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Oliver Ross
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Profile of Oliver Ross
Hello everybody,

A lot of people asking in this section of the right or the best size of the balls for the Multiplying Billard Balls.

I've posted this answer in another topic already, but I thought it might be useful to open a new topic so if new-comers search they'll might find it easier. Here the point :

I've found something very interesting written in a german magic book, one of their bibles in magic written in 1978. The book is called : "Das Handbuch der Magie" (The Basics of Magic).
Concerning the Billard Balls the writer and magician Jochen Zmeck explaines how to find the right and best size of Billard Balls for the size of your own hands.
Here the way how to do and what he writes :

"The minimum diameter of the balls is 40mm, but they can always be larger.
To find the right ballsize for your own hands you hold the four balls in your hand.
Maybe a little bit difficult in the beginning, but the hand will get the habbit.
Now you take away with your other hand the ball which you were holding between your for - and middle finger.
Now You move your middle finger in the inside of your hand, in the manner that your middle finger tip can touch the middle of your thumb.
Having done this, you stretch your fingers out again.
If no ball (of the three left in your hand) is falling out of your hand, try the same thing again with larger balls.
The largest balls that permit the correct and fluent movement of this excercise are the right size for your hands."

Well, try this out and tell us if it works for you.

Nick W
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Profile of Nick W
That is defintely a method to finding a size ball for you to use.

I propose first deciding where you intend to use the balls. stage, street, parlour, etc.

In Roy Benson by Starlight, is is strongly recommended that you use balls of the 2 inch size.(i think its 2 inch, somewhere around there). That is very valid information if your a solely a stage or parlour worker where your not surrounded.

What if your working the streets? (Im a street artist) In the streets angles are VERY sensitive. Try palming a 2 inch ball on a pitch and see how many people see you flash.

I have found that 1 1/4 is an ideal size for me on the streets. Again, for me, as students of this art you will have to do your own work and testing.

so back to what I recommend, first decide in what situations are you most likely going to be using balls, and go from there.
Michael Baker
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I think as a general guideline, this "test" is valid for a beginner perhaps buying his first set of billiard balls. It would be frustrating to be incapable of ever managing a set of balls satisfactorily simply because they were too large, and possibly that the magician had been convinced to buy a bigger size for invalid reasons, i.e., bigger is better, etc.

HOWEVER......... There are more exceptions to this rule, than there are reasons to adhere to it. First of all, this test banks on the assumption that the balls will be used for the traditional handling of the multiplying billiard balls. There are certainly many ways in which these sets may be used that do not require the complete manipulations commonly associated with traditional handlings. Just to head off an objection to this, this can also be done without ending up with a routine that seems to be lacking in any way, because elements were left out.

Nick W has already pointed out that just because a particular size is the largest you can handle (according to the test, or by ridiculous assertations such as the 2" ball recommendations in the mentioned book) that isn't always good reason for doing so. For visibility in certain venues it should stand to reason that a 2" ball would show up better than a 1 1/2" ball. But if they cannot be handled properly, the routine may suffer as a result.

Nick also pointed out that just because you can handle a certain size, there may be extenuating circumstances that give reason for not doing it. There are times when a smaller size is simply going to be better, even if your hands can manage a larger size under other conditions.

There are also many instances when using a size larger than ideal (as dictated by the test) can be justified. I have used 2 1/4" balls that were painted to look like real balls from a pool table. The manipulations and the sleights chosen were done with regard to what my hands could manage, good day or otherwise. I certainly could not go from 3 to 4 in the traditional one-handed manner, but the production of the 4th ball was none-the-less magical, and for what it matters, I did end up with 4 balls in one hand, one in each of the spaces between fingers. The display had to be a bit different, but they were still quite visible, nicely displayed, and I certain won't believe this violated any "rule" of billiard ball manipulation.

To give an even more extreme example, Dr. Peter Gloviczki manipulated large size Zombie balls using methods not unlike those associated with the traditional multiplying balls, but the moves obviously had to be modified, and even invented to accommodate the size of the balls. If my estimations are close to correct, these were 5" balls!!! I doubt he could perform the "test" with these balls!

But again, for a beginner needing a general guidline to get started, this has merit. Smile
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Nick W
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Well said.

I forgot to mention...weight!

I'm sure you all know how heavy 5, 2 inch rubber balls weigh. Good Grief.

Small point to consider if your always on the road.
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Profile of Anatole
I believe Lewis Ganson in his excellent chapter on billiard ball manipulation in Routined Manipulations Part II provides a "test" similar to what Oliver suggests for determining the optimal billiard ball size for individual hands. I also think a lot depends on whether you do a traditional billiard ball routine or whether you do a routine along the lines of Roy Benson/Alan Wakeling.

Another variable is whether--when you hold the balls between the fingers--you hold the balls along the exact center of the balls or whether you hold them just sleightly off-center.

I think it was Henry Hay who suggested in _The Amateur Magician's Handbook_ that there is some benefit to practicing your billiard ball routine with balls larger than you use in performance. That way when you perform before an audience, the balls are easier to manipulate.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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