Life So Short, the Craft So Long to Learn

Schnapsen Log Archives

Columns for May, 2014

The Tale Ends

Martin Tompa
May 3, 2014

Sunday, May 3, 1964. Bergenfield, New Jersey, U.S.A. It is Sunday afternoon and, like most Sundays, our small surburban house is crowded with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They have all come to our house for the weekly “Jause”, a Viennese tradition of afternoon coffee and cake and conviviality. The coffee and my grandmother’s delicious cake have been consumed, and the dishes have been cleared away for cards. I am playing Schnapsen with my uncle Tibor, while my father and brother follow the action and add commentary. A game of canasta is going on at the other end of the dining room table.

I am 12 years old, the younger son of Peter and Liesl. I love these Sunday Jause gatherings of the family, with all their European traditions. I love the varied foreign accents and the mixture of German and English spoken by all. I love all the activity in our house: the chamber music, the conversations, the jokes, the card games, and the traditional Viennese cakes. I love the fact that my relatives all seem so happy to be together again. I love the…

No Clear Winner

Martin Tompa
May 26, 2014

You are at the Black Eagle Club for the weekly Schnapsen tournament. You have just sat down opposite the local champion Katharina, who deals out the cards. The very first hand you pick up forces you to think. Don’t you just hate that?…

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