Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

November 25, 2012

Putting On Pressure

Martin Tompa

It’s another pleasant Sunday afternoon at home, with all the relatives gathered at your house for coffee, cake, and cards. You are playing against your sister Emmi, with your Uncle Hans kibitzing. You hate losing to her, but it seems to be happening again.

Emmi: (33 points)
♣ K

You: (40 points)
♣ TJ

Stock: Exhausted
Game points: Emmi 3, You 6
On lead: You

Emmi has been lording it over you again and is 3 game points ahead. Things look bleak for this deal as well. You study your hand, review the cards you know Emmi holds in hers, and count up the points you can collect. Once again Emmi has managed to accumulate the high cards in nearly every suit. Her constant good luck drives you crazy!

You throw your hand face up on the table, announcing, “I give up. All I’ve got are my two trump tricks, on which you’ll discard two small cards, and I won’t even get to 60 trick points. The other tricks are all yours. You get another game point.”

“OK,” agrees Emmi quickly, putting her hand face up on the table and recording her game point. “I’ll take it.”

“I don’t understand it, Hans,” you complain. “How is it that Emmi always picks up all the aces and tens?”

“That is bad luck for you, dear,” your uncle commiserates. “But do you think that sometimes your frustration gets in the way of thinking through the situation?”

Is Uncle Hans just offering avuncular life advice, or does he have something more specific in mind? When you think you know the answer, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

Martin Tompa

Martin Tompa (

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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