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Inner circle
Chattanooga, TN
1909 Posts

Profile of DWRackley
To my thinking, a math trick looks too much like a math trick. The very second I see a list of numbers, or a cardician starts counting or dealing into x-number of piles, or anyone pulls out a grid, it’s no longer magic; it’s a math trick. And I no longer care enough to waste the brain cells trying to reverse engineer it. There’s a formula in there somewhere, and like (my take on) confederates or electronics, that’s all the explanation I need. We’re done here.

I did try to use something in my first few shows. I talked about this elsewhere, in a topic of spectators getting confused:
When I first started the restaurant show I wanted a “time waster”, something light going on while people were filling out the Q&A cards. I had a fun little “pick any number” math problem where everyone should come up with the same answer, “9”. It was very simple math (adding and subtracting), and I thought it would just be fun and funny to have everyone show their answer, and then laugh when those guys across the table had the same answer. Well, that was the idea anyway. There were numbers all over the place. When I said “Add the digits together”, one lady was just stuck: “I keep getting thirty six!” (3+6=9. Right? But she just could not get there.)
I dropped that “cute” trick.



I did find an effect that I like very much that uses a combination of equivocation and reverse dealing (still math). Because of the handling, it’s almost impossible to reverse engineer. The math is essentially invisible. So.....
...what if I could read your mind?

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60 Posts

Profile of DonEduardo
Every time I start to hear some math in an effect (add this, subtract that) it all ends up sounding like, "Think of a number, now add 6, cool, now subtract 5, what did you get, 8? Hmm, I bet your first number was 7, right?" Not impressive

But I do like what Peter was saying about a number that has meaning. Something personal. It doesn't quite seem like a simple math trick if it involves something personal to them (birth date, etc).

I can say though that memory stunts do seem to impress the skeptics. Usually they are very smart and logical and are impressed with what they consider genuine brain power. So there probably is a place in everyone's repertoire for effects that impress the skeptics.
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Essex UK
3768 Posts

Profile of Mark_Chandaue
I don't like the think of a number, reverse it, now subtract it blah blah. The magic square though is powerful especially if they don't see it coming. I do it as a running gag, ask someone to think of a number then try a couple of numbers, all wrong, then after each effect I come back to them and try a few more. At the end of the show (almost as an afterthought) I say, oh I never got your number, I try a few more numbers (completing the grid). When they say those numbers are wrong too, I say I give up, what is it? Then I reveal all the ways it adds up to their number. Plays very strong, and it works well as a running gag which solves the problem of the dead time while you write all the numbers and it's one hell of a kicker finish.

Mark Chandaue A.I.M.C.
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East Orange, NJ
3209 Posts

Profile of jimgerrish
Having a race between everyone in the audience who has a calculator (and with cell phones, that's pretty much everyone) and yourself is the theme of "Fancy Arithmancy" in The Wizards' Journal #1, which still works to impress an audience and allows them to compete even without being mathematicians.
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Profile of DonEduardo
Ha, after saying I don't want to use math tricks, I just happened to be reading Annemann and came across Number Thot. That seems pretty hard for anyone to reverse engineer. The method described would seem totally random to the spectators. I think I'll give that one a go...
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New York
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Profile of illusionactor
I think it really depends upon how you frame the effect. I agree with those who are saying the presentation determines what the audience takes away from it. I personally always thought a magic square would be received by a somewhat lukewarm response but then I saw Benji Bruce's presentation:
Benji uses the magic square as his closer and gets standing ovations each time.
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5134 Posts

Profile of Amirá
All depends in your premise as performer.

If math demonstrations fits your persona, fine Smile
I do memory routines and the magic square as entertaining exercises to warm up my mind.

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The Paranormalist
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United Kingdom
690 Posts

Profile of The Paranormalist
If I can put forward a demonstration I do which I call Analytical Calculations which I have written up and described in my book 'Beyond the Veil'.
What follows is the preamble as is written in the book:

I can only speak for myself as to the times I have marvelled at the incredible demonstrations by savants like Kim Peek and other superhuman geniuses that are able to do lightning calculations. Although as good as I find them, these demonstrations are only entertaining so long as the audience share a common interest, but it can be as tedious to boring as anything if they are not able to follow the mathematics, or it goes on for too long.

Certainly as far as mentalism is concerned there are many routines that have been used such as the magic square and determining the day for any date, with a number of good books having formulas for lightning calculations, including Corinda's 'Thirteen Steps to Mentalism', 'Mathematics, Magic and Mystery' by Martin Gardner, 'Self-working Number Magic' by Karl Fulves and 'Math E Magic' by Royal Vale Heath. To find these and more, one has only to make an internet web search. The trouble with many mathematical problems and demonstrations is that they appear to be nothing more than clever puzzles, also some are more suitable to be performed close-up rather than on stage or in cabaret.

One of the other biggest drawbacks for a mentalist doing rapid calculations on stage is doing it under fire, leaving no room for error if you are in any way to portray yourselves as having a computer like brain. One of the biggest failings I have seen is when the mentalist is able to demonstrate shall we say a magic square at break neck speed, but when it comes to adding up the columns in the various directions, he has to slow down to a snail's pace and even makes the simplest errors in these calculations, not showing himself in the best light to his audience.

But I don't believe any of the above should be of concern in what I now place before you:-
These are some of the highlighted points in the following routine:

• The routine doesn't just demonstrate your skills as a lightning calculator; it also crosses over the boundary into mentalism. In as far as you are able to total a mathematical sum before any of the numbers are revealed to you.

• It plays straight forward and to the point; not being in anyway complicated that could lose the average audience's interest and attention within minutes.

• It plays big and is ideal for cabaret or stage.

• Three genuinely random members of the audience freely choose the numbers for the routine, and if they don't like the numbers they are very welcome to change them and choose different ones, and a fourth member of the audience can also be asked to total up all the numbers if you so wish.

• No switch of the chosen numbers takes place.

• The numbers chosen are written down in full view of the audience.

• The routine cannot be back tracked by even the smartest member of the audience, nor could it be perceived in any way to be a puzzle or a trick.

• Now saving the best news for last. Absolutely no mathematics is involved on stage, leaving all your efforts to go into the presentation.

If anyone is interested in the book more details can be found in 'Mentally Speaking'.
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