Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

December 20, 2013

Waiting for Change

Martin Tompa

Sunday, September 25, 1938
Rottenbiller utca 33
Budapest, VII, Hungary

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

My dear Hans,

After one week of worries, Peter and Tibor are finally here. We did not know where they were from Monday until Thursday. We now have to continue trying to obtain Hungarian passports, and we again face other difficulties. It would really be good to have some peace, but seemingly the present time does not support such a wish. In Vienna, so many poor souls envy us now that we are out, and we are indeed in a somewhat better place. You are the only one of us in a truly safe place, though, and that in itself calms us.

Peter’s situation is the most difficult now, because he is of military age. Since Tibor is only 17, I am hopeful that he will receive approval to come to you in Great Britain. I think that he should obtain his passport easily. The only thing we need again is money; if it is possible please urgently remit 15£.

All in all, we must wait again for changes, and although everything is settled one way or the other at the end, one has to fight with fate continuously. After this philosophy, I finish my letter to you, sending you a lot of kisses,


Dear Hans,

Tibor and I are sitting with Anyu and Apu once again, but this time in Budapest. After the German police set us down on the Hungarian border, still with no passports, we made our way to Sopron. There we were arrested and sentenced to three days in jail for illegal border crossing. We finally got to Budapest Friday evening.

A fine story: just before leaving Vienna, I received a job offer in Johannesburg (South Africa), at The African Life Assurance Society Ltd. It pays 20£ a month, moving expenses, etc. What do you say to that? In any case, I thank you very much for your efforts in Great Britain on my behalf. Now you should concentrate those efforts on Tibor and the parents.

I hope to sail to Johannesburg on November 5 from Genoa. It will not be possible to go via Southampton, as much as I would love to see you again before I leave. On Monday I have to go to the British consulate to file a “Form of Application to Enter the Union of South Africa”. I am confident I will have my passport by the time we sail. The critical thing now is whether the Hungarian military will let me out.

Lore plans to leave Vienna for New York at the end of this month. Hopefully it will soon be possible to bring her to me in Johannesburg.

Tibor and I have had many opportunities to play Schnapsen over the past few months, being on our own. He is becoming more and more difficult to beat! Here is a deal that arose in the Sopron jail that shows his flair.

Unseen cards:

Tibor’s cards:
♣ QJ

Trump: J
Stock: 1 face-down card
Game points: Peter 3, Tibor 5
Trick points: Peter 0, Tibor 40
On lead: Tibor

Tibor will explain how he played on a separate page. I think you will find it interesting to work it out yourself before reading his analysis.

With 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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