Alex Elmsley

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Alex Elmsley
Born (1929-03-02)2 March 1929
St Andrews, Scotland[1]
Died 8 January 2006(2006-01-08) (aged 76)
Occupation Magician, Computer Programmer

Alex Elmsley (2 March 1929 – 8 January 2006) was a Scottish Magician and Computer programmer. He was notable for his invention of the Ghost Count or Elmsley Count, creating mathematical card tricks, and for publishing the mathematics of playing card shuffling.[2][3][a]

He began practising magic in 1946, as a teenager. He studied physics and mathematics at Cambridge University; whilst there he was also secretary of the Pentacle Club. His day job was as a patent agent, and later computer expert.[4] Otherwise, he was an amateur card and close-up magician. He was awarded an AMA Creative Fellowship in 1972.

He created a number of magic tricks, including the Ghost Count, Between Your Palms,[5] Point Of Departure[6] and Diamond Cut Diamond.[7]

He wrote Elmsley's 4 Card Trick (1967) and Cardwork (1975), and was the subject of The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley (vol. 1 1991, vol. 2 1994).

The special count used in Elmsley's 4 Card Trick was a great invention to the magical world and was renamed after him as the Elmsley Count.


  • Low Cunning lecture notes (1957)[8]
  • Low Cunning lecture notes for US (1959).
  • Cardwork lecture notes (1975)
  • 4 Card Trick (1967)
  • The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley (vol. 1 1991, vol. 2 1994) by Stephen Minch.[9]
  • Alex Is As It Again (Lecture Notes) 1997


  1. ^ "Alex Elmsley". MagicPedia. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  2. ^ Stewart, Ian (2006). How to Cut a Cake: And other mathematical conundrums (Paperback). OUP Oxford. p. 114. 
  3. ^ Morris, S. Brent (1998). Magic Tricks, Card Shuffling and Dynamic Computer Memories. The Mathematical Association of America. pp. 12–69. 
  4. ^ "Article - Alex Elmsley, An appreciation by John Derris". Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  5. ^ "Between Your Palms". MagicPedia. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  6. ^ "Point Of Departure". MagicPedia. 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  7. ^ "Diamond Cut Diamond". MagicPedia. 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley, Vol. 2". L&L Publishing, eProducts Website. 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 


a. ^ Both Stewart and Morris refer to Elmsley's articles published in The Mathematics of the Weave Shuffle (Faro Shuffle) in The Pentagram, Vol. 11, No. 9-10-11 from June, July, August 1957

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