CSE 312: Schnapsen!

We will draw some of our probability examples from a wonderful card game called Schnapsen. The Schnapsen activities are intended to be fun and are mostly optional, except for periodic assigned exercises related to probability in the game.

Practice and tournaments

We will hold weekly practice sessions and (possibly) Schnapsen tournaments during the quarter, joined by the UW Schnapsen Club. Participation in these sessions is entirely optional, is intended to be fun, and will have no effect on your course grade. See the photo and news of last year's event.

Weekly sessions will be Fridays, 3:30-5:30. The first practice session will be Friday, March 31, 3:30-5:30 in MGH 241. If you want to play, come any time during that period. We will supply cards, answer questions, and give some pointers on strategy.

In real Schnapsen games, there is a lot of memory work required, because you are not allowed to write down trick point scores or cards played. (Game point scores are written down. In addition, you are allowed to look back at the tricks you have taken yourself at any time, but not your opponent's tricks.) Because acquiring these memory skills takes some time and effort, I propose an alternative you can use that still leaves the strategy very interesting: both players leave the tricks they have taken face-up and spread out, so that no memory is required.

Before starting a game, the two players should come to an agreement about whether they are playing with tricks concealed or exposed. Try the game both ways to see the differences.

Extra credit

There are some opportunities to earn a small number of extra credit points related to Schnapsen. These are optional, and not participating won't hurt your grade.
  • If you send me a Schnapsen endgame that requires a probability analysis (such as expected game points) that arose in a deal that you played, you will likely earn 1 or more extra credit points. This could arise in a game you play with another person, or a game you play against one of the many available Schnapsen apps. Tell me everything I need to know about the position, exactly as I do in The Schnapsen Log, and tell me who (or what) you were playing against when it arose.
  • If you post an interesting comment on The Schnapsen Log about one of my analyses (say, pointing out a case that I missed, or pointing out an error in my analysis, no matter how small) or anything else of interest, you will likely earn 1 or more extra credit points. Please post comments on analysis on my analysis page rather than on the page that poses the problem. I have no doubt that I have errors and omissions in some of my analyses. I'd love to encourage you to post any relevant comments on The Schnapsen Log. But if you're too shy to post a comment, you can just send me your comment in a message and I'll consider it for extra credit points.