Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for April, 2014


Martin Tompa
April 6, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 1947. Cookham, Berkshire, U.K. Peter and Liesl sit with Hans and Phyllis at their dining room table. The dinner dishes have been cleared and washed and the children are in bed. Peter and Hans are in the middle of a game of cards, of course. Liesl and Phyllis alternate between watching and chatting. This visit is the women’s first time together, and fortunately they are getting along famously.

As Peter studies his cards, deciding what to lead next, he abruptly looks up and says, “Hans, when we were out walking earlier, you said something about showing me a letter from Uncle Jozsef.”

“Ah, right,” Hans agrees, putting his cards down on the table. “I thought you might like to see what he wrote when Apu died last year. Would you? Let me go look for it.”

While he is gone, Peter explains to Liesl that Uncle Jozsef is Apu’s…

New Arrival

Martin Tompa
April 20, 2014

Sunday, September 18, 1949. Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. Peter uses his key to unlock the apartment door and holds it open for his younger brother Tibor, who enters with a suitcase in hand. In the living room, 10-month-old Frank, unnerved by the entrance of a stranger, scrambles to be picked up by his mother. Liesl carries Frank toward the door and gives Tibor as much of a hug and kiss as she can with a baby in the way.

“Welcome to New York, Tibor!” she exclaims to her brother-in-law. “How was the sea voyage from England?”

“Long and boring,” Tibor replies with a smile.

“We are so happy that you decided to do your studies here at NYU,” Liesl continues, “and that you accepted Peter’s invitation to move in with us. This is Frank, the newest addition to the family. Let me introduce you to my parents.” She turns toward the older couple…

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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