Review: Combo II

Published on Thursday, February 22, 2007 in , , , , ,

playing cardsJust under two years ago, I reviewed Combo, by Karl Fulves. One year ago, I learned about Combo II, the sequel, and promised to review it when I obtained a copy.

While it has taken me a year to keep my promise, this post will finally fulfill it.

Combo II is more than twice the size of the original at 125 pages. At first glance, it appears four times as big, since each page is only printed on one side. The new book has 10 chapters:

1) Binary Basics
2) Simple Memory Tricks
3) Small Packet Combo
4) Secret Outs
5) Faced Card Tricks
6) Thought Control
7) Extended Memory
8) The Long Form
9) Codicils
10) Extra Credit

For those who don't have the original, the binary basis of the combo system is explained once again, in more detail than the original. The thought, logic and inspiration behind each decision in the system is thoroughly explained.

The routines themselves start with an amusing and improvised routine that the author performed in a doughnut shop. When the doughnut shop worker brought up the subject of memory, Mr. Fulves offered a demonstration of his own memory. He had the clerk lay out a row of 20 napkins, and place a combination of a dozen doughnuts and 8 spoons in any order that the clerk chose, and stated he would recall the order with his back turned, and pay double for the dozen doughnuts if he missed even a single doughnut. Karl Fulves then memorized the order using the Combo system, turned his back, and named the doughnut order perfectly! Amusingly, with the doughnuts looking like zeroes, and the straight spoons looking like ones, the items practically provided their own binary mnemonic.

Granted, this routine isn't one you'll be doing in your shows, but it does give a basic idea of how flexible the system is, and helps inspire the reader to look beyond just the routines in the book. The other routines in the first chapter also show a wide variety of applications, including a routine in which you can identify an amazing amount of detail in one of 64 photographs, given only the number on the back.

The Small Packet Combo chapter turns its attention to routines involving only part of a deck of cards. There's some great work here on remembering the same packet in more than one way, making it appear you're remembering more details of the cards than you really are.

Those who have read Combo will appreciate the Secret Outs chapter, in which solutions to frequently-encountered problems are offered. Since the use of memory and the binary nature of the routines is so well disguised in most routines, several ways are offered to simply have cues available to you visually, without the audience realizing it.

Faced Card Tricks deal with applications of the Combo system to face-up and face-down cards, while Thought Control focuses on mentalism routines. The last routine in Thought Control, which is performed after Stewart James' Miraskill, is a perfect lead-in to the next chapter.

Extended Memory focuses on methods for making the system more efficient. In the basic system, you can remember the color order of 16 cards with just 4 numbers, while this chapter shows you how to cover the color order of 32 cards with the same amount!

Long Form features tricks that, while they require great detail to explain, usually are fairly quick to perform once practiced. After Moe uses some ideas from the Extended Memory chapter to create an impressive new version of the classic Moe's Move-A-Card routine. In the standard version, you're only claiming to memorize the entire deck to the point where you can identify a moved card, whereas in this version, whereas the secret to the Fulves version isn't too far from doing just that!

Winding up the book, we have the Codicils and Extra Credit sections, which offer further thoughts and details on items discussed on the book, as well as avenues for further exploration.

All in all, this is a very valuable addition to your library, especially if you're interested in both magic and memory. The Combo system is a subtle, simple, effective and unusual tool that is very flexible in application. I recommend both Combo and Combo II together. Combo II is available for $22 directly from the author at:

Karl Fulves
Box 433
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Combo is also still available for $18, from the same address. The shipping price suggested by the author is 20% of the purchase price, but no less than $5 for USA customers. For customers outside the US, the suggested amount is 25%, but no less than $10 postage.

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7 Response to Review: Combo II

9:26 AM

Could you sell me the books"combo &combo2"?

9:48 PM

Unfortunately, the only copies of Combo and Combo II I have are my own.

If you write to Karl Fulves, I believe he still has them for sale.

11:02 AM

I am Taiwanese. I have no idea how do I write to Karl fulves. Could you give me a hand ? Please help me order the two books? Thanks!!

12:47 PM

The ordering information is in the article:

Karl Fulves
Box 433
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Write and ask about the prices, including shipping to Taiwan first, and work things out from there.

Also, you might try magic forums, and see if anyone has them for sale.

6:30 PM

Does Karl Fulves have email?

10:00 PM

Not that I know of.

6:18 AM

Could you help me buy the "combo &combo2"? And then, I pay for you.