Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

March 21, 2012

Who Laughs Last

Martin Tompa

You are drawn once again to your club, the Black Eagle, holding its weekly tournament. Sitting across from you is your archrival Itell Reding, who mocks you relentlessly. The situation you find yourself facing illustrates a common struggle in Schnapsen:

Unseen cards:
AT
T
♣ T
AK

Your cards:

KQ
♣ A
TQ

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Itell 4, You 1
Trick points: Itell 26, You 5
On lead: Itell

You have probably noticed a pattern in the deals we’ve considered so far: they all begin at the point when two cards remain in the stock. This is not a coincidence. This trick is very often the key point in the deal, when it pays to visualize your opponent’s cards, plan ahead, and search for the best line of play.

You are at this critical juncture in the displayed position and unfortunately haven’t had an opportunity to declare your 40-point royal marriage since drawing it. Itell stares you in the eye as he leads T. This time you don’t have to plan the whole play yet. Just decide what you want to do on this trick. When you have figured that out, you can compare it to my decision, and from there I will present you with a further puzzle.

© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


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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, probability and statistics, design and analysis of algorithms, and other related courses. I have always loved playing games. Games are great tools for learning to think logically and are a wonderful component of happy family or social life.

Read about Winning Schnapsen, the very first and definitive book on the winning strategy for this fascinating game.

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Homework on Expected Values, Apr 26
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Thoughtful Actions, Mar 25
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