Big Friday sale

Thanks to Zarrow by Jerry Sadowitz

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii January, 1999)


FOR THOSE WHO are unfamiliar with the author of this manuscript, Jerry Sadowitz is an accomplished and often controversial British cardician and professional per-former who also publishes the notorious journal known as The Crimp. Mr. Sadowitz's one-man show of card magic received terrific notice at last year's British Fringe Festival, this despite a daily early morning curtain. (But while the choice is certainly an eccentric one, it may not be entirely unreasonable.) This manuscript addresses a step-by-step system for secretly locating and controlling cards, typically a named or needed four-of-a-kind, in the course of a series of Zarrow shuffles. (An essential element of Sadowitz' technique not credited in this manuscript, that of blocking off cards with the Zarrow Shuffle, was first published by Derek Dingle in 1982 [The Complete Works of Derek Dingle]. When it was later pointed out that he had expanded on something already published by Mr. Dingle, Mr. Sadowitz acknowledged as much in an issue of his periodical The Crimp, though the credit was never added to the manuscript.)

The booklet is divided into three sections: culling from the top third of the pack; culling from the bottom third of the pack; and culling from the top and bottom third. Six tricks are included. The techniques are taught progressively, with each of the first two sections describing methods for culling one, then two, then three, and finally four cards from the given portion of the deck. Mr. Sadowitz’s fundamental premise is to echo Jean Hugard's advice (offered by Hugard as a comment on magicians' enthusiasm for Erdnase's Expert at the Card Table) that magicians should think like magicians and not gamblers. The specific point here is that magicians should utilize all the elements and opportunities of both conditions and technique that are available to them, which in many cases are unavailable to hustlers—in particular, for purposes of the work described in this monograph, the opportunity to briefly spread the cards face-up prior to beginning the shuffling sequence. While the goal of culling and controlling particular cards while shuffling is not a new one—a legendary trademark of John Scarne's work, and a subject addressed at length, as the author points out, in the works of Karl Fulves—the work here is substantially original and well described (even if the hand-printed typography, albeit reasonably neat, doesn't enchant me). This is not easy stuff and will likely only be of interest to the true enthusiast, but rest assured that this is not like trying to learn the Center Deal. If you are comfortable with the Zarrow Shuffle and reasonably conversant with the concept of riffle stacking then this material is probably more accessible than you might otherwise guess, and the curious who take the trouble of obtaining this work might find themselves in for a pleasant if challenging surprise.

Thanks to Zarrow ; Jerry Sadowitz; Available from H&R Magic Books; 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" spiral bound; 24 single-sided pages; lightly illustrated; 1998