LANCE BURTON'S SECRETS OF MAGIC:
"THE THREE CUP MYSTERY"
This is a great after dinner trick that only requires the use of three ordinary coffee cups. The magician displays three coffee cups, mouth upward, on a tabletop. He turns the center cup mouth downward and in three moves, cause them to end up mouth downward. The member who, no matter how well he tries, fails to end up with them in the desired position.
SECRET: SECRET: Although this appears to be nothing more than a simple puzzle, it is in fact a complete swindle. When performed correctly, the audience member doesn't have a chance at winning. Here's how it's done:
Start with all three cups mouth upward. Turn the center cup mouth downward as you explain that the object of the game is to end up with all three cups mouth downward in exactly three moves. You further explain that a move entails the turning over of any two cups. You offer to demonstrate by saying: "I'll show you exactly how it's done."
1st MOVE: Begin by picking up the middle cup and either of the end cups and turn them over in place.
2nd MOVE: Pick up both end cups and turn them over in place.
3rd MOVE: Pick up the two cups that are mouth upward and turn them mouth downward.
When you finish the three moves you will end up with all three cups mouth downward. Now here's where the swindle comes in. Pick up the middle cup and turn it mouth upward as you address one of the audience members saying: "Why don't you try it?"
No matter how hard he tries he will not be able to accomplish the task because, even if he mimics your every move, the best result he can possibly end up with is all three cups facing mouth upward which is incorrect. The reason for this being is when you started out both end cups were mouth upward and the middle cup mouth downward. When the audience member starts out the end cups are mouth downward and the middle cup is mouth upward.
If the audience member fails in his first attempt, simply reset the cups in the lose position, i.e., with the middle cup mouth upward and the end cups mouth downward, and have him try again.
When an audience member ends up with all the cups mouth upward, offer to show him how it's done. Begin by turning the middle cup mouth downward and repeating the 3 moves and you will again end up with all three cups mouth downward. Turn over the middle cup (mouth upward) and once again offer the audience member another chance.
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