The 1089 Magic Trick

Mind oddities presents
The 1089 Magic Trick.

1089 is widely used in magic tricks because it can be “produced” from any two three-digit numbers. This allows it to be used as the basis for a Magician’s Choice. For instance, one variation of the book test starts by having the spectator choose any two suitable numbers and then apply some basic math to produce a single four-digit number. That number is always 1089. The spectator is then asked to turn to page 108 of a book and read the 9th word, which the magician has memorized. To the audience it looks like the number is random, but through manipulation, the result is always the same. It is this property that led University of Oxford mathematician David Acheson to title his 2010 book ‘1089 and all that: a journey into mathematics’.

In base 10, the following steps always yield 1089:

1. Take any three-digit number where the first and last digits differ by 2 or more.
2. Reverse the digits, and subtract the smaller from the larger one.
3. Add to this result the number produced by reversing its digits.


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This trick has 2 magic stages

Write down a 3 digit number
The digits must be different and the biggest digit must be at the front
Example 321

Reverse the digits and write them underneath

Subtract the lower number from the higher number

If you get 99 then put a zero in front of it like this 099

The first magic is that the middle number will always be 9
and the first and last digits will add up to 9

Write down your total and reverse it again

Add them together

The second magic is your answer will always be


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