Review: Mind Blasters

Published on Thursday, July 17, 2008 in , , , , ,

Mind Blasters, by Peter DuffiePeter Duffie has been publishing a series of magic books gathering great material from English and Scottish magicians. This series includes England Up Close, Scotland Up Close, and Miraculous Minds (Scottish Mentalism). The newest entry in this series is Mind Blasters, which features mentalism routines from British magicians.

This book contains an amazing number of contributors, so instead of giving a full review for each and every effect, I'm going to focus on the routines that will interest regular Grey Matters readers.

The whole reason the book caught my attention in the first place was due to two things, the name Harold Cataquet, and the words Knight's Tour next to his name. In this version, you start the Knight's Tour from a chosen square, and have the spectator number the squares as you go (The first square is marked 1, the next is marked 2, and so on). Not only are you able to complete the Knight's Tour, but show that your path has resulted in a semimagic square! (Note: Unfortunately, a fully magic square resulting from a Knight's Tour is mathematically impossible.)

The work and analysis that went into this is just incredible. Not only is there a process for doing the Knight's Tour as described above, but there is a new mnemonic approach developed to aid this method. The one downside I see to this approach is that, in some cases, chess players will immediately know that something isn't quite right, so you risk losing their interest. How much of a concern this becomes is really up to your persona and your audiences. This write-up is definitely a new step forward in the Knight's Tour, and should be part of any research you do towards performing it. I should mention that I'm not just giving this a good review just because a link to my Knight's Tour in included in this routine (but that didn't hurt, either).

Shiv Duggal's Frequency is another routine of potential interest to my readers. This is a three-phase pseudo-memory routine with playing cards. After the deck is shuffled by a spectator, they look at a random card in the deck. After that, the performer memorizing the order of the deck, and is able to give the position of the selected card after it's named. In the 2nd phase, the performer memorizes half of the deck, has a card selected from it, placed in the other half, and using memory is able to find it. In the final phase, three cards are removed from the deck, and the performers looks at each of the remaining 49 cards, then recalls which cards weren't seen. Frequency isn't for budding magicians or mentalists, but if you can manage the skills required, this is a powerful routine for those who want to look like a memory expert using a legitimately shuffled deck.

1812, by Stephen Jones is a great way to predict the multi-digit outcome of an addition problem created at random by your audience members. The basic principle itself isn't new (it can be found in Secrets of Mental Math, Predict Perfect, and elsewhere), but I like Stephen Jones' handling of it. He also provides one of the clearest explanations I've seen of the principle, so you can customize the routine to your particular needs. Quick Tip: You can use the 1812 handling to significantly reduce the work required (From remembering 198 links, down to 6!) to perform my Psuedo-Phone Book Memorization feat.

Wayne Dobson's Fluke and Stephen Tucker's ACAARN are almost directly opposite tricks. They both take a step back from the pure Any Card At Any Number routine, where the spectator freely selects both the card and number, but still manage to become impressive effects on their own. In ACAARN, the performer writes down a location before a card is fully named by the spectators. You take the cards out of the case, count to the position, and the named card is at that position. In the case of Fluke, the magician brings out one deck containing a prediction, and another for the spectator to use. The spectator names any position from 1-52, and the magician/mentalist shows his prediction. When the spectator counts to their selected position, the predicted card is found at that location. This latter version does employ a gimmick that could be exposed, but it won't be hard for any regular reader of my blog to figure out how to eliminate the gimmick. Between the two, my personal preference is for Fluke, but the methods for either one are worth investigating, and both can inspire some ingenious variations.

There are a number of other routines which feature methods that you'll find intriguing if you enjoy this blog. Stephen Tucker's other routine, 58 to 1, is a divination of the name of an imaginary place chosen by the spectator. The technical demands are minimal, and there's nothing written down. However, from a presentational standpoint, the method can be obvious if not performed correctly. If you're seriously interested in doing this routine for a paying audience, I would recommend learning important presentational details about this type of method from Doug Dyment's Sign Language first.

If you liked the works of Leo Boudreau, check out Remote Viewing Magic. Les Johnson takes Boudreau's work in a new direction by using it to divine a chosen scene. Even as clean as 58 to 1 is, this is even cleaner and more direct.

In Roger Curzon's Devil Rides Out, a spectator chooses from several random numbers from a grid, above which is the picture of a devil. After the spectator adds up their chosen numbers, the devil disappears, simultaneously bringing a prediction into view. Even though some may consider the two ideas here to be old and uninteresting, I like the fact that they're used here to create a piece of mentalism that features a rare visual climax.

The final routine I'll mention here is Two-Person Book Test by Mike Hopley. If you perform mentalism with a partner, here's a routine that will be unfathomable to your audiences. The “sender” takes any borrowed book, and rapidly highlights several words from the first line of different pages using a pencil, all while saying absolutely nothing. The spectator takes the book back, and freely chooses any page with highlighted words. After the line is read to he “medium,” he or she is able to divine which of the words are highlighted. This can be repeated several times without the sender saying anything, or even needing to be in the same room! For a climax, the medium asks the person to concentrate on the last digit of a selected page number, and the medium is able to divine this, as well.

The method of communication will be very familiar to the readers of this blog, but is well hidden by the routining here. Even members of your audience who are familiar with the principle at use here will not recognize its use. While many routines like this must be constantly studied with a partner, this one is simple enough that, once you're assured that each of you has the basics down, you can decide to do on the fly. If you can convince your audience that you're not working together, the trick will come across as even more powerful.

As you can see from the list of routines, I haven't even mentioned a full quarter of what is in this book. Whether you're into mentalism, or even if you just want to research incredible new ways to use some classic ideas, I think you'll find that this book is a great value, especially considering the low price you're paying for the knowledge of so many prominent mentalists. Every year there is one book that stands out head and shoulders above the rest, and I believe Peter Duffie's Mind Blasters will be that book for 2008.

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2 Response to Review: Mind Blasters

9:49 AM

Learned "Fluke" recently and think it's an awesome effect. I am curious, however, how it might be done w/o the gimmick (crib sheet), for that would make it all the more impressive.


11:09 AM


Since the Fluke crib is basically the position for each card, you would have to memorize the deck to eliminate the crib.

If you already use a memorized deck, you can simply adapt Fluke to that order.

If you don't, you can begin the process by looking into the process of memorizing a deck in my Memorized Deck Online Toolbox (the featured post at the top of my blog at this writing).

Another alternative would be to use a stack such as the Osterlind stack, which allows you to calculate a card's position based on its name.