The most important decision you will be faced with in the play of your hand is at the time that your partner’s hand is resolved. If your partner has won his hand, your first consideration is to put your hand into a condition in which you cannot lose more than your partner has won. Only after this is done should you turn your attention to winning your own hand. If, on the other hand, your partner has lost his hand, your first consideration should be winning back more than your partner has lost, rather than simply winning the game. The exception to this is when you are in danger of losing a game. Then your first consideration should be to get under the count.
You should also remember that, in partnership play, the score reflects not only the points your partner has won, but also the additional boxes or bonuses which you will receive on your score as against what will go to your opponent if you fail to protect his count. For example, in a four-handed game your partner ginned his opponent, catching him with 10 points. Your immediate problem is to reduce your own hand to less than ten so that, should your opponent gin you, your team will wind up in the positive with the points, as opposed to losing points. Therefore, you will not only get the difference between what your partner won and you lost, but you will get credit for the two boxes that he got as a bonus for the gin. On the other hand, if your opponent gins and catches you with more than 10 points, not only will you lose your score and the boxes, but your opponents will score and get the bonus boxes in as many game columns as they are entitled to. So, you can clearly see that this failure to get under your partner’s count can be very costly. If your partner has knocked and 41 points on a knock, you must realize that since there is a bonus of 35 for gin, you will be getting under his count by retaining not more than 15 points in your hand.
If you go a step further, you will see another scenario to this. There is no safe count to get under to protect a partner’s score if he has won 25 or less, since a gin automatically gets 25 points. However, there are what is called a safe game count. Not that you can protect his score if your partner has won just a few points on a knock, but you can still protect the game. For example, if you are playing a four-handed game with a game count of 300 and your opponent’s have 250 on the score, at this point there is no safe count if you are playing a double hand since the gin bonus for one gin alone would be 50. However, if your partner knocks and wins 10 points, this would bring your opponents score down tot 230 since the 10 would automatically be double. You now have a game safe count of nine, since if you lose nine your opponents would wind up with only 298, giving you another hand to play to see if you can win the game. Clearly, there is a need for the partner who is first able to knock to leave their partner or partners with a safe count in the game.