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Chinese Marble Trick

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Chinese Marble Trick (or Three Ball Trick or Balls in Net) is an ancient trick used for centuries by Chinese conjurers as a follow-up to cups and balls in which balls magically cross from one hand to the other.

One of the first modern description of the effect was by Edwin T. Sachs in Sleight of Hand (1877).

Silent Mora's transformed the tiny trick into a stage presentation which could be seen by audiences in a large theater and added a steady line of comedy patter.[1].

Many variations exist, including ones by Dai Vernon ("Three Ball Transposition", The Dai Vernon Book of Magic) and Silent Mora. According to Lewis Ganson, Dai Vernon gave Silent Mora the idea of using a close-mesh net to catch the balls. However, a 1960 letter from Mora denies this claim:

"My own use of the net in the Chinese Marble Trick was pure accident, and it was suggested to me by Jack Davis, a Jewish comedian who was in the audience the first time I used the trick in public...I had been practicing the trick in 1933-34, dropping the balls from my hand (as they appeared on top of the fist) into a black bag. I had not even thought about the audience not seeing my hand when I reached into the bag to pick up a ball. Hadn't given it a single thought. But Davis, after seeing the trick from out front, saw I was making a blunder. He said, 'Use a black mosquito net.'

I realized the net was the one missing link needed to make this a great that's the story of the net. I didn't invent it, nor did the Chinese in the centuries before me. Even the Chinese magicians never thought of the net as they did their magic close-up on street corners or in marketplaces."

- (May 1964, The Linking Ring)


  • Frank Garcia - The Real Secrets of the 3 Ball Routine (1978)
  • Danny Archer - 3 Ball Trick
  • John Luka's - Chromospheres - L.I.N.T Pocket Stuff for Magicians (1997)
  • Ed Marlo - Silver Spheres - Arcade Dreams (1997)
  • Aldo Colombini - Get the Ball Rolling
  • Gary Ouellet - The Three Ball Routine (Performed to music very slowly.)
  • Dai Vernon - Three Ball Transposition
  • David Roth - The Fabulous Three Ball Routine
  • Daryl's version on Fooler Doolers, Vol. 1 (2003)
  • Bob Sheets teaches a version on his Hospitality DVDs


  1. M-U-M, Vol. 49, no. 12, may 1960, page 566, under Four Balls and Net Trick