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The Importance of Holding Your Play

Now that we know when and why you should call “hold your play” to your partner or opponent, we should look at the importance of this play.

Suppose you are in a four-handed game, play has progressed to about halfway through the deck, and the payer on the right side of the table has gotten his hand down to a knock condition. For this example, the knock card is the 10♦. He is undecided at this point as to whether to knock or not. He glances at his partner’s hand and sees that his partner has six-melded cards and four pictures, including two Queens, which total 40 points. Since, at this point in the hand and because of the score of the game, this is a rather large count to carry, he does not know whether to knock and win a few points or to keep playing for gin with the possibility of protecting against a large loss on the part of his partner. While thinking about what action to take, he does not advise the other side to hold their play and his partner’s opponent discards a Queen to his partner’s two Queens. This discard has knocked his partner’s hand down from forty points to ten points. Since the knock card was a ten, his partner is also now in a position to knock. Therefore, the decision of the first player has been resolved. He knocks his hand and his partner does the same. Both partners win their hands. But if that Queen was not thrown at that moment, or there was a “hold” in effect, he might have made an additional play from his hand before knocking, in which case the play as well as the pick from the unused stock could have helped his opponent tremendously, even to the extent of gin.

Another similar situation would be that after viewing the cards in his partner’s hand, a player is undecided whether to knock or play for gin. While deliberating, his partner continues to play and picks from the unused stock another mismatched picture card. He then discards from his hand, breaking one of his two melds. Now the first partner is aware that his teammate is playing strictly a defensive game and he is playing his hand to the wall. Under such circumstances, the chances are nine out of ten that he will neither win nor lose his hand. Therefore, the decision of the teammate has been resolved. He knows that if knocks wins, all the points obtained for his team will stand.

Every play made by his partner and every change in the pattern of his partner’s hand gives him an opportunity to evaluate how his partner is playing. Whether it is aggressively for a win, or defensively to protect his hand, telling them to hold his play allows the teammate to come to a decision regarding his only play. Taking advantage of the more rapid play of his partner or the deliberate slowing up of a player is not acceptable conduct in the game of partnership gin rummy.

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