Review: You Chose Wisely - The ACAAN (Adrian Fowell & Qmagi)

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Review: You Chose Wisely - The ACAAN (Adrian Fowell & Qmagi)

Postby EndersGame » Sep 19th, '18, 01:46

You Chose Wisely: The ACAAN (Adrian Fowell & Qmagi)

The holy grail of card magic - ACAAN - just became easier


It's the holy grail of card magic: the ACAAN. Any Card At Any Number. Any card is named, any number from 1-52 is named, and the card at that number turns out to be the named card. A very simple plot, but a true miracle when presented well. The problem is: how can you pull this off?

Many attempts have been made over the years, and there are some very good methods out there, Asi Wind's version being one of them. The list of ideal requirements for the perfect Any Card At Any Number effect is lengthy, and includes criteria such as: a freely named card, a freely selected number, the spectator does the handling, a borrowed/shuffled deck, impromptu, no force, no memorization, no maths, no stooges, no sleights, no gimmicks, no equivoque, and the deck is in full view at all times. But you can only pick some of these, since it is impossible to do an ACAAN routine and meet all these criteria. Why? Because otherwise it would of course be a true miracle - which is why you always have to compromise on at least one of them.

That's also true of this new effect, You Chose Wisely: The ACAAN, which has been created by Adrian Fowell and is now available from It's a brand new release, available as of 16th September 2018. But unlike many arguably inferior ACAAN effects, this trick doesn't rely on having a forced card, and the spectator can genuinely do the counting for the final phase. There is some work you need to do - obviously - because we know that as magicians we can't actually perform miracles. But when there is compromise in other areas, such as by forcing a particular card rather than having a spectator genuinely make a free choice, the effect implicitly won't seem quite as powerful to the audience. This is definitely a powerful routine because it retains what we'd want most in a good ACAAN routine.

So let's take a look at this new product, by asking a series of questions about it, many of which are the kinds of things you might ask as a magician to help determine your interest.


Essential Q&As

What is the effect?

The ad copy is quite accurate in how it describes the effect. "A deck of cards is on the table. Two spectators are invited to assist the performer, the first naming a number from 5 to 50 and the second, any playing card that they can think of. The cards are removed from the case, and immediately handed to the spectator's who deal the cards face up, one at a time into a pile on the table. Unbelievably, the freely thought of card is found to be at the number named earlier.". That's a good description, because it's exactly how the trick works and how it would appear to a spectator, and how they would describe it afterwards.

What do you get?

You get a boxed item, which included a gaffed Bicycle rider-back deck (your choice of red or blue), a set of written instructions, and an envelope with an ad card ("credit" card) and one duplicate card in a different coloured back (which you don't actually need at all for the routine).


Can this be done impromptu, or with a borrowed deck?

No, the only way to perform this is with the gaffed deck that comes with the effect.

Can the deck be shuffled?

No, because it does rely on a stack. Although I suppose you could do a false shuffle or a few false cuts if you really wanted. I think it would be overkill to do that, and I don't know that shuffling would really add to the effect anyway. It's already impressive that a freely named card shows up at a freely selected number - in the spectator's hands - and if you emphasize the impossibility of that, there's no need to shuffle in advance.

How free are the spectator's choices?

They're completely and genuinely free. There are no forces at all, either with the selected card, or the selected number. It can literally be any card, at any number. Bingo! There is one exception: if they name one specific card (statistically it's actually the most unlikely choice), the handling and outcome will need to be different, for reasons I can't go into here.

Can you let the spectator handle the deck?

Totally, and that's one of the real strengths of this routine. Once the card is named, and the number chosen, you simply take the cards out of the box and hand it immediately to the spectator - there's no shuffling or funny moves first. From then on you don't touch the cards at all, and they do all the work. That rules out any funny moves from that point on, making it really seem quite a miracle.

How examinable is the deck?

It is a complete deck - after all any card can be named, so you need all the cards. Spectators can examine all the cards, and shouldn't notice anything unusual; certainly they're not likely to notice anything when handling the cards casually. I wouldn't hand out the tuck box for examination.


How difficult is it?

I would say it's intermediate level. There's certainly no complicated sleight of hand needed, in fact there's not really any sleight of hand used at all. But there are two skills you will need to master to do this well:

a) There is some dirty work in how you handle the cards. It's not really a sleight, but there is some knacky business that happens. It's not really complicated, but it is knacky - which means that you won't need to master this by practicing a thousand times, but you'll just need to figure out the right angles and position, and once you've got it, you'll be set. The instructions probably understate this when they state about this "It is straightforward to ...." I didn't find quite it straightforward, mainly because I had a bit of a hard time visualizing exactly what I needed to do. I corresponded with the creator to get clarification about this, and he sent me a 30 second video clip; once I saw that, the instructions made more sense, and I could master the knacky move reasonably quickly. So it is quite straightforward, but not entirely from the written instructions alone. I got this just ahead of its official release, however, and anyone who purchases the trick has been getting immediate access to that video as well, so you'll probably learn this even quicker than me.

b) There is some mental maths involved. If you struggle doing the calculations needed for the ID, then this is definitely not a routine for you. This is one notch harder in difficulty than the calculations needed for the ID; although fortunately you don't have to rely on memorizing things, and it's only a couple of basic calculations that you need to do. But you do have to have the ability to accomplish this while performing. So there's no funny moves or misdirection needed as far as that goes, but you will just have to be able to think clearly and quickly on the fly. Believe me, it's worth it!

How good are the instructions?

For the most part you are relying entirely on the written instructions, which do cover everything fairly well. I had to read over them a couple of times to understand exactly what was going on, but in the end it's fairly straight forward and not that difficult. The only question that remained unanswered for me was about how the knacky move looked, and as mentioned already, seeing a 30 second video clip immediately solved that for me. The creator, Adrian Fowell, was very good in promptly answering my question about that via email; but people buying the trick now will get the video link immediately as well, so you'll even have an easier time than me. Eventually there will be a supplementary PDF with a couple of routine ideas, including a transposition-to-number effect with the duplicate card that is provided with the effect.


What is the quality of the gimmicked deck like?

It's a standard Bicycle deck - gaffed of course - so you get the usual high quality air cushion finish. It's well made, and is good to go right out of the box. It may eventually need replacing, but it should have a good amount of life in it for many repeat performances.

What are the angles like?

You can't perform this surrounded, because you will need to accomplish some dirty work unnoticed. So you can't have spectators behind you. But it's not so angle sensitive that you can only perform this one-on-one; you can in fact perform it to a very wide angle, and this should be no problem at all at a semi-circular card table or walk-around. So even if you're performing to a larger group, it will work fine as long as they're more or less in front of you, and there will really be nothing for them to see that possibly gives away anything about the method.

What is the re-set like?

I don't think I'm giving away too much by saying that a stack is involved. But even though the spectator does the dealing, since they are dealt one at a time face-up, the order of the deck doesn't change. That means that you don't need to reverse deal the cards, but basically can reset instantly. In some cases there's a small amount of clean-up to do with a couple of cards, but it's very straight forward and quick. Of course if you let your spectator shuffle the deck or really mess up the cards, you'll have a lot more work to do to get things in order again. I would actually recommend not even taking the cards out of the tuck box until you've read through the instructions in entirety, so that you don't accidentally change anything.

Can it be repeated?

As we all know, most magic is best only performed once. But the weakness of some ACAAN routines is that if a spectator has seen the trick before, and if it relies on a forced card, they might find it odd that exactly the same card is chosen the next time the trick is performed - or perhaps some other detail about the trick will be a hint about the method. That's not the case here. You could perform this again to the same group on a different occasion, and it will be equally amazing when they select a totally different card and different number.

Is any patter provided?

What you're getting is the instrument, not the music. The ACAAN routine is a familiar one, and there is a variety of ways you can present it. I think that most magicians interested in this effect already recognize its power and impact, and you aren't looking for ways to present it, but for the tools to do it with. This is that tool, and now it's up to you to present it however you like. The method gives a lot of flexibility in presenting this, especially given the free selections and the fact that the spectator does the handling.

What settings is it suitable for?

Given the angles, I wouldn't recommend it for street magic where there's a risk that you'll have spectators on all sides. But besides that this could work almost anywhere: it's great for close-up magic, parlour settings, and could even be performed on a stage if you called up a couple of volunteers. I don't know that I would use it for walk-around magic, because even though the reset is quick, the small amount of clean-up and concern about angles could make it impractical. If you did this for table-hopping you certainly could have different cards and numbers chosen at each table, but it would not be wise to do if the tables are close together and people are watching from behind. But you don't actually need a table, and you could even do this in a casual setting where the spectator has the deck in their hands and counts them from one hand to the other. So there is a lot of flexibility in how you can perform this, and it will suit a lot of different settings.

Has this been done before?

I'm not an authority on all the ACAAN routines that have been produced, and my experience in this area is somewhat limited. But certainly this is not anything I've ever seen before, and to my knowledge it is something original in this form. Obviously the whole concept of an ACAAN routine is not new, and You Chose Wisely does build on other contributions in that area. In his credits, the creator Adrian Fowell credits amongst others Asi Wind (AACAAN) and John Born (Meant to Be). Their routines are similar in concept, but are arguably more difficult to master. What Adrian has come up with a method that simplifies part of the procedure by means of a cleverly put together gimmicked deck that allows things to be done much more smoothly. To say more would be giving things away, so I'll just quote the ad copy on this point, which I believe states things fairly and accurately: "Standing on the shoulders of those giants, You Chose Wisely introduces a principle never previously applied to the ACAAN plot that allows you to perform a fully-fledged, perfect ACAAN without any memory work or knuckle-busting sleight of hand." So to my knowledge this isn't just another version of an existing product; it's a rather clever idea, and some real ingenuity was required to put this together!



Is it worth it?

You will need to put a bit of effort in to master the handling and the mental maths, but once you have the knack of it, you can perform what appears to be a true miracle. I do think it is worth the small amount of effort required, especially because of the apparent impossibility of what happens. As with any ACAAN routine, there is some compromise, which in this case is that it requires a gaffed deck rather than a regular deck, and there is some handling and mental math to master. But unlike some other ACAAN routines, it doesn't require a memorized deck, and that ensures that it is still well within the capabilities of the intermediate magician. It's more accessible than Asi Wind's version, while retaining its strengths. Perhaps more importantly, it really plays to what are the most essential ingredients of a strong ACAAN effect: a truly freely selected card, a truly freely selected number, and the cards being counted out and handled by the spectator, and examinable afterwards. Now that's strong magic!

Where do you get it?

Currently the only way to get this is directly from the creator at at this link:

You Chose Wisely: The ACAAN


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Re: Review: You Chose Wisely - The ACAAN (Adrian Fowell & Qm

Postby moonbeam » Sep 19th, '18, 21:16

Thanks for a great review - looks like I'll be adding this to my Xmas wish list - my first of "a few" to come :)

The only problem is waiting another 3 months ish before I get my hands on it :(

If we can sue McDonalds for making us fat and cigarette companies for giving us cancer; why can't we sue Smirnoff for all the ugly gits we've sh*gged ??
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