Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

April 13, 2013

Rags and Riches (solution)

Martin Tompa

The outcome of this deal is going to depend entirely on who gains trump control. Since you hold the only hearts and Peter holds the only spades and diamonds, whoever is on lead when the trumps are gone will be able to take all the remaining tricks. In the battle for trump control, you have the great advantage of being on lead and first to act, as we will see. It is also not such a bad thing that Peter might hold a lot of aces and tens since, if you can run your hearts, you will collect a lot of them in your tricks.

With that in mind, you should certainly think about closing the stock. Your ultimate plan must be to force Peter to trump. That way, if he is already holding both trumps ♣TK, you will reduce him to only one trump.

Let’s assume you close the stock and let’s assume the worst scenario for you, that Peter holds both missing trumps. You start by cashing ♣A, and then switch to J to force Peter. This puts him on lead from this position:

Unseen cards:

♣ —

Your cards:

♣ Q

Trick points: Peter 38, You 30

Whatever Peter now leads, you will use the last trump to win the trick, after which you can run the rest of your hearts to take all the remaining tricks. No matter what card is left in the stock, Peter must contribute at least a jack, a ten, and an ace, which comes to 23 additional trick points. When added to your current 30 plus the 16 points in your hand, this will bring your total to at least 69 trick points, enough to score 2 game points and win the game.

You could just as well reverse the order of forcing with the J and cashing ♣A. Either order leaves you on lead with all the trumps gone. Notice, though, that at trick 5, where we started, you cannot lead ♣Q in an effort to start pulling trumps. Peter would win this and force you by leading J, and you would have lost trump control. Similarly, you cannot cash ♣A and continue with ♣Q to pull trumps, as this leaves Peter on lead with the trumps gone. Forcing Peter to trump is the only way to victory.

© 2013 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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