Fitch Cheney's Five Card Trick

Mathematics Involved

Here is the description
From Wallace Lee's book
Math Miracles 1950

The Magician and Assistant have a secret code to communicate the hidden card.
The math behind this uses the Pigeon Hole Principle, Permutations and Modular Arithmetic

Historical Note: Fitch Cheney performed this trick in the 1930's and 1940's - before cell phones were invented. Not every home had a phone then, and some homes were still on party-lines.

Alternate Trick: John Northern Hilliard did a trick called "Twentieth-Century Telepathy. This was not presented as a card trick but as metal telepathy.

In a room full of people, he would ask one of them to name a card - "any card". When the person did, he would hand them a piece of paper; tell them to call the number on it, and ask for his assistant. The assistant would come to the phone, name the card, and hangup.

You can find more information in Karl Fulves book, More Self-Working Card Tricks. Chapter 3. (Should be on reserve in the library.)


This page has a couple of Videos of the trick being performed . See if you can figure out the code being used.
Here, is Charlie's crib for the trick
Today, some people have replaced the assistant with a computer.
Some have programmed their cell phones as their assistant.
Some have even programmed their TI graphing calculators.

Larry Finley
Using a computer program he wrote
in "Just Basic"
(don't feel obligated to watch the whole thing)

Entirely Different Trick

Bill McCaffrey liked the idea of Phoning Someone
So he came up with a trick
called The Wizard

Here is the writeup from John Scarne's book.