Anthony Blake and David Harber's ESP Chips
by Tom Lauten
At last... at last, someone has had a moment of creative clarity and provided those of us who perform mentalism effects with a very useful alternative to the venerable Rhine/Zener cards... chips (as in poker...NOT potato!).
Often performers find themselves under suspicion when using ESP cards (let alone any other type of card) simply because many people are aware of "card tricks" and "fancy moves".
"E.S.P. Chips" offer an alternative. One can easily present them as ESP tokens or counters. One could even go so far as to explain that because people think that performers try to trick audiences with cards, these "counters" are employed to eliminate any fancy moves, shuffles etc.
Ahhhh but...we know different don't we!
The chips are 39mm in diameter, weigh 10 grams each as they are made to casino specifications and material. They feel genuinely hefty and purposeful...almost ceramic. The front is white with a colour ESP symbol on it; circle, cross, wavy lines, square and star patterns are printed in their own individual colour. The printing is part of the composite material used to face the chip so there is little chance (if any) of the pattern on the front or back wearing off. The back of each chip is also white. The edges (actually the middle layer of the finished chip) are a rich cream colour. The back sports "The National Institute of Paranormal Studies" printed boldly across it and surrounding this is a repeating circular border of the 5 ESP symbols. All the printing on the back is in black.
The package one receives is very impressive. Inside a heavy Ziploc bag you will find a full colour cover slip, 10 "ESP Chips" (two sets of the five symbols) slotted into a sheet of clear vinyl pockets (as one might use to hold 35mm slides), a velveteen drawstring pouch to keep the chips in during performances and a stapled "booklet" of 10 fully detailed effects and routines written and or adapted specially for this product. WOW! The contributors include, Anthony Blake, Max Maven, Banachek, Rick Maue, Jack Kent Tillar, Jheff, Greg Arce and others. The only downside I have found for the entire package is the layout of the printed booklet. It is a tiny bit fussy and awkward to simply "flick" through but that is really nit-picking...I promise. In future they will undoubtedly alter this as more and more routines come along.
The purchaser is also invited to a website devoted to the use of the "ESP Chips" where one can discuss the use of the chips, share performance ideas, get questions answered and download routines written by the good and the great! The site is also the place where future related products would be announced including "gaffed" chips and related items. At the time of writing (December 2005) the site is not yet open but I am told it is merely a matter of a few days away as final details are being ironed out.
This new mentalism tool (a tool NOT a one trick pony) is a breath of fresh air. The chips provide an alternative and are substantial both in terms of their construction and more importantly in terms of credibility in performance. Like all effects, the manner in which they are presented must be confident and believable but Anthony Blake and David Harber have come up with a product that will set you on that road in true style and with unparalleled quality. Full marks on this one!
You can order an "ESP Chips" set for $45 directly from www.espchips.com (free shipping within the US , $10 shipping world wide, via international airmail). Or you can ask you favourite magic dealer if they can get them for you.
© Tom Lauten, December 2005