Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

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.

Point of Order

Martin Tompa
December 1, 2014

It is a crystal clear Sunday afternoon and that means all your relatives are once again visiting. And, once again, you are sitting across the card table from your favorite Uncle Tibor, wrapped up in your favorite game. So far, Tibor has gotten the best of it….

A Tangled Web

Martin Tompa
July 31, 2014

“It is always the best policy to speak the truth — unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.” —Jerome K. Jerome

You are playing in the finals of the Austrian National Schnapsen Championship. Your opponent is Katharina, the reigning Schnapsen champion, and this game is as close as can be. A crowd of players has gathered around your table….

The Big Trumps

Martin Tompa
July 5, 2014

You feel quite proud of yourself for keeping up with Uncle Tibor throughout the game, and the score is tied once again. How long can you maintain this level of concentration?…

About the Author

Martin Tompa

Martin Tompa (tompa@psellos.com)

I am a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where I teach discrete mathematics, logic, probability, design and analysis of algorithms, and other related courses. I have always loved playing games. Games are great tools for learning to think logically but, more important, seem to me an integral part of happy family or social life. I will be delighted if game-players, parents, teachers, and students find this series fun and useful.

My excitement about Schnapsen was rekindled by playing against an iPhone program called Master Schnapsen/66 written by two friends at Psellos. Set to play at its “Master” level of difficulty, this program is one of the two most formidable opponents I have found. It comes up with surprising and brilliant plays, and I have learned an enormous amount of Schnapsen strategy by playing with it. Nearly every deal in this Schnapsen Log arose during those hours of playing with Master Schnapsen/66.

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Getting Started

Links for Schnapsen and Sixty-Six

Links in German

Links in Hungarian

Recent Columns

December
Point of Order, Dec 1
July
A Tangled Web, Jul 31
The Big Trumps, Jul 5
June
Necessary Precautions, Jun 20
Make a Wish, Jun 19
May
No Clear Winner, May 26

Archives

2014
2013
2012