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Elite user
Hollywood, FL
488 Posts

Profile of Zephury
I'll be attending the IBM national IBM convention with some great friends of which are pushing me to compete.

I however don't know what to expect. I'm 17 years old and I need to know what I'm up against if I compete in the Close-Up category. Does anyone have links to past winner's acts? I don't know what sort of caliber there is in the youth category. I don't particularly want to enter if I don't think I have a chance at placing.

Any tips or recommendations would be appreciated, again the mention of what past acts were like in the youth category or links to videos would be great!

Thank You!
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
23046 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
Sixteen and below is for the Junior contestants as I remember, you would be competing in the adult category. The rules are much the same. You have to have a good personality, creative magic, or something added to a standard trick that will be a total surprise to knowledgeable magicians. Originality and creativity are more important then doing a standard trick well. Most of the acts I have seen and herd of do material that cannot be done in the working world. An example would be Lapping, rarely does a magician come up to a table and sits down among the people and does a perform an 8 minute show.

A talent contest act is usually designed only for the contest. The only other place it could be performed is at a magic lecture for magician magic clubs.

In competition you should design your magic to play to 100 people in tiered seating. You material should be visible to all the audience, not just the 1st one or 2 rows of seats.
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Inner circle
1877 Posts

Profile of Anatole
There is a contest information page at:
with links to application forms.

The information states:
I.B.M. Stage Contest - Youth Category: Outstanding performance by a member age 7-17 includes a $500 (US Currency) cash prize. Second Place Award of Merit for performance by a member age 7-17 includes a $250 (US Currency) cash prize.

So if you are still 17 at the time of the convention, you would be entered in the youth category.

Note this stipulation:
NO Pyrotechnics or Confetti may be used in either the Close-Up or Stage Contests. Note: This includes flash paper, any open flame, smokers, or misters.

There had been problems at previous contests where the confetti that has become popular these pat few years became a nuisance.

There is information on the contest website for contacting Oscar & Melody Munoz, the Contest Directors, at
If you have any uncertainties at all about contest regulations, you could contact Oscar and Melody.

The acts that I've seen at the many IBM conventions that I've been to have run the gamut from off-the-shelf catalog tricks to FISM quality material.
Speaking of FISM, the top winners at the IBM and SAM conventions are often chosen to represent the U.S. at FISM. But Bill is right that "originality and creativity are more important then doing a standard trick well." However, standard tricks can be a partial element of an act. The Linking Rings are a standard trick, but people like Richard Ross still performed them and won FISM. The important thing is that there was strong originality in the rest of the act and in some original ring moves.

In any case, entering the IBM contests can be a great way to network with some of the top magicians in the world. I competed in contests at IBM conventions where people like Levent, Johnny "Ace" Palmer and Howard Hale were also contestants. Of course, there were also a few rank amateur acts that would have been gonged on The Gong Show. But that's to be expected in any competition.

One more word of advice--Time your act carefully. Going over the time limit could mean automatic disqualification. I was amazed at how many acts ignored that requirement. FISM states "A contestant must present a complete act (not a single trick) of at least five minutes and not more than ten minutes." Since the IBM winners could conceivably go on to compete at FISM, you probably would want to conform to the FISM rules as well as the IBM rules. The restriction of flash paper and other "pyrotechnics" is a surprise because one of Lance Burton's nicest effects is the one where he uses a cigarette to ignite a length of flash string which then transforms into a silk handkerchief. You might ask Oscar whether something like using a match to light a Fantasio candle constitutes an "open flame."

Good luck with your plans to compete! Keep in mind what Edgar Guest wrote in his poem "It Couldn't Be Done":
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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Inner circle
1877 Posts

Profile of Anatole
You might want to reflect on Pete Biro's comments in a previous Café discussion about Lance Burton's act when Lance won the IBM Gold Medal:
... I voted NO to give Lance the medal (altho my vote had no effect as he would win it by a majority vote). I had a REASON to vote NO.

(Jeffrey) Atkins told us to "think FISM" and since I had been a FISM judge twice before I felt the act Lance was doing THEN would not be a FISM type winning act as he used STOCK DEALER items in that act (Zombi ball, Fantasio Candles, etc.).

I wrote a lengthy article in Genii about it.

Some time later, in Las Vegas, Lance was working at the Tropicana and word was forwarded to me that he wanted to see me after his show.

I was a bit nervous figuring he might want to break my nose or something.

He came out and without saying much we got in his car and went to a restaurant for breakfast.

I'll be brief: He said, something like, "When I heard you voted no and I read your article in Genii I wanted to kick your butt. Then I read it again, and wanted to break your arms... then a read it again... and I started to wonder if you were right. I read it again and realized YOU WERE RIGHT... that article had a great influence on me and I changed things, worked harder (at the time I thought I was the best and couldn't be better)... and harder and when I finally go to FISM I had all new and original material and WON THE GRAND PRIX. So, Pete, Thanks!"
-----end quote-----

I felt then--and still do--that there's nothing wrong with stock items if they are part of a strong act. Cardini used the Harlequin Cigarette Holder for God's sake, and I don't think Cardini would have had any trouble winning the IBM Gold Medal or the FISM Grand Prix. Cardini also did a standard non-gimmick diminishing cards routine, the Match-to-Flower, and a reel-less serpentine silk. It was the premise of the Cardini act that made it exceptional--the idea of a hotel lobby, a bellboy, a slightly inebriated magician... Classic!

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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Inner circle
1877 Posts

Profile of Anatole
Whoops! I erred in saying that Cardini did the "Match to Flower." He did however do some standard effects like "magically" blowing out the match after lighting a cigarette.

----- Sonny
----- Sonny Narvaez
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