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Monday, 25 November 2013

DICE DIVINATION - another dice trick to entertain your friends

As you will know if you have been following the ebook adventures in The Casebook of Doctor Marcus Quigley, my character is an itinerant dentist, gambler and occasional bounty hunter. He is particularly fond of dice.

Most people are aware that on a die (that's the singular of dice) the numbers on two opposing faces add up to seven. This has been the basic design of dice since about 1400 BC. This little fact is used again and again in various dice tricks, such as the little effect I am going to describe here.
But less well known is the fact that dice can be right or left-handed. This is a topological principle in that right-handed and left-handed dice are mirror images of each other, which cannot be superimposed on each other. 
Because the opposing numbers add up to seven, it means that the one, two and three and the six, five and four will meet at opposite vertices. Get a die in front of you and check that out. 

                                                             Right and left-handed dice

Now place it in front of you so that the one is on top and so the two and the three are also visible. Western die will have the two on the left and the three will be to the right of it. That is, it goes counter-clockwise. This is called a right-handed die. It is the standard pattern of all western dice. 

Chinese dice are left-handed. A left-handed die with the one on top  will have the two on the right and the three on the left of it. That is, it is clockwise. You will see this on Mah Jong dice.

Look at the pips now. There are differences here also. Western dice tend to have all the pips either black or white. They are all the same colour and the same size.
                                               Western and Eastern dice (Eastern in the centre)

Chinese and Korean dice have a single very large one or ace, which is coloured red. And the four is also usually red. 

AND NOW FOR DICE DIVINATION - an easy trick with three dice.

You hand a spectator three dice and get them to roll them while your back is turned. Then get them to make a stack of the three. You turn and with barely a look at the stack tell them that you can make a dice divination. You reveal a number, which will be the total of the numbers that are hidden from view.
As the top die is removed and the hidden numbers are added together, your audience will be amazed that you were correct.

The Method
The trick simply depends upon the principle that the two opposing faces always add up to 7. So when you turn you just glance at the top number. You then subtract that from 21 and you will have the total.
After giving the total you deliberately instruct the spectator on which number to add. Firstly, he should remove the top die and look at the number on its bottom. To this add the number of the second die that has been revealed. Then lift that up and add the number that was on its bottom, then the number on the top of the last die, and finally the number on the bottom of the last die.

The Presentation
This is as outlined in the Effect. The only thing to focus on is that you only glance at the top number, then you quickly look away. Misdirect the audience’s attention to the other numbers that are on the other faces, and the fact that you could not have seen them all. 

That's it - Hey Presto!

Monday, 11 November 2013



In my ebook series of short stories The Casebook of Doctor Marcus Quigley, published by High Noon Press, you may have noticed that Marcus Quigley, itinerant dentist and occasional bounty hunter is also a proficient gambler. He is strictly honest, of course, but he can spot a card-sharper or a dice mechanic within moments..

A couple of blogs ago I talked about a simple dice trick that you can try out on friends. Marcus used it in book V of the series, The Shooter.

This time I'm going to focus on another little curio with cards.

Instead of counting the cards one by one, you can check a 52 card deck, that is a deck without jokers in it, by spelling out the names of the cards. Before you start, look through the deck and bring the King of Diamonds to the bottom. You are now ready to start.

With the deck held in one hand, all face down, place one card face down on the table and call out ‘A’, then toss the next card on top and call out ‘C’, then the next and call out ‘E’. 

So you have spelled Ace. Now continue through the entire deck .... ‘T’, then ‘W’, then ‘O’, and keep going through the cards and  spelling out each letter until you do the King.

And as you reach the final card just ask the audience which of the four kings went to war? Let them guess, then you toss down the King of Diamonds face up, explaining that you can always tell it was him, for he was the one who lost an eye. And if they would like to check, they will find that it is true.

Just remember that you spell Jack, rather than knave!

Then you may like to show all four Kings and tell them who they are. We are not exactly sure, but it is speculated that the  four Kings relate to the following historical characters:

The King of Diamonds is suspected to be Julius Caesar or Caesar Augustus.

The King of Spades is said to be King David.

The King of Clubs is said to be Alexander the Great.

And the King of Hearts is said to be Charlemagne. 

The King of Diamonds is usually the only one in profile, hence the one eye, and the King of Hearts is sometimes called the ‘suicide card,’ because it depicts a King stabbing his head with his sword.

And I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


If you have been following the Wolf Creek series you may have noticed that Clay More is one of the authors writing under the Ford Fargo house name, for the Western Fictioneers Library.

We have great delight in announcing that two anthologies are out now for Christmas. These are books 9 and 10 of the series. They feature six separate stories in each book. Each writer has woven a story around his character.

Clay More's story THE SPIRIT OF HOGMANAY is the penultimate one in O DEADLY NIGHT   - book 10

So come on over and enjoy the Christmas offerings! I'm sure you'll have some fun.


“The Last Free Trapper”                     Jory Sherman
“A Savior is Born”                                 Meg Mims
“That Time of Year”                             Jerry Guin
“‘Twas the Fight before Christmas”   Jacquie Rogers
“A Kiowa Christmas Gift”                 Troy D. Smith
“Renewal of Faith”                             James J. Griffin


“Sarah’s Christmas Miracle”        Big Jim Williams
“Irish Christmas at Wolf Creek”   Charlie Steel
“A Home for Christmas”               Cheryl Pierson
"The Angel Tree"                            Chuck Tyrell
“The Spirit of Hogmanay”             Clay More
“O Deadly Night”                            Troy D. Smith

Monday, 4 November 2013


This novel, originally published by Robert Hale in the Black Horse Westerns imprint has just been republished as an ebook by Western Fictioneers Library.

Abe Gibson reckoned Dirtville to be as good a place as any in which to live a peaceable life. He had good friends, his saloon was doing well and the town had law. Then, within the space of a few days, everything changed. It all started when Zach Holmes, the town telegrapher, had to relay a couple of strange messages to the sheriff. Shortly afterwards the stranger Ethan Grant was gunned down at one of Abe's card tables. Then a beautiful woman shot herself in the head beside Grant's grave. As all hell broke loose, Abe figured that there had to be one person behind it all. But could he solve the mystery?

You may have guessed it, but it is my usual fusion of genres, the western and crime.

Here's a snippet to whet the appetite. And if it interests you, the Amazon link is at the side of the blog.


Walt Burnett was madder than a coyote that had been done out of his dinner by a thieving buzzard. His weather-beaten face was redder than usual as he urged his big black up the saguaro and cardon cactus lined trail from the Rocking WB spread to the Pintos foothills.
            When he finally crested the rise and looked down into the mine camp he scowled. Work had stopped and the two men were sitting by a fire sipping coffee from battered old tin cups and smoking. Water trickling down through the series of rocker cradles was the only evidence of mining activity. Even the mule tied up to the arrastra rock crushing machine was standing still, munching greedily on feed in its nose-bag, while the two men laughed and joked.
            Burnett rode into the camp and immediately started berating the younger of the two men. He reached into his vest and held out a paper in a fist that trembled with rage. The younger man stood and watched contemptuously as the rancher let out a tirade of invective, as the third man hung his head when the rancher suddenly turned his ire on him. Then the younger man began to argue back. From a pocket he held out a bag, opened it and poured glittering dust into the palm of his hand.
            Burnett eyed him for moments, then his anger peaked and he stepped forward and dashed the bag from his hand. Then his hand shot out, lashing the other hard across the face. And with a final curse he turned and made for his horse.
            He had the reins in his left hand and his right on the pommel of  the saddle, ready to put foot in stirrup when the knife thudded into his back, penetrating his heart and propelling him forward against the black’s side. He fell dying as the horse panicked and dashed forward.
            The young man turned as the third man started to yell at him. Then the gun at his side cleared leather and two bullets hammered into the man’s chest, throwing him back to land on the fire.
            As he pulled the knife from Walt Burnett’s dead body he grinned, unaware of the pair of eyes that had watched in horror from the top of the rise.