Two-player card games: Schnapsen, WYSIWYG

I made a return to Schnapsen — I had tried it once before, about five years ago. It’s an extremely tight two-handed trick-taker. It’s an ace-ten game, played with a 20-card pack with all the non-scoring cards removed. It seems to be a game of memory: you must remember your own points and it certainly helps to remember the cards played and your opponent’s points.

I can’t see how two-player trick-taking could be much better… Of course, Schnapsen isn’t the most friendliest game ever, even though it’s pretty easy to learn, as long as you’re familiar with the ace-ten point structure (and a serious gamer should be). My play sucked: I lost 3-7, giving Olli four points from failing to score 66 after closing the pack. That’s amateurish…

We also played four hands of WYSIWYG — we weren’t close to finishing the game, but I ran out of time. The game’s supposed to be played to 100 points, but after half an hour and four hands, I had eight points and Olli had 33. Scoring seems pretty hard in the game: with good cards, getting a decent score is tricky as your initial hand value is deducted from your points. Maybe with more doubling? Also, the penalties for failing are pretty high, so I suppose the player with the lower-valued hand should just drive up the bidding and then try to make the declarer fail.

Anyway, it’s a fun game and while it lacks the punch of Schnapsen, it’s certainly more relaxed and pleasant to play.

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2 responses to “Two-player card games: Schnapsen, WYSIWYG”

  1. Hey Mikko. Curious, my wife Christina and I tried Schnapsen the other night. She’s relatively new to trick taking, and I’m a seasoned card player. We found the game fairly easy to play, but the scoring was a bit confusing.
    Question for you: From my reading of the rules, if a player declares they have 66 points, it looks like there’s an opportunity for them to score 1, 2 or 3 points — depending on how many points their opponent has. Alternatively, they could give their opponent points if they don’t actually have the 66 required points — 2 or 3, depending on whether the opponent has any tricks. Am I right so far?
    Where we got confused is what happens if a player doesn’t declare 66 points. All the tricks get played out, and the higher score wins the game. Do they just get 1 point for game, or is it still possible to score 1, 2 or 3 points?
    Also, we were curious on exactly when you can declare you have 66 points. Can you do it even if you’ve closed the stock? That is, can I close the stock, play all but my last 1 card, and then declare before the last trick is played?
    It’s an interesting game. I find the memory aspect a bit frustrating, and my wife more so. But underneath is a nice light 2-player trick-taking game, which is something I really enjoy. It makes a nice Cribbage alternative, when one of us isn’t in the mood for a Euro, or yet another game of Mystery Rummy.

  2. Yes, you’re correct about declaring. You can declare 66 points at any time, even after closing stock (or after your opponent has closed the stock!).
    If you want something similar but lighter on your memory, you could try Bondtolva.