The Berglas Effect is considered, by the cognoscenti, to be the holy grail of card tricks. David Berglas is a magician that may be described succinctly as clever, ingenious and engaging. His studies of the art and in some respects, psychology, ought to be well considered in the investigation of his technique.
That a routine such as ACAAN confound the magic community and most of humanity for half a century is truly remarkable. With the greatest of respect and to Mr Berglas, it is my privilege to release the Illuminati version of ACAAN, augmenting the effect through the introduction of technology. I believe that this effect is the closest approximation that one could obtain for a bona fide ACAAN without the use of stooges.
The premise seems impossible – that the performer somehow causes a random spectator to think of a card, and another to freely decide upon a number from one to fifty-two; after which a third spectator is urged to handle the borrowed deck (which has remained in full view from the start), who counts down using the number selected, only to reveal that the nominated card is indeed at that position.
It is proclaimed that there are four pre-requisites that govern the presentation of ACAAN:
1. The cards must be in view before the trick starts.
2. A spectator must freely name any card. He or she must not be a stooge and can freely choose any one of the fifty-two cards; no restrictions.
3. Another spectator must freely name any number between one and fifty-two. He or she must not be a stooge and have a free choice; no restrictions.
4. A third spectator must be invited to count down to the chosen number. The performer must not touch the cards.
I would like to add a modification to pre-requisite number #1 – that the deck is shuffled by a spectator and this spectator is not a stooge and the deck is thoroughly shuffled and examinable.
The phrase “no stooges” is often used by those that misinterpret this carefully drafted declaration. To my knowledge, Berglas himself never argued that “no stooges” were ever needed in any way.
Here’s where the psychology plays a part: by truthfully saying that neither the person choosing the card nor the person choosing the number from one to fifty-two is a stooge, it is hinted (and thus generally assumed) that the third is likewise not in collusion with the performer.
Over the years, there have been many methods developed in an attempt to replicate ACAAN, however all the methods require some form of compromise.
One of the most spectacular methods of ACAAN involves the use of a stacked (memorized) deck. For example, if spectator names the card “Ace of Spades” (position 7 in a Mnemonica stack) and the second spectator names position 20, then the performer knows that they need to take thirteen cards from the bottom of the deck and place them on the top of the deck. The card at position 39 (i.e 52 less 13) is the “Ace of Diamonds” in a Mnemonica stack. Therefore, the performer “simply” looks through the deck around position 39 and then either withholds or cuts all the cards from the “Ace of Diamonds” and above.
Illuminati replicates this method, with two dramatic benefits. Firstly, the spectator is able to shuffle the cards into any order required and secondly, Illuminati calculates where the cut (or hold back) needs to occur and communicates this to the performer – dramatically speeding up the performance.