Schnapp, Land, Fluss

by Haim Shafir
Translation by Jeff Goldsmith and Babelfish

Players: 2-6, aged 8 and up
Length: about 15 minutes
Contents: 33 Category cards, 55 Letter cards

Idea of the Game

As fast as possible, each player tries to find a word in a given category. The word must begin with the same initial letter as one of the letter cards on the table. The player who finds a suitable word first takes the letter card. Each blue card is worth one point; each red card is worth two points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.


Shuffle the two decks separately. The category deck is placed face down in the middle of the table.

Twelve letter cards are randomly chosen and placed face up around the category deck.

Tip: The letter card "X/Y" is particularly difficult. When playing with children or for the first time, it is advisable to remove this card from play.

Schnapp, Land, Fluss can be played in two different versions.

In the first version, the fastest player wins the letter card. The second version, Schnapp-soviel-du-kannst (Snatch as much as you can), is described later. Decide which version you prefer, or try both...

Start of the Game

The player whose first name is earliest in the alphabet turns over the first category card. Immediately after the card is turned, play begins.

Players all play at the same time. Each player tries to find a suitable word for the exposed category card. The word must begin with one of the twelve letter cards on the table. In the example on Page 2 (the category is "animal"), "hamster" would be possible or "ape" or "horse" or "Jaguar"...

If a player finds a suitable word, he annouces it aloud and places his hand on the appropriate letter card. The player may then take the letter card and place it in a score pile in front of him. Note: only the fastest player takes the card his hand is on. Thereafter, if still further players call out suitable words, they do not score the letter card.

In the diagram on page 3, Florian called "Leopard" and places his hand on the "L" card. He takes the card and places it in his score pile.

The player who won the Letter card turns over a new Category card. Another round begins immediately as players try to find a suitable word for the next category. Only eleven Letter cards are used in this round. Again, whoever calls a suitable word and covers the appropriate letter card first, gets the card. Play continues; in each round one fewer Letter card is available.

If two or more players call a word and strike their Letter cards simultaneously, a tie-break round is played, just between those players. They do not win the Letter card from the tie-break, but from the original round.

If no one can find an appropriate word, a new Category card is drawn and the game continues. If this happens three times in a row, the game ends early.

If a player grabs a letter card and calls an incorrect word, he loses a previously won Letter card (if he has one) as punishment.

End of the Game

The game ends when the last letter card is taken. For each blue Letter card taken, a player gets one point. For each red card taken, he gets two points. Whoever has the most points wins.

It is fun to play several rounds, adding the scores for each round. Whoever scores the most after the predetermined number of rounds wins.

With A Play Leader

If one player is willing not to participate in the play, for example, during children's birthday parties, the category deck is not used as normal. The play leader picks a Category card and reads it aloud. Otherwise, play continues as normal. (Translator's note: a clever leader need not limit himself to the cards as given. Pick categories particularly appropriate to the players.)

Variant: Schnapp-Soviel-du-Kannst (Snatch as much as you can)

Setup is the same as before: 12 letter cards are turned up and the Category deck is placed face down in the middle of the table.

In each round, players simply call out words and take letter cards immediately. Players may call out more than one word and correspondingly take more than one letter card. One must take one at a time. Keep playing until all the letter cards are gone. If no one can think of a word for any of the remaining letters, the round ends early.

Rounds continue until there are fewer than 12 letter cards remaining to be set out for a round. If letters remain from the previous round, they remain on the table and the letter cards are filled to 12.

The end of the game is as before; blue card count one, red cards count two, and whoever has the most wins.

About the Categories

For the categories sportsmen, musicians, actors, and politicians, a surname must be used, e.g. Beckenbauer or Gorbachev. For those who use single names, e.g. Prince, Madonna, or Pelé, of course the single name may be used.

For the categories "In the Kitchen," "In the Air," "In the Circus," "At School", "At the Doctor's Office," and "In the Sea," one may not use words which could appear anywhere, such as "man" or "sunbeam," but rather words which are really characteristic of the category.

For the categories "Song," "Movie," "Book," and "TV show" one must supply titles in which the first word starts with the letter on the table. For example, "All My Children" counts as an "A."

When ambiguity arises, remember it's only a game! Don't argue about it, just pick a new card and continue.

The Categories

Beim ArztAt the Doctor's Office
Im MeerIn the Sea
Im ZirkusAt the Circus
In der KücheIn the Kitchen
In der LuftIn the Air
In der SchuleAt School
KörperteilParts of the Body
MusikinstrumentMusical Instrument
SportartKind of Sport
TV-SendungTV Show