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The basic plot of the story is that Henry Sugar finds a manuscript that states that you can use mental yoga techniques to, amongst other things see things without your eyes. Study and practice meant that Henry was eventually able to see what playing cards were in an opponents hands just by mentally visualising them.
He then went on to cheat all the big casinos out of loads of money – which (being a nice guy) he donated to orphanages all around the world.
So the scene is set – the magician claims that they have seen the manuscript, and have had a certain amount of success with the mental yoga techniques involved.
He takes a deck of cards, and is just about to shuffle them when he thinks better of it, and hands them to the spectator to shuffle. He then claims that as he is so new to this, he can only do it with very visual cards, ie the court cards.
He explains that what he wishes the spectator to do, is to take the cards off the newly shuffled deck one by one. If the card isn’t a court card, then it is just to be discarded face down on the table, however, if it is a court card, then he is to keep the card in his hand and stare at it – visualising it as much as possible. The magician will then attempt to reveal the card.
This happens three times. Each time the magician getting it correct.
So maybe the canny spectator suspects marked cards are being used?
To dispell this accuation, the cards are shuffled again (by the spectator ), and the magician tries again, but this time he turns his back, whilst the same scenario is repeated.
Yet again, he gets it right, three times out of three.
So now the magician is feeling confident, and suggests that he will try with a non court card. He asks the spectator to think of any card at all, and then to help with the visualising, find the card and stare at it intently for a few seconds. The card is then lost in the deck.
The magician can turn around at that point and – yes, with enough concentration. He WILL name the card.