Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

March 4, 2014

Peace Blooms

Martin Tompa

Friday, May 11, 1945
117 East 17th Street
New York, New York, U.S.A.

93 Priory Road
Hampstead, London, U.K.

Dear Anyu and Apu, dear Hans and Phyllis, dear Tibor,

Liesl and I feel immense joy over the final destruction of the evil forces of Nazism, and we want to share our joy with you. We were thrilled to hear the news of the Allied successes in Germany, ending with the Soviet capture of Berlin last week and Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies this week. The way things began, with Germany’s conquest of nearly all of Europe, it was hard to imagine that the tide would ever turn as fully as it has. After six long years of war and the total disruption of so many lives (all of ours included), the war in Europe is finally over.

Our joy is tempered, however, by many other concerns. First and foremost is your health, Anyu. We want you to get good care and get well again as soon as you can. Our second worry is that the war with Japan goes on and the United States is not done fighting yet. We have made progress across the Pacific toward Japan, and we hope the remaining war will soon be over. Our last news of Liesl’s own parents, that they were prisoners of war in a Japanese camp somewhere in the Philippine Islands, is more than three years old. We can only keep hoping for their safety.

The final cause for grave concern is the news, only recently come to light, of the atrocious Nazi camps liberated this past month by the Allies. There had been rumors and reports of such camps, but all of us thought it must surely be exaggerated war propaganda. Now we have learned of thousands and thousands of poor innocent souls who were tortured, starved, treated brutally, and murdered. It is so hard to imagine how people could treat other people in this barbaric way. Have you had any news of our relatives left behind in Hungary? Aunt Giza and all her children, Aunt Rozália and her family, Grandmother Berta, Cousin Magda and her family, Aunt Lenke and her family: I fear what may have happened to them and hope that they are safe.

Our main hope brings us back to the original good news. With the evil Nazi government overthrown and peace blooming once again in Europe, let us hope that there will never again be war and atrocities such as we have seen.

Despite the historical significance of this moment, it would not be a traditional family letter if I did not include some interesting Schnapsen deal for your entertainment. Here it is, from a game we played shortly before we heard the good news.

Unseen cards:
♣ Q

Liesl’s cards:
♣ J

Trump: K
Stock: One face-down card
Game points: Peter 2, Liesl 2
Trick points: Peter 6, Liesl 33
On lead: Liesl

How would you have played Liesl’s cards? Following tradition, I will write my analysis on a separate page for you to read when you are ready.

With joyful kisses,
your Peter.

© 2014 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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