Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

June 21, 2013

On the Edge of a Knife

Martin Tompa

It’s Sunday, which means a gathering of your extended family for food, cheer, and, of course, cards. You face your sister Emmi in another battle, with your uncles Hans and Claudius looking on.

Unseen cards:
AQ
TK
♣ TK

Your cards:
TJ

♣ AQ
K

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Emmi 4, You 6
Trick points: Emmi 34, You 32
On lead: You

The trick point score is very close and you are on lead, but none of your possible leads seem appealing. You don’t want to give up trump control by leading out the master trump. The thought of leading a spade into Emmi’s possible AQ seems repugnant. You decide to cash your ♣A while Emmi is trumpless. She discards Q and you draw K from the stock, extracting an involuntary grunt of “Ugh” from you. You are left on lead in this position:

Emmi: (34 points)
A
T
♣ TK
J

You: (46 points)
TJ
K
♣ Q
K

You lead J with the vague hope of setting up your T as a winner while you still have the master trump. But Emmi wins with A, cashes her two tens, and declares victory.

“Hans, what should I have done?” you ask.

Hans, who has been looking over your shoulder, commiserates. “You did very well, dear, cashing your ♣A. If you had drawn any winner from the stock, you could have pulled trumps and won the deal. It’s too bad. But, to answer your question, there was a better play available to you.”

Do you see what Hans might have in mind? When you think you do, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2013 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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