Sleight of Hand.

I have a dream. The perfect Classic Pass.

Posted in Classic Pass by unseenforces on November 27, 2008

This will be my diary on learning the classic pass.

I had never really thought about the classic pass before but the blog has given me a new excitement for this move.  I will be able to share my thoughts and thinking process.  I think the best way to learn from others is to also learn side by side with them.  I am not a beginner in any sense but I am aware of the weaknesses I have with the move.  Every time I post, I will post a video of me doing the classic pass.  Hopefully looking back in a few months it should get better.

Whoever wants to tackle this with me please feel free to send me a link of you doing the classic pass.  (preferably on vimeo and passworded).  I will put your video side by side as this diary progresses.  I think it will be a great experiment for all of us.  So here is a video of me doing the classic pass as of 11.26.08.

Password is “What is a form of a pass/shift that the basic packet movement is opposite of the classic pass?” Answer is “______ Pass.”

If you guys think this is a stupid idea, feel free to express it in the comments.  I feel this would be a interesting way to collectively try to learn one of the most difficult moves out there.


22 Responses

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  1. Robert said, on November 27, 2008 at 1:22 am

    that looked pretty good, by any chance what is your source to learning the classic pass?

  2. unseenforces said, on November 27, 2008 at 1:27 am

    I would say the biggest influence is Richard Kaufman “On the Pass” DVD. Also having sessions with magicians here and there.

  3. Yoann said, on November 27, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Good Pass 🙂

    Its true, you have a Kaufman style pass. Bebel learn me the Pass and if you want some advices, you must keep you first finger close from the deck and dont extend it during the move. And you dont think that the speed of the sleight will be your better friend to hide the start of the top portion.

    Hope you understand

    Yo !

  4. Alex said, on November 27, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Nice blog, nice classic pass. I too have been working on my classic pass in the last couple of months, and like your idea of a pass diary. So… expect a link in a couple of hours… (if I’m not embarrassed by the quality of my pass on camera, that is)

  5. Erik said, on November 27, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I was just now looking through some practice footage of myself, and I noticed that almost always when I grab the deck in End Grip, my index finger is curled on top. I am therefore practicing different shifts with that same grip from now on. Just something to keep in mind. Putting the index finger on the front end with the other fingers looks unnatural unless one usually does that.

    Have you checked out Aaron Fisher’s small tips on how to not do the pass? If you haven’t, here it is:

    The others are on the blog, too.

    I disagree with the pulling of the left fingers though, Ken Krenzel suggests pulling with the left fingers, and for a fast pass it’s great. Then again, Mr. Fisher’s focus is definitely not on the speed of the move, rather the moment.


  6. unseenforces said, on November 27, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I would love to hear any thoughts from you about Bebel’s Pass. there is something to be said about doing a pass while seated by a table.

    Look forward to the link. It will be great to have others along for the trip.

    I think the debate of the index finger curled or not curled is subjective as a magician. Having the index finger in front of the deck has added benefits of hiding the top portion of the packet during the sleight. Even the great Charlie Miller suggested having the index finger in front of the deck, in fact both.

    I have played around with both styles and still am not locked to having the index finger there or not. Hopefully with this diary and help from people like you guys, we will come to a better conclusion.

    I have seen Aaron’s blog and think his advice is always amazing. If you haven’t seen this man’s cover pass, its something to behold. Amazing to say the least. I believe in smoothness and less tension than having a fast pass. I know the pass i did in the video did not reflect that, but I am showing what I would do normally. I am currently trying to figure out a smoother non tensioned way.

    Ken Krenzel’s has the biggest hands in the world. He can do anything with the deck. I live in NYC and I have seen him perform it. Not a big fan. A lot of times he dips his hands under the table just to do the move or even stand up from the table (!) to execute it then sit back down. Fast pass or not, it doesn’t help.

    thanks for inputting your thoughts! The next post on the classic pass will be a list of all the things I feel needs to be addressed to have a clean pass.

  7. Alex said, on November 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Interesting stuff.

    There are a lot of aspects of the pass that it seems like a lot of people aren’t sure about. Whether the index finger is curled is one of them. The initial position of the deck prior to the pass is another – horizontal or vertical? Should the left or right fingers do most of the work? Fast = invisible? Should the hands rock?

    Having just watched Pass with Care I’ve now got even more to think about. Cassford doesn’t emphasise speed at all, rather consideration of angles and hand and finger positioning.

    Maybe it’s good to have a couple of versions of the classic pass – one that is invisible, silent, nothing jerky, nothing unnatural or noticeable. It doesn’t have to be light speed (or does it?), either. Just able to go undetected. If a spectator was burning the deck as you did it, they would suspect nothing. I guess this is the pass as a control.
    Now, whether the exact same actions are used when using the pass as a colour change, I’m not sure. In fact, should the classic pass ever be used as a colour change? For the sake of ranting let’s assume the answer to that is yes. Do you think it’s better if the card changes instantly, with no shake, rocking motion…. and no motion at all? I think that would make a great colour change. But what if you executed the pass with a small shake of the deck or a rock back then forth. I think that would also make a nice colour change…. hmm. I guess it’s a bit like asking whether the clipshift would be better with no motion whatsoever. What d’ya reckon…?

  8. Erik said, on November 27, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I am surprised to hear that Mr. Krenzel has that sort of pass. I’ve just read his book and heard rumors that he is the God of passing. I suppose that may also be subjective though.

    It’s true that the index finger at the front helps covering the move, but it also shields the deck in an unnatural (for me) way. Will be interesting to see what you decide upon. I will follow you with excitement and popcorn.


  9. Lucas said, on November 27, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I consistently get comments about my pass from magicians who tell me I do it really well. That said, I’m never really 100% happy with it. Personally, I think it’s one of those moves we can work on forever and still have slight variations and adaptations that will make it better. That said, here’s a few things I have to say about yours:

    It’s nice, for sure. It would easily fool a layman, but from a magicians perspective, I have a few issues.

    Your cover is nice, it’s simple. Its something I used for a long time. There’s something to be said for hitting a relaxed position in which the deck is perpendicular to the floor then executing the pass as you bring it back parallel. It’s simple and covers the pass really nicely. It does however mean that you have to wait that beat before you do the pass (which honestly, I think is a good thing). While I do like waiting a beat before executing the pass, I would much rather wait that beat in a different way.

    In his lecture, Kostya Kimlat talks about dropping your hand to your side before doing a side steal, and I think this applies to the pass as well. Instead of getting a break right away, dribble the cards on top (injogging at the beginning of your dribble so you can get your break later; can’t remember what one would call that move) and then just drop your hand to your side, leaving the deck messy. Then, patter, and casually square up the deck. Execute the pass as you square up.

    I’m a big fan of not rocking, none of the changing deck positions to execute the pass, but rather doing it as you square a messy deck.

    Also, you’ll notice that by keeping your index finger extended underneath the deck, you get this flicker of motion. Curl that bad boy under the deck right before you pass it. It shades a lot of the motion.

    You seem to have a lot of tension as you pass; way too much tension. Loosen up. This tension that you’re getting is because youre pulling downwards with your left hand fingers rather then upwards with your right ones. Lift lightly with your right fingers and just let the packs rotate around themselves. What this also allows for is a bottom packet retention when you do the pass. Simply lift less cards with your right hand and you retain bottom stock.

    You’ll notice that if you keep pulling down rather then pulling up, you’ll end up sometimes accidentally bottom controlling your selection because you put too much pressure on it.

    One final thing (because I’m sensing that this is becoming terribly lengthy) is to open your right hand fingers. This may seem contrary to covering the move, but it actually allows for a much free-er feel to it. The deck feels much more open and fair. If you’re passing face up, it is also much more visual.

    My right hand finger positions when i pass are to have my index off the left side of the deck, my middle finger towards the left corner to use as a pivot point, my third finger in the middle of the deck, and my pinky held off the deck from above. I only actually have 2 fingers that touch the deck as i execute the move, and even these are only holding the deck a the finger tips.

    I do have the luxury of long fingers though, so this may prove harder for you.

    Now. That said, it’s a nice pass. The pass is also a very subjective move, and what I like, you may not. It’s a hard move to give advice on because there’s no one way to do it– No ‘perfect pass’ per say. So keep it up, try what I’ve suggested and use what you like. If I have time, I’ll be sending in a video and linking you to a couple ideas.


    P.S. Please excuse the brutal/terrible quality of writting here. I sort of just wrote stream of conciousness, so its probably really messed up and incoherent. I’ll try better next time! haha… Hope it’s still even slightly coherent!

  10. Lucas said, on November 27, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    P.P.S. That was really really long…sorry about that!

    P.P.P.S. I forgot to say this, but I really like the idea of this diary thing. Good stuff man.

  11. unseenforces said, on November 27, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    thanks everyone for your comments! Lucas, I look forward to more of your advice and curious to see an open fingered pass.

  12. eric said, on November 27, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I heard from a magician friend of mine here, that there is a small “lecture note” type manuscript written by Fuji Akira on his pass. I am not sure where exactly where to find these, but I will try at the main magic store here in Tokyo.

    If I do find them, I will translate them ASAP and post them up.

  13. Gary Au said, on November 27, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Uh oh! Here we go!

    Heh heh. Though we’ve talked plenty about this, in case I didn’t really mention this part… I think if you start looking for “THE” technique, you will get into a lot of arguments that are kind of pointless and angry people.

    You’ve seen me do hundreds of passes, and if you asked me to break down what I exactly do (which I’ve been thinking about ever since you threatened a tutorial of mine on here :P), I have no idea. But the one thing (and again, you know all of this) that is most important is the “feel” of it.

    I also suggest that anyone else following along not to stick with any one particular person’s technique. It all goes down to what fits for you, including your style. Some very amazing shifters have “hard” passes, while others have extremely “soft” ones. Though I think it’s safe to say we’re all for softness here, there are places where hard ones can fit in one’s repertoire.

    It was when I was thinking about this that when in Derek Dingle’s Complete Works, Kaufman says Dingle does any of four different styles of passes but they all look the same, I wonder if Dingle mentally thought about which one to do or it was however he was feeling that day.

    Of course, I will be always be into breaking this stuff down to a ridiculous level. You know I love this shit ;).

  14. Lucas said, on November 28, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Very much agreed Gary, like i said:

    “Now. That said, it’s a nice pass. The pass is also a very subjective move, and what I like, you may not. It’s a hard move to give advice on because there’s no one way to do it– No ‘perfect pass’ per say. So keep it up, try what I’ve suggested and use what you like. If I have time, I’ll be sending in a video and linking you to a couple ideas.”

    Ive never been a huge fan of hard, stiff passes though. Personally, I would rather a slightly more visible but very loose pass versus an invisible stiff one. Again, it does depend on the person…Akira Fuji for example, has a fairly hard pass (it’s softened up considerably in recent years though) and it works brilliantly for him.

    Ive never heard that about Dingle..It’s an interesting thought though.

    I’m liking this discussion haha

  15. unseenforces said, on November 28, 2008 at 3:08 am

    I think my goal here is to find a good hybrid classic pass that passes detection after a selection. If a magician says “that was a good pass” then the move itself is not a “good” pass so to speak. If a magician says “did you do the pass yet?” then I would consider that a keeper. 🙂

    I think two major points to avoid detection is this.

    1.) Reason for the hands to come together. Give reason for the dreaded “caged” position.

    2.) Dead time of hands together. I think the pass needs to be done the instant the hands come together. It always seems to be a “caged” hands for a second, then the action of the sleight and finally the cover move like the riffle or dribble.

    I think if we keep up with these great discussions, we will figure this damn thing out before I get to my next post. ha ha.

  16. M. said, on November 28, 2008 at 5:39 am


    I can’t wait for having a skype session with you.
    I think we’ll truly have a great moment.

    Your project is great, but your pass is just “ok” in my opinion.


  17. Yoann said, on November 28, 2008 at 6:14 am

    This discussions is very interessting.

    This my solution to having a beautiful pass. I dont have the best pass in the “universe” but I have study the move for a while.

    I dribble the card and the spectator say “stop”. Show the card and return it then square the top portion and obtain a very large erdnase break and keep the pack in biddle modified grip (all my fingers are in front of the deck) for a couple of seconds.
    Next my hand come together to transfer the pack in the left hand dealing grip. During the tranfer I do the pass.

    When Bebel perform a pass when He is siting, he always rise his hand to show for the last time the selection and perform the shift when he come down.



  18. unseenforces said, on November 28, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Thank you Alex for uploading your pass for the diary!

    The biggest thing that stands out is I can feel a “ready, set, go!” to the pass. It’s very hard to get rid of, but just think about how you can get rid of that feeling and try to do the pass the instant your hands come together.

    I’m mostly saying this advice more to me than to you. I have been trying to get the pass right when the hands come together and this is a common problem i see in 99% of passes today.

    I know people are not a big fan of rocking the deck, but I prefer cover and having no flashing on the top of the deck than a fast pass. I would suggest tilting your hands back a little to cover the topside of the deck to prevent flashing.

  19. Alex said, on November 28, 2008 at 11:35 am

    “I can feel a “ready, set, go!” to the pass”

    Hahaha very well put! Great comments guys, I’ve learnt a lot already.

  20. Gary Au said, on November 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    @Lucas: Sorry about repeating your sentiment as I had posted before I fully read yours. I had skimmed it and thought “woo, lots of tips, I want to save this for later!” and saw you said basically what I just did haha. And yes, soft is better than a rough dense one, I completely agree. Tension attracts attention, no?

    In terms of the “ready, set, go!” feel of some shifts… you can almost feel them “powering up” hehe. One thing to keep in mind is, at least the way I do it, I focus more on a relaxation feeling than a tense feeling when I do the shift. Like, the entire move. You start realizing you don’t even need that powering up moment and it just sort of happens reflexively.

    But that Fisher link someone posted had the big idea. Don’t even think about doing it. If you’re not doing anything, how could you get set for it? Hehe.

    @Tony: I forgot to mention when we were hanging out, the whole Vernon “as soon as the hands come together, the shift should be done”… Dobson was huge on this idea. Get in touch with him and ask about grips and such. I remember the deck starting in his dealing hand though. One slight reinterpretation of the Vernon quote that I thought was interesting and K actually did too was maybe he was referring to a one-handed shift. We were playing with Vernon’s One-Handed Shift (based off the Erdnase One-Handed, I think it’s in the Chronicles you bought yesterday) and thought that may have been his actual answer.

    Yikes. This is a lot.

    Shallow dip!! Lataa.

  21. Gary Au said, on November 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    @The Last Video Guy: Okkervil River bitchesss! Hell yes.

  22. Myles said, on December 7, 2008 at 12:57 am

    It looks like you’re trying to do it fast, the new top packet has a tendency to snap up into view, and even though you don’t see the original top packet being swept off, you get this weird skip effect. I used to have that too, it’s a side effect of the Erdnase thing where the new top packet pivots on the left thumb.

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