Graduate By Aaron Fisher
Edited by Steven Goldstein
Photos by Wayne Houchin Layout by Rose Rings
Copyright © 2010 Aaron Fisher Magic All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission from the copyright owner.
After causing a selection to instantaneously rise to the top of the pack, the magician repeats the effect, this time in slow motion, allowing the spectators to watch as the card visibly moves upward through the deck.
Table of Contents
Preface ................................................................................ 1 Introduction ....................................................................... 2 The Effect ........................................................................... 4. The Setup .......................................................................... 4
The Gradual Shift ...................................................... 7
Origins and Credits ........................................................... 21 Thoughts and Commentary ............................................... 22
On the Gradual Shift ............................................... 22.
On Keeping the Gradual Shift in Alignment ............. 23
On the Moment ....................................................... 23
Timing the Classical Pass ........................................ 24
The Gradual Shift approach...................................... 25
Toward an Even More Deceptive Sift........................ 26
On the Right-hand Riffle Action .............................. 27
Alternate Approaches .............................................. 28
To navigate to any page, simply click on the title above.
At the center of card magic -- swirling throughout its history and animating the great, philosophical discussions from generation to generation -- is the pass. This wonderful secret move has always provided the nexus for understanding sleight of hand and represented the shifting importance of techniques. (No pun intended.) It has been essential, it has been discredited, and it has been rediscovered and reassessed again and again. In the hands of a number of brilliant contemporary card workers, the pass has reached a new level of ingenious applications for magic. Ironically, the pass is one of those moves, one of those very few moves, which seems to match a layman’s understanding of magic: two hands come together at an important moment in the trick, do something very quickly, and the trick is accomplished. One of the great secrets of magic, of course, is the fallacy of this formula; moves are shrouded in misdirection, not speed; in off-moments, not dexterity. But the pass survives in all forms, as needed. Sometimes it is on display, under fire, and sometimes buried deeply within the subtleties of a routine. Aaron Fisher’s previous writings on card magic, like The Paper Engine, have established him as a unique thinker on these subjects, and his performances and innovations have always been wonderful examples of card mastery. Here the pass is called upon again, with a different technique and startlingly different results. It’s been a pleasure watching Aaron perform The Graduate, and I was intrigued to read the technique used to accomplish it. I hope that readers will commit themselves to this wonderful effect, and in turn be inspired by the marvels of the pass within Aaron’s fascinating routine.
Introduction The Ambitious Graduate, as it was called, first appeared in 2002 in Genii magazine. The method worked well in intimate circumstances, but only in intimate circumstances, as the shift required you to dip your right fingers, which would have been visible from other angles and more distant spectator positions. Ultimately, this proved to be a sticking point, and I eventually grew dissatisfied with the method entirely and stopped using it. Then, a few years ago, I was made aware of a similar effect being marketed by Owen Packard at Big Blind Media — an effect that seemed overly close to The Ambitious Graduate. Owen and I discussed the matter and, much to his and the company’s credit, Big Blind Media canceled its project. But from my perspective, there was a strange synchronicity at work. Only six months earlier, I’d cracked the puzzle, and rebuilt The Ambitious Graduate. The details of the new method were entirely different — the effect had become stronger and much more practical. At the time, only a few close friends knew about the new model; I had no thoughts of releasing it. Frankly, I was just happy to have the trick back … and just the way I always wanted it. But ever since, I’ve had the sneaking feeling that this trick — now, simply, The Graduate — is no longer mine alone. The idea at the heart of it has finally become interesting to others. And so it seems appropriate to share the finished product as well. I hope you enjoy it! I am indebted to many teachers and friends for helping me bring this idea to the greater magic fraternity, and they deserve more credit than they know. Special thanks go to my dear friend Peter Galinskas, not merely for his suggestion of the sideways movement of the deck under the top card — that is just the smallest of the things Peter has taught me — but for infusing within me an appreciation for the importance of the pass, that most versatile and useful of techniques, on which so much, including much of my own work, is based.
I would also like to thank the following individuals, for their valuable help and encouragement along the way: Lee Asher, Eric Mead, Juan Tamariz, John Thompson, Max Maven, Alex Slemmer, Brian Mcelvain, Jen and Magic Mike Segal and the campers of Sorcerers Safari, Wayne Houchin, Jason Dean, Josh Saks, Keith Brown, Ethan Nessen, Jeff and Mary Mielke, Alpen Nacar, William Goodwin, Chris Grant, and Mark Nelson. And finally to you, cherished readers and students, I thank you for making the journey meaningful.
The Effect After causing a selection to instantaneously rise to the top of the pack, the magician repeats the effect in slow motion, this time allowing the spectators to watch as the card visibly moves upward through the deck. Sounds simple enough, but it’s a lot of sleight of hand packed into a short period of time. The Graduate is a fairly advanced piece of card magic. We’ll assume the reader has some basic familiarity with both the Ambitious Card plot and the multiple turnover, a technique the Ambitious Card effect nearly always incorporates.
The Setup To begin, control a selection by any method to the third position from the top of the deck. With the deck in dealing grip, use your left thumb to push the top card to the right. Take the card with the right hand, thumb above and first two fingers underneath. In a continuing action, push over the next card and with the right hand take it under the first card, spread to the left. Turn your right hand palm down, displaying the faces of the two cards, and then immediately turn your left hand palm down and use the first finger to point to the faces of the two cards (Photo 1). Matching words to your actions say, “Your card isn’t here.”
As the left first finger points, use the left thumb to push off the top card of the deck — the actual selection — and get a fourthfinger flesh break below it as it’s pulled back flush with the deck (Photo 2). Turn both hands palm up and replace the right-hand cards back on the deck and square up. Graduate
Be sure to maintain the left fourth-finger flesh break as you use the right fingers to riffle the front edge of the of the pack (Photo 3). This riffle will serve as your “magic moment” throughout the routine: it conditions the audience to expect — every subsequent time they see it — that the spectator’s card has just risen 2 through the deck. In the audience’s mind, the riffle is the causative agent: the “magic” that enables the card to rise. In this first stage, the card has risen all the way to the top; later, via the gradual shift, it will rise in stages: first, a third of the way upward; then another third; and lastly it will rise through the final third of the deck, to ultimately land on top. We’ll talk more about this riffle and how you should approach it in the Thoughts and Commentary section. For now, just remember that this action is important — don’t skip it.
Execute a triple turnover to show that the selection has apparently risen to the top of the deck. As you turn the triple face down, use the ball at the base of the left thumb to catch a greek break between the triple and the rest of the pack (Photo 4 4). This is not a stopping position, however: use your left thumb to apply slight downward pressure to the top of the pack and cause a break to open between the triple and the rest of the deck at the back right corner of the deck. This break is immediately picked up by the left fourth finger, allowing the greek break to close. Maintain the fourth-finger break as you use the left thumb to push the top card off the deck to the right — take care to do this without disturbing the card above the break. Don’t be surprised if even this simple action takes practice to master. After you push over the top card, take it with your right hand at the upper right corner, thumb above and first two fingers below. Use your left thumb to riffle down the upper left corner of the pack. After roughly half the cards have slipped past the left thumb, insert the indifferent card into the center of the deck. Remember, the audience believes this card is the selection. With the right fingers, cleanly push the card flush into the deck. Again, riffle the cards for the “magic” move. Now, execute a double turnover and, just as you did before, secure a fourth-finger break beneath the double card as it turns face up. For a second time, the selection has risen to the top. Now offer to demonstrate the effect once more — but this time you’ll allow the audience to watch the spectator’s card as it visibly rises to the top.
The Gradual Shift Turn the double card face down on the deck, allowing it to fall square, and use the thumb to push over only the top card of the deck. This is an indifferent card. Again, take the card with the right hand as before, taking care not to flash its face during the actions that follow. Relax the left-hand grip so that the pack bevels just slightly to the right (Photo 5). Grip the deck lightly but securely at the rear edges between the fourth finger and the base of the thumb. Your second and third fingers may contact the pack, but apply little or no pressure to the cards.
Curl the left first finger beneath the deck and use it to support the deck from below. Use the left thumb to riffle down the upper corner of the pack until you reach the bottom card (Photo 6). Place the faux selection into the pack above the bottom card of the deck. During the insertion, keep the left thumb low in order to afford the 6 spectator a clear view of what’s happening (Photo 7). Dropping the left thumb also serves another purpose: it allows you to be sure that the outjogged card is in precisely the correct position, with the lower left corner of the card all but contacting the fork of the left thumb. Graduate
Note that the outjogged card is slightly angled to the right— this will help you find the correct position for the gradual shift. It’s crucial to the sleight that when you bring your left thumb back to its normal position along the left side 7 of the pack, the lower left corner of the card contacts the web at the fork of the thumb. After you’ve practiced The Graduate and thoroughly understand its workings, you’ll be able to angle the card less — with less of the lower left corner of the card protruding — in order to find the proper position. For the time being, however, the angle will make this sequence easier to learn. In what then appears to be a single, unhurried, and natural action, you will seem to simply grasp the pack from above and softly riffle the front end of the pack — the “magic moment” that, when the audience sees it, signals to them that the spectator’s card has magically risen in the deck. You then turn the long end of the deck toward the audience to show that this has in fact happened: the spectator’s outjogged card has mysteriously “melted” upward through approximately 15-20 cards in the lower part of the deck. This astonishing moment is the result of the gradual shift, the integral sleight of the effect. To execute the gradual shift, you must first learn exactly how to grip the pack. This is the most difficult part of the entire shift. Most of your practice time will be spent learning to get into, and maintain, the correct position. Compared to this get-ready, the shift itself will be relatively easy. As the right hand comes from above to grasp the pack, return the left thumb to the side of the pack (Photo 8). The lower left corner of the outjogged card should be in contact with the web of flesh at the fork of the left thumb (Photos 9a and 9b show ONLY the correct position of the corner of the card; the rest of the outjogged card and the the right hand are purposely out of position in order to facilitate this view.) Graduate
Hold your right fingers lightly but securely together as they engage the pack from the right side. Raise your right first finger enough to clear the card (which is outjogged for about half its length) and use the side of the right second finger at the outer joint to contact the right edge of the card at a point just forward of where the card enters the pack, such that the joint is not touching the front edge of the pack. Referring again to Photo 8, you will simultaneously contact the short ends of the pack with the outer phalanges of your right first finger and thumb.
The right second finger applies diagonal pressure toward the lower left corner of the card. This corner, embedded in the flesh at the fork of the thumb, will act as a pivot post. Before continuing, make sure your right second finger can securely feel the pressure along this axis, as in Photo 10.
Apply steady pressure against the pivot point with the right second finger as you begin rotating the supposed selection counterclockwise. This pressure should be just enough to hold the card steady, but not so much that the card bows. Simultaneously with this movement, slide the right first finger and thumb leftward across the short ends of the pack. It’s important to keep the right fingers together during this motion, as in a moment they will shield from the audience the pivoting action that will disengage the back right corner of the card from the front of the deck. Graduate
Before your right first finger and thumb reach the left edge of the pack, you’ll reach a point where you can’t pivot the card any further without changing your finger positions. This is not a stopping point (Photo 11).
Continue moving the right first finger and thumb to the left — but now, extend the right second finger as you move so that the card continues to pivot out of the deck (Photo 12; Photo 13, exposed view).
When the right first finger and thumb reach the left side of the deck, use them to grasp all the cards above the jogged one. By this point, you will have all but disengaged the outjogged card from the pack. Thanks to the fortress-like screen provided by your right fingers, it looks as though you have simply anglejogged the selection and grasped the deck from above. To help ensure that you don’t flash, the left thumbtip should now contact the outer phalange of the right first finger and the right thumbtip should firmly contact the base of the left thumb.
In a continuing action, use your left fourth fingertip to pull down very slightly on the bottom 17 or so cards from the deck. This number is merely a guideline representing about a third of the pack — do 14 your best, but don’t sweat it. In addition, you won’t need to hold this break. This means that your fourth finger doesn’t need to pull down very much on the cards. Pull just enough to break the packet from the deck (Photo 14). As soon as you feel the bottom packet begin to break away, stop pulling! If the packet dips any more than necessary, you risk flashing on your right. As you break the bottom packet from the deck, use the pad of the left first fingertip to hold the front edge of the broken packet securely against the left thumbpad, which still contacts the packet at the back edge near the left side. Photo 15 shows the pressure applied by the left first fingertip to the packet. Now comes the shift itself. You will pass the broken packet around and below the outjogged card. If your finger positions and pressure are correct, the shift itself should be simple to accomplish 15 by comparison. It’s often helpful to keep in mind that the illusion of the outjogged card “moving upward” is accomplished by successively transferring blocks of cards “downward.”
Use the right thumb 16 to apply pressure to the back edge of the lower packet. Now use the left first finger to rotate the bottom packet clockwise, using the back left corner of the packet as a pivot post. (Photo 16. Note: this photo and the next, Photo 17, illustrate these motions using a transparent, acrylic block — the OMNI Deck — in place of the upper packet, allowing you to see through to the correct finger positions.) You shouldn’t have to rotate the lower packet more than a half-inch before you hear the click of the outjogged card as it snaps free of the lower packet and against the bottom of the main pack. (Photo 17). With practice, you’ll be able to do this silently — right now, the click is a good sign. It lets you know you’re on the right track.
The OMNI Deck was developed by Danny Korem and Jerry Andrus, and manufactured by Palmer Tilden. It is currently marketed by Shawn Farquhar.
As you feel the lower packet clear the outjogged card, use your right first fingertip to press down lightly on the back of the card. The front edge of the card will tip forward. This will cause the rear edge of the card to butt up against the bottom card of the deck proper, ensuring that the outjogged card remains above the lower packet will remain above the lower packet as you square the deck (Photo 18). In the photo, this action is exaggerated; in actual performance, the movement wouldn’t be noticed, let alone suspected.
To finish the shift, several small moves happen at once. Use the left first finger to reverse the course of the bottom packet and to make sure that the packet goes below the outjogged card as you square the deck (Photo 19).
At the same time, use the left side of your right second finger, which still contacts the right side of the outjogged card, to pivot that card clockwise — again using the lower left corner of the card as a pivot point. This will reintroduce the back right corner of the outjogged card into the front end of the deck. When the second finger contacts the front edge of the deck, stop the pivoting action (Photo 20). The shift is complete — all except for the “magic” riffle that signals to the spectators that the card has risen in the pack. As your right second finger comes back into 20 contact with the front edge of the deck, use the left second, third, and fourth fingers to secure the reconstituted deck. At the same time, lay your left thumb across the back of the pack and use your right first finger to slowly and softly riffle the front end of the pack above the outjogged card (Photo 21).
22 An important note: when you riffle the cards, your natural inclination will be to pull up on the cards with your right fingers; the danger here, however, is that in lifting the upper portion of the pack (Photo 22), you might expose the indifferent card to the audience — or worse, cause it to fall out of the pack entirely! (A good sign that you’re tilting too far upward is if your right palm is visible to the audience.) To help you avoid this fatal flaw, use your left hand, with the fork of the left thumb as a lever, to push down on the deck — in effect rotating your left hand, at the leftthumb fulcrum point, outward and forward toward the audience — allowing the cards to riffle off the right first finger. Don’t let the length of the preceding description deceive you. The entire sequence, from the time your right hand grasps the deck from above, to the completion of the riffle, takes about a second. You will now show the spectators the “result” of the magic riffle (the rise of the card), by raising the pack to your fingertips. Grasp the deck from above between your right second finger and thumb. The right second finger and the left thumb both contact the outjogged card precisely where it enters the pack (Photo 23). Use the right hand to raise the pack to your fingertips as your left hand re-grips the pack in new finger positions (Photo 24, right hand removed for clarity). Notice how the first finger supports the pack from below (Photo 25). The second finger provides support on the right. Also, the thumb grips the pack opposite the third finger. While the fourth finger provides support, its role is secondary. Graduate
Hold the pack for a few moments with both hands as you wait for the effect to register. During this display take care not to flash the face of the outjogged card. The effect truly does beg repetition. In fact, if you wait a few moments, your spectators will normally say something like, “Do it again!” Momentarily take control of the cards above the ”selection” with the right first finger and thumb as you lower the pack into your left hand. With the right hand, place the back left corner of the outjogged card as closely as you can to its earlier position — embedded in the flesh of the left thumb fork. As you return the deck from the fingertips to dealing position, use the left fourth fingertip to pull down slightly on the next third of the deck. Just as before, the exact number of cards you pull isn’t important — just retain some cards with your right thumb and catch the break where the pack splits (Photo 26). Take care to hold this break securely and invisibly as you ask the audience to watch closely. You will now execute the gradual shift a second time. Use the side of the right second finger to pivot the outjogged card back into position for the shift, again using the left rear corner of the outjogged card as a pivot post. Just as before, as you pivot the card, slide your right first finger and thumb leftward along the short edges of the pack. Once more, this pivoting action is shielded from your audience’s view by the extended right fingers. Also as before, stop moving your right hand when the first finger contacts the left thumbpad, creating the “airtight” seal that is your signal to execute the shift itself. Thanks to the pivoting action (See Photo 12, page 11), the rear right corner of the outjogged card is now free from the deck. As before, use the side of the right second finger at the outer joint to contact the right edge of the card, as close to its rear corner as possible. From the audience’s perspective, you’ve simply displayed the pack cleanly at your fingertips, and lowered the cards back into your left hand. Allow the break to open slightly at the front end of the deck and grip the lower talon with the outer phalange of the left first finger. Remember, open the break only enough to secure the packet between the left first finger and the right thumbpad. The moment the left first finger seizes control of the lower, larger portion of the deck, execute the gradual shift. Follow up as before by riffling the cards from the outjogged card upwards, and raising the pack Graduate
to your fingertips (Photo 27). Remember to riffle the cards slowly — this time you have only a third of the deck above the outjogged card to work with. Repeat the sequence of raising the deck to your fingertips to show that the card has risen again. You will now execute the gradual 27 shift a final time to bring the outjogged card to the second position from the top of the pack. This will be the easiest shift to accomplish in the routine, as well as the most visually stunning, so make sure you have everyone’s attention. Again catch a break as you lower the cards into your left hand. However, this time you need to hold back only one card with the right thumb. Just as before, it’s imperative that the break not flash the (indifferent) card. Perform the shift. This time, there will be only one card above the outjogged card when you finish the sleight. And because that’s not enough to riffle, in this case you do something slightly different: you pull up from about halfway up the pack just to the right of the outjogged card, instead of from just above the card, as with the other riffles. Since all of the riffles are casual, out-in-theopen actions, this discrepancy will not be remarked upon. And, if you’d like, you can make this last riffle with the second finger (Photo 28) this small discrepancy will pass unnoticed.
You’re almost home. Maintain the outjog as you cleanly spread through the pack and show the card is truly second from the top of the deck (Photo 29). Lie confidently to the audience and say something like, “Push the Nine of Spades into the deck.” It’s crucial that you call the selection by name — it helps create a vivid picture in the spectator’s mind. It will add to the strength and clarity of the coming revelation and make the climax all the more powerful. 29 When you’re just learning this effect, you may have to remind yourself to memorize the name of the selection in the first place! After your spectator pushes the card flush with the deck, give the cards a final, light riffle, keeping the palm down, in uniformity of action with previous movements. Finally, extend the pack and ask your stunned spectator to turn over the top card of the pack to reveal the selection.
Origins and Credits These are the credits that appeared in my FISM 2003 Notes when I first published The Ambitious Graduate. The slow-motion Ambitious Card plot was pioneered by Geoffrey Latta, who developed a method for causing an outjogged card to visibly rise through the pack bit by bit, using the riffle pass. Through developed around 1980, Latta’s handling did not apear in print until 1990 in Spectacle by Stephen Minch. Later, Bill Kalush, Chris Kenner, and Ray Kosby developed interesting variations and additional mdthods. Kenner has used two different methods for his handling: a genuine S.W.E. Shift (S.W. Elevator, in Totally Out-of-Control, Kenner, 1992) and a faux S.W.E. Shift that’s actually a displacement where only a single card is moved (Shifty, in The Pass, Ouellet, 1994). Shigeo Futagawa also developed a handling of Kenner’s diplacement idea, but done while holding the deck longitudinally (unlike the sideways position of the deck in the S.W.E. Shift); Kenner had also developed this handling but never published it. Like Kenner’s handlings, Futagawa’s required the rather broad gesture of raising the pack to the lips for cover to blow on the pack, ostensibly as a magical gesture; in his hands, the entire effect is particularly elegant and magical. Ray Kosby’s ingenious and fiendishly difficult Raise Rise accomplishes the effect with one hand (and a well-trained, muscular little finger). Also, as mentioned earlier, the sideways movement of the deck underneath the top card comes from an unpublished idea of Peter Galinskas.
Thoughts and Commentary On the Gradual Shift Performers with shift experience may find it especially difficult to eliminate left-finger movement from the gradual shift. Dropping your left fingers unnecessarily during any pass can be a hard habit to kick. Not only that, it tends to spread to your other work. Consequently, if you drop your left fingers when you perform the classic pass, you’ll be likely to drop your fingers during the gradual shift. The first step to eliminating this common problem is to recognize it for what it is — a bad habit. Then stand in front of a mirror and practice. Watch yourself practice, and work at the problem until you stop dropping your fingers. Admittedly, this is the traditional approach to practice. And The Graduate provides you the perfect opportunity to apply this tested method. Since the gradual shift was designed to eliminate finger movement, you can confidently know that any finger dipping you see in the mirror simply shouldn’t be there. But be warned: it may be months before this practice seems to yield substantial benefits. It takes time, focus, and stubborn devotion, but it’s the only method I know that works. And, eventually, your persistence will win out. Over time, your left fingers simply won’t yank at the cards the way they will when you’re just beginning. Learn to keep the shift tight — as tight as the design allows — and you’ll have an illusion you can proudly present for years to come.
On Keeping the Gradual Shift in Alignment As you work on the gradual shift, it will take some time and practice to find the exact point where you should stop pivoting the outjogged card as you go into the shift. The lower left corner of the outjogged card rests in the web of flesh at the fork of your left thumb. That web acts as your pivot point — and there’s some give in it. Not only that, it’s very easy for the right second finger to overextend during the pivoting action that precedes the shift (Photo 18). When this happens, the effect suffers. Take a good look at Photo 18. The gradual shift is based on an illusion: that the back edge of the outjogged card is securely held by the cards above and below it. In the photo, this illusion is broken. As you continue to pivot the outjogged card counterclockwise, take care not to move it past the point where its back edge becomes too closely aligned with the left edge of the deck; you can compromise the illusion by going too far, and, if you disengage the card, you risk spoiling it entirely. You’ll know you’ve found the sweet spot when the outjogged card appears to be gripped in the front of the pack, but you can still shift the lower packet around it without extending your left fingers so far that you risk detection. Once you find that spot — stick to it, and learn not to overshoot it. In this way, learning the gradual shift in many ways resembles learning the gravity halfpass.
On the Moment The gradual shift is not a classic pass, but both moves make use of similar timing and mechanics. First we’ll look at the principles at work in the older brother, the classic pass. Then we’ll show how they can be adapted for use in the gradual shift.
Timing the Classic Pass As most students of the pass know, the shift should be executed in line with Vernon’s instructions, “at the exact moment the hands come together.” The reason for this is really quite simple. If the performer makes the shift at the exact moment the hands come together, with no delay, the move becomes undetectable. Here’s why. Your spectators naturally follow the focalpoint of your presentation as it moves from one phase to the next: the gaze of your eyes, a gesture of your hand, the movement of your body. In the context of these motions, when your right hand unassumingly comes to the deck, the spectator’s eyes are necessarily a split second behind — and by then, it’s too late. That’s because you’ve already executed the shift; the exact moment your hands come together — before your spectators’ eyes get there — is the safest moment you will ever find to perform the pass. It simply doesn’t get any better: at the precise instant your right hand reaches the deck, you’re half a beat ahead of the audience. So that by the time their gaze arrives at the deck, there’s nothing left to see; no sign that anything happened — that anything could have happened. Squander this decisive advantage and you’ll never get it back. It earns you a single moment of deception — no more. You can use this time to accomplish any action you want — as long at it takes less than a moment. Any longer and your spectators will focus on the deck just in time to see the second half (or more) of your move. In order to ensure that you never squander this momentary advantage, you must be prepared: all get-readies secured and ready to rock. The moment your right hand arrives at the deck, there must be nothing left to accomplish but the actual shifting of the packets. If the deck isn’t ready to go, you won’t have the time to make the shift in a single moment. You’ll either arouse suspicion or get caught. Either way, the experience you’ve worked so hard to create will be ruined.
The Gradual Shift Approach Assume you have just inserted the faux selection into the pack just above the bottom card. You are about to take the pack from above and execute the first gradual shift. This is the most difficult shift in the trick because you must pivot the “selection” into position and then go immediately into the shift itself. Just as with the classic pass, you’ll need to act at the exact moment your hands come together, but in this case, you won’t use that moment to perform the shift. Instead, you’ll use this moment to execute the “get-ready.” The gradual shift itself follows a full beat later, once all the eyes are on the deck. The get-ready for the gradual shift is substantial, so don’t dawdle. It must be complete by the time the spectator’s gaze rests on the pack. It should seem as though you angle-jog the selection casually, without much thought, as you grasp the deck from above with the right hand. Executing this get-ready without arousing suspicion is the most challenging moment of this trick. If you make it to this point, and you’re in the correct position, the shift itself is easy to do, and completely invisible.
Toward an even more deceptive shift As mentioned in the previous section, the first gradual shift is harder than the others to cover because you must first push the outjogged card into position and then launch straight into the shift itself. With practice, however, and after you understand how it works, you’ll be able to work on this advanced handling, which makes the first phase of The Graduate even more deceptive and surprising. Complete the get-ready for the gradual shift up to the point depicted in Photo 11. Take note of the precise position of the outjogged card as it contacts the flesh in the fork of the left thumb. You’re about to remove the pack from the left hand entirely — and in order for this handling to work smoothly, you’ll have to eventually return the pack to exactly the same position in the left hand. This is why this handling is challenging to learn: you must know this key position very well indeed to find it without delay upon returning the pack to the left hand. As you reach the position in Photo 11, take the deck with your right hand long enough to point at the outjogged card with your left first finger, saying words to the effect, “Take a look — any further down and your card would be on the very bottom of the deck.” This patter and gesture allow you to take the deck away from above; the motivation is your need to point at the position of the selection near the bottom of the deck. Now place the pack back into the left hand, which re-takes it as precisely as possible, and use the left fourth finger to obtain a flesh break about 17 cards up (do this without delay). You are retaking the pack so that you can riffle the front end with your right fingers. So prepared, the shift is already all but accomplished. No getready at all remains — you can truly accomplish the gradual shift just as you would the classic pass, at the exact moment your hands meet.
On the Right-hand Riffle Action As you embark on the practice you’ll need to learn The Graduate, take care not to lose sight of the simple things that tie this illusion together. Consider, for example, the right-hand riffle that ostensibly brings the selection to the top of the deck. Because this riffle is “merely” cover for the gradual shift, many readers may want to cut it from the first and last phase. After all, in those phases the riffle is not a physical necessity for the sleight. Why not drop them and speed things up? The problem is that cutting these seemingly unimportant touches will create a dissonant perception in the middle phases. In the first sequences, the riffle tells your audience how the effect works and how to perceive the magical moments to come. Leaving them out means you will essentially be displaying a replica without ever establishing the original. You need both to create the illusion. The final riffle also adds to the effect, but in a different way. After the spectator pushes the supposed selection, second from the top, flush with the deck, this final riffle looks just like the original. The deck is completely square. This closes the circle and strengthens the overall effect.
Alternate Approaches As you practice The Graduate, you may become concerned about flashing the face of the outjogged card during the effect. It’s not the selection, after all, and if anyone sees it, you’ve got a real problem. At first, I thought the outjogged card had to be the actual selection. After all, it’s face-down during three sleights before it finally appears on top of the pack. Surely, the audience wouldn’t believe the outjogged card was still their selection, would they? When I performed the effect, I discovered something strange. Throughout the routine, the identity of the selection remained strangely unimportant to the spectators. Even as they marvel at how the card rises through the pack — the card never leaves the audience’s sight — they never actually wonder which card is doing the rising. That’s because the action of the card through its series of ascensions is so startling that it overtakes any consideration of its identity. When their selection appears on top of the deck, it’s a surprise, but a logical one. Ultimately, I chose to make use of this unexpected benefit so that I could end the routine cleanly, with no double lift and the selection in my right hand. Some might reasonably choose, after practicing The Graduate, to trade the clean ending for a worry free middle. In that case you would simply begin the sequence by outjogging the actual selection. Then continue normally. Now you needn’t worry about flashing the indifferent card. In fact, you can show it whenever you want. But there is a price to pay. After the spectator pushes the card in herself, it’s second from the top. You’ll have to do a double turnover to show that the selection has arrived; you won’t be able to cleanly display the card on top of the pack. Personally, I like to start dirty and end clean. But professional conditions being what they are, it’s best to have a foolproof method at the ready at all times. If things get ugly — if the cards get sticky, for example, because it’s hot, humid, or for whatever reason — you’d rather finish with a double lift than try to explain why the selection changed into another card as it fell out of the deck and onto the floor.
No doubt some will also discover that a duplicate card can allow you to show the card along the way and end the effect cleanly. I’ve even used the unmatched jokers that come with every pack with success. These methods can work quite well, and, under some circumstances, may even be the perfect approach. Just make sure you can secretly remove any gaff you apply. It’s hard to explain away a selection that changes mid-trick. But duplicates? They’ll never forgive you.
Afterword If you’ve come this far, congratulations. Far too many magic students give up at the first sign of the serious practice an effect like this requires. But that you’re reading this paragraph signals good news: if you have the desire to learn of the details in this booklet, you’ve proven you have what it takes to apply them. Put in the time, and you’ll have a truly special effect for your repertoire. And also a bonus — the thoughts on timing, the moment, and the management of the gradual shift can, and should, apply to much of your shift work. The pass, after all, still proves central to artistic card handling. And as elusive as its study can be, time has shown that the best way to understand a shift that confounds you is to study another! Enjoy! Aaron Fisher 8/29/2010
It’s about you.
Every cardman’s pathway to mastery is different. Aaron Fisher will take your magic to the next level by working with you online to develop your own unique approach to card magic. Lessons with Aaron take place one-on-one, online in real time. Your lessons are personal. Aaron uses your unique strengths and experiences to create a lesson plan just for you. Individual instruction from Aaron Fisher gets lasting results: Personalized reading lists and homework Schedule your appointments online in minutes Receive a video recording of every lesson to facilitate learning. Affordable lessons you can’t get anywhere else. Gain the knowledge, technology and understanding you need to make incredible magic. Fill out your free student profile today at aaronfishermagic.com/coaching.htm