Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

October 6, 2015

To Close or Not To Close

Martin Tompa

My friend Jeff showed me a very interesting hand he’d been dealt recently, and we spent quite some time analyzing it. Here’s the hand.

Concealed cards:

Your cards:
♣ A

Trump: Q
Stock: 9 face-down cards
Game points: Opponent 7, You 7
Trick points: Opponent 0, You 0
On lead: You

I’ve given you Jeff’s hand. It is the first trick of the first deal of the game. You’ve been dealt this monster and you have the lead. Should you close the stock?

It’s almost twice as likely that the critical A is still in the stock than in your opponent’s hand, since your opponent holds only 5 cards and there are 9 cards face-down in the stock. If this is the case and you close the stock, then you will take all 5 tricks (starting with your trumps, of course). You have 53 trick points in your hand, so you expect to get to 66 without breaking a sweat.

What if you close the stock and are unlucky enough that your opponent holds A? Even in this case, if you run your other 4 winners (starting with your trumps, of course), Jeff pointed out that your opponent may well feel squeezed, if he or she holds one of those other tens, ♣T or T. Your opponent will have to decide whether to hold onto the ten or A, and in some cases may discard the wrong one and your T will become a winner.

What are you going to do, close the stock or not? When you have made your decision, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2015 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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