20 December 2005

Foo Fighters at SECC, Glasgow - The Setlist

I didn't think I'd be back posting as quickly as I am! Anyway, as promised here's the setlist from last Monday's Foo Fighters concert in Glasgow.

In Your Honor
No Way Back
My Hero
Best Of You
Up In Arms
Learn To Fly
Times Like These
The One
Stacked Actors
Big Me (Dave dedicated this one to Glasgow band Teenage Fanclub)
Have It All
This Is A Call
Everlong (started with Dave solo and ended with the whole band back on stage)
Monkey Wrench

End Over End
Cold Day In The Sun
All My Life

A fantastic concert that took me some 4 days to fully physically recover from! I look forward to their next World Tour, because I fully intend being there when they come back to Scotland.

The Cardman :-)

19 December 2005

My Birthday Weekend – Long Post!

For my birthday weekend, I had planned to enjoy the company of my family and best friends and then spend Saturday and Sunday playing in a couple of pool tournaments. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be as one of my closes friends arrived from Germany to surprise me.

OK, let’s start at the beginning. It’s 3:30pm on Friday afternoon, 16 December – my birthday. It's been a good day at the office and things are nice and quiet – all the kids have gone home from school, the domestic staff and school staff have all left and there are only a few Admin staff, the Head of Care and a couple of others left in the main part of the building. Lisa and I started to slow down towards the weekend when the doorbell rang. Who could be coming to the door at this time on a Friday? Answer: a young lady called Sonja Husmann, one of my closest friends anywhere in the world and someone I hadn’t seen in around 14 months, had travelled from her home in Germany to come and surprise me for my birthday! No words can convey how shocked, surprised and generally gobsmacked I was to see her standing there and I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or start jumping up and down when I saw her there.

As she sat in the office, she told me that everyone that was going to be at my party that night – my parents, my sister and her family, my best friends Peter and Janice and Aunt Moira – ALL knew about Sonja’s trip over! It was, without a doubt, the nicest and greatest birthday surprise anyone could have given me.

So, what about the weekend itself? What happened? Well, Friday night was excellent fun. Let’s see, there was my Mum, Dad, Mhairi and Callum (Sister and Brother-In-Law), Lewis and Cameron (Mhairi and Callum’s 2 boys), Peter, Janice and Andrew (my 2 best friends and their baby son), Aunt Moira, Sonja and Susan (next door neighbour) were all in the house having a great time. Lots of food, lots of conversation and lots of fun was had by all. It was great to see all 3 boys - Lewis (2½ years), Cameron (7 weeks) and Andrew (4½ months) - together and they all seemed to get on fairly well in each other’s company.

Saturday, Sonja and I were up early to head into Glasgow to do some shopping. First stop was Starbucks – a place Sonja really wanted to go to since there aren’t any in Germany (must be one of the few places where there aren’t any Starbucks!). After that, I took Sonja to Tam Shepherd’s in Queen Street, Glasgow’s World Famous Trick Shop. I wanted to introduce Sonja to Roy Walton, the owner of the shop for the last 40 years and a true living legend within the world of Close Up Card Magic. Whilst there, we managed to bump into Paul Wilson, star of Stage, Screen and Court Case who was had returned back to Glasgow after filming a pilot for a TV show in London (I’ll post details on it once I know if/when it’s on). I was surprised to see Paul and he, in turn, was surprised to see Sonja. We ended up having lunch together, which was good fun.

More shopping followed, allowing Sonja the chance to buy her boyfriend’s Christmas present, along with those for some for her friends, and me the chance to get a few more presents (nearly finished!).

Saturday evening saw us in Kilmarnock at Carol and Emz’s house with Peter and Janice for a joint birthday party for Emz and I. It was a cracking wee night with it just being Peter, Janice, Andrew, Carol, Emz, Sonja and I.

Sunday and for the first time in ages (yes, I am ashamed!), I went to church for this year’s Christmas Family Service. It was an excellent service, one which I spent most of upon the platform at the front of the church with my nephew, Lewis, who had spotted me in the congregation when he was being brought into the church with the rest of Crèche and would not settle until I went up to sit with him. It was pretty cool, however, being able to sit with him in church and he was kinda settled for most of the remainder of the service.

After that, Peter and Janice were good enough to take Sonja and I a drive up Loch Lomond-side, to allow Sonja to see some more parts of Scotland that she otherwise wouldn’t get to see. We went all the way up “The Rest And Be Thankful”, which has to be one of the most spectacular views in Scotland (with the low cloud base, it was even more dramatic!).

After going home to relax for a wee bit, my parents took Sonja and I out to dinner at the Paraffin Lamp in Lugton. We hadn’t been to the Paraffin Lamp for a number of years and it has changed times a couple of times since we were last there. It turns out that the current owners were doing an excellent job as the meals we had were fantastic! If you are ever in the area and in need of food, I highly recommend it to you.

And that brings us to this morning. Up at 4:45am (yes, AM as in the morning!) to go with Sonja to the airport, where she was on the 7:05am flight back to Germany bringing a fantastic weekend to a close and bringing me back to reality (or as close to reality as my life gets!). Is it any wonder I’m feeling a bit down? Especially after a birthday weekend like the one I had! Too much fun in a space of time that was too short to be good for me!

I cannot finish this entry without saying thank you to a few people. First off, to my family and friends for helping make such a great weekend happen. Also, to Peter and Janice for driving Sonja and I around parts of Scotland and to my parents for helping arrange the whole thing (even though it was all behind my back and very sneaky!).

And finally (before this starts to sound like an awards ceremony acceptance speech!), but most of all to Sonja for taking the time and effort to travel over from Germany for my birthday weekend. The coolest surprise I have EVER had and one that I will never, ever, forget! Thank you, Sonja!

You can see pictures from the weekend by clicking here.

Have a great few days!

The Cardman :-)

13 December 2005

Foo Fighters at SECC, Glasgow

I'm currently sitting in the office in pain just now! Not that I'm complaining - it's all my own fault and I know that!

Last night, Foo Fighters were in Glasgow as part of their "In Your Honour" world tour and I spent the whole 2-hour concert dancing, bouncing and head-banging! I was there with Kate, a very good friend of mine that I met at college last year when I did that Web Design Course. We arrived at the end of the set by the warm up band, who's name I don't know but I am sure I've heard them before. I'll need to try and find out as they sounded pretty good.

Foo Fighters gave a blistering concert that started off with the title track "In Your Honour" through "My Hero", "Learn To Fly" and a 10-minute "Stacked Actors" that included a guitar battle between "our best friend Dave" (as Mr Grohl called himself when asking the crowd to take 2 steps back - which we all did!) and Foo's guitarist Chris Shiflett as well as a phenominal drum solo from Tayler Hawkins, all the way to a mostly solo "Everlong" (beautiful!) and a finish that included "Monkey Wrench" (my throat hurt after that one - like I care!), "Cold Day In The Sun" (I've seen Dave Grohl playing drums LIVE!) and "All My Life" (what a finish!), the band were playing a mile a minute and were as tight as, well, as tight as something very tight!

I'll try to post the set list up once it is up on The Foo Fighters Website with any memories I have of the different tunes. Until then, I'm off to try to recover! I need it!

The Cardman :-)

SAPPA Tour Event 6, Stirling

On Sunday, I played in the final SAPPA (Scottish American Pool Players Association) American Billiard Company 9-Ball Tour event of the year, which took place at Riley’s in Stirling. The club’s always a popular one on the SAPPA tour with decent tables and good staff.

As ever with SAPPA events, this was a double elimination format until 16 players remained, then it would resort to Single Elimination (straight knock-out) with the matches being races to 6 on both sides and being increased once the Single Elimination phase had started.. Only 48 players turned up to play, which is a shame as American Pool is about to have its biggest year ever with the introduction of the International Pool Tour (IPT) and its multi-million dollar prize funds (I’ll post about that later).

When the draw was made, I found myself up against Edinburgh’s Cameron Bowes, a good player who I’ve only played once – I won that one. This time, sadly, was very different as I could not get my game head to “kick in” with anything and everything interrupting my concentration. After the 6-3 defeat, I was not exactly a happy bunny. I knew that I could play much better and would have to do so in my first losers’ bracket match.

My opponent in that one was another of the Edinburgh “posse”, Barry Scott. This one went a lot better as I found my self 3-0 up before I knew it after 3 fairly scrappy racks. Barry managed to pull one back. Then at 3-1 up, I had the chance to run the rack out and get to 4-1 but a huge miscue meant that Barry cleared the table up and as quickly as I was 3-0 up, I was 4-3 down (didn’t help that I hung the 9-ball to lose one of those!). Time to dig in and start playing. I pull back to 4-4, then Barry hangs a 9-ball to put me “on the hill” (in other words, one rack from victory). Scrappy seems to have been the key word to describe this match, as the 10th rack ended up being yet another scrappy ones with a couple of clusters on the table and no easy balls to use to break them up. Somehow, I managed to get a chance to clear the table, which I took, and I managed to advance to the next round.

Next up was Dave Tait, aka “The Fud”, a pal of mine from the club in Glasgow. I hate having to play against pals, but on this tour you have to! I didn’t start too well, missing a fairly easy shot and gifting Dave the first rack. I then had to sit and watch as Dave broke and ran the next game to make it 2-0. I was starting to fear the worst with this one. However, after a dry break and a scrappy third rack, I managed to get a rack back. Then followed one of those things that don’t happen that often. I broke and didn’t make a ball. Dave came to the table and ran the rack out to go 3-1 up. Dave broke and didn’t pocket anything and I responded by running the rack out. We did it again! All of a sudden, it’s 4-3 to Dave and the only shots missed were the breaks! I broke hoping to stop the run of empty breaks and made a couple of balls. Sadly, one of those was the white and Dave came to the table to play a table-length 1-9 combination to go to the hill at 5-3.

Rack 9 saw Dave make a couple of mistakes and saw me getting a bit lucky with position on a couple of shots. However, while I was running the last few balls out, I over-hit position from the 5-ball to the 6 and could only watch as the cue ball headed straight towards the corner pocket. Dave didn’t make any mistakes in finishing off the last few balls and my tournament was over placing me in the 25-32 bracket (again!)

I don’t know what that will do for my rankings. My aim was to get into the top 40 by the end of the year and I hope I’ve done enough to do that. Next season’s aim is to get into the top 32. Only time and hard work will tell if I can do that.

The Cardman :-)

08 December 2005


I've been lucky enough to have gone to a bunch of different places over the last while and I've taken a few pictures. You can find them online at the following links:-

FISM 2003 - The World Championships of Magic, The Hauge
Blackpool Magicians' Convention 2004
IBM British Ring Convention 2004, Eastbourne
2005 US Open 9-Ball Championships, Chesapeake, VA

I know that there are a number of people who won't know who people are - pool players won't know who most of the magicians are, magicians won't have heard of most of the pool players and people not interested in either won't have heard of anyone! - but that's OK. These pictures are purely there as memories for those who were there - or little snippets of what was missed for those who did not.


The Cardman :-)

Ron's Part 3: The Photos

Hi folks

If you follow this link you'll go to my photos from the 2005 International Magic Convention. There aren't that many but then I was too busy enjoying myself at the Convention! It just gives you a feel of what went on over parts of the weekend and the people that I met and got to hang out with.


The Cardman :-)

01 December 2005

Ron's Part 2: The 34th International Magic Convention, London

My now annual trip to London to attend this year’s International Magic Convention – aka “Ron’s Day” (even though it lasts a full weekend) or, simply “Ron’s” – which is run by the MacMillan family who own and run International Magic in London is always something I look forward to with great anticipation. Getting to see old friends and make new ones – the usual stuff for a Convention. But there is always the calibre of the performers and lecturers that are booked to participate and the now famous International Close Up Competition, now called the Kevin Reay Trophy after the first winner of the Competition who passed away in 2004, which has to be one of the most prestigious in magic. With £1,000 to the winner, it is normally a showcase for brilliant performers to make their name and the list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of Close Up Magic.

Like last year, the venue was the wonderful Shaw Theatre, which is right next to King’s Cross Station and in the same complex as the Novotel Hotel. The setting here is perfect with good seating and excellent views of everything going on on-stage from any part of the auditorium.

There was an attempt to make this year’s Convention special as it was the first one since the passing of Ron MacMillan, the man who started the Convention off in 1972. Without him, then performers such as David Williamson, Juan Tamariz and Lennart Green would not be as well known in the UK as they are today. John Derris, the host of all the events during the convention, paid tribute to both Ron and to Bob Read, who had died a few days before the start of the convention.

This year’s convention started on the Friday evening with 2 lectures. One by Kostya Kimlat from Florida and one by Roberto Giobbi of Switzerland. Kostya’s lecture was excellent with his main “thing” being his “Roadrunner Cull” and a few effects using it. He also performed a great “Collectors” routine in which the 4 Kings (to be used as the Collectors) vanished from their position on top of the card case and reappeared in the middle of the deck trapping the selections. Brilliant stuff and a great guy as well. Roberto’s lecture was very interesting incorporating not only a “how” but the “why”, incorporating theories from Ascanio and Tamariz with the stand-out effect being his handling of the Card to Lemon. All in all, a very interesting couple of hours.

Saturday saw the 22nd International Close Up Competition and what a mixed bag it was. Since I’m good to you all, I took a bunch of notes and you can read my memories of the competition – not necessarily a “who did what” for each one – below this post.

There were also 2 more lectures on the Saturday – one from David Merry of Canada and one from the legendary Jerry Andrus from Oregon. Due to hunger, I didn’t get to see the David Merry lecture, but by all accounts was very interesting, well received and full of excellent stuff – both magic and gags. Jerry Andrus, at 87 years young, proved that he was still capable of fooling the most knowledgeable of magicians really, really badly. His “Illusion Of The Yellow Ball” and “Zone Zero” creating audible gasps as a 2” yellow rubber ball appeared and disappeared in amazing circumstances. Sure, his brain wandered from time-to-time, but when he did some magic he was fooling us all really badly.

Saturday night saw the first of 2 performances of the Gala Show. Since I was going to see it on the Sunday night, we went out for a meal instead.

Sunday saw “Ron’s Day” itself. The dealers opened at around 10:30am and with Dealers from around the world, it was difficult not to find something that you liked. The first performance part of the day was the Close Up Gala, which included Roberto Giobbi, Jerry Andrus, Rick Merrill, Kostya Kimlat and Arthur Trace. Trace, the only performer in the line up that I hadn’t seen previously during the weekend, performed a different routine that started 15 minutes into the future and who’s end was signalled by a bite appearing back in the apple that he had bitten into and restored at the start of the act.

One thing I must note here is that right before the Close Up Gala, tribute was paid to the late, great Bob Read who died the week before the Convention. It was a great reminder of how great a performer he was, as well as what a great loss he is – not only to magic, but also as a person.

After this, the results of the Close Up Competition were announced (see previous blog entry) and then it was time for Rick Merril’s lecture. Rick’s lecture (which he will also be presenting at Blackpool) was excellent and full of excellent, workable material, including a great extension in using the Cheek To Cheek deck. He also explained parts of his award winning Coin and Sharpie routine that we had seen a couple of times already during the weekend.

A special event had been promised in the build-up to the event and when everybody started reading their programmes, they saw that 4pm on Sunday was the time. Derren Brown was going to take part in a Q&A session. A bit of a scoop for International, given how busy Derren is these days with a TV series, 2 annual TV specials and an ongoing tour. The session was in 3 parts – the first part was an interview conducted by Duncan Trillo of www.magicweek.co.uk, the second part was the screening of a couple of routines from his new series, due on our screens in February/March and the third part was a Q&A session with questions from the audience. Derren was interesting and entertaining throughout and if the clips that we saw are anything to go by, the new series looks excellent. He even did a drawing duplication routine that was as clean as you could get – the subject being sat in the middle of the audience drawing his picture which Derren managed to divine the drawing of a cat at the second time of asking.

The Gala Show finished off the programmed events for the weekend. My personal highlights were David Shiner of America who did a couple of brilliant mime pieces (one involving one member of the audience and an imaginary car journey, the other being with 4 members of the audience taking part in a movie), David Merry from Canada who was hysterical with prop and sight gags, Noel Britten’s once again being host for the Gala Show, the tribute to Ron MacMillan and getting to see Omar Pasha’s brilliant Black Art act live once again.

I could have written a 3 word review of the Convention – “IT WAS GREAT”, but that wasn’t enough. All told, it was a great Convention – my favourite since FISM in The Hague in July 2003! Congratulations should go to the organisers and I’m already looking forward to the last weekend of November 2006 for the 35th edition of “Ron’s.”

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

Ron's Part 1: 22nd International Close Up Competition

So, it’s 10:30am on a Saturday morning and the registrants of the International Magic Convention in London are sitting in the auditorium of the Shaw Theatre in London ready to watch this year’s Close Up Competition. There are a total of 18 acts ready to perform – a bit of a marathon for the spectators, but one that we hope is worth it. As ever, Bob Hamilton is there ready to film it all so that we can see the action “up close” on the big screen. John Derris makes the introductions.

As I have said in another blog post, this is not necessarily a “who did what” review, more an overall view of each act.

Karl Berseus (Sweden)
Always the worst spot in any competition, Karl gave a confident performance of what, I presume, is the street act that he performs all the time. A few funny moments, such as having bow ties on his Cups and Balls to make it more “formal”. A few fumbles, however, seemed to prove that nerves are never far away when performing in this spot.

Steve Dela (U.K.)
Steve performed the act that won him 2nd place at the IBM British Ring Convention at the end of September, including another Cups and Balls routine. Very competently performed act.

Rex Cooper (U.K.)
Full of up-to-date comedy – NOT! If there was a prize for the most un-PC act, then this Chinese Themed act would take it hands down. Dodgy Chinese accent and really bad patter made this act cringe-worthy. Oh, and the Benson Bowl routine that was performed made it 3 Cups and Balls-style routines in the first 3 acts!

David Blanco (U.K.)
David performed a parlour-size Coins To Glass routine that he performed at the British Ring Stage Competition. In that performance, he was lost in the stage but in this one, it seemed to be the right size of stage for the act. Sadly, it was the only trick that he performed, taking some 7 or 8 minutes to perform.

Ferenc Galambos (Hungary)
Last year’s winner came out with the same act that he did last year in the guise of a Spanish Matador. This year, however, wasn’t to be his day as he fumbled a few basic moves in his (and the competition’s fourth) Cups and Balls routine. Another personal negative point came when he used Sponge Balls as his first final load for the routine (an audience are likely to think that they have been squashed into the cups the entire time) but he did have a good idea of loading large stacks of coins under 2 of the cups as a kicker. He finished the whole act by using a Throw Coil – not exactly something I’d expect to see in a Close Up Competition!

Erik Nordvall (Sweden)
You know how you get one of those days where nothing seems to go right? We’ve all had those days where nothing works or you spill cards all over the table. Well, sadly for Ali Cook look-a-like Erik he had to have one of those days performing at Ron’s. Obvious loads under the card case along with basic top palms did not bode well, but when he totally messed up half way through his Colour Changing Triumph effect, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he made his apologies and left. However, he didn’t and soldiered through to the end of his act. I hope that this will help build his character and make him a better performer for it.

Olmac (France)
Walked on and did a very, very funny bit with a couple of well known magicians gizmos (TT). He then did a brilliant production of the 4 aces from a blank faced deck. After a few effects with the aces, he had one of them signed. This ace then vanished and was found sealed inside a CD which had been sitting in a CD player on the table the whole time. Very, very clever. The only thing that bugged me about that part of the routine is that he broke the CD to give the spectator back their card. Why didn’t he just give them the CD with the card in it? Probably because the method wouldn’t allow him. For me, the only negative point of a very cleaver, and very fooling, effect.

William Houston (U.K.)
Where did this guy come from? This young man walked onto the stage and looked like a scared rabbit in the headlights. He then proceeded to do some brilliant coin and card magic with influences of Apollo Robbins, Chris Kenner and Homer Liwag. He also had a brilliant 4 ace routine that only used 4 aces – no extra cards were apparently used. With the aces in “T Formation”, he proceeded to cover the leader ace with one hand and one of the other aces with his other hand. After a moment, the follower ace had vanished and joined the leader ace. It was as clean as that! Excellent stuff.

Rick Merrill (U.S.A.)
A brilliant act! Very, very funny with some brilliant coin work including a great routine with simply a Sharpie and a Silver Dollar which was performed in his shirt sleeves. Also a load of gags using Sharpies that had everyone laughing.

James James (U.K.)
A street entertainer originally from Edinburgh who did what is basically his street act. Sadly, this one wasn’t anywhere near the calibre of the previous 3 acts and it showed with sloppy loads and a not-so-good performance of the Cups and Balls. The final load under the hat was telegraphed in such a way that Stevie Wonder would have seen it.

Ralf Gagel (Germany)
Opened with the Kennedy Floating Cigarette. Done OK? He also performed a semi-decent Bill To Lemon where the spectator had the choice of lemon, orange or apple. The spectator chose the lemon and that’s where the £20 note appeared. Did he get lucky or did he have a new method up his sleeve? He closed his performance with a performance of the Devano Rising Card.

Szabo G. Gabor (Hungary)
Starts off with a Jumbo Deck vanisher to make a jumbo deck of cards change into one of El Duco’s larger than normal decks of cards (approx the size of 2 cards). These cards made his handling very, very sloppy and not very interesting to watch. It was at this point that Bobby Bernard, sitting behind me, started snoring.

Antonio Perete (Spain)
This guy was a nutter! A really funny 5 or 6 minute presentation for having a card appear on his tie magically with a safety pin. He then performed the late Steve Hamilton’s excellent handling of the Coins To Glass and followed this with (yet another) Cups and Balls routine. Doesn’t sound much, but his presentation was manic and very funny.

Mario Bove (Italy)
Mario gave a competent “Gambling Demonstration” type of performance starting with the cutting of the 4 Kings. He then performed an “Invisible Palm” routine ending with the Kings turning into the 4 Aces whilst they were in the case. A Middle Deal demonstration followed with the other 3 hands each getting the Jacks, Queens and Kings and ended with the deck in full deck order. A technically competent performance.

Kostya Kimlat (USA)
Kostya came out and performed the Card on Ceiling – with a thought of card! I won’t explain what happens other than that the card is not named by the spectator until it is half way to the ceiling! He finished with a card routine that incorporated a series of heavy concepts (Taoism, Zenism, etc), but was a very entertaining routine.

Martin Eisler (Germany)
This act started with a kids’ TV voiceover, which was very sarcastic and very funny. After Eisler got introduced by the voiceover, he started producing “extra” coins. Produces his cards and starts to perform a few matrixes (starting with the coins vanishing from his hand to under the cards). Excellent misdirection after the first couple to produce some jumbo cards, then performed the Matrix with jumbo cards and normal coins. Then produced jumbo cous and did a Reverse Matrix. Finished with an excellent Matrix (with visible kickback) using cards and dice. A very clever routine that ended with the production of cuddly toys representing the 2 main characters from the imaginary kids’ TV show.

Helder Guimaraes (Portugal)
This young guy came out with a routine that started slowly and ended by fooling a lot of the magicians watching very badly. He placed a folded card on the table, where it stayed for the whole routine. Produces the 4 Jokers which were then signed. He starts to perform the Travellers only to find that 3 Jokers and a Queen have travelled to his pockets. The 3 Jokers are turned into the other 3 Queens and the Jokers are found back in his pocket. But where’s the final signed Joker? Sitting folded on the table the entire time! We all missed it! Brilliant routine. He finished with an Invisible Deck-style routine using a blank faced deck.

Philipp Tawfik (Austria)
The final act of the 18 act marathon performed a very nice deck production, then started an Ace production routine which seemed to go wrong at every level, but that he seemed to be able to save every time it went “wrong.” He then performed a false dealing routine, Guy Hollingworth’s “Quartet Transposition” and ended with the deck in full deck order. A nice wee routine, but nothing too special.

Here’s the scores on the doors for the different routines:-

  • Cups and Balls – 6
  • Coins Across/3 Fly – 5
  • Silent Acts – 3
  • Bro. John Hamman Signed Card variations – 2
  • Gambling related routines – 3

Yes, a full one third of the acts performed some kind of Cups and Balls routine, including TWO street acts!

I made a few predictions for the awards that are presented at this Competition. Three “Merit Awards”, each of equal stature, are presented as well as prizes for first, second and third places. As with most people who watched the competition, I made a few predictions, which were:-

  • First prize to Rick Merril (USA)
  • Second prize to Helder Guimaraes (Portugal)
  • Third prize to Kostya Kimlat (USA)
  • Merit Prizes to Olmac (France), William Houston (UK) and Martin Eisler (Germany)

Those were my predictions, the awards themselves went as follows:-

  • The “Merit Awards” were awarded to Kostya Kimlat (USA), Olmack (France) and Antonio Perete (Spain)
  • Third prize of a trophy and £100 went to William Houston (UK)
  • Second prize of a trophy and £500 went to Rick Merril (USA)
  • The winner taking the first prize of the Kevin Reay Trophy and £1,000 went to Martin Eisler of Germany. Congratulations to Martin on winning the competition.

Apparently, the judges walked in to discuss the competition and found that they all had the 6 award winners in their lists. Just a few tweaks were required and the decision was made in less than an hour.

All in all, it was an excellent competition - one of the strongest in a long time - and I highly recommend that you buy the DVD when it is released near the end of February.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

21 November 2005

Bob Read

The terms “genius” and “legend” are, in my opinion, used far too often. Having said that, they were perfect for describing Bob Read, whose passing was announced earlier today whilst he was on holiday in California.

As a performer, he could leave an audience helpless with laughter and baffled by his brilliant magic all in the one act. His bottle production was phenomenal and will never be forgotten by anyone who saw it – either in performance or when he lectured (the method was as brilliant as the effect). As a scholar, he was brilliant. His lecture on the history of the Cups and Balls was utterly fascinating with numerous paintings, lithographs and drawings used to help illustrate his talk.

I was lucky enough to see both styles of lecture - the manic, crazy performace/lecture and the more relaxed and down-to-earth Cups and Balls lecture - in one single weekend. How could one person have 2 such polar opposite personalities when it came to being in front of an audience? The only answer I could think of was "be Bob Read!" But who in magic wants to be a copy of something that has come before?

That's why today's news is so sad. For those of us who saw him perform and lecture live, we will have the happy memories of brilliant, off-the-wall performances that had us laughing very hard and fooled very badly in the same instant.

For those who were unfortunate not to see him perform, be envious! Be very envious!

The only thing I ask is that you keep Bob's family in your thoughts over the coming wee while.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-(

20 November 2005

Magician's Only

When I had the original site up and running, one of the things I wanted to do was have effects published from some of my friends. I am in the very lucky position to have met and got to know some of the best magicians in the World. Most of them specialise in Close Up Magic, especially Card Magic.

When I started this Blog, I wanted to try and keep the magic online with it as the effects are too good to allow to just slip away and disappear into cyberspace. So, I have slightly re-done the pages and if you go to www.thecardman.fire-bug.co.uk and enter the correct passwords, you will gain access to them.

For those that remember the old site, you will notice that I have added a new effect. My good friend George McBride has been kind enough to contribute a fantastic effect from his manuscript "Cardville". You can find out more about the effect, and about obtaining George's excellent manuscripts, when you enter the "Magician's Only" section.

I hope you enjoy them.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)

16 November 2005

2005 Scottish 9-Ball Championships

This year's Scottish 9-Ball Championships took place a few weeks ago at Styx in Kirkcaldy and, as always at that particular club, a great time was had by all. As last year, a gang of Irish players (25 in total) came over for a fun weekend of pool, drinking and anything else they could (legally) get up to!

The format for the 2-day tournament was to start off with Double Elimination (meaning that, essentially, all the players had to lose twice before being knocked out - but it is too complicated to explain here fully) until there were 16 players left, then a straight Knockout format would bring us down to one winner. In the end, it was Jayson Shaw of Glasgow who beat the reigning Champion, Falkirk's Michael Valentine, in a great final.

My weekend went very well. I started off playing Charlie Murphy of Ireland. Currently ranked number 33 in their rankings (although he was as high as number 10 about 18 months ago). I managed to get by him by 8 racks to 6. I was on 7 for what felt like an age before I managed to crawl over the line, but a win's a win!

Next up was Darren Murray who is ranked in the top 10 in Scotland. Darren is one hell of a tough player who always give 110% in every match. Darren managed to squeeze by me by 8 racks to 7 and considering that I was 7 - 6 up late on in the match, he did very well to win especially since he hung 3 8-balls or 9-balls leaving me easy finishes. But, that's 9-Ball - you've got to take the finishes when they are presented to you. The slightly annoying thing is that I had a couple of shots to win the match - especially at 7 - 7. Ach well.

The following day, I had to wait on a couple of matches being played before I found out who I had to play in the "Losers' Bracket". As it turned out, I had to play Jim O'Hare from Aberdeen - another of the top 10 players in Scotland (and remember, my official ranking is a lowly 52!). This time, things were a bit different. I managed to get by Jim by 8 racks to 7, but not before making a meal of it first! I was 4 - 0 up at one point before Jim started to claw his way back into the match. I even had several chances to win the match at both 7 - 5 and 7 - 6 up! Finally managed to compose myself and pocket the last 4 or 5 balls to win the match after Jim had made an uncharacteristic mistake in trying to finish off the match.

Then it was Paddy Mac Laughlin, Ireland's number one ranked player. This was a tight match all the way, with Paddy always having the upper hand and eliminating me from the tournament by 8 racks to 6. I've got to say, it was a great match to play in, but I would have really liked to have had the upper hand on that one!

Still, it was a great weekend. The club was great fun on the Friday and Saturday nights with the music, the pool, the girls... I look forward to the next time we are back in Kirkcaldy.

One wee footnote, a lot of the players complain about the tables in Kirkcaldy saying that the cushions don't bounce right, that the pockets are too tight, that the cloth should be the same colour on the bed of the table as it is on the rails, etc. My personal preference is that the tables are OK. Yes, the rails are really bouncy, but I think that the pockets are great for making you pay attention to hitting the centre of the pocket. Cheating these pockets is very difficult.

The Cardman :-)

14 November 2005

2005 US Open 9-Ball Championships

So I’m not one to brag, but…

Mid-September saw the 30th edition of the US Open 9-Ball Championships and my first trip to Chesapeake, Virginia. If you are a pool fan or a pool player and you ever get the chance to go, take it with both hands and don’t let go!

The best players in the world all turn up looking to have a shot at one of pool’s most prestigious titles. This year was a full entry of 256 players meaning a $40,000 first prize to the eventual winner.

There were so many things that happened that week that it is difficult to know where to start. Let’s try my day one! Obtained my VIP Pass (which means that I’m guaranteed a good seat at the TV table), and walked into the arena only to bump into TV Commentator Jim Wych. He and fellow Canadian player Jeff White were on their way to watch a match and asked me to join them. These guys are 2 of the nicest, and most knowledgeable, people you could ever wish to meet and it was a pleasure to meet them throughout the week.

The Accu Stats company was in the worst possible position for me – right beside the main door of the arena. All those videos and DVDs sitting there waiting to be bought. Suffice to say – I bought! Tom, the guy who was looking after the stand, was full of great information and stories. One of my highlights of the week was when Tom started talking with Bobby Hunter and the 2 of us ended up having a verbal tutorial on the finer Straight Pool from Bobby Hunter, the 1990 World Straight Pool Champion.

The website for American magazine Billiards Digest has a great online forum called the Cue Chalk Board (CCB). For the last few years, they have had a get-together at the US Open, including a dinner at a local steak house on the Friday night and a fun tournament at the host club, Q-Masters in Virginia Beach, on the Saturday morning. It was great to meet a number of the members from both the CCB and the AZ Billiards Forum – Wendy (9ballgirl), Brian in VA, Rich, Marissa (Sweet Marissa) and a whole load of others far too numerous to mention.

And mentioning the CCB Tournament, I think it is now safe to let them all know about my vicious competitive streak! Yes, it was a fun tournament and I had great fun taking part, but I cannot help myself! I not only have to try to beat my opponent, but destroy them! Fortunately, I don’t think it came to the surface too much during the day. Oh, and I won the tournament, too! The trophy – made and donated by another of the members – is a replica of the one that the US Open Champion gets at the end of the tournament and is absolutely beautiful!

Favourite match of the week? Tough to say, but probably the losers’ bracket final between Jose Parica and Francisco Bustamante (both from The Philippines) which Parica won by 11 racks to 10. Excitement all the way with great shots being made and easy shots being missed along the way.

I’d better stop here for now. What I’ve posted is barely the tip of the iceberg! I’ll try to post more later.

The Cardman :-)

13 November 2005

A word about the links

I've posted up a whole bunch of links to different sites that interest me. Hopefully, some of them will interest you, too.

I hope to re-jig the "Magicians Only" section of my original website in the next few days so that magicians can access the material there fairly quickly. I want to get the material back up as soon as I can as I have a great effect that my good friend George McBride has been kind enough to contribute. But more of that once it is published.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)

11 November 2005

The start of The Cardman's blog...

So, welcome to my blog. This all started with a website that I started building as part of a Web Design course that I did one evening a week at college. The only drawback is that I hardly ever sat down to post new stuff up.

I was full of good ideas for it, too. A few pages about my travels to go to pool tournaments (either to play or watch), some magic-related stuff, photos and other bits and pieces. Well, most (if not all) of this will stay. The pool stuff, pictures and other general bits and pieces will be found here while some of the magic-related stuff (the tricks, mostly) will stay password-protected on my other wee bit of cyberspace (link to follow once I've sorted it all out).

This blog also means that I can try and have more pictues online for you to look at, but since I am new to this blogging business I need to see what I can and cannot do before I make any promises.

OK, enough boring stuff. I'll try to post as often as I can.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)