Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

September 28, 2013

Looking Forward

Martin Tompa

Tuesday, September 20, 1921. Vienna, Austria. Apu and Anyu sit together on the couch talking. They are in the living room of Anyu’s sister’s Vienna apartment, where Anyu has been living. Anyu holds her baby son Tibor, now 5 months old, on her lap. She has been living apart from the rest of her family for two years now, seeing them only during infrequent visits they were able to make to Vienna.

During those two years, Admiral Horthy’s White Terror went on and on, with nothing standing in the way of his troops’ rampages. Just in Zalaegerszeg, one ordinary Hungarian town, ten Jews were murdered and the concentration camp was full to overflowing with Horthy’s political enemies.

“I kept thinking that things in Hungary would improve and you could come home,” Apu says to Anyu. “But I finally gave up on Hungary and realized we should come to you in Vienna instead. So I began teaching the boys German some months ago, and they are picking it up very nicely. Baby Tibor will have the advantage there, speaking German from the beginning. We should all practice speaking only German at home, so that all of us, the boys particularly, will fit in here in Vienna. We’ve changed their names from Hungarian to German for that reason, too: Jancsi is now Hans and Peti is Peter. All right?”

“Yes, dear,” Anyu assents. “Everything will be all right, now that we are together again and can start looking forward and planning a new life for our family. I wonder how long it will take until the boys are comfortable here?”

To look at Hans and Peter (now 10 and 9 years old) at that moment, you might not even recognize that they had moved to a new country. They are lying on the floor of their new bedroom, playing cards as usual. It’s good that children can be so adaptable.

Unseen cards:
♣ —

Hans’s cards:
♣ —

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Peter 2, Hans 3
Trick points: Peter 31, Hans 15
On lead: Peter

After some thought, Peter leads Q. What should Hans do? When you think you have a good plan, you are welcome to read my analysis.

© 2013 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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