The Cup Game: Experiments in computer aided deception

The Cup Game is a computer aided magic trick. It is based around a famous trick known as the Shell Game. In the shell game, a small bead is put under one of three cups, shells or walnuts, which are then shuffled, after which the person playing the game has to guess which cup it is under. This is commonly played as a con-game, where people are cheated out of their money in what seems like a fair game, by criminals who use sleight of hand to switch the bead.

This version of the Cup Game is played on a special table which I built out of wood, cloth, and an old desk that was hanging around. It uses technology to create three variants of the trick:

In the first, I am blindfolded, and the audience member then shuffles the cups, after which I am instantly able to detect which cup the bead is under. I claim to be able to do this by sound alone…

In the second trick, I shuffle the cups, and the audience member is shown a computer tracking the cups, to make it extra fair. Then they are allowed to guess, and invariably they get the wrong cup. The computer is allowed to guess, and gets it right.

In the third trick, the audience member is allowed to get their own back on the computer, by trying to fool it.

The Cup Game is an exploration of the ideas in my thesis relating to the creation of illusion by deception, and of using computers within these deceptions.

Read the other posts relating to the magic project for more information.