Quartet: A Fake Card And Ten Routines Therewith by Guy Hollingworth
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii February, 2000)
Guy Hollingworth is a clever lad, a very clever lad indeed—but you knew that, especially if you've obtained his recent volume, Drawing Room Deceptions (reviewed in the October 1999 Genii). No sooner has that critically and commercially acclaimed volume appeared, than the author has turned around and created this superb pamphlet, which will no doubt be the subject of countless card sessions across the globe in the months to come.
This beautifully designed manuscript—the abundance of photographs are exquisitely re-produced and remarkably effective despite their diminutive size—comes complete with a well-made card feke that, with-out providing too much detail here, essentially is capable of producing the appearance of four different cards, despite the absence of any moving parts.
Although the principle behind this gaff is not new, Mr. Hollingworth presents no less than ten routines applying it that are, for all practical intent and purpose, unprecedented. Because of the feke's ability to mimic up to four cards, typical small-packet effects in which all four suits of a given value successively transform from suit to suit can be accomplished with very few additional cards being secretly added—namely one.
Hence, for example, "Twisting the Aces"—the first entry in the booklet—is performed, with the four Kings, in an apparently traditional (and if any-thing, cleaner) fashion, yet at the conclusion, the cards transform into the Aces. If you're following the theoretical logic here, you'll realize that the entire trick is now per-formed with a packet of five cards throughout, and no additional switches or exchanges necessary. And it is worth noting that this first routine requires little more in the way of technical demands beyond learning the procedure and handling the cards with some precision.
Although the remaining nine routines vary in their technical requirements, most utilize little more than the Vernon Add-On, Riffle Force, Elmsley Count, and the Olram Subtlety—all intermediate methodology. The material is organized approximately via increasing levels of technical requirements, and so as we progress further into the material we come upon the need for the Buckle Count, Multiple Lift from a small packet, Color-Steal, and Color-Change, and Mr. Hollingworth's Optical Alignment from his trick, "Waving the Aces." The ability to palm the gimmick in and out of a pack-et might well be of use also, and it should be noted that all necessary sleights are described (if briefly in the case of standards) in full.
All in all, however, even the most technically sophisticated material here will not begin to touch the extreme demands of some of Mr. Hollingworth's most famous material from Drawing Room Deceptions, and so if some of that content left you trembling and drooling in the closet, fear not—you'll have a much easier time with this stuff. But more than just an easier time, what I really think you'll have is fun! This gaff is delightful fun to play with, and you'll have a blast staying up all night trying out everything in these pages, then going back the next day and deciding which item you want to nail your pals with at the next magic meeting, when you borrow their deck and ring in this one-card gaff And believe me, with some practice and confidence, fool them you will.
In the "Indicator Kings," a card is selected, then in a packet the four Kings turn face-up, twisting-fashion, one at a time, until the last one matches the suit of the chosen card—at which point all four Kings suddenly change to the selection and its four mates. In "Transposition," the Aces are tabled under the card box, the four Kings transform one at a time into the Aces, whereupon the cards under the box are seen to have changed into the Kings. If this reminds you of Paul Harris' "Reset," you won't be surprised that later in the text is an extremely clean and baffling handling of that neo-classic plot. In "Reset Blanks," the trick begins as per "Reset," after the Aces transform into the Kings, the cards under the box are checked, only to have now changed into blank faces—whereupon it's discovered that the other cards have also all become blanks. In a version of the "Last Trick of Dr. Jacob Daley," the standard transposition is performed twice with Kings, whereupon the cards transform into the Aces. In "Blank Indicator," a card is chosen. Each King is shown individually, whereupon it transforms into a blank card. When the last card is reached—a King of the same suit as the selection—this card changes into the selection itself. A quite direct handling of a "One-at-a-Time Reverse Assembly" is provided, requiring little more than Elmsley and Olram Counts, and some finessed handling of the feke.
"A Gambler's Dream" is one of my favorite items in the book, in which the spectator(s) select four cards from the face-up deck, one of each suit and of any value. One at a time, each card transforms rather visually into a King of the same suit, whereupon all four Kings suddenly change back to the indifferent cards. This is really a stunning little pack-et trick.
And finally, the booklet concludes with yet another handling of Mr. Hollingworth's "Waving the Aces." This is a version of "Twisting the Aces" in which a fan of four Kings is displayed horizontally, backs toward the audience, and by merely waving the hand, one King magically reverses itself. This King is replaced facing inward toward the spectator, whereupon the effect is repeated with the next King, and so on until all four Kings have similarly reversed themselves. Suddenly, the fan is turned face-up, and the Kings have all transformed into the Aces. If you have already mastered "Waving the Aces" from Drawing Room Deceptions, the addition of the Quartet feke will present little challenge.
The gaff, it should be noted, is well made, and should last for quite some time with reasonable use. This will no doubt see a lot of activity among magicians fooling one another, but there's no doubt that there are distinctively commercial uses here as well, especially in "Waving the Aces" and as noted in "A Gambler's Dream." My reservations about some of the other plots concern themselves with the fact that, if one thinks about it, one becomes aware that in many cases what we have are standard small-packet plots with kicker endings—and while such combinations are nectar to seasoning magi, those kickers are often little more than distractions and impurities when it comes to good magic for lay audiences. "Confusion is not magic," as Vernon was so often fond of saying—and often-times, neither are kicker finales. That said, some of Mr. Hollingworth's specific handling ideas for this feke are clever in the extreme, and in a few cases are so elegant and "right" in their application here that they will make you smile, and perhaps even laugh out loud, with abject pleasure.