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The Life & Magic of Stewart James (1908-1996)


PRINCIPLES | Small Stack

Because all three of these principle related pages focus upon the contributions Stewart James made to “stack” work, it will be easiest to deal with the concept of the “small stack” principle first.  A “stack” refers to any group of prearranged cards. A "small stack" consists of roughly twenty cards or less. 

Further Than That” (1939) is one of the most elegant “small stack” tricks in card magic, because, in terms of effort, it delivers five separate effects for the price of one:

  1. The magician uses supernatural powers to simply name the card looked at.
  2. The Ace of Spades is magically located by spelling its name.
  3. The other three Aces are produced.
  4. The Two through Seven of Spades suddenly appear in numeric order.
  5. The rest of the thirteen Spades are dealt from the deck in order.

The seventeen card stack employed for this trick, and the order in which that group of cards is arranged, contains a natural mathematical principle which forces the Ace of Spades upon the spectator every time.  The details of this force and the automatic manner in which the stack sets the magician up for all five effects will not be discussed here.  More crucial to this analysis is an understanding of the need for a name which will quickly reference the small stack principle at work in “Further Than That.”  Those who have experimented with the trick are encouraged to make suggestions of how the principle should be verbally tagged (if no such tag yet exists).

With a clear example of the “small stack” principle out of the way, it is time to move on to the more complex “stack within a stack.”




Copyright © 2007 Joe Culpepper and Magicana. All rights reserved.