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A Thought Well Stolen Review
One booklet, one self-working routine, 31 pages, $30 bucks and one A Thought Well Stolen Review. Is it gem or is it rubble? Stay tuned to find out.
A Thought Well Stolen Review: Effect
Two decks are in play. They are both apparently shuffled. The spectator cuts his chosen deck as many times as he wants. He merely thinks of a card. The cards are then dealt through one at a time so that the spectator can secretly note the position in the deck his card is in.
He's now thinking of a number and a card. You genuinely have no idea the number or the card. Next, you "read his mind" and look at your deck. With an air of confidence, you find one card in your deck and cut it somewhere into your deck. Then to prove that you knew his number and card, you both deal down your cards one at a time. The spectator has you stop one before his secret number (let's say 20 - thus his secret number is 21).
You both turn over the 21st card from your own decks. They are both the spectator's selection (let's say the Four of Hearts). You can show that the cards before that point in the deck did not match. However, you can then (with a magical gesture and/or a fancy cut) cause all of the rest of the cards in the deck to match. You both continue turning over card after card and your cards match his cards as you both turn the cards up.
A Thought Well Stolen Review: Method
Whew! That's a long description of an effect which certainly violated Vernon's thought that a trick should be describable in one sentence. However, to be clear, everything above is pretty much self-working. Being able to perform a false shuffle is helpful but not required. You will need to do a false cut — one is taught.
You'll be using two normal decks of cards that have had some "work" done to them in advance. You won't be able to do anything else with these decks until you've performed this effect. Then after performing the effect, you'll be able to continue using this decks. They are normal in every way. There's one part about that method that is a little unclear. More about that in the Product Quality Section below.
A Thought Well Stolen Review: Ad Copy Integrity
In the ad copy and througout the booklet, Harris refers to this second phase of this effect as similar to or a rival of Out of This World by Paul Curry. This effect and method has more in common with Paul Curry's effect Power of Thought than it does Out of This World. In fact, the method is very similar to the latter Curry effect, but no credit or mention of this is found anywhere.
The claims that the card is not forced and that it's a free mental selection are both true. It's also true that the performer does not ask any questions. However, the claim that the performer reveals the thought of number and the card is a little bit misleading. Here's what happens. Let's say the spectator's card is at position 21. The spectator and you both deal cards into a pile until the spectator stops at one spot before his number (i.e., 20). Thus, theoretically, the next card (21st) is the spectator's card. If you use the sleight of hand version, then you are able to name the card before it is turned over. If you use the non-sleight of hand version, you are not able to name it.
Secondly, you never "name" the position. To be clear, the ad copy does not claim that you name the position. It says that you reveal the position. This is true. You reveal it when you both turn over the 21st card in your respective decks, and the card at your 21st position is the same as the spectator's 21st card which is his mentally thought of card. Basically, you prove that you knew the card in the position by counting down to that position with the spectator and stopping when he stops.
Lastly, the booklet is only 31 pages, not the 40 pages that the ad copy claimed.
A Thought Well Stolen Review: Product Quality
The booklet is extremely well produced, and the effect is taught thoroughly. However, I did have to read it twice to fully wrap my head around everything. I do feel that both in the ad copy and the book, however, that Mr. Harris is a little too proud of this effect. He over-hypes the effect every step of the way. It could just be his playful mannerisms, or it could be arrogance. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it's the former.
The only real problem with the booklet is one moment in the teaching segment. According to the instructions, both the spectator and the performer deal cards one at a time from their respective decks "while the performer counts out loud." That last phrase is key. While the performer counts out loud. However, the instructions further state that "As per the effect descrtiption, you and the spectator now deal off cards to the table, simultaneously, stopping one before the spectator's secret number." What? How? The performer does not know the spectator's secret number. He can't just stop "simultaneously" one before. It reminds me of the story of the guy on the bus. Another passenger asked him where the 5th street stop was. He tells her, "just watch me, and get off the bus at one stop before me."
So as you deal and count, you say "1" - then sort of try to anticipate if they'll stop right there. Then "2" - stop and anticipate, rinse and repeat until you hit the spot before their secret number (20 — one before 21) all the while, with each count (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20) wondering and awkwardly watching them to see if they stop or something, because somehow you're supposed to stop simultaneously. This means that you'll have to go at a slower pace, which can drag on and on, especially if their secret number is 45.
I get that it's sort of a timing/watch the spectator moment, but it's the MOST critical part of the routine, yet the least information is given about this moment. If you don't get this part right, the whole effect is a bust.
A Thought Well Stolen Review: Final Thoughts
The bottom line is that this method is not new and neither is the effect. It's relatively close cousin to the Curry effect Power of Thought. Though the methods and the combination of principles makes for a cleverly disguised secret that has the potential to create a very deceptive illusion that you truly knew the card and its position, there is a critical piece of training missing, without which can (mostly likely will) cause this effect to fall flat on its face.
3 Stars with a Stone Status of gem.
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