Numinations ó April, 1998

A Card Trick

© 1998, by Gary D. Campbell

Try the following with a deck of cards. Always shuffle the cards first. Next, pick a number from one to ten. That number begins your first count. Now, holding the pack face down, deal one card after another face up onto a pile in front of you until you have turned over the number of cards in your count. When you turn over the last card of one count, that card gives you the number for your next count. Repeat this until you reach the end of the deck. If the last card of one count is a face card (Jack, Queen, or King) your next count is five. For an Ace, your next count is one. For all the other cards your count is the same as the value of the card. The suits donít matter. This tests your ability to understand and follow directions. Not everyone is expected to pass.

Youíre still with me? Great! Letís imagine an example. Suppose, after shuffling the cards, you picked the number eight. Now you begin by turning over eight cards. Letís say the eighth card you turn over is an Ace. Your next count would be one. Now you turn over just one card and that card gives you your next count. Letís say itís a Jack. Itís a face card, so your next count is five. Now, you turn over five more cards to get your next count, and so on.

Eventually youíll run out of cards. You can forget your original number and all the intermediate counts, but donít forget the number that starts your final count. If there are any extra cards, forget them too. If you complete a count, the last card turned over in that count is your next count. If you canít complete a count then the number that started it is your final count. Thatís your magic number. If the very last card in the deck coincides with the completion of a count, that last card gives you your final count and your magic number.

Now you are ready for the tricky part. You need a partner sitting across from you. Show your partner how to count through the cards and get their own magic number (let them read these directions). It doesnít matter who turns over the cards, but when your partner is ready, you both need to count through the same cards together. Shuffle the cards, pick your own starting numbers, and turn over the cards about one per second so that you both get a good look at them. Donít tell each other your starting numbers, and count silently so that you both get your own magic numbers at the end. Then, show your partner your magic number by holding it up on your fingers.

You actually have to do this with a partner to get the full effect. When youíve done it once, try it again. Donít forget to shuffle the cards each time!

My question is, who is tricking whom? Does your partner know something you donít know?
April Fool !

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