Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for March, 2014

Peace Blooms

Martin Tompa
March 4, 2014

Friday, May 11, 1945
117 East 17th Street
New York, New York, U.S.A.

93 Priory Road
Hampstead, London, U.K.

Dear Anyu and Apu, dear Hans and Phyllis, dear Tibor,

Liesl and I feel immense joy over the final destruction of the evil forces of Nazism, and we want to share our joy with you. We were thrilled to hear the news of the Allied successes in Germany, ending with the Soviet capture of Berlin last week and Germany’s…


Martin Tompa
March 16, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 1947. Southampton, U.K. After five long days at sea aboard the Queen Elizabeth, Peter and Liesl walk a little unsteadily down the gangway with their luggage. Liesl remembers departing England aboard a similar ship, destined for her new life in New York, exactly 7 years earlier when she was only 20 years old. But that is another story. As they descend today, Peter scans the welcoming crowd on the pier for faces he might recognize. After a frustratingly long time, he spots his younger brother Tibor waving and grinning broadly, and then sees Hans next to him. Peter points them out to Liesl, and the two of them make their way down and through the crowd to the waiting brothers.

Peter puts down his suitcase. He and Hans grasp each others’ shoulders, smile slightly, and then embrace. As they disengage, Hans says, “Do you know how long it has been since we last saw each other? Eleven years! That was the last time I visited Vienna. I was 25 and you were 24.”…

A Ragged Endplay

Martin Tompa
March 24, 2014

We are going to take a break from our ongoing story for today’s column. I was delighted last week when two students from my course on Probability and Statistics sent me a very interesting endgame position. Rather than studying for the final examination, they had been playing Schnapsen together for fun. Today’s column features their endgame.

You are once again playing against the Maestro when you find yourself in the following position…

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