Lecture14 Marruci.

Effect: "The Borgias - the very name of this 15th century Italian family still causes shivers up the spine. Lucrezia Borgia, and her brother Cesare, were notorious for their involvements in court intrigues and assassinations."

"A favorite 'weapon' of Lucrezia was reputed to be poison and a dinner invitation to the Borgias was almost like sealing your doom.
Today, we can play at this; but 500 years ago, it would be worth your life to risk taking a drink from Lucrezia."

The magus lays out six cards, face down. "Here are six cards; you (to the spectator) are being offered one of them. If you are lucky, you will survive and drink what is on the other side with no ill effects. If you are not, well, the usual Borgia fate awaits. Please tap the back of any one of the six cards (Spectator does so). You may stay with that one, or change your mind (When the spectator has decided on a card, slide it out from the rest, still face down).

"You could have selected any of these other five cards but fate, destiny, kismet - call it what you will - led you to that card."

The magus picks up the five unselected cards, showing them to be all the same; the chosen card is different.

NOTE: There are two possible endings for the trick: The five cards show a skull and crossbones, all signifying poison, while the spectator's card is a wine goblet (not poisoned); or, the five cards are all goblets while the spectator's card is the skull and crossbones (poison).

Working: You'll need six, blank-faced cards. On the face of three, paste a picture of a wine goblet; on the other three, paste a picture of a skull and crossbones.

The three pictures in each set should be exactly the same. Lay the cards out in a row, face down, with three goblets on one side (say, the left) and three skulls on the other (say, the right).

When the spectator picks a card, slide it out of the row and pick up the other five, starting with the set of three, face down, and then the two remaining cards, also face down, on top of the three.

Turn the packet face up, in a Biddle grip, in the right hand. Show the first card (say it's a skull). Move the right hand to the left, drawing off the top, face-up card with the left thumb and let it fall to the left palm. Repeat with the next card, which will be a match.
On the third card (
with two different cards below it), move it to the crotch of the left thumb and the left hand takes all three cards as the right hand picks up the other two. Continue showing what appears to be the next two cards, which also match, for a total of five, all the same.

The spectator now turns over her card and it is a different card (in this example, the goblet). Finish by complimenting her on escaping the fate of so many who dine with the Borgias. If the chosen card is a skull, show the other five as goblets, and commiserate with the spectator for having fallen victim to the fate of those who dine with the Borgias.

Second thoughts: The count involved here is the Hamman Count; it shows five cards as five (but only the faces of three cards are seen). You may be able to come up with a different handling of the count that suits you; however, this one happens to suit me, so I used it as the example.

You can fill in more details on the Borgias if you wish but remember you are supposed to be entertaining the audience, not lecturing to them; so keep it relatively short.

My original version of this effect, based on Aladdin and his lamp (but also referring to the Prince and Frog, and another version referring to Dracula), appeared in my column in the Linking Ring in September of 1993 but I enjoyed performing them long before this. Hope you enjoy performing this further version.

Peter Marucci.


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All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Peter Marucci, 2002.