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 :-)