Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

December 7, 2013

Pressured Out

Martin Tompa

Thursday, June 23, 1938
Dresdnerstraße 80/9
Vienna XX, Austria

“Glebe”, Crymlyn Road
Skewen, Neath, Glamorgan, Wales

Dear Hans,

It has been an eventful week for us, not in a happy sense. Early Monday morning the police came to the house to arrest Anyu. It is not that she had committed any great crime, of course. It is simply what is happening everywhere in Austria these past few months, the German mission to expel the Jews. The police had taken Anyu’s name several months ago at a political demonstration, before the Germans even arrived. That was sufficient to take her away on Monday. Because none of us are recognized as Austrian citizens anymore, she was immediately deported from Austria to the Hungarian border. Her plan was to make her way from there to Budapest to stay with her aunt Blanka.

Soon after she left, Apu began talking about following her to Budapest, because he has almost no remaining patients here and because he felt certain he would be deported soon too. This was prescient, because last night his acquaintance Johann from the local police precinct came to the apartment to warn Apu that he, Johann, had orders to deport Apu today. Rather than wait for that to happen, Apu packed his baggage and left on the first train for Budapest this morning.

Before Apu left, he asked that you send this month’s money to Anyu in care of Márkus Blanka at the address Árpád utca 11, Budapest. They will write to you soon from there.

I promised Apu that I would look after Tibor, since he is still only 17. He is holding up remarkably well, given all that has happened. We will stay on in the apartment together for at least another month. I had been spending fewer evenings with Lore and more time at home before all this came up, so I don’t mind. Tibor and I have been working together on his mathematics homework, which we both enjoy. It brings back fond memories of discussing mathematics with you when we were at the Alt-Hietzinger school.

We also play cards together often. Tibor has become a worthy Schnapsen opponent; he has a very natural aptitude for the game. I enjoy being in the role of teacher for a change! Here is a deal that occurred recently in which Tibor devised a very good plan.

Unseen cards:
♣ T

Tibor’s cards:
♣ —

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Peter 5, Tibor 6
Trick points: Peter 20, Tibor 27
On lead: Tibor

What would you do? I had Tibor explain his play when the deal was over, and his analysis seemed sound to me. I will write it on a separate page so that you can enjoy the puzzle before reading on.

With kisses,

© 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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