Chicken and Egg

By Luke Jermay - Saturday, January 16, 2021

In my experience creating good magic puts the chicken before the egg. Meaning, it's wise to start with the desired effect in mind, rather than starting with a clever method and then looking for some effect that it can accomplish. I confess there are exceptions to this rule, occasionally a method intuitively leads to an excellent application that points toward a worthwhile effect. However, most often the chicken is best placed before the egg.

In this example, the chicken is yet to hatch, making this an atypical blog post. There is no effect here. I instead will share an interesting technique, that sadly I have no interesting or worthy effect to utilise within. I hope that by sharing it, you might suggest a use in a worthy effect bringing its orphanage to an end.

This technique allows the performer to take an unprepared shuffled deck and openly remove all of one suit, which would then be used for some logical reason. Surprisingly, this action of spreading through the deck once, up jogging all of one suit and removing them, allows the performer to secretly organise all the other cards into separate suits. At the conclusion of the technique the performer has openly removed one of all suits, and secretly placed all the remaining cards into the three remaining suits.

To see what the technique looks like watch the video below, but please keep in mind that I am woefully out of practice and at this point in my work I do not handle cards as well as the majority of those reading this blog. I so rarely use cards in my professional work so am somewhat rusty with those things that are not in regular use.

To achieve this technique you will combine The Prayer Cull with an Under Spread cull. This means that you are able to cull two groups of cards, while keeping them separated. Begin with the shuffled deck ready to spread, up jog the first card of the alternative colour to the card that is one the face of the deck. Now, each time you come to a card of matching colour to this but of the opposite suit, execute a Prayer Cull sending it to the bottom of the packet that is now secretly riding beneath the spread. Each time you come to a card of matching colour but opposite suit to the face card execute an Under Spread Cull, secretly sending this card beneath the other culled packet all riding beneath the spread. This is executed as you openly up jog all of the cards in the matching suit.

If at any point you find yourself confused about which cards are to be culled using which method, thanks to the earlier organisation the answer is in front of you in your hands. Simply look at the cards that are up-jogged to remember you are culling the opposite of these using the Prayer Cull method. Simply look at the visible cards in the spread that are not up jogged to remember that you are culling those of the opposite suit using the Under Spread cull. This can be useful if you wish to stop the spread and make a comment or interact with someone, as this can throw you off and distract you. By always using this rule, you are always able to reorientate yourself if you become confused.

This means that you are secretly separating two suits beneath the spread, while openly separating two during the spread, under the open action of removing one suit. Essentially you get one of the suits for free, as when you remove the up jogged cards, what is left behind is the remaining cards to one suit, with the other two suits secretly separated thanks to the combination of culling techniques at work.

It is somewhat surprising that so much can be achieved in one spread. Now the question is, what effect might this technique unlock that is worthy of performance? The answer might, sadly be, none. In which case it becomes one more interesting technique to play with, but not use in performance. However, maybe you are the one that will bring this to life with an effect that is worth the attention of those you perform for. Please make your suggestions in the comments! I would love to see this chicken hatch!

Reader comments:


Sunday, 17 January 2021 17:33 PM - Reply to this comment

Thanks for sharing this technique. My first thought is that you could use this as a kicker ending to a routine that begins with a single suit.

Here is an idea that could work (it's not a full grown chicken yet but it could be worth hatching) :
After performing some routines where the audience shuffles the deck (so they know, the deck is shuffled) you go into the second phase of Lars's Memo Man:

To do so you jog out 16 red cards, e.g. 13 hearts and 3 diamonds. At the same time you secretly cull/sort the remaining cards.

Then you begin the Memo Man routine: blindly separate odd and even cards from the shuffled. The audience is amazed.

For the next phase you announce that you are going to keep eight red cards and add eight black cards. So you keep eight reds and place back the other red cards (eg. five hearts and three diamonds). Then you pretend to search for eight cards clubs and spades, which you jog out. You do this in a manner so that your audience does not see, that the cards are already sorted by suits. Now you perform the first phase of Memo Man, where you separate reds and blacks. After having done so, you announce that you not only have sorted the cards by memory, but that by tapping the rest of the deck you are going to perform a real miracle: you tap and – magically all the other cards have now separated into their suits.

What do you think?

Marco Batista

Sunday, 17 January 2021 23:20 PM - Reply to this comment

Hi Luke, great ideia - this one of combining the 2 spreads! An effect for this method? Don't have the slightest ideia :-)


Monday, 18 January 2021 10:37 AM - Reply to this comment

You could have a card selected and glimpse it when it’s put back in the deck. Then spread the deck on the table and you tell the spectator the suit of their card. You then take out all of the their cards suit (while performing the culling move) and you eliminate all of them except their card. You then place the eliminated cards on top of the deck. You can then reveal that you have eliminated every card except theirs. After that you can spread the deck to show the cards are sorted into suits.


Thursday, 21 January 2021 11:39 AM - Reply to this comment

Hi everyone! Thanks for your comments! I like Catherines idea as a starting point. Here was where my mind went from it:

The performer has a card chosen without them seeing it, let's imagine it is the 4 of Spades. The selection is returned to the deck which is then shuffled by a spectator. The performer explains that he will attempt to discover the chosen card using the 13 Diamonds. The performer spreads the deck and removes all diamonds and places them onto the table, arranging them into numerical order. Holding the packet face down she turns the top card over and displays the Ace. She turns this down and places it onto the table, explaining she does not feel this matches the value of the selection. This is repeated with the 2 and 3. However when the 4 arrives she pauses with the card held face down. After a magical gesture it is turned face up to reveal it has now transformed from a Diamond to a spade. The selection has been discovered.

Finally the magician makes a magical gesture over the deck and cuts it into four piles. When they are turned face up and spread it is seen they are separated into suits, each with one card that doesn't belong, one of the matching 4's.

To achieve this have a card peeked and glimpse it. Now have the deck shuffled and perform the technique as outlined in the original post. However, secretly introduce the selection into the removed suit (any that is different from the selection!) and when culling, intentionally cull the mismatched mates of the selections with their opposite colours.

Its an interesting starting point, I confess its not something I feel I would be excited to perform but its nice to brainstorm where we might go next from here!

Thanks Catherine!

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