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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workers » » Structure of Chicago Opener (35 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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micromega123
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I recently heard an interview with Eugene Burger where he characterizes Chicago Opener as a bad trick. He thinks that the DL in the first phase is done at the worst time (when the audience is looking right at the card) and that the second phase teaches the audience how the first phase was done.

I happen to like this trick, but I'd love to hear what other people think about this, as I know it is a popular one.
gadfly3d
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The first double lift is only a problem if one doesn't have a natural looking DL and since the method in the second phase works differently than the first I have no idea what he means.

I have used this effect for laymen many times and always got a great reaction so I like the trick.

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Daegs
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I can't comment on the version Eugene was talking about, but in regards to the version I most commonly see done:

The DL is done when they think the trick is over, after the odd backed card was shown to be the correct card matching the selection. Effect is over, the second phase of the routine should only be talked about after the DL is over and the card is on the table.

If I had to guess, he means that by showing the red card changed, the audience might feel that it wasn't the initial selection at all, thus ruining the first effect.

I think chicago opener is just that, an opener. It isn't a closer and isn't an effect that will stay with them for years, it is suppose to be fun, upbeat with many magicial happenings to establish that you aren't going to see tricks that your uncle does. To that end it does pretty well
Whit Haydn
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There are ways to fix all of these problems.
Agaton
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Everybody has an opinion on every trick that exists. It just so happens that I still believe that the Chicago Opener is a powerful trick. It has been on my arsenal and have been my opener for the last couple of years. It never fails to give the "Whoa" factor.

The ACR uses multiple DLs where all eyes are burning on it (depending on your routine). It's just how you execute it.
tgold65
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Audiences seem to love the effect and that is the real measure of a good trick. I have never had a problem with the issues articulated above. It is a question of constructing the delivery and having a decent DL.
casibb3
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I attach a good deal of success to my card work with the Chicago Opener. It has never failed to get good comments when presented. I like the premise of the routine and think it deserves a place high up on my card work. Double lifts can be a real problem and when they are not done properly, they will ruin the effect. The problem is not with the moves but rather with the slovenly handling with which they are performed. If the various acoutrements cannot be trusted, it is the fault of the user, not of the move. why must we expect the audience to blink at the moment of execution? The moves are supposed to be designed to be secretive EVEN THOUGH all eyes are upon them.
captainsmiffy
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Chicago opener rocks! When I perform it I get discussion afterwards as to 'how did he switch it under that glass right under our noses?!', so I guess that it boils down to not only the quality of the DL performed but the misdirection as it is performed too. My DL though not brilliant - but certainly adaquate - is nicely misdirected by stating, as I am about to perform it, that 'you didn't tell me the card that you selected' and also by placing the cards above the odd coloured one down to the table, allowing me all the time in the world to get a pinky break under the 2 - spectators being spectators, they suddenly get very defensive at this point (you are the magician, you tell me!) and thus provide ample misdirection for even the most basic DL! The heat is off the DL and it is never spotted in my experience. Sure, there are 'wised-up' people out there who know of a DL and once or twice somebody has said to me, at the end of the first phase, 'I know how you did that' with a wink (not 'I spotted how you did it but I 'know' how you did it')but these have always been blown away by the second phase as it just doesn't compute! These 'know it alls' have always been the ones MOST taken aback at the final denouement; the second phase, in my humble experience, certainly does NOT teach how the first was accomplished but serves to totally gobsmack them!

Sorry, just some ramblings from an ardent fan of the chicago trick as an opener!
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magicbob116
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Quote:
On 2009-08-30 20:15, Whit Haydn wrote:
There are ways to fix all of these problems.

Mr. Haydn's "The Chicago Surprise" is a great version of this trick and also includes some great thoughts on classic forcing, timing of patter, DLs, etc.
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rawdawg
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I still remember from time to time getting Brain locked by Whit at the Magic Castle with this very routine. That was several years ago.
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The Burnaby Kid
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From the point of view of construction, I'm not in total agreement. When the cards are spread to show an odd-coloured back, there are a few things working in the moment's favour. First, the appearance of the card itself signals that the magic is essentially done, apparently. Second, because the cards are spread to show the odd-coloured back, the performer has a motivation to square the cards up, and this facilitates all sorts of get-readies for the DL, which can smoothen the execution nicely. Third, if you make it so that you want to verify what the original selection was anyway before the reveal, you have a moment of interaction with the spectator which allows for pretty good misdirection, which in turn allows for further cover. That's a lot of details working in the favour of the performer.

The idea that the reveal basically exposes the nature of the DL is hard to argue with, since it basically does, if you evaluate the routine as a whole. That said, I think that our audiences are usually only thinking one effect at a time. I suspect that the surprise in the second phase is so genuine that it can make it difficult for people to clearly remember the details surrounding the first phase. Plus, it's not like we're repeating it over and over again, like we might for the Ambitious Card.

If his beef is with the effect itself (as I believe he was pretty critical of it overall, not just from the point of view of construction) then personally, I can see where he's coming from. Take a good look at his magic, and you'll see that he's got a whole lot of stuff that meshes well with his performing character -- magic that, when he presents it, gives you insight into who he is as a performer. The Chicago Opener is a weird trick in that it tends to worsen when people try hard to throw a presentation on it, and yet, on its own, it's not an intrinsically meaningful effect. If we woke up with magic powers one morning, would we ever choose to use them to do effects like the Chicago Opener? Probably not. That's not always the metric for what is or is not a good trick, but it's worth thinking about. Consider that one of the popular ways to handle the Chicago Opener presentation is to develop the second phase as a magician-in-trouble scenario (which, if done well, is compelling on its own regardless of the trick). There's also Whit Haydn's approach, which (correct me if I'm wrong here, Whit) is to create a protagonist/antagonist relationship with the spectator which can be captivating -- again, regardless of the trick.

Part of creating a memorable character is Darwin Ortiz's exercise of figuring out our biases and editing appropriately. One can make the case that every piece of art is itself an argument for the way that art form should be. What does the Chicago Opener say about magic as a whole? Burger has some pretty strong ideas about the trivialization of magic over the course of the last century, and I'd bet that this trick, in his eyes, qualifies as part of the problem -- if only because of how seducing it can be, even as a comparably meaningless effect. Plus, it's probably a favourite of the "generic magician" that's featured in Burger's writings.

(For what it's worth, I have performed this professionally and it consistently went over well. I don't do it now, but not out of dislike for the trick. Just to make it clear I don't really have a horse in this race.)
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MagicMarker
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Speaking with a spectator's hat on first and foremost, The Chicago Opener/Surprise is not what I'd call a "bad trick" by a long shot.

The kinds of issues I'm seeing on this thread really sound like magicians overthinking things.

I can see why with any trick it would be possible for any magician to find faults or things they don't like. But that doesn't necessarily mean the trick is bad.

There are tricks and books and magicians that I see lauded on here all the time and they do nothing for me whatsoever. There's an element of taste to all of this.

The only bad thing about this trick is the amount of exposure of it on youtube, which in itself is a sign of it's popularity.

-Rd
Marcus001
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A very sensible post. It is often a case of paralysis by analysis when it comes to magical thinking.

Marcus
Kaylan
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It's true - Chicago Opener is the worst trick ever and you should all stop doing it immediately! But seriously - I wonder where it can be found in print or on video that Eugene said this. Not that I don't believe he did, but there may be some additional context to apply to his statement.

Kaylan
Denis Behr
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Eugene says it on the current issue 12 of Reel Magic: http://www.reelmagicquarterly.com/
MagicMarker
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Well ok then, for comparison. On another thread about the best card magician in Europe Michael Vincent's name is mentioned, and I won't argue with that.

But, Michael Vincent does a version of Everywhere and Nowhere, there's a video out there somewhere, I think maybe from a magic club lecture, not sure. Now if Michael Vincent is taking the time to perform it, then it must be a good trick, right?

But I've never liked that trick at all. And the video of Michael performing it illustrates the part of the trick that I've never liked. You prop 3 cards up against glasses and have a spectator pick one, and that one then turns out to be the card chosen by an earlier spectator.

Then that effect is (in my opinion) completely ruined by showing that the other two cards were the same card. It didn't matter which card the spectator picked.

Then there's a whole by-play with all the deck changing to the spectators card, then none of the cards are the spectators card, by which time I'm bored.

I don't know, it leaves me completely cold. This isn't to criticize Mr Vincents performance of it, but I would consider Everywhere and Nowhere and much worse trick than Chicago Opener, and I can point to specific parts of Everywhere and Nowhere that lose me as a spectator. And even in the hands of very talented magicians like Michael Vincent, it's still not enough to make me like it.

-Rd
Zachary
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I must side with MagicMarker here, I think as magicians become more apt at refining the 'many' weaknesses of any given effect, they tend to hyperfocus on details. Splitting hairs is the most cliche phrase that comes to mind. I have the highest respect for Eugene, however, when you reach legendary status in your field of study, people will be more critical of your idle comments should they find disagreement in them. No doubt Eugene can see that Chicago Opener is at least a good trick. But on his plane of thinking, the smallest discrepancies or weaknesses become more substantial. I do agree that the truth in his opinion of CO is directly justified by the quality, or lack thereof, in your DL. I have never had a bad reaction with this effect. This is looking at the big picture for me. But as Whit said, there are solutions for these issues. So if you agree with Eugene and Whit don't argue the point, embrace your creative muse and crank out a couple dozen new variations of the effect. We'd love to critique them unmercifully. Great discussion everyone!
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michaelvincent
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Quote:
On 2009-09-01 08:26, MagicMarker wrote:
Well ok then, for comparison. On another thread about the best card magician in Europe Michael Vincent's name is mentioned, and I won't argue with that.

But, Michael Vincent does a version of Everywhere and Nowhere, there's a video out there somewhere, I think maybe from a magic club lecture, not sure. Now if Michael Vincent is taking the time to perform it, then it must be a good trick, right?

But I've never liked that trick at all. And the video of Michael performing it illustrates the part of the trick that I've never liked. You prop 3 cards up against glasses and have a spectator pick one, and that one then turns out to be the card chosen by an earlier spectator.

Then that effect is (in my opinion) completely ruined by showing that the other two cards were the same card. It didn't matter which card the spectator picked.

Then there's a whole by-play with all the deck changing to the spectators card, then none of the cards are the spectators card, by which time I'm bored.

I don't know, it leaves me completely cold. This isn't to criticize Mr Vincents performance of it, but I would consider Everywhere and Nowhere and much worse trick than Chicago Opener, and I can point to specific parts of Everywhere and Nowhere that lose me as a spectator. And even in the hands of very talented magicians like Michael Vincent, it's still not enough to make me like it.

-Rd


MagicMarker,

Your comments about Everywhere and Nowhere are spot on.

It has taken me 100s of performances to come to the realisation that the high point of this effect is the first revelation. After that, the effect goes down hill and nothing you do will rescue the effect from that point on.

Now, in comparison, Robert Houdin's Metamorphosis, is a far stronger effect: The Joker transforms into four selections one at a time with very little time lag between each transformation and then back to the Joker. The pacing is very important in this effect and that is why Everywhere and Nowhere fails as a theatrical experience.

For your information, I have dropped Everywhere and Nowhere from my repertoire and replaced it with my Handling for Robert Houdini's masterpiece.

I really appreciated your considered evaluation.

Thanks

Mike Vincent
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MagicMarker
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Quote:
I really appreciated your considered evaluation.

Phew. Thanks Michael. I'm always a tad nervous passing comment on magicians, because their reaction really can go either way. ;-)

Incidently I really like that 5 card ambitous routine you do. One of my favourite tricks is a similar trick where the A, 2, 3 and 4 rise to the top from progressively deeper in a packet of 4 indifferent cards.

In that case the magician appears make things "harder" for himself by inserting the cards deeper into the packet, and also showing the packet really is 4 indifferent cards. That's the lets make this harder for the magician approach.

Yours is the lets make this simpler for the audience approach, working with progressively fewer cards, until with only one card left there's only one thing left to do.

The benefit of yours is that after getting the audience into a pattern of rishing cards, you finish with something completely different, yet totally logical within the routine, and which I presume usually gets a laugh and causes the audience to relax.

-Rd
Cain
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There's a reason why this is regarded as the "world's best card trick" (the secret's in the magic word -- "Hezbollah"). This used to be one of my favorites but I have not performed it in years. Someone once literally grabbed me by the shirt collar and demanded I tell him the secret. The construction is fine: You change the color of a freely chosen card and then offer to do it again. The audience pays careful attention and the second card is revealed in the unlikeliest of places -- front and center the whole time. It'd difficult to improve upon but it's also difficult to mess up, assuming competent technique (please do not use the Hindu Shuffle Force). I suppose one would have trouble figuring out a way to present the classic using a voodoo doll. CO is like a good Bruckheimer movie: visual, easy, holds mass-appeal.
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