Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

December 11, 2013


Martin Tompa

Wednesday, July 13, 1938
Dresdnerstraße 80/9
Vienna XX, Austria

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

Dear Hans,

Yesterday I was summoned to the police commissioner’s office. They had begun deportation proceedings for me and for Tibor, according to which we should be deported to Hungary as soon as possible. I requested that they wait until we receive our Hungarian passports, without which travel will be precarious. Admittedly they did not promise to wait, but entered it into the record. In this connection, with the help of an acquaintance of Lore’s father, who was once the Hungarian embassy attaché, I will entreat that our Hungarian passports be expedited.

In any event, it would now once again be good if you could push Tibor’s case at your end. Perhaps it will still be possible to get our passports, and if you succeed at your end he could go to you in Great Britain. Whether that will go quickly enough, both at your end and at ours, naturally cannot be predicted. If we should receive our passports, then I will go back to harass the police into letting Tibor go to Great Britain instead of Hungary. If the police want to trouble themselves over me, it is better than if I trouble myself, right?

To add to the general supportiveness here, on Monday I received written notice from the Generali Insurance Company that, because of my Hungarian citizenship, I will be dismissed from my actuarial position on September 30. I doubt it really has much to do with my citizenship! In light of our impending deportation, the dismissal no longer seems as devastating as it did just one day ago.

Today Aunt Roza and Cousin Imre were here from Slovakia. They received entry visas just for the day. They send heartfelt kisses.

From our parents in Budapest nothing new, but if you have heard something directly from them, do let us know.

One avenue of escape that Tibor and I continue to enjoy in our spare time is playing cards. We both find such a connection to family tradition when we retreat into one of our games. Here is a deal that offered an opportunity for a good Schnapsen lesson.

Unseen cards:
♣ AQ

Tibor’s cards:
♣ K

Trump: ♣J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Peter 4, Tibor 4
Trick points: Peter 20, Tibor 35
On lead: Peter

I led the Q and Tibor thought long and hard. What would you do in his place? I will write what transpired on a separate page, assuming you will be interested in thinking about it yourself before reading my thoughts.

With heartfelt kisses from us,
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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