So, I'm undertaking a bit of a project here...
I'm going to start a cover to cover work through of the Royal Road to Card Magic. Regardless of whether I know the trick or sleight, I will be reviewing, learning, and going through each segment. I'll be posting summaries and synopses of each effect, sleight, routine, etc. as I go.
Some people might ask, "Why?" Well, I feel as though this tome is often recommended by people who don't truly know it. Not only that, but the people who they recommend it to most likely buy it, learn a few things, then buy some other sources. This one volume contains a wealth of knowledge, and I hope that this project will shed some light on this great work.The Royal Road to Card Magic
by Jean Hugard and Frederick BraueIntroduction
by Paul Fleming (p. xi-xiv)
This section gives a good overview of the book, and what to expect in terms of teaching style. The format of the book is very easy to learn from. The authors explain a sleight with illustrations, several uses for it, variations, etc. Then they describe several tricks using that sleight. In addition, the sleights are arranged from the most basic to the more advanced, to allow a progression of skill and prevent frustration.
Fleming also gives a quick bio of the authors, mostly to demonstrate to the readers that these two are indeed quite qualified to write such a tome, and it's always fun for me, as a History major in college to read these things. All in all, just a short intro to what you're getting with this book, and a quick read.Preface
This section starts out with a now-famous story about Devant, that exemplifies a lot of Hugard and Braue's philosophy on magic throughout the book.
Many years ago David Devant, the great English conjurer, was approached by an acquaintance new to sleight-of-hand with cards. “Mr. Devant,” said this young man, “I know three hundred tricks with cards. How many do you know?” Devant glanced at the youth quizzically. “I should say,” the magician responded drily, “that I know about eight.”
This illustrates an idea that is absent in a lot of modern magic. People often spread themselves too thin, and end up being a mediocre magician who knows a lot of secrets.
Here we also get a glimpse at Hugard and Braue describing their own teaching style, showing how they've built this course in Card Magic from the ground up, slowly guiding the budding magician through his studies. In this section they also recommend only selecting one or two tricks from each chapter to focus on, so you can give them the time and effort they deserve. Also, they state their purpose in including a self-working effect in each section, so that the magician can focus on his acting and presentation while still being able to dazzle the audience.
At the end of the preface, Hugard and Braue offer five rules to consider, paraphrased here:
1. Don't tell the audience what will happen before it happens, to prevent spoiling the effect, or tipping the method.
2. Don't repeat tricks unless you are accomplishing the same effect through an alternate method.
3. Never reveal your secrets. They argue that most card tricks are so simple that you're lowering the audience's view of your own skill if you reveal the method.
4. Use misdirection during key moves. They give the example of the Pass. Never make the Pass while the spectators are looking.
5. Know your patter. It not only makes the trick flow better, and become more entertaining, but it also creates an extra detraction from the method, as the audience has to listen to you to understand the story.Chapter I-The Overhand Shuffle I
The first chapter starts out with a quick note to the reader. The authors highly recommend following the course as they've outlined, as the steps build on each other as they go. Skipping, they say, would cause unnecessary time wasted.Position of the Pack in the Hands
Hugard and Braue cover, in almost a full page, the proper finger and hand position of the pack in preparation for the Overhand Shuffle. They say to avoid deviation from this outline, but you may need to tweak it slightly to suit your hands. Execution of the Overhand Shuffle
Besides going over the mere mechanics of the shuffle, Hugard and Braue also emphasize not looking at your hands while performing it, and also executing the shuffle with a steady, even tempo, not going too far to either extreme with regard to speed.Using the Overhand Shuffle
In this section, you are taught various controls with the overhand shuffle, as outlined below.Controlling the Top Card/Bottom Card
-Simple, self-explanatoryRetaining the Top and Bottom Cards in Position
-This is similar to the next sleight, but it can be used to control three cards instead of just two, as mentioned by the authors.Top Card Next to Bottom and Back to the Top
-Again, the title really says it all when it comes to this sleight, however the authors do say that this is useful for showing a card isn't on the top or the bottom while maintaining control.The Run
-Running cards is incredibly useful in many tricks and variations on the overhand shuffle. It is described, like the rest of the book, in explicit detail.The Injog
-One of the easiest, and most used sleights in Card Magic. Learn it! That's all there is to say about it.The Undercut
-Used in conjunction with the Injog to control the cards to the top (or bottom) of the pack.Overhand Shuffle Control
This is a small section devoted to using the Overhand Shuffle Control, as outlined by the authors. In effect, a selection is returned to the deck, the pack is shuffled, and the magician knows the exact location. Several other uses fall under this category:Retaining Top Stock
-This sleight uses the Overhand Shuffle Control to keep a specific set of cards on top of the deck under the guise of mixing the cards.Overhand False Shuffle
-A basic false shuffle, preserving the entire deck's order. Not the most convincing shuffle in the world, hence why it should be used in an off-beat, NOT while your hands are being burned.Overhand Shuffle Practice Routine
-This is a great sequence with which to practice the sleights from this chapter. I highly recommend drilling this to get a feel for the whole first chapter, along with the Injog and False Shuffle.Tricks with the Overhand Shuffle
Before getting into the tricks themselves, Hugard and Braue write several criteria they have for determining what makes a good trick.
1. It has a simple plot, and is not confusing.
2. It has a simple method.
3. It is interesting.
4. It has a surprising ending.Topsy Turvy Cards
This is a nice little effect to just grab some attention from spectators. Testing the cards to see if they are "trained", the magician puts half the deck face to face with the other, and with just a snap, the cards all right themselves. Does not use the overhand shuffle, this is a self-worker.A Poker Player's Picnic
In this effect, the spectator cuts 4 piles of cards. After some mixing, the top card of each pile is found to be an Ace! Dead easy, and with a small modification it can be harder to reconstruct the method for the spectator. A Pocket Discovery
A card freely selected is replaced in the deck, and the deck is shuffled. The cards are placed in the spectators pocket. The spectator names any number, and the magician pulls out that many cards, the last of which is found to be their selection.Telepathy Plus
The spectator has a free choice of one of five cards. You mix these five cards into the deck, and let the spectator deal down a number of cards equal to the value of the selection (If they pick the 9 of Spades, 9 cards are dealt). The last card dealt is the selection!Thought Stealer
The spectator again thinks of one card, out of 6 possible selections. The cards are shuffled into the deck. Then, dealing one card for each letter as they spell out the name of their card, they arrive at the selection.Pinkie Does It
A selection mystically rises from the middle of the pack. No gimmicks required, but it's fairly cheesy. Interesting concept though.A Card and a Number
A card is freely selected and lost into the deck. The spectator silently deals any number of cards he wishes as the magician leaves the room. Upon his return, the magician finds the selected card at the thought-of number!Chapter II-The Riffle Shuffle
This is a relatively short chapter on this basic card sleight, but doing the shuffle on a table is covered first, with the proper method of holding the cards and the proper squaring technique being addressed in detail.Riffle Shuffle Control
Here are various ways to control cards via the riffle shuffle.Retaining a Card at the Top of the Deck
/Retaining the Bottom Card or Cards
Fairly self explanatory, I hope. These descriptions are useful for the uninitiated to get a feel for performing these sleights nonchalantly. Riffle Shuffle in the Air
A basic in-the-hands shuffle, useful when not using a table, and really covered in painstaking detail.Tricks with the Riffle ShuffleAn Instinct for Cards
A spectator cuts to a card, and they or you can riffle shuffle the deck. At this point you can scan through the cards and immediately find the selection. It's an okay trick, useful mainly in principle to show what is possible even if the audience believes the cards to be mixed.Mirror of the Mind
A variation on the previous effect, in my mind it works better, it has an easier set-up, and is actually quite good. I pulled it on a friend who suspected a key card until I told him to riffle shuffle, then he was baffled.Ultra Card Divination
A prediction is placed on the table. Three spectators select cards, whose values are used to locate a fourth. This fourth card is revealed to match the prediction. The best part about this trick is that you can borrow a deck, piece of paper, and a pen, and perform this very fair card trick. Really very good in my opinion, and is a great effect to use when just sitting around playing cards or something.Chapter III-Flourishes
This chapter has 13 flourishes, some with a variation or two to go along with them. These are not flashy cuts or tosses of a deck, but are a way to show some knowledge of card handling and a way to look fancy in performance.Displaying the Top Card
Included are three ways of displaying the top card of the pack in an elegant way. Two are for close up performances, one is for a parlor or platform show where the audience is slightly farther awayThe Ruffle
We call it the riffle, it's the same thing. Used to accentuate the moment the magic happens, it's an auditory flourish that is a familiar sound to all card workers. Methods for both one hand and two hands are included.The Click
This simply sounds like a click in the deck. It is accomplished with one hand, and serves the same purpose as the riffle. Spread and Turnover
Hugard and Braue cover this pretty flourish of spreading out the deck so all the faces are visible, then flipping all the cards over and back again. They describe how to do it both on a cloth covered table and on a bare table. Gathering the Ribbon-Spread Pack
Basic, just picking up the ribbon spread cards quickly and neatly. Springing the Cards
Everyone's favorite! I personally don't use the flourish, but laypeople LOVE it. The cards spring in a large arc from hand to hand.A Flourish Count
A fancy-shmancy way to count a small packet of cards.Throwing a Card
Throwing a card, in this context to an audience member, to display your dexterity. Also covers the basic of boomerang-ing a card.Waterfall Shuffle
A waterfall finish, sometimes called a "bridge", to a riffle shuffle. It's the only way I shuffle cards really, and is very recognizable.The Fan
Hugard and Braue provide several methods for fanning cards, including the one-handed fan, the thumb fan, and pressure fan. All of these have uses depending on context and deck quality.Chapter IV-The Glide
This chapter seems a bit atypical of the rest of the book. It is quite short, but covers the mechanics of the Glide in full detail, over about 2 pages of text. This includes finger placement and other such details, but this sleight is very simple and easy to understand.
Two effects follow the description, both of which are fairly good tricks.Design for Laughter
The magician has a spectator choose a card which is lost in the deck. The deck is cut by the spectator in an attempt to find his card, making three piles. The magician tells the spectator to never let on if his card has been found. Looking at the face card of each packet, the magician determines that none of the three are the selection, and discards them. The spectator has seen his card, but is unable to inform the magician of his mistake! The spectator now names any number between one and ten, and their selected card is found at that number, with the magician prevailing!The Observation Test
You have a card selected and replaced. Then the four deuces are used for an observation test where the spectator is asked to memorize what order the colors are in. When they are asked for the suit of the last deuce, it is turned over to reveal the selection!Chapter V-The Glimpse
(p. 59-67)Bottom Card Glimpse I/II/III
Three methods for ascertaining the identity of the bottom card after the deck for various scenarios. One is used when the spectator returns the deck after shuffling, another is used while rolling up the sleeves, and the final one is used while having a card selected from a fan in the right hand. Top Card Glimpse I
I'm not quite sure why the Roman Numeral "I" is after this one, as there is only one top card glimpse here. However, this glimpse is used while nonchalantly gesturing to a spectator to ask them for their assistance. As stated in the title, it is a glimpse of the top card of the deck.Fan Peek
I'm not a fan of this peek, but it is used whilst spreading the cards between the hands and having a spectator memorize one card.Gray's Spelling Trick
A card is selected, returned, and genuinely shuffled into the pack. Without speaking, the spectator spells the name of the card in his head as the magician deals cards onto the table, one letter per card. When finished, the spectator says "Stop!" The last card dealt is the selection!Round and Round
The spectator selects any card from a small packet, then moves a small number of cards around. He is instructed to repeat the mixing actions from before. The magician shows the ten cards to the spectator, instructing him to concentrate on his card. The magician tells him which card is his, then hands the spectator the cards to mix even more, until the spectator is left with one card, the selection!