Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for January, 2013

Who’s in Control?

Martin Tompa
January 3, 2013

Your Sunday family game against Polite Polona has been extremely close, with your Uncle Hans looking on. It’s coming down to the wire. Aunt Polona needs only one more game point to win and you find yourself in this position….

The Lowly Jack

Martin Tompa
January 10, 2013

It’s come down to the very last deal in this close game against Polite Polona. Each of you needs only one more game point to win when you find yourself in this position….


Martin Tompa
January 21, 2013

It’s a cold winter day with ice on the ground. But you have made your way safely enough to the comforting warmth of the Café Abeles, where Peter waves to you from his usual table near the fire. He already has a generous piece of Haselnusstorte and a steaming cup of coffee with whipped cream in front of him, so you order for yourself while he deals out the cards. The first few deals are uneventful but, before your coffee has cooled enough to drink, you find yourself in the following situation…

Schemes for Remembering Cards in Schnapsen

Martin Tompa
January 28, 2013

One of our readers asked for the details of a method for remembering which cards have been played and which still remain unseen. For beginning and intermediate Schnapsen players, I know this memory work seems like a daunting prospect. Yet it is also the most essential skill to master because, without knowing which cards remain unseen, it is impossible to plan the endgame. We’ve been learning about sophisticated endplays such as eliminations, squeezes, and counterforce plays, but you won’t be able to pull them off at the Schnapsen table unless you can visualize your opponent’s hand.

I have presented some basic ideas that I use for remembering the cards in my article Winning Strategy for Schnapsen. Included there are some pointers about how to practice increasing your card memory. An example is to start out just trying to remember which…

Danger at Every Turn

Martin Tompa
January 29, 2013

You have finally warmed up by the roaring fire in the Café Abeles. The smell of wood smoke fills your nose, making you realize how much you enjoy the comforts you have on this cold winter day. Your coffee has cooled enough to sip after each small bite of the café’s justly famous Haselnusstorte. Having appreciated these creature comforts, you turn your attention back to the problem at hand….

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