Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for September, 2013

High Stakes

Martin Tompa
September 5, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 1919
Zalaegerszeg, Hungary

c/o Lenke Darbusch
Grinzinger Allee 7/32
Vienna XIX, Austria

Dearest Anyuka,

How are you? What are you doing? You have not written for so long. A circus, Circus Colosseum, came, director János Czája. We shall go today at half 8 o’clock, we already have the tickets.

Sending many kisses to his loving Anyuka…

No Leeway

Martin Tompa
September 11, 2013

Zalaegerszeg’s Minister of Justice was seated in his chamber with his colleague the Deputy Mayor. He looked away from his cards to reread once again the official letter he had just received from the county’s Lord Lieutenant.

Monday, October 4, 1920
Zalaegerszeg, Hungary


Minister of Justice
Royal Tribunal of Zalaegerszeg…

Looking Forward

Martin Tompa
September 28, 2013

Tuesday, September 20, 1921. Vienna, Austria. Apu and Anyu sit together on the couch talking. They are in the living room of Anyu’s sister’s Vienna apartment, where Anyu has been living. Anyu holds her baby son Tibor, now 5 months old, on her lap. She has been living apart from the rest of her family for two years now, seeing them only during infrequent visits they were able to make to Vienna.

During those two years, Admiral Horthy’s White Terror went on and on, with nothing standing in the way of his troops’ rampages. Just in Zalaegerszeg, one ordinary Hungarian town, ten Jews were murdered and the concentration camp was full to overflowing with Horthy’s political enemies.

“I kept thinking that things in Hungary would improve and you could come home,” Apu says to Anyu. “But I finally gave up on Hungary and realized we should come to you in Vienna instead. So I began teaching the boys German some months ago, and they are picking it up very…

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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Recent Columns

Sidestep a Few Landmines, Sep 2
Two Last-Trick Problems, Jun 27
More Extremes of Luck, May 21
Grasping at Straws, Apr 4
A New Scheme for Remembering Cards, Mar 23
As Luck Would Have It, Sep 9