The Schnapsen Log
The Schnapsen Log is a series about the card game Schnapsen, and how to play it like a master. Schnapsen is the national card game of Austria and Hungary. It is very similar to the German game Sechsundsechzig (Sixty-six). These games are popular throughout Europe, where they go by various regional names, including Snapszer, Snapszli, Hatvanhat, Mariagen-Spiel, Mariáš, Santase, Tute, and Exinta-exi. Schnapsen is easy to learn, requires only one other willing player (or a computer program, always willing), is quick and fun to play, and is full of interesting strategy.
My goal in this series is to teach you everything you need to know about the strategy for winning Schnapsen. I will present thought-provoking situations that arise commonly in Schnapsen, in a manner very similar to the daily newspaper’s bridge or chess columns. Here are a few of the most recent columns. Check out the archives for older columns.
April 20, 2014
Sunday, September 18, 1949. Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. Peter uses his key to unlock the apartment door and holds it open for his younger brother Tibor, who enters with a suitcase in hand. In the living room, 10-month-old Frank, unnerved by the entrance of a stranger, scrambles to be picked up by his mother. Liesl carries Frank toward the door and gives Tibor as much of a hug and kiss as she can with a baby in the way.
“Welcome to New York, Tibor!” she exclaims to her brother-in-law. “How was the sea voyage from England?”
“Long and boring,” Tibor replies with a smile.
“We are so happy that you decided to do your studies here at NYU,” Liesl continues, “and that you accepted Peter’s invitation to move in with us. This is Frank, the newest addition to the family. Let me introduce you to my parents.” She turns toward the older couple…
April 6, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 1947. Cookham, Berkshire, U.K. Peter and Liesl sit with Hans and Phyllis at their dining room table. The dinner dishes have been cleared and washed and the children are in bed. Peter and Hans are in the middle of a game of cards, of course. Liesl and Phyllis alternate between watching and chatting. This visit is the women’s first time together, and fortunately they have gotten along famously.
As Peter studies his cards, deciding what to lead next, he abruptly looks up and says, “Hans, when we were out walking earlier, you said something about showing me a letter from Uncle Jozsef.”
“Ah, right,” Hans agrees, putting his cards down on the table. “I thought you might like to see what he wrote when Apu died last year. Would you? Let me go look for it.”
While he is gone, Peter explains to Liesl that Uncle Jozsef is Apu’s…
A Ragged Endplay
March 24, 2014
We are going to take a break from our ongoing story for today’s column. I was delighted last week when two students from my course on Probability and Statistics sent me a very interesting endgame position. Rather than studying for the final examination, they had been playing Schnapsen together for fun. Today’s column features their endgame.
You are once again playing against the Maestro when you find yourself in the following position…