Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

September 11, 2013

No Leeway

Martin Tompa

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

Your Lordship the Minister!
Honourable Sir!

It has come to my notice that, among the roster of names of the lay members of the usury court to be appointed to function beside Zalaegerszeg’s Royal Tribunal is, in the circle of appointees in the department of industrial and mercantile work, the name of Dr. Adolf Tompa, a Zalaegerszeg resident.

I respectfully request the relief of the above named from duty, for the following reasons: Dr. Adolf Tompa was arrested on August 16 of last year for his behaviour during the proletariat dictatorship, and upon release helped escape his wife, who had acted as a proletariat judge, also during the communism, in matters of marriage and property rights, and against whom since then there has been an arrest warrant issued, on the counts of incitement, forgery of public documents, etc.

This person is thus entirely unfit to serve as judge, especially considering that the popular sentiment would mean that any possible sentence of lashing would be far compounded, exceeding the purpose of the punishment in humiliation and embitterment, if a judge of Judaic religion had contributed to the creation of the sentence. For this reason my respectful suggestion, without regard for the moral qualifications, would be for the omission of the appointment of individuals of Jewish descent of the usury court’s lay members. Your Honour should act with the consideration of the sentiment of the wide layers of the people, and also with cause of protecting the peace.

Receive the demonstration of my excellent respect of Your Honour.

Zsigmond Eitner
Government Commissioner Lord Lieutenant of Zala County

It seemed straightforward enough for the Minister to honor this request from the Lord Lieutenant and not rock the boat. He needn’t give it another thought. Coming back to the game with the Deputy Mayor, the Minister recalled his plight:

Unseen cards:
♣ QJ

Minister’s cards:
♣ T

Trump: A
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Deputy Mayor 1, Minister 1
Trick points: Deputy Mayor 38, Minister 22
On lead: Minister

The Deputy Mayor had declared the club marriage earlier, and now it was the Minister’s move. This position in which the Deputy Mayor had put him seemed much more difficult to handle than the one the Lord Lieutenant had brought to his attention. Compounding the situation was the fact that one more game point was all either player needed to win the game.

How should the Minister proceed? When you have come up with a good plan, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2013 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


blog comments powered by Disqus

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.


Getting Started

Links for Schnapsen and Sixty-Six

Links in German

Links in Hungarian

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