Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

September 1, 2012

Tenuous Control (solution)

Martin Tompa

The only clear trick you have is the master trump, which will fetch you another 13 or 15 trick points. It’s not clear who has trump control; probably it will depend on who forces the other to trump first and who draws that ♣J from the stock. Meanwhile, any trick that Lore takes will put her over 33 trick points and limit your possible gain to 1 game point. These issues all seem intertwined and confusing.

But wait. When you are on lead at the last trick before the stock is exhausted, what’s the first thing you should consider? Right. It’s closing the stock, because that simplifies the possibilities. For one thing, in this hand it eliminates the question of who will draw the ♣J. It also eliminates the possibility that Lore can reduce her loss from 2 game points to 1 by crossing the 33 trick point threshold. And, finally, it guarantees that you can be the first to force your opponent, by leading either red suit. Isn’t it wonderful how closing the stock makes things so much simpler?

This will be the position if you close the stock and lead Q, trumped by Lore’s ♣T and leaving her on lead. I have assumed that the last face-down card in the stock is K, since that is the worst case you could face. It actually doesn’t make too much difference which card remains in the stock.

Lore: (39 points)

♣ K

You: (47 points)

♣ AQ

From this position, the best Lore can do is cash A and force you to trump J with ♣Q, bringing you to 52 points. But then you can cash ♣A for 67 points.

Remember these morals that we have encountered several times before. When you are on lead at the last trick before the stock is exhausted, first consider closing the stock. And when you are not on lead at that trick, first consider ducking. If you remember these tips, they will lead you more quickly and easily to the winning line of play.

© 2012 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


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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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