Remembering the Election

Published on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 in , ,

Despite the title of this entry, I'm not changing this into a political blog. This entry concerns a trick created by Robert Neale called "The Election Game".

This routine can be found in the February 1973 issue of Pallbearers Review, in Neale's article "End Game". His well-known "Rock, Paper, Scissors" routine (which many know from Tricks of the Imagination) works on the same principle.

As written, "The Election Game" is a great divination feat. However, I've been toying with the possibility of presenting it a memory feat. The trick isn't mine to give away, so the following description is written in an intentionally vague manner, and will assume you have the original article available for reference.

There are 4 people involved besides the performer. Three of them are holding the cards involved, and are referred to as the "candidates" in the following description. The fourth one stands with the magician, making the choices involved, and will be referred to as the "audience assistant".

Before each of the phases, there are 3 switches made (as described in the original article), with the particular switches being made by the direction of the audience assistant, and in view of the perfomer. The four phases in the memory version are:

1) The audience assistant chooses a candidate, and the perfomer can identify all the details on that candidate's card from memory.

2) This phase is described as "taking a poll". Two of the candidates are chosen by the audience assistant, and the performer can quickly determine who's card is better on two out of three qualities described on the card.

3) This phase is similar to the previous phase (perhaps referred to as taking a second poll), except that after the performer identifies the winner of the two, he details the qualities on each chosen candidate's card. This allows the audience to see how much work is apparently going on in the performer's head, and be amazed at how quickly it is done.

4) The final phase is referred to "rigging the election". The audience assistant choses one of the candidates, for whom the election will be rigged in their favor. The performer quickly works out which pairs of candidates to play against each other, and in what order (by the same two out of three standard used in phases 2 and 3), so that the chosen candidate wins.

Note that this presentation has a nice progression. The first phase simply involves one candidate. Phases 2 and 3 both involve two candidates, and the final phase requires apparently working out the relationships of all 3 candidates for a big finish!

My two new additions to this effect are the presentation of it as a memory feat, and a simple method for following which card is where.

Following where each card is through four phases may sound like a lot of work, but the nature of the original Election Game makes it much easier than most would think.

There's a simple mnemonic I've worked out, however, that will help. To remember the initial set-up, simply think of a freeway sign that says, "Ahead: Day Spa (turn Left)"

How does this help? Before I explain further, I'll be changing the spelling of "Day" to "Dae" in the following mnemonic, so that it works better with the original description.

Look at the cards in the original description, and note how the capital letters in the following version of the mnemonic correspond to each card: "AHeaD DAE SPA (turn left)." Also, note that "turn left" refers not only to which card is better than which in the initial arrangement, but also to which way the mnemonic should be read (towards the left, initially). This will be true throughout the entire routine.

As the 3 switches are being made before each phase, all you have to do is follow the "AHeaD" card through all the phases, and remember to change the direction from right to left, as you would in the original routine.

In the first phase, let the audience assistant choose which candidate you are to recall. Starting from wherever the "AHeaD" card fell, work out what card that person has (during this phase, the mnemonic will be read towards the right).

In the second phase, you'll simply determine which of the two selected candidates will win as you would in the routine. Don't forget to follow the "AHeaD" card, though!

In the third phase, you're going to determine the winner of the two selected candidates as before, but then you go into the detail of what qualities are on both the chosen candidate's cards, as well (again, thanks to the mnemonic and your tracking). To the audience, it should seem that you've worked out who had what quickly, and how those qualities would compare, all in an incredibly lightning fast manner!

The final phase, involving all three candidates, is done in the same manner as described in the original article.

Personally, I prefer to follow the mnemonic and the "AHeaD" card through all four phases, even though you don't need to for the final phase. That way, if the audience assistant (or anyone else) tries to corner you about who has what, or who is better than who, you're ready - just like a someone who really memorized all the data could!

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