Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

The Schnapsen Log is a series about the card game Schnapsen, and how to play it like a master. Schnapsen is the national card game of Austria and Hungary. It is very similar to the German game Sechsundsechzig (Sixty-six). These games are popular throughout Europe, where they go by various regional names, including Snapszer, Snapszli, Hatvanhat, Mariagen-Spiel, Mariáš, Santase, Tute, and Exinta-exi. Schnapsen is easy to learn, requires only one other willing player (or a computer program, always willing), is quick and fun to play, and is full of interesting strategy.

My goal in this series is to teach you everything you need to know about the strategy for winning Schnapsen. I will present thought-provoking situations that arise commonly in Schnapsen, in a manner very similar to the daily newspaper’s bridge or chess columns. Here are a few of the most recent columns. Check out the archives for older columns.

Grasping at Straws

Martin Tompa
April 4, 2022

Your game against Uncle Tibor continues….

A New Scheme for Remembering Cards

Martin Tompa
March 23, 2022

I have made the case in the past for the importance of remembering which cards have been played and which still remain unseen. For novice Schnapsen players, I know this memory work seems like a daunting prospect. Yet it is also the most essential skill to master because, without knowing which cards remain unseen, it is impossible to plan the endgame.

Nine years ago, I laid out the details of two different schemes for remembering the cards that have been played. Neither scheme was terribly easy to use and mine sometimes interfered with the part of my brain that was planning the play. Because of this, a friend and I developed a new scheme for remembering the cards that I have been using for nearly two years. It has been quite successful for me. I will describe the new scheme here….

As Luck Would Have It

Martin Tompa
September 9, 2021

It’s been a long while since I’ve written. This post will be different from usual: it is a collection of anecdotes from the Schnapsen table.

I am constantly floored by the extremes that luck often takes in Schnapsen. I feel as though very low probability events happen much more frequently than they should, even though I am aware that this is just a psychological aberration rather than a mathematical one. I know that you have witnessed such things yourself at the Schnapsen table. How often have you felt that you have gone several games without seeing a trump in your hand or without holding a marriage?

Against no opponent are these extremes of luck as noticeable as against the notorious Doktor Schnaps. In fact, early on in my rivalry with Doktor Schnaps I was so sure that I wasn’t being dealt my fair share of trumps that I started maintaining a spreadsheet of my deals in which I keep track of statistics such as how many…

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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Getting Started

Links for Schnapsen and Sixty-Six

Links in German

Links in Hungarian

Recent Columns

April
Grasping at Straws, Apr 4
March
A New Scheme for Remembering Cards, Mar 23
September
As Luck Would Have It, Sep 9
December
What's in the Stock?, Dec 5
October
Schnapsen in Abstract Games Magazine, Oct 24
September
Know Your Opponent, Sep 19

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