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A Thought Well Stolen Review

Official Review

September 28th, 2015 10:09am
Reviewed by Bryce Kuhlman
One of our primary tasks as reviewers is to make sure the product description matches the product. Many times, we have to point out the hyperbole and, in some cases, downright lies.

This is a case where the description simply doesn’t do the product justice. It’s a major failure in copywriting, which is sad because it’s a great effect. The description makes the classic mistake of talking about what it is instead of why we should care.

I offered to review it because the description mentioned two of my favorite effects: Any Card at Any Number and Out of the World. So they hooked me. But I think I’m the exception.

But by talking about the “method” first, we lose the opportunity to be persuaded by the actual effect.

So let me lay it out for you in a quick set of bullet points (without giving away too much):

  • An audience member chooses one of two decks of cards (red or blue; completely fair, no equivoque).
  • Their chosen deck is shuffled then cut by your helper
  • They THINK OF ANY CARD; seriously, any card. And they NEVER SAY THE CARD OR WRITE IT DOWN, EVER.
  • The cards are dealt through and your helper remembers the position of their though-of card in the deck.
  • The performer shuffles the other deck, removes one card, then cuts it to a specific place in the deck.
  • Both performer and helper deal their cards simultaneously and the helper is asked to say stop one card before the number they’re thinking of
  • The performer now NAMES the thought-of card!
  • The helper turns over the next card in their deck to confirm that you’re right.
  • Finally, you turn over your next card to show it’s a match!

Let me reiterate: neither the number nor the card are ever named or written down!

There is a second (optional) phase which I won’t talk about because I feel it tips the method a bit. Besides, as Ormond McGill said, “One miracle per show.”

I think the only weak point in the routine is dealing through the cards so that they can get their number. It’s obviously a requirement of the effect, so do your best to make it interesting.

The method is basically self-working and both decks are completely ordinary. There are a couple of “moves” you’ll need to employ, but they’re ones you probably already do.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for A Thought Well Stolen

Author: Harris, Ben
Publisher: Ben Harris
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $29.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

A Thought Well Stolen combines two of magic's great card effects - Any Card At Any Number, and Paul Curry's Out Of This World - into a wicked hybrid; morphing them into a mind-blowing frenzy. Can you even imagine what this resultant offspring would look like?

As in Any Card At Any Number, the performer reveals the identity of a freely thought-of card - and its position in a deck - without asking a single question. Seriously, this is solid and gripping mentalism; there is no force, the card is a free MENTAL SELECTION and NO questions are asked. Having read his spectator's mind, discerning his card and its position in the deck, the performer follows with a visual display rivalling the wonderful separation of colors in Out Of This World. Your audience is left reeling by:

1. Your amazing ability to read minds.
2. Your insane skill with a deck of cards.

The combination of effects is mind-boggling and capable of closing any show - be it one-on-one, at a party, on T.V., or in a theatre of hundreds. U.K. card expert Michael Vincent has chosen to perform A Thought Well Stolen during his "Champions Of Magic" season at the Jersey Opera House. That's how strong A Thought Well Stolen is. Here's what Michael has to say:

"As someone who has built a reputation on hard core sleight of hand, I am always ready to welcome an effect into my program at the opposite end of the technical spectrum. A Thought Well Stolen is that sort of effect, it fits perfectly into my modus operandi of mixing up my methods - an effect like this can steal your show.",

In the book's introduction, the author sets out his goal clearly:

"A quest of mine - lasting decades - has been the search for a perfectly rendered illusion of mind-reading with a deck of cards. As a close-up performer - who loves cards and mentalism - this effect would be something where the performer identifies a freely thought-of card without any questions; without the spectator uttering a single word. Achieving this, or even getting close to it, creates a profound effect on the spectator. It's also one that ripples through your entire audience, no matter what its size.

"A Thought Well Stolen is 100% pure as regards its intention: the identification of any freely thought-of card without any questions; without any prodding, probing, dual reality or ambiguity. And, without any limiting procedures. None at all. The result is a selection process about as fair as it can get:

'Do you have a favourite playing card?' the performer asks.
'Yes, yes I do,' the spectator replies.
'Okay, that's great,' the performer confirms. 'Don't tell me. Keep the identity of your card secret, okay?'"

Is there an approach any more fair? I don't think so.

The author fully explores the effect(s) in a detailed and friendly manner. Even a beginner can master A Thought Well Stolen because it requires nothing more than "basic card skills." Advanced versions are discussed in the various appendices, but if you can do a single False Cut, or a False Shuffle, then you are in business; ready to astound audiences of any size.

A Thought Well Stolen requires the use of no gaffs or gimmicks of any kind, just regular playing cards. The book runs 40 pages of detailed text covering the simple and beautiful series of almost self-working procedures that bring about the amazing results.


" effect like this can steal your show."
- Michael Vincent

"This is simple, direct and strong! I love it"- Luca Volpe

"I've always been a fan of Ben's work and this is another great routine from one of my favourite creators in this art."
- Rus Andrews

"Self-working routines rarely pack as much punch as this. The way you describe it is so captivating!"
- Andi Gladwin (Vanishing Inc.)

"I think you might just have created the Holy Grail of Card Magic! As a magician this is the perfect routine to show off any card skills without actually having any, and for a mentalist it's the perfect routine where you don't need to do any of the skilled work. Perfect for both worlds."
- Paul Romhany, Editor (VANISH Magazine)

"A Thought Well Stolen is by far the easiest - and most elegant - giving the audience the impression the performer has a high-level of skill and mind reading powers."
- Jason Messina

"The thoughtfulness that nurtures A Thought Well Stolen is how it cunningly reveals what is unknown about what is supposedly known, putting emphasis on what spectators will ultimately deem important, memorable, and impressive. In short, besides providing a terrific presentation piece per se, this treatise induces you to rethink what is and is not essential about methodology."
- Jon Racherbaumer

"As someone who reads and enjoys everything that Ben Harris releases, all I can say is Wow! A simple and beautiful idea that once again has me grinning from ear to ear!"
- Bro Gilbert

"Ben, you've got a real winner here. It has the three main ingredients that make for a magnificent routine: It has an entertaining plot, it is easy to perform, and it has a stupefying punch at the end. I think I'll use it as a closer - it really is hard to beat the strength of this routine. Congratulations, Benny! You've hit it out of the park!"
- Steve Shufton

"Today's audience is very demanding. This is exactly the type of magic that hits them "down under." Ben Harris' brand new routine is a most excellent hybrid of two wonderful card plots, cloaked in a method so simple, it's brilliant."
- Jonathan Friedman (Shades of Magic)

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