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Checker Tricks - Magic Tricks

( Article orginally published July 1927 )

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Checkers are common objects that are suited to many impromptu tricks; yet somehow they have been neglected in the past. There are, however, quite a few good checker tricks in existence, and some of them are explained in this chapter.

Every household has its checker-board and set of checkers. They are inexpensive articles that can furnish many minutes of diversion and entertainment.

1. The Magic Knock-out.

Ten checkers are stacked up, and all are red except the fourth from the bottom, which is black.

The magician stands another checker on edge, and by pressing down with his finger, snaps it so that it shoots rapidly on edge against the stack of checkers.

Instead of the stack falling, or the bottom checker going out, the one black checker, fourth from the bottom, flies from the stack, while the other checkers do not fall.

This is a very surprising experiment, and it is hard to believe, even after one has seen it performed. It is because the black checker is just high enough to receive the blow from the edge of the checker. Note: If unusually thick checkers are used, it is possible that the third checker from the bottom may be the one ejected. This can be determined by experiment, and the black checker should be placed at the proper position.

2. A Checker Trick.

Lay three checkers in a row, a black between two reds. Then ask someone to move one red one so that it comes between the other red and the black; yet the second red checker must not be touched, and the black checker must not be moved!

These conditions make the trick sound impossible; but the procedure is very simple.

Place a forefinger on the black checker, and with the other hand slide the first red checker forcibly against the black. The blow will cause the second red checker to slide away, although the black checker is not moved.

Then the first red checker may be placed between the second red and the black.

3. Making Kings.

The magician lays ten checkers in a row, and starts to make kings in a peculiar fashion. He lifts one checker, passes it over two, and sets it on the next checker. He lifts another, passes it over two and sets it on the next checker, and continues thus until he has made five kings with ten checkers.

He must always pass the lifted checker over two, whether those two are separate or have been made into a king.

People who try to duplicate the quick and certain moves of the magician will generally make a mistake before they accomplish the trick.

Here are the correct moves: Pick up 4 and pass it over 3 and a setting it on 1; 6 over 7 and 8, placed on 9; 8 over 7 and 5, placed on 3 ; 2 over the 3 and 8, placed on 5 ; 10 over the 9 and 6, placed on 7. The numbers refer to the positions of the checkers in the row.

4. The Mystic Nine.

With a number of checkers make a figure 9. At least a dozen checkers should be used. Tell a person to think of a number which must exceed the number of checkers in the bottom of the figure 9. Then, commencing at the end checker, he is to count mentally up the base of the q, and around the circle until he reaches the number thought of. Then, starting with that checker, he must reverse his count, this time avoiding the bottom of the 9, and continuing around the circle, until he stops at the number chosen mentally.

This is done while the magician's back is turned; but the magician can immediately point out the checker upon which the count is ended.

Here is the system: If the person counted up to his number, and then back again the way he came, he would end where he began. But instead he takes another course. So the magician simply notes the number of checkers in the bottom part of the q, and counts that many around the circle to the left of its junction with the base. The person's count will always end on that checker, no matter what number he selects.

The trick may be repeated by changing the number of checkers in the base of the 9.

5. The Magnetic Checker.

The magician takes a checker and sets it against the door. The checker remains there, and does not fall. Apparently it is magnetized to the door, thus proving that wood is magnetic!

Method: It is best to use a checker with a smooth side for this trick. In setting it against the door, or the wood-work, press it upward, sliding it a short distance. The friction will cause the checker to adhere to the wood.

Do not work this trick on any highly polished wood-work, as it may scratch the surface.

6. The Color Changing Checker.

A stack of about seven checkers is set up with a black checker in the midst of red ones. The stack is covered with a paper tube; when the tube is lifted, the black checker is gone, and only red ones remain!

Method: Cut a loose ring of black paper that will fit around a checker. ALL of the checkers in the stack are red ones, but the center one has the ring around it, and appears to be black. The stack should be slightly uneven.

The paper tube is used to straighten the stack, and the tube when lifted carries away the black ring inside, leaving all red checkers.

7. Moving the Checkers.

The magician places eight checkers in a row, alternating red and black. He makes four quick moves, moving two checkers at a time, and at the finish, all the reds are together and so are all the blacks!

To learn this quick little trick, number the checkers from 1 to 8, and assume that there are two other spaces, 9 and 10, which are not filled with checkers.

Then move the checkers thus: 2 and 3 to 9 and ten; 5 and 6 to 2 and 3 ; 8 and 9 to 5 and 6; 1 and 2 to 8 and 9.

All the reds will then be together; and so will all the blacks.

8. Eleven or Twelve?

Lay three checkers on the table.Pick them up, counting "one, two, three", and lay them down, one at a time, counting "four, five, six". Pick them up, counting "seven, eight, nine", and lay them down counting "ten, eleven, twelve".

This appears quite fair; but when the count is repeated, it ends at eleven instead of twelve, and no one can tell why!

Method: Picking up the checkers, count "one, two, three", and laying them down count "four, five, six". Then pick them up, counting "seven, eight-" but as you pick up the last checker, immediately lay it down as you say "nine". Then follow with the two checkers in your hand, counting "ten, eleven".

This is very deceptive, and it will completely baffle people. When they want to try it, give them the checkers, and they will start the count by laying the checkers one at a time on the table. This means failure, as the checkers must be on the table at the start.

Of course everyone will want to see this trick repeated. To repeat it might give away the secret; so instead, the following trick should be performed:

9. Nine or Ten?

Three checkers are laid on the table. A person is told to pick them up counting "one, two, three", and to lay them down counting "four, five, six", and then to pick them up counting "seven, eight, nine".

But when the magician counts the checkers, his total is ten!

Method: The magician starts with the checkers in his hand, and lays them down counting "one, two three". He points at an end checker and says "four", then picks up the other two counting "five-six". He imme, diately picks up the checker still on the table, saying "seven", and lays down the checkers from his hand, one at a time, counting "eight, nine, ten".

10. Right and Left.

Take a piece of paper and on it mark seven squares in a row. Place three black checkers in the three squares at the left, and three red checkers in the squares at the right.

The trick is to transpose the checkers, putting red on the left and black on the right, in accordance with the following rules: black can move only to the right, red only to the left; each checker can be moved only one square at a time; single jumps are allowed.

This is a very perplexing problem, which cannot be performed in less than fifteen moves. There is a system to it, and the magician can execute it quickly and perfectly by following two simple rules: First: Start with any color checker and move it, but after every single move by one color, make a jump with the other color.

After a jump, advance with the same color that made the jump. The positions will indicate whether you must make another jump or just a single move.

After the ninth move, the rules do not apply, but from that point on the moves are easy and obvious.

11. The Vanishing Checker.

The magician takes twelve checkers and counts them. He counts them a second time, and asks a person to hold them.

The magician then produces one of the checkers from his pocket, and when the spectator counts the checkers, he finds that he has only eleven !

Method: This is done by a clever method of counting. First count the twelve checkers on the table. In stacking them up, secretly hold one in the right hand, which is closed, only the right thumb and forefinger being extended, to count the stack of checkers.

As the checkers have been counted up to twelve, the counting is now reversed. As each checker is laid in a new stack, it is counted thus: "twelve-eleven - ten-nine-eightseven-". Then the left hand picks up the remaining checkers, shows them and says"and five makes twelve". Those checkers are then added to the stack which is held by the spectator.

By this count, eleven checkers have been made to appear as twelve. The magician puts his right hand in his pocket and brings out the odd checker. When the holder counts his checkers he will be surprised to find only eleven.

12. A Trick with a Checker-board.

Eight checkers and the checker-board are used in this trick. The object is to lay eight checkers on the board in such a way that no two will be in the same line, vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

People will try this puzzler for a long time with no success; but one who knows the secret can do it in an instant.

Simply remember the following numbers: 5, 2, 4, 6, 8, 3, I, 7. Note how the even numbers run in rotation.

Place the checker-board in front of you and lay the first checker on the fifth square of the top row; the next on the second square of the second row, and so on, according to your formula. Then the conditions of the trick will be fulfilled.

13. Picking Out the Black.

All the red checkers are thrown into a hat, along with a black checker-the spectators selecting any black checker that they wish. The magician shakes the hat, and holds it behind his back. Then reaching in, he immediately draws out the black checker from among the red ones.

Method: The magician secretly obtains possession of a black checker. This he holds beneath his fingers which are holding the inside of the hat brim-or the checker can be put beneath the inside band of the hat. When the hat is behind his back, the magician shifts hands and brings out the duplicate black checker.

He immediately turns over the hat on the table, and lets the red checkers fall out upon the remaining black checkers which are lying there. Thus the original black checker joins its companions, and no one suspects that it was not taken from the hat at all!

14. Changing Checkers.

Two stacks of checkers are used in this trick - one stack red, the other black.

Each stack is wrapped up in a piece of paper, the paper being made into a cylinder which surrounds the stack, and the top being twisted over to hide the checkers from above.

The red stack is placed several feet away from the black, and the magician commands them to change places. When he lifts the paper cylinders, the checkers have obeyed the, order, the black being where the red were supposed to be, and vice versa.

Two special checkers are required for this trick. One is red, but with black on the bottom; the other is black, with the bottom col ored red. It is best to have the bottoms painted the opposite color, but a circular piece of paper may be glued beneath each checker, instead.

The prepared checkers are the bottom ones of the stacks. After each stack is surrounded with a cylinder, the magician closes the tops of the cylinders and mixes them around.

Then, to learn which color is in a cylinder, he tilts up the cylinder and lets people glimpse the bottom of the lowermost checker. In this manner, the black stack is identified as red, and the red stack is supposed to be the black.

The magician merely commands, lifts the paper cylinders and shows the marvelous transposition.