Named-Card Effects are NOT Always Better than Chosen-Card Effects
By Joshua Jay - Sunday, October 11, 2020
Sometimes a thought-of, named card effect precludes the notion of any sort of force. “I could have named any card,” a spectator might think or even say aloud, in amazement. Other times it might be met with disappointment: “That’s easy because I told you my card.” Context is everything. I’d like to address the misperception that named-card routines are somehow inherently better than chosen card routines.
I’m struck by how many memorized deck routines simply convert chosen-card routines to name-a-card routines without much consideration for whether this improves the effect in the minds of the spectators. For example, nearly every newcomer to memorized deck magic realizes you can do Vernon’s seminal “Triumph” with a named card. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. A chosen card is (apparently) a secret; a named card isn’t. Much of the drama derived from all card magic comes from the magician’s not knowing a selected card or where it resides in the pack.
I approach this fallacy from this standpoint: chosen-card tricks are easier understood and appreciated by lay audiences. If you’re going to perform a name-a-card trick, the responsibility is yours to communicate why naming a card is, in that context, more impressive to what you’re doing. I think magicians would do well to do less material with thought-of, named cards, and to build up these moments more.
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