Joshua Jay's Impossible Three - an amazing impromptu effect performed with a borrowed and shuffled deck
OVERVIEW: Impossible Three is a powerful and simple impromptu card trick that was first released as part of a package of six effects by Joshua Jay for Penguin Magic under the title "A Different Side of Me". But they're also available for purchase separately, and in this review I'll be covering Impossible Three.
EFFECT: A borrowed shuffled deck is cut by the spectator into three piles. They memorize one of the cards they cut to, and you reassemble the deck and reveal which is their card. It's best performed as a demonstration of mentalism, although other presentations are also possible.
VIDEO: You get an instant download, which demonstrates and teaches the routine, with Joshua Jay himself providing the explanation. The entire video is just over 12 minutes long, of which the first two minutes have a performance, and the remaining 10 minutes are the explanation. The video recording features Josh sitting on a couch and running through the effect, so it's an intimate style close-up magic setting, and there are a few close-ups of the cards here and there. Even though it's not a high res video, it's all clear and straight forward.
ORIGIN: In the explanation, Joshua credits Bob Hummer's "Mathematical Monte", which was originally published in Hummer's booklet Mathematical Three-Card Monte (1951), as the background for this trick. The original effect from Hummer is already quite strong and has been known to baffle magicians. But Joshua's version takes the original premise and brings it to a deck of 52 shuffled cards, making the overall impact much stronger still. So he's applied some creative thinking to a proven concept, and developed it into a routine that makes it even more baffling. Some magicians consider Joshua Jay's version of Hummer's effect to be one of the best applications of the principle, and I have to agree.
DIFFICULTY: This is not a difficult trick to perform, and is well within the ability of intermediate magicians - and even relative beginners if you're willing to put in some time to practice the basic move required. There's only minimal sleight of hand required, and Joshua Jay also goes through the moves needed for a subtle glimpse that is required at one point. He also teaches some good subtleties that strengthen the overall effect. This is definitely a trick that you can learn and be ready to perform in 15 minutes or so, although you will want to master one particular move (which is quite easy) so that you can do it smoothly and unnoticed. On a difficulty scale, Impossible Three would have to be considered as relatively "Easy".
TEACHING: Joshua Jay is a good teacher, and in the 10 minutes of teaching he does a good job of explaining everything you need to know in order to learn and perform this effect. He explains the method and handling carefully and completely, and his instructions are easy to follow. He also gives some ideas for patter. He wraps things up towards the end by going through the explanation again. Finally, he closes with some comments about the psychology, with some ideas to increase your odds so that you can pull this off in an even more miraculous and impossible manner without some of the "work" needed to divine the selected card.
CONCLUSIONS: Is this trick really as good as it looks in the demonstration video? Absolutely. There are no hidden moves or edits, and what you see in the video is genuinely how the trick works; no workings are left out of the demo performance. Impossible Three is something you can perform completely impromptu, with a borrowed deck that is completely and thoroughly shuffled by your spectator. So what you see is what you get - and it's really quite straight forward to learn.
RECOMMENDATION: If you like the look of the performance video, I highly recommend Impossible Three as a great impromptu trick that is easy to learn and can be very powerful. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame