#21 The Cups & Balls – Phase 1
Dating back to 2500 B.C., the Cups and Balls is the oldest recorded magic effect. The magician sets 3 balls down on the table and then places 3 inverted cups down behind the balls. In Phase 1, each ball is made to penetrate through the solid bottoms of the cups. The Classic of all Classic magic tricks that every magician should have in his or her repertoire. Phase 1 is Solid through Solid!!
The secret is the “one ahead” principle. There is a secret ball (the 4th ball) which puts the magician ahead of the action. For instance, when the first ball appears to have gone through the cup onto the table, it is the 4th ball which was already there ahead of the action of making it come through the bottom of the cup.
Sorry, I don’t mean to be confusing. Let’s take it from the top.
Bring out 3 cups. Inside the top cup are 3 balls. The 4th ball is secretly in the 2nd cup. Tip out the 3 balls and place them on the table beside each other about 6 inches/15 centimeters apart. The NEXT move is very important and very hard to put into words. Holding the cups upright with one hand, take the bottom cup away with the other hand and turn the cup upside down onto the table behind one of the side balls. The next cup (with the 4th ball in it) will be removed the same way and turned upside down and placed behind the middle ball. The third cup is turned over and placed in front of the last side ball.
This is the IMPORTANT part. How fast do you turn over the cups? Fast enough to keep the 4th ball inside the cup and never making the audience aware that there is a 4th ball. Don’t turn the cups over so fast as to be suspicious, but not too slow so that the ball falls out of the cup. And be sure all the cups turn over at the same speed. It would be very suspicious if the 2nd cup turned over a lot faster than the other two. Practice by going slow and if the 4th ball falls out, try it again a little faster.
At this point, the first penetration is already done. It is the 4th ball under the middle cup. But the audience doesn’t know it yet.
So, you place one of the side balls on top of the inverted middle cup(because the 4th ball is under the middle cup) and say that you will make it magically go through the solid bottom of the cup. Place the other two cups on top the the middle cup and then wave your magic wand and tap the bottom of the top cup with the wand. When you lift all three cups up, the ball has apparently gone through the cup onto the table.
Now you repeat the process. Holding the cups upright, take away the bottom one and place it upside down in front of where the first side ball was, take the second cup (with the 4th ball in it) and turn it over and place it upside down on top on the ball which just appeared at the middle(so the 4th ball joins it under the middle cup), and then turn over the final cup and put it in front of the other side ball.
Now, you place the other side ball on top of the inverted middle cup(which now has 2 balls under it) and say that you will make it magically go through the solid bottom of the cup again. Place the other two cups on top the the first cup and then wave your magic wand and tap the bottom of the top cup with the wand. When you lift all three cups up, the ball has appeared to have gone through the cup and joined the first ball on the table.
Now for the final step in Phase 1. Again, you repeat the process. Holding the cups upright, take away the bottom one and place it upside down in front of where one of the side balls was, take the second cup (with the 4th ball in it) and turn it over and place it upside down over the two balls on the table behind the middle ball (so the 4th ball now joins the 2 balls already under the middle cup making 3 balls in all), and then turn over the final cup and put it in front of where the other side ball was.
Here you say you want to make it even more impossible by making the ball go through 2 cups. Place one of the side cups on the middle cup and then place the middle ball on top on the two cups and then place the last side cup on top of the other two. Wave your magic wand and tap the bottom of the top cup with the wand. When you lift all three cups up, the ball has apparently gone through two cups and joined the other two balls on the table.
With your finger, separate the 3 balls and take a bow. Pick up the balls and put them in the top cup and you are done…unless you want to continue with Phase 2.
To begin Phase 2, you pick up the balls and place them back to the beginning position on the table side by side about 6 inches/15 centimeters apart. Then you hold the 3 cups upright and turn over the bottom one which NOW has the 4th ball in it and place it at the center position behind the middle ball and then tip over the second cup and place it upside down behind one of the side balls and then tip over the third cup and place it behind the other side ball.
…but for now just practice Phase 1 over and over again and in a few months I’ll post Phase 2. So, practice, practice and that will make Magic!!!
Steve Baker is a magician located in the GTA residing North of Orangeville.
Since 1997, Steve has entertained adults and children at private functions and large public venues to amaze them with sleight of hand, strolling magic tricks, mentalism and fun characters from Orangeville to Owen Sound and from Oakville to Whitby and many towns in between all over Ontario, Canada.