by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor
In only his second year of playing a full-time card, Casey Szatkowski, 15, of Rogers City became the county’s youngest ever Spitzer champ.
The son of Jesse and Amy Szatkowski claimed the county championship March 11 at Posen Knights of Columbus.
“Last year, I took 24th,” said Szatkowski. This year, “I kept getting good cards, I kept having good nights, and I kept that first-place position and made it.”
Spitzer is a popular card game, but is played mostly in this area of Michigan. It has strong German and Polish roots. Not surprisingly, both nationalities run in Szatkowski’s family. So does a passion for Spitzer, which a Web site developed by Brett Schalk describes as a game “that takes more concentration and skill than most common card games.”
“Spitzer is my family’s favorite game,” said Casey. “It is all anybody plays. That is all we do. If we have four people in the garage, ‘let’s sit down and play a quick game.’ I can play it all day long.”
Casey, who plays for the Belknap team, was ahead of Dave Kamysiak of the Posen team by 63 points.
“The first game was a long game, and I scored 24,” said Casey. “He got a score of 66, and was catching up to me.”
His next game was 42, but Kamysiak was keeping it close.
“He was struggling,” said Amy. “His second game, he was in second place, and not doing very well.”
“Then, I started getting real good cards,” said Casey.
“He started playing solos upon solos,” said Amy. He had a solo for 18 points, another with 27 and a third for 36.
He ended up with 396 points, which was his best score of the season, and was high man for the night.
By the end of the night, he finished on top with a final season score of 3,831 points. Kamysiak had 3,675. Casey received $120 and a plaque.
During the season, he also collected an extra $10 for a rare “Solo Snyder Swartz,” where he took all the tricks with a perfect hand for 42 points. That occurred in February. He’s had a total of four in his life.
When Casey was 13, he filled in on the Belknap team. When his great-grandfather Raymond Schalk passed away, Casey took over his card.
Jesse was seventh in the bar league playing for Neumann’s Blind Pig, while Amy finished in 12th. While Casey was holding onto first place, Amy tried to trump her son’s big news by pulling off her very first “Solo Snyder Swartz.” So, that is a night the family will not soon forget.
A total of 48 people have cards on the four teams from Rogers City, Belknap, Posen and K of C Posen.
When Casey is not playing cards, he’s playing football, basketball and baseball for the Hurons.