Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for November, 2013

Almost Inseparable

Martin Tompa
November 12, 2013

Friday, May 18, 1934. Vienna, Austria. Hans enters the apartment, the last of the family to arrive home. He joins his family at the table.

“I’m very sorry to be late for dinner, Apu and Anyu,” Hans apologizes. “I had a very long meeting with my doctoral advisor, Professor Abel.”

“That’s all right, Hans, we understand,” his mother Anyu reassures him. “We just sat down ourselves and were about to start. What was the meeting about?”

Hans pauses, wondering where to begin. “It wasn’t the usual technical discussion about electrolytic processes. Dr. Abel confided in me about his views of what’s happening here and in Germany, and his vision of the future. It was stark and alarming. His vision, I mean.”…

Youthful Exuberance

Martin Tompa
November 15, 2013

Friday, March 13, 1936
Dresdnerstraße 80/9
Vienna XX, Austria

50 Bryn Road
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Dear Hans,

I truly enjoyed your lovely letter. It is noteworthy that two brothers must first have a distance of many kilometers between them, in order to be able to speak out. Perhaps, though, it isn’t noteworthy at all, but rather — self-evident….

Precarious Position

Martin Tompa
November 23, 2013

Thursday, July 8, 1937
16, The Grove
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Dresdnerstraße 80/9
Vienna XX, Austria

Dear Apu and Anyu, dear Peter, dear Tibor,

I hope that this letter finds you all well. I regret to tell you that I have had some unsettling news here this week. I’m sure you will recall that, one year ago, I received a letter from the Austrian Legation in London informing me that the Mattersburg District…

Show of Force

Martin Tompa
November 29, 2013

Thursday, April 28, 1938. Vienna, Austria. Peter, Tibor, and their mother Anyu delay dinner until Apu finally enters the apartment, looking more tired and defeated than usual. It has been a horrible few months for them and their friends and relatives.

On March 12, Adolf Hitler and his German Wehrmacht army had marched into Austria. Demonstrating miraculous efficiency, within just a few days 70,000 Austrian Jews and political opponents of the unification of Austria with Germany were arrested. Jewish organizations and activities were outlawed. Three days after the invasion, 200,000 cheering Austrians gathered in Vienna’s Heldenplatz to hear Hitler announce the annexation of Austria into the German Reich.

On April 26, Hermann Göring, in charge of the German economy, began a wealth transfer campaign with an order to catalog the assets of all Austrian Jews. Every Jew with property worth more than 5000 Reichsmark was obligated to report all financial holdings. The plan…

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