Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

November 15, 2013

Youthful Exuberance

Martin Tompa

Friday, March 13, 1936
Dresdnerstraße 80/9
Vienna XX, Austria

50 Bryn Road
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Dear Hans,

I truly enjoyed your lovely letter. It is noteworthy that two brothers must first have a distance of many kilometers between them, in order to be able to speak out. Perhaps, though, it isn’t noteworthy at all, but rather — self-evident.

I have many topics to write about but, before anything else, Vera. The situation with her actually stands exactly as you’ve written. She is constantly telling me how wonderful your summer together was and how she imagines the future with you. I must warn you that she talks of visiting you in Swansea this summer again, and that makes no sense at all, given what you have told me. It would be better if you wrote to her now and ended it. Why should you suffer another summer with her, when she will feel even more hurt at the end if nothing comes of your relationship? To be completely honest, Vera gets on my nerves much, much more than she does on yours, though I was with her less. I am amazed that you lasted an entire summer with her.

If you, as we all hope, can remain in England permanently, you and Vera won’t have opportunities to come together, and so the termination won’t be so difficult for you. (Do you wonder why we all hope you will stay so far away? Because life in Austria has become so very difficult. The terror campaigns of the Nazis, the anti-Semitism and, above all else, the terrible economic situation here in Austria convince me that you made the right decision by leaving.)

When you write that you were not in agreement with my previous choices in girls, there is a very simple reason, namely that I was not in agreement with them myself. For me, until now it was always a purely sexual matter. I never had the intention to know any of these girls longer than, say, one year, about which I never left anyone in the dark. But now, with Lore, it is the first time that I am truly, seriously, spiritually, and not purely sexually, in love. For all that, I love her as absolutely as one can love a person. I am nearly certain that our marriage will not be far off. I feel strong enough to endure any sort of emotional upset, until the Final Exit.

But every discussion of marriage inevitably comes back to the issue of getting my Austrian domicile certificate in order. As you know, this goes back a full 15 years now, to the time when we moved to Austria and Apu first tried to establish our connection to Wiesen. The papers have never been completely in order, and it now plagues our plans, for I must have a domicile certificate in order for us to obtain a marriage certificate. With respect to this, I tried at first to arrange it in Wiesen. The fine gentleman there did not even enter the note in the domicile register, but rather in a bogus manner just signed a scrap of paper. On this foundation it was entirely improbable for the agency to issue me my own domicile certificate. I next spoke with a lawyer here in Vienna, who promised that he could obtain a brand new domicile certificate, and it would cost the pittance of 1500 Schillings. Lore and I are committed to take this sacrifice on ourselves, though we don’t have any money, but together earn enough that we will be able to pay it off eventually. We will enter the marriage with many debts (besides the domicile certificate, one also needs to purchase other things, for example three pairs of underpants), but we will somehow manage to pay off the debts.

Lore would like me to have myself baptized as a Protestant. I have nothing against it, and it probably will not overly concern Apu either. But Uncle Jozsef will be appalled. At worst he will disinherit me.

Enough of such weighty matters. Lore has taken your place at the card table and we play together often. A deal arose last night that I hope you will find interesting. Here it is.

Lore: (24 points)

♣ AK

Peter: (27 points)
♣ T

Stock: Exhausted
Game points: Lore 5, Peter 7
On lead: Peter

I have written my analysis on a separate page so that you can think about it at your leisure.

Thus, many kisses until next time,
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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