Over the last couple of decades, Phil Plus by Trevor Duffy has cemented itself as the final answer to the ‘Fred’ trick and yet it seems to have slipped out of the consciousness of the magic fraternity. The plot bordered on obsession for most card magicians throughout the 80’s and 90’s and it is easy to see why.
The magician shows a deck of cards with each card having a different female name written on the back. The magician writes down a prediction and then asks the participant to say any female name. The card with the name on is found and when the card is turn face up it is found to match the magician’s prediction.
But then the tables are turned, the magician writes down a female name and the participant names a card value, once again they match.
You can watch Dave Bonsall performing it here:
It is a killer piece of mentalism card magic, the plot and can be played with a bit and indeed it has evolved quite a bit from the original. With so many versions being printed in journals and books I’m not going to trace the origins definitively, but I believe it started with the Fred trick by Dave Campbell, who used the name after Fred Lowe who inspired the effect.
Until Phil Goldstein came along it was usually done with two decks, and big players from Marlo to Sankey had cracks at it. The name on the cards varies of course, Michael Close used Oscar for example and in the Phil deck named after Phil Goldstein, Lucy is used.
Phil Plus is one of the most powerful trick decks I know it is also the easiest and inherently entertaining too. It is self-working so you can really push the performance but what makes it so powerful is the freedom the participant feels when thinking of both the card and the name. It is so free that it fries their brain, I know because I have felt it.
Perhaps what puts the jaded magician off is the non-bicycle, bridge sized cards but that is magician thinking. Although the deck is also not inspectable it can be shown so very freely and throughout the trick there are loads of convincers. The Invisible deck which only has one phase isn’t examinable either and can’t be shown back and front like the Phil Plus so relax.
There is a chance the participant will say a name that isn’t in the deck, but it hasn’t happened to me yet and I’d just ask for another.
It is quite simply a bargain, the only drawback being the name is always the same which may be an issue for hobbyists. In which case I suggest getting a few blank versions and making up your own.
Phil Plus can be found here: