22nd Annual International Magic Close-up Competition
Saturday 26th November 2005
Reviewed by Kevin Gallagher

Karl Berseus (Sweden)
Street Entertainer act. It will probably suffice to say that he finished with ‘cups and balls’ and ‘melon under hat’. Competent opening act.

Steve Dela (UK)
Steve performed the act that recently won second prize in the British IBM close-up. Generally too rushed making for an unclear plot and the entire act was done to music which offered little chance to build any rapport.

Rex Cooper (UK)
Rex has performed many original acts in the IBM over the years, which he won around 30 years ago. He performed his chinese restaurant act, also seen at the IBM but he should really have known better than to enter this high profile International competition. He was greatly outclassed with magic and humour which showed its age.

David Blanco (UK/Spain)
David performed (three) remote coins to glass. This was very well presented and would be very good in a commercial situation, but it was a one-trick act which relied heavily on an electronic table so was never going to attract much attention from judges.

Ferenc Galambos (Hungary)
Ferenc performed the act with which he has enjoyed enormous success all over Europe, including last year’s win here with ‘Cups and Balls’, ‘Fisherman’s Pearls’, ‘Ace Assembly’, ‘Multi-coin matrix’. In an attempt to redress it, he wore a Spanish Matador costume and performed to Spanish music. This was however, much weaker than his previous character and served only to dilute.

Erik Nordvall (Sweden)
Erik unfortunately struggled with both the language and the magic, at one point taking seemingly around two minutes to effect a successful faro shuffle. Maybe nerves got the better of him but it was a poor display.

Olmac (France)
Olmac is an up-and-coming French magician with an excellent act with a colour-change card sequence that left me with no idea. High impact act with some excellent magic very well presented.

Will Houston (UK)
Will’s first impression didn’t hold much hope since he seemed very awkward and not yet dressed. But interest was soon greatly lifted after he sat to perform a card and coin act to music. Will has an unfortunate demeanour but with his chosen act, the sole attention was on what was happening on the table and that was beautiful, attention holding magic culminating in three increasingly large cigar lighters.

Rick Merrill (USA)
Rick has enjoyed great success in the USA with an act principally based on marker pens with many productions, vanishes and transitions (coin, pencil) before a large production finish of tens of pens pouring from his sleeves and two large fans of pens. Very funny laid-back humour, well pitched for magicians, and superb techique.

James James (UK)
James is a very successful street entertainer performing all over the world. He performed in tartan banded bowler hat, kilt and sporran despite no scottish accent, although he is from Edinburgh. The act would play very well in its intended setting with another ‘Cups and Balls’ and ‘Melon under Hat’.

Ralf Gagel (Germany)
Donning a long coat jacket, Ralf gave a confident enough performance but nothing of great impact. All that really sticks in my mind are LOTS of bill switches and a rising card routine.

Szabo Gabor (Hungary)
Szabo is a friend having entered here many times, but his act is always very dreary. He performed with Jumbo cards which only served to limit what was technically possible and twice he seemed to have finished with a slight groan from the audience when he offered ‘just one more card trick’.

Antonio Perete (Spain)
From his entrance, it was clear that Antonio was going to be very entertaining and so it proved to be. All I can really say about Antonio is that I can remember HIM much more than his MAGIC which has to speak volumes.

Mario Bove (Italy)
Mario recently won the cards category competiton at the Italian convention. A very capable performance of predominantly gambling routines as he sat at the table. Some great technical skills were on show but little humour.

Kostya Kimlat (USA)
Kostya has a fantastic presence about him and for me, is setting the pace of how a pure card act should be performed if that is what you choose to do. It was slightly unfortunate that he had given a lecture the previous night which tipped much of the technique but an excellent ‘thought of card to ceiling’ and story-deck.

Martin Eisele (Germany)
I feel some pride in having persuaded Martin to enter after two national successes in Europe. It was a character act played to a funny narration about “Martin, the stupid magician”. The act suffered slightly because it was based on a children’s TV show which no-one in the UK would be familiar with so it was a bit like someone from the UK doing an act based on ‘Bob the Builder’ in a country where no-one had heard of him. Comedy variations on matrix with a very original final sequence.

Helder Guimaraes (Portugal)
Helder suffered from his late placing in the competition with a traditional card act featuring the likes of ‘Travellers’. There was some excellent work however with a switch that would have fooled everyone had they been still awake enough to register together with a very clever ‘invisible deck’ routine.

Philip Tawfik (Austria)
A technically competent card act but with very little personality making for low impact. It was the sort of act that the next day, no-one would be able to tell you anything about except that ‘he did lots of card tricks’.

The final results were

1st Martin Eisele
2nd Rick Merrill
3rd Will Houston

Awards of Merit

Kostya Kimlat
Antonio Perete

© Kevin Gallagher, December 2005




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