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I'm the only person I've ever known who has mastered the art of individual coin-catching beyond four coins. A clip is [to be] provided of me catching 5 coins. On a few very rare occasions (in my younger days) I've accomplished catching six coins but firmly believe that seven should prove impossible [assuming a ceiling of 8-10 feet]. I would be quite interested in hearing from those who can equal or exceed this feat or from those that might suggest interesting variations or alternatives. I did hear once that the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich, the pro basketball player, demonstrated something similar on "The Tonight Show" many years ago, but I was never able to get any specific details.
The rules for this process are quite simple:
Variations which can be employed include using three coins from the back of each hand at the same time, or catching three coins from one hand in each of the six possible sequences. That is, if the three coins are laid out in a straight line along the index finger and numbered 1, 2, 3 from the elbow out, the coins would normally be tossed with 1 being the lowest and 3 the highest, and caught in the order 1, 2, 3. But they can also be attempted in the other sequences:
1-3-2 2-3-1 2-1-3 3-1-2 3-2-1 [don't swoop them!]
It is also possible to catch four coins in different sequences, but the only combinations which I have recorded as being able to successfully catch are:
1-2-3-4 1-2-4-3 1-3-2-4 1-3-4-2 1-4-2-3 1-4-3-2
2-1-3-4 2-1-4-3 2-3-1-4
A clip is [to be] provided of a successful attempt at 3-1-2-4.
When someone is trying to learn to catch three coins and is having
difficulty, I like to tell them that it might be the way the coins are
patterned while in the air. I tell them to throw the coins in the air as
usual, but not to try to catch them -- only look at them as they fall to
the ground to see if they are in a neat pattern. Then when they toss the
coins I reach in and grab them, proving that their toss isn't the problem.
Another interesting effect is to grab a dime off another person's hand and replace it with a penny before they can close their fingers. As impossible as this may sound, it is actually quite easy.
The dime is placed on their open palm just a bit off center toward the elbow, kind of just on the start of the slope leading to the heel. With their hand straight out about a foot from their body, you demonstrate that they can fold their fingers over the coin to protect it, without moving their hand. Their elbow should be bent 90 degrees, but make sure that it is a little bit away from their body. Then you start in front of them with a closed fist about 10 inches above and just in front of their hand. With a very quick start, you swoop down and grab the coin off their hand -- the butt of your hand depresses their whole arm a bit making the dime "float" right into your hand. With a little practice, you can select the distance which seems to give them the edge but which you know you can control. You make a contest out of it the first 2 or 3 times to see how they do, using only the dime [which you should take more often than not].
Then, surreptiously take the penny and hold it with the tip of your ring finger against your palm, making a natural fist as before. Now forget about the penny and concentrate entirely on the dime just as you have been. When you grab the dime the penny should automatically be left in its place, with them convinced that they still have the dime! It's great fun to watch their glee at having bested you, suddenly turn to dejection when they realize that not only did they not "win" as they had thought, but that they were all the time being set-up for the crushing result.
Here is [to be] a clip of the coin swap effect. The position of the penny is shown.
Some people will get real "antsy" constantly starting to close their hand whenever they sense you are about to make a move. For these people I'll wait quite a long time (5-10 seconds), until they have no idea when I'm about to strike and they finally relax a bit.
You can make a little contest of this too, giving others the chance to take the coin from you. You will find that many of those that have not practiced this will tend to "wind-up", which is to say, draw back slightly, just as they start to strike. This will help you to beat them and lend credence to the idea of this simply being a contest of speed and reaction. It then makes the swap all the more devastating when you pull it off.
When I do pull it off, I just kind of stand there and let them gloat on
and on. I'll nod my head, "Sure, sure..." with the slightest smirk on my
face, and then just keep pointing to their hand until they finally look
down and realize. I needn't say a word, just show them their original
coin in my hand; the coins themselves [and the laughter of anyone watching
who is in on it] usually say it all.
As soon as you show one of the above effects someone will often try to "best" you with something similar or altogether different but still using coins. I'd like to hear about some that you encounter. Here are some logic challenges that I've run across:
For comments, please send EMail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last modified: May 29, 1996