Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

March 4, 2017

Noble Sacrifice (solution)

Martin Tompa

Here is the position after Tibor pulls the first round of trumps:

Concealed cards:
TQ
Q
♣ T
T

Your cards:
AKJ
K
♣ —

Trump: ♣Q
Stock: closed with 1 face-down card
Game points: Tibor 1, You 1
Trick points: Tibor 45, You 15
On lead: Tibor leads ♣T

Tibor’s next lead of ♣T must bring his trick point total to at least 57. Your only hope, then, is that T is the last face-down card in the stock, otherwise Tibor can play it and win. So you must assume that he doesn’t have T, making this a desperation play for you.

In that case, you know Tibor’s hand exactly. After cashing ♣T, he will be left with TQ and Q. Can you fathom Tibor’s plan? If you don’t already know, think about it before reading on.

Tibor is in the midst of an elimination play. He needs you to open up the spade suit for him, so that he can win his T and, with it, the game. And what will be his exit card, used to throw you in? Q, of course. Therefore, the one discard you absolutely cannot make on his ♣T lead is the most natural one, your J. If you do that, his elimination play will succeed.

There is only one way to foil his plan. You must jettison your K on his ♣T, an unblocking play. This promotes his Q to be a winner, but cashing it will bring his trick point total only to 64, after which he must concede both spades.

“Bravo, my dear,” cheers your Uncle Hans as soon as your K hits the table. “You made a noble sacrifice of your king, saving the entire game. Well done!”

© 2017 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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September
Gamble, Sep 30
April
Homework on Expected Values, Apr 26
March
Thoughtful Actions, Mar 25
Noble Sacrifice, Mar 4
February
Carpe Diem, Feb 10
The Glass is 9/10 Full, Feb 2

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