Ammar, Michael: The Complete Cups and Balls
1998 Michael Ammar and L&L Publishing
Hardcover, w/dj, 167 pages, large format
The Complete
              Cups and Balls
Image from Magicref

Comments (magicref): Photographs by Hannah Ammar, Design by Barbara Palmer. Excellent coverage of the cups & balls in this finely produced, glossy page book from L&L Publishers. The word "Complete" in the title is not because this book is a full encyclopedia of every Cups & Balls move ever created. Rather, it is complete in that it provides all the essentials for learning the Cups and Balls, including sleights, wand spins, Williamson's striking vanish, and another look at Dai Vernon's Cups and Balls routine, among others. It also dissects the Cups and Balls and covers the many variations on the beginning, middle, and ending sections of the effect. The photographs in the book are unique, in that they have been annotated with graphics as necessary to emphasize certain points in the photo, and "highlighter" lines often link the text to a particular photo. This is meant to make the written page a little closer to the video medium, and to take advantage of the capabilities of modern print. I was actually a bit disappointed in the text to photo ratio, as I would have liked to have read more text! The book gives me the feeling that I'm watching a video, rather than reading a good book. Overall, this is a highly recommended book for the Cups and Balls. See full review at:


ix Introduction (Michael Ammar): video vs. printed page; the difficulty in crediting Cups & Balls moves, and thanks.
xi Foreword (Tommy Wonder): encouragement for the reader

1 Fundamental Props: Brief discussion of cups, balls, final loads, and wands. This section does not describe the differences in cup designs, except in stating that Michael prefers heavier cups and uses  Paul Fox cups.

3 Definitions: Brief definitions of several critical terms, with photos demonstrating as appropriate. Includes: the mouth, top, nesting, stacking, holding out, a fake transfer or pass, steal, loading (secret/actual/fake), the dirty hand, the clean hand, and the inertial move
6 Basic Stacking: shown with a ball hidden between the cups
7 The Super Simple Routine: similar to the descriptions that come with the cheap plastic cups, using the inertia move only.

8 Fundamental Skills No. 1 - Acting
8 Methods of Holding Out: Finger palm, thumb palm, classic palm
10 Beginning Sleights
10 The Fake Transfer: The French Drop, Classic Pass, The Simple Transfer, and Misdirecting with the Wand
13 Secretly Loading a Small Ball Into A Cup: From Finger Palm, Thumb Palm, Direct From Palm, The Tip Over Load (while tipping the top ball off the cup), Loading A Nested or Stacked Cup
15 Six B&W photos of some older cups, including Okito, Harry Stanley, and Rings & Things
16 Stealing From a Tabled Cup: Two Finger Steal, Simply Holding Inside, The Two Finger Steal Out and Spin Around to Show Empty
17 Stealing From Between Cups: Little Finger Retention/Steal, Nesting Rolling Steal

19 Fundamental Skills No. 2 - Timing
20 Faking the Load: The Scoop, The Scoop Clip, Fake Transfer to Fake Load, The Pinch (propelling the ball with a pinch), The Fake Roll Out
23 Cool Cup Moves: Passing One Through Another, Wand Through Cup, Showing Inside Deeper Than Outside, Showing a Ball Inside an Empty Cup, Rolling a Cup, Pulling a Ball Up Through the Cup, The Charlie Miller Move (ball through fist and through cup), The Mendoza Move (smashing through the cup), Click Move, The Flushtration Count (to show loaded cups empty), The Tip-Off or 'Fako' Move (to remove a stacked loaded cup), Galloping Post Move, The Centrifugal Move (adding a loaded cup to a stack - more risky!)

31 Fundamental Skills No. 3 - Routining: Theory of building a good, quality routine
32 2nd Level Routine: a simple routine using the already learned building blocks. 3 balls penetrate the cups, are put away, and appear back under the cups.

35 Fundamental Skills No. 4 Misdirection: pushing vs. leading
36 Third Level Routine: with a single, final load at the end.
38 Final Loading Actions: multiple detailed looks at how to load the large ball from different angles.
40 Impromptu Cups & Balls: using coffee cups and grapes and three final loads

45 Part Two: examining different openings, body sequences, and endings
46 Advanced Wand Vanishes: introduction
46 Through the Fist
47 Through the Hand #2
48 The Mora/Vernon Wand Spin Vanish: a must learn vanish!
50 Williamson's Striking Vanish: another must learn vanish
51 The Drummer's Spin

52 Opening the Routine
53 Opening Positions: One, two , three, and four ahead; Other options
54 One Ahead Return Opening
55 One Ahead Penetration Sequence
55 Three Ahead Production Sequence
56 Ammar's Opening Production Sequence

58 Body Sequences
58 Assembly
59 Miller - Sequence #1
60 Miller - Sequence #2
61 Classic Gathering In the Middle
62 All Gather One at a Time
63 Three Gather on Tops of Cups
64 Shower of Balls: with another approach
65 Click Move Sequence
66 Two-None-Two Sequence
67 Reappearing Inside a Stack of Cups

68 Mastering the Final Load: Directions for Misdirecting, Standing, and Sitting
71 When Standing, Where are the Final Loads Going to Go? Natural pockets, Special pockets, Pouches, Edge of the Coat, sleeves
72 The Coordinated Timing of Both Hands
74 The Loading Hand
75 Holding the Cup
76 Ending Sequences
76 Classic Elimination Sequence
78 Vernon's Sophisticated Elimination Sequence
80 Ending Rhythms
81 The Malini/Garcia Rhythm
82 The 1-2-3-4 Method
82 The Engaged Spectator Ending
83 Creative Loading Systems
83 Livestock

84 The Dai Vernon Cups and Balls Routine: described with 74 B&W photos and text
93 Summary of Dai Vernon's: in one page (good for practicing)
94 What Might Vernon Have Done Differently? based on Dai's own advice
95 Now Here's What You Need To Do...  questions to answer in developing your own routine

97 Michael Ammar's Stand-Up Cups and Balls: Another look at the routine from The Magic of Michael Ammar, with more concise text but more photographs.
105 Summar of Michael Ammar's Routine: in one page

107 The Bonus Chapter: advice from other magicians
109 Dominique Duvivier, France: Perform to please others, not yourself
111 Mike Rogers, USA: Uses Cups & Balls as an opener, incorporating the use of miniature baseballs in the routine
113 Kate Medvedeva, Russia: As a closer, with Russian buildings as final climax loads
115 Eric Decamps, USA: a longer essay on breaking down the Cups & Balls into its elements to examine its impact
120 Shankar Junior, India: on Indian magic, the Indian cups and balls, and making the routine lively!
123 Joachim Solberg, Denmark: performs standing for a smaller audience, shows the JS-Bounce move
126 Bob Sheets, USA: from bars to fairs and other tips
128 Gazzo, Great Britain: lots of advice on street performing with the cups
135 Tom Mullica, USA: prefers the cups in the middle of the show
137 Paul Gertner, USA: on the development of the Steel cups and balls (with steel bearings)
139 Johnny Ace Palmer, USA: with live baby chick final loads
141 Tommy Wonder, The Netherlands: on his Two cup version
143 Michael Skinner, USA: lots of anecdotes and advice
147 Johnny Thompson, USA: on Harry Riser, Charlie Miller, and Dai Vernon (plus some tips of his own!)
151 Bruce Cervon, USA: a nice essay on the cups & balls
155 David Williamson, USA: As with Skinner, David developed his two cup routine when he lost the third cup!
158 Aldo Colombini, USA: Why the cups are a classic
161 Jonathan Pendragon, USA: On poetry, comedy, music, and narrative approaches
165 The Delaporte Cups and Balls Table: a description of Alphonse Delaporte's custom table for the cups & balls

169 Partial Bibliography