Mathematical Magic

William Simon


William Simon (1927-1988) was one of the nation's most skillful and creative card magicians. Professionally he was a business man, president of a firm in New Jersey that made brake blocks for cars. I suspect that Bill loved magic much more than brake blocks. H was the inventor of scores of subtle card 11 moves, as magicians like t call them. Most of them are described in Bill's technical books sold only to the magic fraternity: Controlled Miracles (1949), Effective Card Magic (1952), and Sleightly Sensational (1954). Many of his original tricks appeared in a magic journal called The Phoenix.

Mathematical Magic is a nontechnical collection of' easy-to-do, self-working tricks based on mathematical principles. My Mathematics Magic and Mystery (another Dover book)* was the first to range widely over this curious field. Bill's book was the second. Hundreds o strange mathematical tricks have been invented since, but Bill's boo is as good an introduction as any to this fascinating hybrid field that is half conjuring and half mathematics.

I had the privilege of knowing Bill as a good friend. He introduce me to my present (and only) wife on a blind date that I remember fondly. He was best man at my wedding in Manhattan, performed without charge by our friend judge Starke, another amateur magician. I always relished Bill's great sense of humor - he could have been a successful stand-up comic - especially at sessions with our mutual friend Bob Orben, the celebrated jokesmith, and speech writer for President Gerald Ford.

Bill died tragically of Alzheimer's disease at the early age of 61. He left notebooks crammed with card ideas. Unfortunately only he could interpret them.



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