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Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

May 3, 2012

It All Depends

Martin Tompa

You are playing a match against your sister Emmi and the stakes are high. Although you are convinced that you play better than she does, you have had trouble keeping up with her this game. Let’s see what you can do about it.

Unseen cards:
T
TK
♣ TK
A

Your cards:

A
♣ A
TKQ

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Emmi ?, You 3
Trick points: Emmi 24, You 26
On lead: You

You already declared the spade marriage early in the deal, and here you have another in hand. You know that Emmi is holding T, because she exchanged for it earlier.

What you would love to do is close the stock, cash your aces, and declare the marriage. Unfortunately, you and your sister take Schnapsen very seriously and play by the rules of das scharfe Schnapsen (“sharp Schnapsen”), which do not permit the stock to be closed when only two cards remain in it. This deal is a nice example of the way such small variants in the rules can have a dramatic effect on the best line of play.

Today you have two problems to solve. One is to plan your play on the assumption that Emmi has 1 game point remaining to win the game. The second is to plan your play on the assumption that she has 3 game points remaining. When you think you have good plans for both, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 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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