Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

November 15, 2013

Youthful Exuberance (solution)

Martin Tompa

I could see that neither of us would be able to reach 66 trick points: Lore could only win her two aces, capturing my ♣T and K, for a total of 24 + 11 + 11 + 10 + 4 = 60 trick points. I could only win my two trumps and K, capturing all her cards except the aces, for a total of 27 + 10 + 3 + 4 + 2 + 4 + 10 = 60 trick points. So I turned my attention to winning the last trick.

Normally this would mean leading out my losers. But whichever one I led, I feared Lore would force me to trump by returning the same suit. For instance, if I led K, Lore would win and return T, leaving me on lead from this position:

Lore: (39 points)

♣ AK

Me: (47 points)
♣ T

Now if I led my club, Lore would force me again and win the last trick with her lowly trump. If instead I pulled her trump, then she would win the last trick with her ♣A. My only other lead would be to force her myself by leading K, but that gives her 45 trick points and then cashing her ♣A does bring her to 66. (You see, she wins a trick here, her J, that I hadn’t counted before.)

I realized the problem was that my losers were both in suits in which Lore held more cards than I did, and those are suits I want her to lead so that she loses a tempo. Well then, if I was not to lead one of my losers, what else? Suddenly I recognized that this was exactly the situation that we used to call a tempo squeeze! I have an extra trump, there are two suits in which I have losers and she is longer than I, and I have one more winner, the K, that will serve as the squeeze card. What an exuberant feeling to see all the cards fall into place in my mind’s eye, just as when you and I used to play together! So I pulled her trump, resulting in this position:

Lore: (24 points)

♣ AK

Me: (39 points)
♣ T

When I next led K, poor Lore was squeezed and helpless. Whichever suit she chose to discard would no longer be longer than mine and I could lead it safely. For instance, if she chose to discard ♣K on my K, this would be the position:

Lore: (24 points)

♣ A

Me: (47 points)

♣ T

Now I exit with ♣T and Lore is subjected to a tempo endplay. She must cash her A, losing a valuable tempo, and I win the last trick with my remaining trump.

I know, clever Hans, that there was no need for me to spell all this out for you. I could have saved myself all this writing by just scribbling the two words “tempo squeeze” and you would have understood all. But the mathematician in me enjoys the clear and precise spelling out of the entire solution, for which I hope you will forgive me.

Once again, with many kisses,
your Peter.

© 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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