The British Ring Close-up Competition 2000

Reported by Mandy Davis

There were eleven competitors in this year's competition and we were treated to some very fine acts. I imagine the judges had a difficult time selecting the three top places. In case you are not aware of the running of the competition, each person has to perform four times in four different rooms and each room has a judge sitting in the audience. Mike Gancia, as usual, was in charge of the running of this event.

The one problem, as yet to be solved, was the incredibly early start; everyone had to be ready for action at 9 o'clock in the morning and after the inevitable late night before, this was torture! I have great praise for the audience, after all it wasn't compulsory for them to be there but they turned out in force. It would be really wonderful if the IBM Committee could find a later time slot for what is becoming one of the most popular events of the week.

First off was Frank Allen who produced giant coins from between two playing cards and followed this with a torn card, the pieces of which were placed on a peg in a spectator's hand before they were restored. Coins also appeared and vanished from within a purse frame and ended with four giant coins.

Dr Rama Polderman had come over from the Netherlands to enter the competition. His failure to appear when he was first announced did little to enhance his confidence. He seemed somewhat distracted as he showed four playing cards changing their value and then their colour. A padlock on a string was found to be secured to the end of a magic wand and four Tweety Pie cartoon cards were covered by jokers and transformed into four Sylvester cards. Finally, he had a card selected from a jumbo deck and replaced. When placed upon a small carpet, the deck moved about and the selection slid out of the middle to reveal itself.

Tim Shoesmith (photo) greeted the audience with an atmospheric poem as he performed a trick with a single piece of paper folded origami style. When opened and refolded, this became a buckle with a removable belt running through it - in other words two separate pieces. An ambitious card routine followed with lots of in-jokes and this climaxed with the deck disappearing and reappearing in Tim's pocket whilst the chosen card was found in the card box held by a spectator from the beginning of the sequence. Some rubber band magic rounded off this polished act which won a well-deserved 2nd prize. Mind you, I am rather biased about this performer, as he is a committee member of the magic club of which I am chairman!

Ben Earl began with the production of coins from a handkerchief. He then had a card selected and one corner of it removed. A miniature sword was shown to us and the deck changed into an orange in which the card was found. A final trick using a goblet, a tuning fork and some coins was an entertaining ending to the act and also proved to be something that conventioneers still remembered a day or two later.

Paul Mealing started with coins across and appeared to show us a coin matrix. The audience was amazed to discover that it was the four playing cards which grouped themselves into one corner and not the coins! He then showed us a matrix in the traditional manner before divining four aces in positions in the deck which had been named by members of the audience. He finished by turning the Aces into Jacks.

Peter Roberts produced a boomerang and followed this with a coat hanger from a tiny purse. He continued with colour changing and multiplying penknives, ending with his well-known linking steel ring and rubber band work which earned him third place in the competition.

Chris McMillan was Australia's entry for the close up competition. He gave us a 'frayed knot' gag and then some copper and silver coin changes in a spectator's hand, culminating in one coin changing into a lighter. Some card work followed where selected cards proved to have different coloured backs. Finally, a chosen card rose from a deck whilst a spectator was holding it.

Steven Frayne was the youngest entrant this year and showed great promise for the future. A chosen card was selected and shuffled into a deck which was thrown into a box. After some neat yo-yo work, the yo-yo found the chosen card. We were then treated to Daryl's 'Bounce Across' where the ability of a rubber ball to bounce is transferred to a piece of modelling clay rolled into a ball by a member of the audience. Finally Steven performed a very nice cups and balls routine with the final loads consisting of his lunch - a miniature cheese, a tomato, a strawberry and a yoghurt with a spoon.

F. Theo Theodoris worked with a volunteer to split a deck of cards so that the four aces appeared at the top of each packet. A selected card was found by process of elimination before a routine where the cards were referred to as fish and a blue change bag became the sea. A piece of rope finally fished the selection out of the bag and was then floated on top of the deck.

Richard Pinner opened his act with a burnt and restored napkin before performing a cards across routine in which thought of selections moved from one half of a pack to the other. He also showed us the same origami trick as we had seen earlier and followed this with a deck of cards, drawn and painted by children. This became a normal printed deck before returning to their original hand made state.

Lee Davis showed us some very clever work, cutting and shuffling a pack of cards to finally show it in new deck order. He also did some very clever stuff with selected aces and not many people could have objected when he was announced the winner of the Zena Bennett Trophy.

Mandy Davis October 2000