Psellos
Contemporary Development With Functional Programming

The Schnapsen Log

September 28, 2013

Looking Forward (solution)

Martin Tompa

With Peter at 31 trick points and the ace of trumps still unseen, it is unlikely that Hans can stop Peter from crossing the 33-point threshold. In any case, Hans is clever and has already discovered that the first thing he should consider, when following to the last trick before the stock is exhausted, is ducking. After his obvious discard of J, Peter would be left on lead from this position:

Peter: (36 points)
AK
TQ
♣ —
A

Hans: (15 points)
TQJ
AK
♣ —

This looks like a situation where Hans should be worried about being thrown in: if Peter leads A for Hans to trump, Hans will be forced to open up either spades or hearts, and neither looks like a suit that either player wants to open up. But let’s pursue that line of reasoning. Even if Hans were to trump A with Q and return another trump, Peter could only collect another 27 trick points in trumps for a total of 63, and then would be forced to open up the heart suit himself. Alternatively, Peter could return a heart instead of cashing his last trump, but either way Han will take the last trick with a heart.

It seems, then, that Hans’s problem is not one of being thrown in, but rather a matter of arranging to win the last trick. Let’s return to the trick 6 diagram above, where Peter is on lead. As long as Hans never leads a heart, he has 3 entries to his hand (AK and a trump) whereas Peter only has 2 entries (AK). No matter what Peter leads at trick 6, Hans can win the last trick and 1 game point. For example, Peter leads a heart, Hans returns a trump, Peter leads another heart, Hans returns another trump, and Hans wins the last trick with his remaining trump.

© 2013 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


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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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