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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » If right you win, if wrong you lose... » » Three shell game variations (ideas wanted, too!) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

nostromo
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I've been a great fan of the three shell game for awhile and was lucky enough to recently attend Bob Sheet's teach-in on the subject. Wow! He can really kick your enthusiasm up a few notches!!! And later on, the things he did with cups and balls really got my creative juices flowing.

So I was thinking about asking for some suggestions from the creative geniuses in the Magic Café. Anybody have some ideas for variations on the three shell game presentation? Or finetuning these here? And OK, I'll admit these are irreverant and not at all classic, but another way to have a bit of fun with this wonderful 'thimblerig' concept. Here are some ideas to start:

Do a routine with Black Fox's Scarab shells- story line being about the ball of dung that the beetle pushed around and how the egyptians thought the arrival of beetles from the holes where the dung balls went was MAGIC! (I haven't seen Bob Sheets' scarab routine and really, really, really hope this isn;t it). So you use a black pea at first and after making it disappear from the cave or pyramid or whatever you can cover that last shell with, eventually produce a small black sponge ball (it grew!), or maybe produce small plastic toy beetles. Maybe even have the spec hold a shell and the 'dungball' or beetle produces in their hand. Maybe segue into a bounce no-bounce or sponge ball routine instead.

I think I read about this one in a Linking Ring or MUM chapter news article awhile ago. Use three different colored bottle caps and maybe an extra pea or two of different colors as well. And the theme is that you are a color blind magician! Play the video of this in your head- with Carl Ballantyne running the shells!

Along these same lines, how about a red, yellow and green bottle cap with an interwoven traffic story about the bank robber in the car in front of you? He was so busy counting his money that the light changed color several times, and gets noticed by a cop. So the getaway car is impounded and he ends up in jail (the shotglass), but he manages to escape and get another car (shell)!

Three small, inexpensive ball vases could be used for a TSG variation. No sleight involved other than keeping the topheavy rascals upright- so does anybody have any ideas for a sleight routine? Every kid has had one of these, right, so they just KNOW what the gimiick is? The base on these has room to put a small pea in for a two-level routine, htough it would take some putty and sanding and you'd have to use a closeup pad. The Adams ball vases are just the right size for a bounce no-bounce ball if you leave the gimmick out, BTW.

Three small clay flower pots, mouth down of course, with a seed to plant (the pea). The spec gardener can never seem to find the pea to plant until they get help from Martha Stewart (show a picture). Put the pea under a shotglass greenhouse to help it grow, but OH! The pea wanted to be back here in the shell it started from instead of that hot steamy greenhouse. Maybe use a tiny silk plant in a thimble-pot as a final load?

Same little flower pots, only our favorite gardener is trying to hide the answering machine cassette of a conversation with a stockbroker! With the help of the spec, will the SEC find the pea and tape or won;t they? A final load, if desired, could be a handcuff tietac.

How about a frustrated battle commander trying to find weapons of mass destruction? The shells could be modified helmets from GI Joe type dolls. Any ideas on how to load flash cotton under a shell and ignite it?

And one for those who entertain pre- and adolescent boys (I spend a lot of time with boy scouts- does it show?). Ever see nose-candy in Spencer Gifts or toy stores? You know, the plastic noses with green slimy candy stuffed inside the nostrils? Ewwwww! Get three of these rascals, clean out the candy, remove the back of the nose and fill with an appropriate amount and shape of epoxy putty. Wouldn't be hard to put a chanin dip in the bridge of the nose. I haven't been able to find the candy in awhile so I think I'm gonna use three sets of noseglasses and go from there. So you know what the theme is gonna be don't you? If not, ask somebody like Todd Robbins for advice. Think it's funny? 'S NOT! ;-)

I'm really looking forward to hearing from y'all- new ideas and ways to finetune these!!
Pete Biro
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Do you really need a lot of BS and patter premises... the bloody trick is strong enough.

Did Sheets tell any kind of complex story?

Get Kohler's video
Pat Page's video
School for Scoundrels stuff...

But mainly LEARN THE MOVES so you can fool even yourself.

Of course you could search for a Ken Brooke version called "Tweezers"...

Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
KingStardog
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There is an effect called the "3 coin con" that uses small brass caps to cover nickles and a penny. The caps are poorly made so even shined up they all look a little different when you look closely. This adds to the effect because the spec will catch on to the differences in the caps and realy get irritated, because they still can't follow the coins.

Throw away the instructions cause there crap, and order a couple extra shim shell pennys and nickles. attach a special gimmick (can't tell you what, since this is a public forum) to your middle finger tip and the coins jump back and forth right in front of them without ever moving the shells.
With the extra shells theres no limit to the type of routine you can work up.
Put your own story/patter together and your set. You need a pad to work it on, but the whole set is smaller than one other type of shell.
Nobody uses them so the specs will not likely have seen it before.
Just a thought.
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Neil
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I sort of agree with Pete. Half the charm of the 3SG is the simple apparatus and the con element. I'd just work on a routine with some strong sucker effects and a big climax.

For some reason many magicians feel they have to have a cheezy story - I must say some of the stuff some table magicians come up with is cringeworthy but that's another story! Smile

The two classic books (Tom Osbourne and Eddie Gibson) on the subject have some routines which are quite good. One in the Eddie Gibson book has different coloured peas. One in the Osbourne book uses gimicked coins. And a strong sucker one using rolled up paper which looks like it's sticking out the side. Although I'll bet you own one of these already?
0pus
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Has anyone developed the work on the three shell game that is currently seen on the streets of New York? It uses three plastic twist-off bottle caps (like those on bottles of Poland Spring water) in place of the walnut shells. I don't remember what is used in place of the pea (a piece of sponge? a wad of paper?). The game is played on a cardboard box -- no close up pads here!

0pus
Pete Biro
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The bottle caps are used by the real thieves cuz they look like ordinary objects. So few people really see nice neat, cut in half walnut shells.

Ken Brooke's "Tweezers" used plastic end caps with a "final load" of several nested caps, the final one being so small you had to pull the foam pea out with a pair of tweezers... great routine. Smile
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thimblerig
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Neil,
Do you mean Eddie Joseph and not Eddie Gibson? I have not heard of a shell game book by a person by that name. If you do mean Gibson, I'd like to know where to find it and its title.
tr
Smile Smile <--giant thimbles
Neil
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Oh yeah...Eddie Joseph - I always make that error. Sorry!

Thimblerig - you got any other 3SG resources you'd like to mention?
CardFan
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There is a good vid in french on the subjet that you can find on internet by Daniel Rhod called "les coquilles de noix", no need to speak french to understand his points as long as you know a bit about it.
Simplest of the schoolboys now knows truths for which Archimedes would have given his life...
ROBERT BLAKE
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an idea: use 3 seeshells and a pearl and end with a finale of a big pearl.
thimblerig
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Robert-
I believe Horace Bennett had a routine similar to what you describe in one of his books, perhaps "Bennett's Best," although I don't have it at hand just this minute.

Neil-

There are too numerous to count 3 shell game references available.

Some include: Jack Chanin's work, Frank Garcia, Gary Ouellet, Patrick Page, Jorg Alexander, Giovanni Livera, Lewis Ganson, Karl Norman, Lou Lancaster, Eric DeCamps, Andrew Pinard, Bob Kohler's work, and many more.

I agree with the advice above, learn the basics and have fun with it. This is a great time for the 3SG with many great props on the market right now, from Joe Porper's thimbles to the La Maggiore and School for Scoundrels shells among others. This is an item that has inherent interest, can be presented countless ways and carried in the pockets easily.

The Eddie Joseph work was originally published serially in "The Magic Wand," British publication and then reprinted in book format. It isn't seen often, and I believe it is out of print.

Probably the single best investment is the Osborne book for moves. Personally I like Bob Kohler's Golden Shells Tape and the Bob Sheets tape as well, and I always liked Frank Garcia's work, too, although he was criticised fairly heavily for no or incomplete crediting in "his" published works. His book is out of print but occasionally seen on eBay while his video performance is available on tape.

Best regards,
tr
Smile
Neil
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Cool. Thanks.

I've got the Street Shells which are lovely, especially the perfect peas which make the back pass and back palm so much easier. The came with a shot glass. I've noticed that you can do the same steal moves as normal and am assuming it's for a grand ending. You know anything about that?
Dennis
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Here's another Source...

I picked up the dover reprint of "SCARNE's MAGIC TRICKS" last night; gave it a quick scan, and lo and behold he has a small section on the shells - didn't read it through though!

Dennis
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thimblerig
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The use of the shot glass, inverted small bowl, or other cover over the shell is covered in many of the sources already listed. I thought it was also described in the notes that came with the shells you mention. It apparently isolates a shell from any possible manipulation or deception. See, for example, Ouellet's work sold by the Camirand Academy, or yfd.
Cordially,
tr
Smile
Neil
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No notes with my shells. I'll check out Oulett although I can guess the sort of thing you can do.
KingStardog
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Check out the book: "The three shell game"
By Ralph W. Read. (Mike Kanter's Material)

First published in 1938, it is probably the least clearly described/illistrated text around.

It covers:
all basic moves+
The paper ball w/tail
The Old Army game
Working off a grid chart
Coins in shells(modified dime/penny+shim shell coins under the shells)
33 exibition routines

Unfortunatly for the modern hawkers of shell games and routines that used this book for their basis it was reprinted in 1975.

Easy to find for a dollar or two. Try Chazpro's bargain basement first. Smile
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
Ignore me...
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I wanted to add to Peter B.'s response to Opus.

The bottlecaps work easier when one sands off the little pointy bits of flash, also adding a slight bevel to the inside of the caps. The pea I use is a piece of carpet padding, similar to what one finds on the back of closeup pads.

The only problem with some cardboard is it is pretty slick. Getting a box with a rougher tooth to its surface, or running some rough sandpaper over it, helps a great deal in terms of getting the pea to grip. Then again, maybe I could find a better material for the pea.
Whit Haydn
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KingStarDog:

The book you are quoting is Tom Osborne's book on the shell game. At some point, Mike Kanter took Osborne's name off the book first published in the 30's and substituted his own. Ralph Read did the illustrations. Kanter even took Osborne's signature off the preface and substituted his own.

Osborne claimed no credit for what is in the book, claiming that everything came from street hustlers. This is probably true. The book is the classic book on the shell game, and though poorly written and illustrated, it has the real stuff from the street.

Eddie Joseph's work is also very important and seminal, and was the basis for many of the things in the Gary Ouellette routine put out by Camirand, which was the starting point for much that is done currently, including the Kohler and Phil Cass routines.

Jack Chanin's book Hello, Sucker! is the third of the three most important works on the shell game. The Chanin Dip, by the way, is often misunderstood. It is not, as nostromo seems to suggest in the nose idea, the little wedge cut into the back of the shell to give a little more room for the pea to come out.

The Chanin Dip is the slight curve on the bottom surface from front to back of the shell that causes the shell to lift up in the back when pressed down on the front.

This important subtlety is used to keep the shell from "clicking" as the pea goes in and out on a hard surface, and to avoid in tell-tale "bump" when the pea is stolen with the spectator's finger pressing down on the front of the shell.

By the way, I am with my friend Pete concerning the story idea. The shells is self-explanatory, and other than telling a story "about" the shell game "I was once taken by a friendly stranger..." I think that both allegorical and thematically unrelated stories are not only unnecessary but distracting. When I start to take out the shells, the audience begins chuckling to themselves. They are already hooked.

I would not want to use something that was not immediately recognizable to the audience as the shell game. Why spend time explaining the bottle caps or matchboxes or half potatoes when the audience will understand and recognize walnut shells as the "Shell Game" immediately?

On the street, you may not want to make the connection at all, and you certainly don't want to be caught with three epoxied half walnut shells as evidence. But what works for the swindler and what works for the performer are different things, and their considerations should be different. The perfomer builds off people's familiarity with, and the literature and lore of the "Shell Game." The swindler hopes they have never heard or seen anything like it.

Robert Blake: Mike Rogers has a similar routine with shells and pearl in his book.
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