The current group is made up of several regulars with varying skill levels. Below is a brief description of our current group and what our main passions are when it comes to magic.
Mark has been into card magic since the late 1980's when his girlfriend at school fooled him badly with a trick from a book she had got from the library (this turned out to be The Royal Road to Card Magic). He borrowed it straight after and there hasn't been a day since that he hasn't had a deck of cards in his hands.
One of the smoothest faro shufflers around, Charlie Miller would have riddled him with bullets because 90% of Mark's tricks seem to feature it.
It's fair to say that Mark is the inventor of the group, and loves combining sleights, principles and the occasional gimmick to create original effects and routines with that typical 'Scottish' feel.
His favourite books are 'The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley' by Stephen Minch.
Jack has been a student of close-up magic since 2009 after initially being inspired by the late Paul Daniels growing up, and learning some tricks as a pre-teen from 'Card Tricks Made Easy' by Jerry Sadowitz. He picked up a deck of cards again towards the end of his University career and hasn't put them down since.
Whilst Jack enjoys complex sleights and moves, his focus is on simplifying and streamlining effects to their base concepts and building a routine up from there. His influences include Michael Vincent, Ricky Jay, and Chris Hannibal - as well as the rest of the Nine's.
One of the regular performers in the group, Jack has had several shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, his most recent: "Mysterious Moments of Magic" receiving five star reviews.
Luke was raised in St. Helens, Merseyside and fostered a love of close-up magic as well as an urge to put things under watches. He started performing magic professionally whilst studying Chemistry as the University of Aberdeen.
Now living in Edinburgh, Luke performs modern close-up magic all around the UK. Beyond sticking stuff under watches, Luke is best known for taking a magic plot to it's extremes: He has turned card-to-impossible location into a sideshow act which gets incredible reactions, and a card-to-mouth routine which leaves both his and your stomach churning.
Chris is one of the most dexterous card technicians that you'll find in the UK and is able to perform table faros, false deals and false shuffles to a level that would fool even the most skilled card professional.
You'll often find him sitting quietly with a deck of cards and a glass of whisky and you'll be hard pressed to see anything but exactly what he wants you to see.
Chris is most interested in gambling techniques and demonstrations, and his elegant and simple style allow him to create routines that speak for themselves, which is handy as he's not one to be found in front of an audience.
Chris' influences include Martin Nash and Jack Carpenter.
Ian was bitten by the magic bug at his fifth birthday party. Several years later, after an abortive career as a commercial pilot, he began performing professionally and has amazed audiences all over the world.
His three year column in M-U-M magazine, Basic Training, set a new standard for detail in how magic is taught, and he was awarded the Leslie P Guest Award for Excellence in Magic for his efforts.
A regular performer on the Edinburgh Royal Mile and other international street stages, Ian's magic tends to be concise and to the point, as you would expect from a repertoire developed in the trenches.
Neil has been studying card magic since 1998 and loves nothing more than having a bourbon in one hand and deck of cards in the other. Aside from this he loving being fooled heavily, often by kids half his age.
Influences include Pit Hartling, Ricky Jay, Martin Nash, and of course the local card heroes of Scotland (of which there are many).
He's lucky enough to have been invited to perform at the Society of Scottish Association of Magical Societies (SAMS), The Magic Castle, and the FFFF (Four F) convention, amongst others. He loves late night sessions, and the discussion of all things “close-up”.
Neil recently moved to London, but that doesn't mean he can escape the Nine of Diamonds!
Helena was born in England, grew up in Krakow, Poland and moved to Edinburgh for University in 2016. She started playing with cards in 2013 when a friend of hers, Michal Skubida (Scooby), showed her an ambitious card routine. She decided this was good way to trick people into believing she's cool, so she learned the basics of how to operate a deck.
Her favourite magicians are Dani DaOrtiz and Harrison Greenbaum, mostly because they are hilarious. For her, magic is a tangible way to validate a specific skill as well as being a great way to cheer yourself up and to make someone's day (well, night typically) a little better. She loves the feeling of not knowing how a trick is done.
Paul has been engaged in magic since a chance meeting at a BBQ, with a friend who blew him completely away. Quite by chance he worked 50 yards from International Magic in London, so there was an immediate wallet drain there.
Classed as an enthusiastic amateur he gets plenty of opportunities in his day job to practise effects - indeed with the benefit of a captive audience. These opportunities demand a quick presentation, mostly without the chance to prepare a deck. You’ve probably guessed it’s the pasteboards for him, and his all-time favourite trick is Roy Walton’s Card Warp. His ultimate ambition is to remember more tricks than he forgets.
Elliot’s love of magic started when he saw his first magic trick in Hamleys Toy Shop in London. He studied Engineering with Sports for 4 years at Napier University, but missed his graduation ceremony as he was working on a show in Las Vegas.
Elliot is a full-time professional magician, and performs close-up and comedy stage magic, travelling through-out Scotland and Internationally.
He is an Associate Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Silver Star and loves nothing more than sitting down with a beer and a deck of cards.
Sean's interest in magic was sparked in 2009 and he has developed that spark into considerable skill over the years he's been coming to the Nines.
His biggest inspiration is Ed Marlo and his disciple Bill Malone. But he's also a big fan of Alex Elmsley, Tommy Wonder, David Williamson and Lennart Green.
Sean is at home doing magic at parties and in the pub, where he'll be at the centre of shouts of disbelief with his version of Shuffle-bored, or classic favourites like Dr Daley's Last Trick.
The biggest joy for him is to create a small smirk of wonder on the face of a sceptic, or even better – a fellow magician.
Brian Ó Conaill
Brian started out as a juggler 25 years ago. When he first became interested in magic he immediately gravitated towards coin sleights and failed attempts at cardistry. Most of his magic is impromptu as he mainly performs in casual situations and rarely knows which cards are missing from his deck.
Brian's background in street performance and juggling gives him a different perspective on performance which makes his insights invaluable during group sessions on effects.
And of course, as a true contact juggler, Brian often gets his balls out at our sessions!
The Curse Card of Scotland
We are named The Nine of Diamonds as it is often said that it is the Curse of Scotland (Wikipedia).
We included several of the explanations we have discovered in the book, a few of which are below:
- British Commander William Augustus, the “Butcher Duke of Cumberland”,was a lover of card games and always carried two packs on his person. After his decisive victory in the Battle of Culloden he quickly scribbled an execution order for his Scottish prisoners on the closest paper he had at hand. The paper turned out to be—you guessed it—the Nine of Diamonds, a card that haunts the Scots to this day.
- Comete, a card game inspired by the discovery of Halley’s Comet,was introduced to Scotland by James II. To win the gameone needed to secure the Nine of Diamonds. It is said that the card was called the Curse of Scotland on account of the large sums of money that Scottish gamers lost when first learning this new game.
- Though the nine diamonds in today’s playing cards are arranged in an H pattern, early versions favoured an X shape. When viewed sideways, these cards look very similar to the Scottish flag—known as the St. Andrew’s Cross or the Cross of Scotland. It’s very possible that the original name of the card was actually the Cross of Scotland.