name of Ron Wohl) argues that “The degree of freedom of the selection must be equal or similar to that of the replacement”. Roberto then goes into the many finer aspects of the selection, replacement and control of the card, breaking the whole process down to seven phases. He provides concrete and clear examples of how to maximise the effectiveness of each phase with moves that you probably already know. This is a real masterclass in card handling and sleight theory, and I believe this essay is a real gem.
This book has made me a fan of Roberto Giobbi, and now I am super eager to continue getting more of his published material beyond Card College. If you are looking for a magic book that goes far beyond just a collection of card tricks or card sleights, but a book that actually will improve your framework for understanding this magical artform we love, look no further than [Confidences by Roberto Giobbi[(https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/card-magic/confidences/).
Back to blog homepage
Similar posts on the blog: