Tonight, at a friend's party, I had the opportunity to perform a new effect. A few weeks earlier, at another friend's party, I had performed an interesting mentalist effect and she asked if I would perform on her birthday a few weeks later. I said I would. After all, I am always looking to try out new material.
Time passed, I practiced a few times and I decided I was going to try something new. I would attempt to combine two effects. The first is something out of Banachek's Psychological Subtleties. In it, you write the numbers 1 through 5 on a column on a piece of paper and ask a spectator to write a location next to one of the numbers, a location (country or city) that has special meaning to them. When they are done, they then write four other locations next to the other numbers but each of these locations has no special meaning to the spectator. With some body language cues, you can then reveal the place they are thinking of. I did not reveal the place they were thinking.
Not content to leave it there, I wanted to make the effect more memorable. I used this location as the context to my next trick; I asked them to think of a number using one of Banachek's number forces from the same book I mention above. I then set the setting that this was the age that my volunteer would be when they return to this travel location. I then pulled out a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers already filled in to make a Magic Square (from Psychological Subtleties 2) and demonstrated that all the columns added up to the number 39, as did the rows, corners, center, etc. This was proof that going to this location by the time they turned 39 was written as part of their destiny.
To wrap up the effect, I then said "By the time you turn 39, you will travel to Italy" and I underlined the location that they had written down. It wasn't actually Italy, it was the name of a city in Italy that I cannot remember; it was a very long name of a city.
So it all turned out well. My volunteer responded with a three-letter acronym and followed it with "How did you know it was Italy?"
Ah, and therein lies the rub. Without giving away the details of the effect, extracting the location of the city that has special meaning relies on some psychological subtleties given off by the spectator. The problem is that she wasn't (technically, hadn't) given off any of them. It was impossible for me to determine with any certainty what the location actually was.
Luckily, earlier in the trick, I had asked her to write down the location next to one of the numbers, one through five. I couldn't see what she was writing on the notepad, but I did watch carefully to see where she was writing it. I guessed that she had written it in either position 1 or position 2. Position 3 was a possibility but a less likely one. As she filled in the rest, my suspicions were confirmed in that it was most likely not position 4 or 5, and position 3 was less likely. It had to be either one or two.
So back to the trick, I couldn't tell for sure which location it was. I decided that I had to take a wild stab at it. I guessed that it was Italy. I said "You will, by the time you turn 39, travel to Italy." I underlined it and handed it back to her. I made the mistake of asking it kind of like a question with an upwards voice inflection, but underlining it I believe will confuse the memory.
And I was right. My guesswork paid off thanks to my earlier paying attention to a likelihood of where the most likely scenario was for this location. But it goes to show that if you're attentive, sometimes it will come back to help you later on.