Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

The Schnapsen Log

September 7, 2015

Collector’s Items (solution)

Martin Tompa

Did you start out by considering closing the stock? Good, because that is the first thing you should consider when on lead at the last trick before the stock is exhausted. As we will see, you should even think about closing the stock in your current position, where you only have 25 trick points and very few winning cards.

There are some aspects of your position that are really quite favorable for you, though they are somewhat hidden. One is the fact that 4 of the 6 concealed cards are tens and aces, which means you may be able to collect some of these in your tricks. Another is that A is the only trump missing from your hand, and you may be able to force Katharina to trump one of your small clubs with it, setting up the rest of your trumps as winners.

This is your overall plan, then: to play clubs until Katharina is forced to trump, to win 3 tricks with T, Q, and ♣A, and to collect at least one of Katharina’s tens and aces in those 3 tricks. Let’s count up how many trick points you will have accumulated if you can do all this. Adding the cards you will win to your current 25 trick points brings the total to 25 + 10 + 3 + 11 = 49. Katharina must contribute at least two kings and a ten to your 3 tricks, for a total of at least 49 + 4 + 4 + 10 = 67, which is enough. All that is left is to work out the order in which to play your cards.

Let’s assume you have closed the stock and that A is the last face-down card in the stock, which is the worst case for you since it leaves Katharina the stoppers in your heart and club suits. Here is how the two hands would look:

Katharina: (14 points)
♣ TK

You: (25 points)


You want to force her to trump as soon as you can, so begin by playing ♣A and ♣J to knock out her club stopper. When she wins her ♣T, she will be on lead from this position:

Katharina: (26 points)
♣ —

You: (40 points)

♣ Q

The best Katharina can do is beat you to the punch by forcing you herself, leading K for you to trump. This puts you on lead from the following position:

Katharina: (26 points)
♣ —

You: (54 points)

♣ Q

Even though she now has trump control, it is short-lived, because you have finally reached the position where you can force her with your last club. This sets up your last trump and leaves her with a card to trump that must be worth at least 10 trick points, giving you a total of at least 67. Success! You score another 2 game points against your formidable opponent.

© 2015 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