Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

June 20, 2014

Necessary Precautions (solution)

Martin Tompa

What is the immediate danger that you face? It is that Tibor may already hold the club marriage. If so, he is likely to win this trick, cash whichever of T and A he still holds, and then win the deal by declaring the marriage. Even in the cases where one of ♣KQ or T or A is the last face-down card in the stock, if you lead a small heart or diamond, Tibor is likely to win the trick and thus draw that valuable winning card from the stock. (If T is in the stock and you lead a small heart, it is possible that Tibor will let you win the trick. But in this case you will draw that T yourself and the only remaining trick you will take is A. It is interesting, and not at all unusual, that drawing the T is valuable to your opponent and useless to you.)

With all the small cards in your hand, the situation is looking rather hopeless. You certainly cannot consider closing the stock with all those losers and only 33 trick points. Is there any chance of winning this deal at all?

Yes, there is exactly one chance. Your only hope is that the last face-down card in the stock is the K. In that case, you must lead A in order to ensure that you win the trick and draw that K yourself. Tibor must contribute at least 3 trick points to your trump lead, which will bring your total to at least 47 trick points. After drawing the K you can declare the diamond marriage and score 2 game points.

This is a desperation play, because K is the only card you can draw that will give you a win. The next best draw for you would be A, which would leave you on lead from a position something like the following:

Tibor: (28 points)
♣ KQ

You: (47 points)

♣ —

Your A is the only remaining trick you will win, and your trick point total will reach only 62.

Hoping that the last face-down card in the stock is the valuable K is grasping at a straw. But it is the only straw you’ve got, so plan your play as though it is a certainty.

© 2014 Martin Tompa. All rights reserved.


blog comments powered by Disqus

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.


Getting Started

Links for Schnapsen and Sixty-Six

Links in German

Links in Hungarian

Recent Columns

Sidestep a Few Landmines, Sep 2
Two Last-Trick Problems, Jun 27
More Extremes of Luck, May 21
Grasping at Straws, Apr 4
A New Scheme for Remembering Cards, Mar 23
As Luck Would Have It, Sep 9