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Oops control

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Oops control is an informal name for a card control, in which, after having a card selected and returned to the middle of the deck, the performer spreads the cards face-down between his hands, and sees one card accidentally turned face-up. "Oops," he says, and flips the card face-down. In this action, the selected card has been brought to the top of the deck.

The procedure is a substitute for the pass, that is, it gives the deck a complete cut.

The idea belongs to U. F. Grant, and was first described as a covert procedure to control a card in Hilliard's Greater Magic in 1938. The most accessible source is Card College, Vol. 1.


U. F. Grant described a similar procedure, without the final action which cuts the pack, in "Reverse Card Location," in his Tricks With a Short Card (1932). But there, the reversed card was anything but accidental. In fact, the reversed card was the trick--it was found to be directly next to the selected card! The trick was reprinted in Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (1937, p. 314).

The idea of ditching the short card, and using the procedure as a covert card control, apparently occurred to Grant sometime between 1932, and the 1938 publication of Greater Magic by John Northern Hilliard, where it was included as an "improvised key card." The idea was to overhand shuffle the cards and (hopefully) reveal the reversed card during the shuffle. A footnote mentioned another possibility: "Should the reversed card not show up in the shuffle, fan the deck so that the backs of the cards face the company." After spotting the reversed card, the performer turned it over and reassembled the deck, thereby subtly bringing the selected card to the top.

Around 1943, Grant published The Eliminators. The procedure was described again, but this time as a "Method of Eliminating the Pass," with the overhand shuffle gone completely. In this description, the performer simply spread the cards and had one selected and returned on top, and then cut the deck. Spreading the cards again, the reversed card was revealed and the performer turned it over and reassembled the pack. In the process, the deck had been given a straight cut.

Frank Garcia published the idea of using it as a card control in 1973, apparently not aware of the short description in Greater Magic or the Grant publication. Roberto Giobbi also published it, with the overhand shuffle, in 1995 as "The 'Whoops!' Control." He credited Garcia, but again, there was no mention of Grant or Greater Magic.