Separation Anxiety by Bruce Bernstein (PDF+Video Download)

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An extremely straightforward, handsoff, two-phase “Out of This World” routine that is as powerful and direct as it gets.

“Elegant. The trick of the year.” -Barrie Richardson

“This is about as clean and fast an “Out of this World” effect as you can get. It’s 16 pages of unmitigated sneakiness and I highly recommend it to one and all.” -Bob Farmer

“This is a lean, direct, powerful, and easy-to-do version of the classic Paul Curry effect. And, besides, if you’ve read his landmark book, UNREAL, you know that anything with Bruce Bernstein’s name on it is, sight unseen, well-worth getting!

Of course, the plot, which you probably know already, involves the participant amazingly separating red and black cards. This version, which only uses twenty cards, is based on ideas from Brad Henderson and Jon Armstrong, who, in turn, based their work on ideas from Martin Gardner and Paul Curry (though not all of Gardner’s and Curry’s ideas are in SEPARATION ANXIETY). It starts and ends clean and most definitely can be done with a borrowed deck of cards and in impromptu situations. In fact, it’s probably best for that. Using twenty cards certainly solves the controversial issue of the effect being too long. The entire stack is handed to the participant to separate which makes this a very nice hands-off presentation. And the clean-up is much cleaner and far less awkward than the usual manner in which it is done. For those familiar with Jon Armstrong’s “Out of This Blah Blah Blah,” know that this was certainly Bernstein’s inspiration and starting point, but he has added some touches that take this effect into an entirely new and different level.

I’ll also note that Bernstein includes a second variation which allows for the effect to be repeated. It is rather amazing as it features a powerful prediction that’s quite a shocker to the layman. This is highly recommended.” -Jheff

“I never thought I needed another card effect in my repertoire until I saw Separation Anxiety. Now I know better. It’s definitely going into my repertoire.” -Christopher Carter

“Bruce Bernstein is in creative mode and has traveled to a new solar system. On the heels of the ground breaking “TABOO” comes a refined take on the always intriguing “Out of this World”. Only the mind of Bernstein can both simplify method and expand impact at the same time. This is a routine not to be overlooked by any worker who presents miracles of only the highest quality.” -Ross Johnson

“With “Separation Anxiety”, Bruce has taken a well-loved plot (“OOTW”), added a dollop of ideas from others, and then worked his well-known magic, streamlining the action, removing the dead time and false actions, clarifying the display, simplifying the mechanics, and topping the whole thing with a killer ending. A tiny, elegant masterpiece and one of the few “card tricks” I perform.” -Doug Dyment

“In Bernstein’s “Separation Anxiety,” you will find about the cleanest answer to Paul Curry’s “Out of This World” to date.” -Alain Nu

Over the years I have worked on and developed many versions of the classic effect, OUT OF THIS WORLD. In fact, the first effect I ever released was called COUPLES — a version of OOTW that, at the time, Paul Curry stated was the best variation of his original that he had seen, and offered to market it for me! It was a most encouraging start to what has become a most interesting field of endeavor.

Now, these many years later, I’ve finally developed an extremely straightforward, handsoff, two-phase routine that utilizes deeply layered methods, befitting this classic effect of Mentalism. Watching the impact it has on both laymen and Magicians/Mentalists alike has convinced me it’s one of the most powerfully direct and clean presentations available.

Now you can also learn this most amazing of effects that slayed them when premiered at the prestigious MEETING OF THE MINDS and has fooled some of the best minds in the business.

What follows is the exact description of the routine that I use in the instructions. This is not a cleaned up, edited, version of what actually happens. This is not just one out of several ways of presenting the effect. There are no multiple outs or double realities.

This is exactly what happens!

PHASE 1: You propose an experiment in which your ability to affect an audience member’s choices will be put to the test.

She is handed a small pack of playing cards and asked to deal them into two fairly equal piles. But not just at random — she is to “follow her intuition” as she does so, and deal cards to either pile as her feelings dictate.

After the cards are dealt, you state that you handed her exactly twenty cards — ten Red and ten Black.

“Let’s see how you’ve done.”

You pick up one of the piles and count out loud the number of cards in it, one at a time, as you deal them onto the table.

There are precisely ten cards!

“That’s a good sign — a very promising beginning.”

Then you simultaneously turn over the top card of each pile, showing that there was a Red Card on top of one pile and a Black Card on top of the other pile.

This is repeated a few more times, and again it is seen that one of the piles contains only Red Cards, and the other only Black Cards.

Commenting that, “I think you see where this is going,” you “cut to the chase” by picking up the remaining cards and turning them over en masse, showing that all of the cards were sorted correctly by the spectator!

(It’s truly that clean and direct. If you wish, you can literally perform this in under a minute and its impact is beyond belief. Also, consider that at no time do you touch the cards during the spectator’s sorting process or give any instructions as she deals the cards. I sincerely feel this is as direct and clean as OOTW can be. But wait — there’s more.)

PHASE 2: “O.K. — that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? You are a remarkably intuitive person — you’re great to work with.” As this is said, you gather and square up the cards.

“Let’s try something a little more difficult.”

You remove another playing card from your pocket, and it is seen to be an Ace of Spades.

“What color is this card?”

Of course, the spectator says, “Black.”

“Well, I’m going to try and influence you to think it’s a Red Card.”

You insert the AS into the group of cards and, depending on your presentational style, shuffle or deliberately rearrange them.

You square up the cards, turn them face down, and hand them to your assistant, as in the first phase, with the same “follow your intuition” instructions you gave before.

She is then to deal the cards into two fairly equal piles, as the first time. (BTW, if you’re “thinking method” as you read the effect, consider that you could actually turn your back as she deals the cards.)

After she is done dealing the cards, you ask her, “Which pile do you think you dealt the Black Cards to?” You pick up the pile she indicated, and smile in a way that indicates she is correct.

As you mention that you attempted to influence her to deal just Black Cards to this pile, “like last time,” you turn over one card, then another, then another, etc., from the top of that pile and they are all seen to indeed be Black Cards.

“You were correct — as you can see, these are all Black Cards.”

You then pick up the pile on the table and place it with the remaining cards still in your hand. Continuing the same motion, you turn the combined packet face up and place it on the Black Cards you already dealt.

You continue, “But, as you’ll see, it’s the Red Cards that are now the most interesting,” as you then ribbon spread all of the cards to show a solid bank of nine Black Cards and the Ace of Spades residing in the middle of the group of all Red Cards!

“You see — you must have thought the Ace of Spades was indeed a Red Card.”

Things to note

You hand the cards to the spectator with the most minimal of instructions and you don’t interfere, or even have to say a word, until she is done dealing the cards.

There is NOTHING odd, out of the ordinary, or even anything that remotely appears unusual.

This is just what you would do, if you were doing it for real. There is absolutely no trace of artifice or guile which could make your audience suspicious in the least.

“As one would expect from Bruce Bernstein, this is devilishly clever. might seem a bit expensive for a 16-page pdf, but the price is for the years of thinking that went into the method, and the fact that the working mentalist will get a lot of mileage out of this.” -Matt Field, Review for The Magic Circular