Mnemonics with Rules
As we have seen, memorized decks have been a topic in many books on magic during the past century. Thinkers such as Nikola, McCaffrey, and Aronson have proposed stacks to memorize. Others, such as McEvoy and Zufall, have developed or suggested methods to memorize stacks. These methods are based on the use of mnemonics. An alphabet, both phonetic and numeric, is used. A series of fifty-two words is associated with stack numbers from 1 to 52. Another series of fifty-two words is associated with the fifty-two cards. Then, by grouping these words two by two, fifty-two pictures are associated with the cards and their stack numbers. These fifty-two linking pictures must also be memorized. Unfortunately, these methods require a great deal of time and energy to train one’s memory and master the deck. The method proposed in the following chapters is different. No mnemonics are involved, although some will say that “numeric mnemonics” are used. Do you remember the rules of multiplication that we learned in school? Well, the method proposed here to memorize the fifty-two cards in a stack calls for rules. Don’t worry, these rules are few and simple. The “numeric alphabet”, the fifty-two words associated to stack numbers, the fifty-two words associated to cards, and the fifty-two pictures associated with the stack-number-and-card correspondences, are simply replaced by fourteen rules that are easy to learn and especially easy to remember.
The Difference Between a System and a Memorized Deck In the previous chapters we have examined the differences between card systems and a memorized deck. Among these differences is one overriding distinction. With a system, mathematical formulas or a memorized sentence provide you with the correspondences between a card and its stack number. In other words, given a stack number, a relatively simple calculation allows you to identify the card there, and vice versa. But with a memorized deck, you need no formulas to allow you to
Looking at the Stack
translate a stack number into a card or a card into a stack number. The memorized deck, as its name indicates, is simply learned by heart. The stack-number-to-card correspondences are committed to memory and therefore come to mind automatically. No system is as powerful as a memorized deck. As pointed out by Simon Aronson in The Aronson Approach (p. 113), the energy and time required by the translations of cards into stack numbers, as minimal as they may be, are too demanding and too distracting for the magician. This energy and time must be saved to be used where it is needed: for the eventual calculations required by the card trick, and particularly for its presentation.
Memorization Methods In Chapter 4 it was pointed out that there are two basic methods for memorizing a stack of fifty-two cards. The first consists simply of learning the order of the cards by rote memory. The stack-number-to-card correspondences are simply recited out loud until they are learned by heart. The second method uses mnemonic pegs, a system that employs associated words to recall stack numbers and cards. A mnemonic is a kind of helpful memo. An example of a mnemonic is the word “chased”. Thinking of this word immediately brings to mind the suit order Clubs–Hearts–Spades–Diamonds. The advantage of the mnemonics method is that it can serve other purposes as well. The memorized words can indeed be used to remember all sorts of lists, to produce effects of mentalism, or to perform exceptional feats of memory. It is even possible to memorize the order of a freshly shuffled deck of cards. In Greater Magic (p. 902) and in Abbott’s Anthology of Card Magic, Volume Two (p. 68), H. Adrian Smith explains how this is achieved. Eddie Joseph explains a similar procedure in Greater Card Tricks (p. 94). With this book, a third method of memorization joins these traditional two: memorization with the help of rules. This must not be confused with systems that use mathematical formulas to translate stack numbers into cards and vice versa. Far from it! It is simply a memorization tool that allows you to remember easily and quickly a stack of fifty-two cards. Research by Samuel Renshaw on memory is the subject of an article in the June 1948 issue of Hugard’s Magic Monthly (Vol. VI, No. 1, p. 433). Renshaw maintains that the best way to remember something is to create a structure or model in which you can house this information. He shows that everyone has the capacity to memorize a deck of cards that has just been shuffled. According to him, methods using mnemonics weaken our capacity to memorize. He suggests that we use our subconscious minds and let our memories do their work naturally. In this same article, Fred Braue agrees that methods based on mnemonics hinder more than help your memory.
The Joyal Six-Hour Memorized Stack
The results of this 1948 research can of course be argued and must not be taken as a final authority. Many other papers on the subject have been written since. It is nevertheless interesting to note that the rule method proposed in this book stands halfway between pure memorization and methods using mnemonics. In a way, the rules that will be proposed shortly make up the structure recommended by Renshaw.
Popular Memorized Stacks Popular memorized stacks like Nikola’s, Ireland’s, Aronson’s, and Tamariz’s make it easy to perform gambling demonstrations (poker deals, bridge deals, and others). The Aronson stack even facilitates the performance of the ten-card poker deal and spelling effects. These stacks can be examined for a long time without revealing any regularity of arrangement. This is perfectly understandable, as there is none. The stack proposed in this book can also be examined extensively without risk of divulging a setup. Though no gambling demonstrations have been developed with it to date, it perfectly meets the requirements of card magic. In addition, it requires a very short time to commit to memory. This is its strength!
The Joyal Stack Before going any further, take a look at Figure 1, which illustrates the stack we will be learning. Examine it closely. Try to find a hidden setup in the cards, any apparent logic, or any other clue that would lead you to believe it is an ordered stack. You will see that the cards seem to be perfectly shuffled.
Figure 1–The Joyal Stack From top to bottom
J 6 6 4 10 A 7 4 9 5 Q A K ♥ ♣ ♥ ♣ ♦ ♦ ♣ ♥ ♣ ♦ ♥ ♠ ♣ 7 10 4 J 9 K 5 7 2 Q A 10 6 ♥ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♥ ♦ ♠ ♠ ♣ ♣ ♥ ♥ ♠ 9 7 Q 5 K 4 3 3 10 9 Q 3 3 ♠ ♦ ♦ ♥ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♥ ♣ ♦ ♠ ♠ ♦ 2 8 2 J 2 8 8 K A J 5 8 ♥ ♣ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ♠ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♣ ♦
The Joyal Six-Hour Memorized Stack
Figure 3– Comparison of the Mnemonic and Rules Systems Mnemonic System for Memorizing Fifty-two Cards and Their Stack Numbers 1. Memorize the mnemonic number-alphabet (L = 1, N = 2, M = 3, etc.). 2. Memorize fifty-two mnemonic words that represent the fiftytwo stack numbers (heN = Stack No. 2, haM = Stack No. 3, etc.).
Rules System for Memorizing Fifty-two Cards and Their Stack Numbers 1. Memorize fourteen basic rules. Total Information to be Memorized: 14 Rules
3. Memorize fifty-two mnemonic words that represent the fiftytwo cards in a deck (SuN = Two of Spades, SuM = Three of Spades, etc.). 4. Memorize fifty-two pictures that link each mnemonic card-word with a mnemonic stack-numberword (the sun eating a ham; a hen pecking a calculator to arrive at a sum; etc.). Total Information to be Memorized: Number Alphabet 104 Mnemonic Words 52 Mnemonic Pictures
so that they conform to your needs. It is preferable to choose an order of suits with alternating colors (black-red-black-red or red-black-red-black), as such an alternation will assure that black cards and red cards will be distributed more evenly throughout the stack.