Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for March, 2012

The Card Game Called Schnapsen

Martin Tompa
March 5, 2012

Schnapsen is the best two-person card game. At least in the opinion of one writer, and thousands of Austrians. It is easy to learn, requires only one other willing player (or a computer program, always willing), is quick and fun to play, involves interesting strategy, and is rich in thought-provoking situations.

My goal in this series is to present a number of those thought-provoking situations, in a manner very similar to the daily newspaper’s bridge or chess columns. Think of this as the Schnapsen column.

Just like the bridge or chess columns, I am going to assume that readers of this series know how to play the game and are interested in improving their play, learning new moves, or testing their strategic skills. If you don’t yet know how to play Schnapsen, we have provided clear rules for the game. Grab a friend, learn the rules together, and play a few games. Schnapsen is fun even when you are a…

Safety First

Martin Tompa
March 7, 2012

Welcome to the Schnapsen table. As I promised, we will warm up with some basic situations you will face at the table.

This evening you are at the Black Eagle, your regular card club, enjoying a cold beer and playing against the local milliner Katharina. Katharina happens to be the regional Schnapsen champion. She would intimidate you from across the table even without those outlandish creations on her head. You are in the last deal of a tightly contested game and find yourself in the following situation…

To Duck or Not to Duck

Martin Tompa
March 14, 2012

Welcome back to the Schnapsen table. We continue to warm up with some basic situations. You are playing against your nemesis Uncle Claudius when you find yourself in the following situation…

Who Laughs Last

Martin Tompa
March 21, 2012

You are drawn once again to your club, the Black Eagle, holding its weekly tournament. Sitting across from you is your archrival Itell Reding, who mocks you relentlessly. The situation you find yourself facing illustrates a common struggle in Schnapsen…

“You First.” “No, You First.”

Martin Tompa
March 27, 2012

Nearly all of our work in these columns will be in the “endgame”, the last five or six tricks of the deal. Today we look at an important and common endgame strategy, in its simplest form. You are playing against your aunt, Polite Polona. Despite her nickname, Polona does not just let you win….

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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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