I don’t usually visit The Magic Cafe these days – not like I used to, when I was pretty well addicted to it – but I had occasion to take a look a day or two ago, and I’m glad that I did.
I was actually there to try to resolve a technical issue with my account, but thought I’d see what was happening in the Magical Equations forum while I was there, that being the home of magic squares related discussions.
A few threads piqued my interest, but I struck gold in one called Magic Square Question Using The Same Square But Disguising It.
I know, it doesn’t sound that enticing, but something drew me to it.
What caught my eye, however, when I was scanning down the conversation, was mention of my own name by a gentleman called Mike Daniels.
He wrote that he has published his own magic square routine, under the name Mostly Perfect.
Being a bit of a magic squares addict, I therefore felt compelled to buy a copy.
So, what exactly is Mostly Perfect?
In essence, it’s a method for creating a 4 x 4 magic square that adds up to any number required.
Like several other methods that are available, it can be performed anywhere, anytime – either close-up or on stage.
However, it does differ from many of the so-called “instant” magic squares that are on the market, and I’m delighted it does, as it turns out that Mike, like myself, doesn’t like the unbalanced nature of the squares created by these other methods.
While there are many who claim this isn’t a problem, when you have a square containing the numbers 1 through 12, and then there’s a giant gap before the next four numbers, then I can’t help thinking that even reasonably-astute spectators will find this suspicious. And these methods also mean that you can’t repeat the performance for the same people.
The good news is that Mostly Perfect creates the most well-balanced magic square I’ve ever seen – even better than the one I’ve used for over 35 years!
And it’s not even hard to do.
So, before you get to Mike’s main method, there is a brief history and explanation of what magic squares are, and several popular variations.
Next, Mike explains what “most perfect” magic squares are, and then details how to create one of three most perfect squares using a few simple steps, which are illustrated to make sure everything is clear.
This is followed by a diagram of 52 different summation patterns, which are similar in nature to the ones I created for my own Magic Squares book.
We then come to the meat of the book – how to create a magic square using Mike’s method.
First off, he presents the base magic square which you have to learn by heart, as this is the foundation for his method.
It’s really not that hard – after all, it’s only 16 numbers – and he even gives you some helpful memory aids to assist you.
Once you’ve got that down, you will learn the two simple calculations that have to be performed that let you transform this “base” magic square into one that adds up to any number required (as long as it’s 34 or greater).
Again, there are worked examples to help you understand what’s going on.
This is followed by four more examples that show you how the basic formula is varied slightly, depending on the required magic total.
Additional thoughts, presentational ideas and more are then offered, before Mike moves on to the second part of his Mostly Perfect package – the learning tool.
I have long been a fan of writing simple programs to help me learn things (e.g. the Knight’s Tour), and Mike obviously is too, as the learning tool is a program that runs in all popular web browsers (no Internet connection needed) that will help you to perfect the easy calculations and construction method, to give you the confidence to perform this routine for other people.
The book concludes with a useful list of resources, including books and websites where you can learn more, and some blank magic square templates you can print and copy for your own use.
So, what did I like about Mostly Perfect? Well:
Is there anything I didn’t like about it?
In all honesty, no!
Most Perfect is a great contribution to the world of magic squares literature, and I highly recommend it if you have any interest in magic squares whatsoever.
You can buy a copy from Lybrary.com for the grand sum of just $6, and be learning how you to can perform this miracle routine just minutes later as the book is a downloadable PDF document.