Friday, November 30, 2007

When Is It Time To Resign?

My post from the other day certainly evoked a lot responses regarding what appeared to be a resignation that got turned into a stealth draw offer. I've been thinking about chess etiquette a lot lately. I was surprised by how people reacted when I mentioned the noisy food incident. Often there are debates about whether one should play out a game to mate, or resign when it is a hopeless case. I had an interesting discussion with King Kong the last time I played him.

This was the final position. He just played 29...Rc2. He's threatening to mop up my queenside pawns, and run his two pawns down the queenside. He's also threatening d3. I can break the pin by playing 30. Kf3, but that's easily answered by Re3+ My rook is tied down to the e2 pawn. My knight is horribly out of play. There are no forking possibilities the way the position is set up. Time was not a big factor here though he did have a 4 minute advantage of 10:30 vs 6:30. Given the time difference if anyone was bound to implode in later time pressure, it would have been me. It was the last round. All Kevin needed was a win or a draw to wrap up the section. I saw no reason to play the position out so I resigned.

Afterwards Kevin said, "I don't know why you resigned there. You should have played on." I told him that I felt it was an easy win for him, and that I don't like to drag out positions like that. He said he knew was an easy win, but he would have played on. There were no extenuating circumstances such as his having 10 seconds left. I told him I know kids would play it out, but I told him that as one gets older and more experienced one tends to concede the hopeless position out of respect for a player who totally out played them. It had nothing to do my track record against him. There was no feeling of intimidation. I felt pretty good about how things had gone that evening. It was actually one of my better games against him until I got sloppy with my attack, and dropped the exchange. Things just fell apart after that.

Would I resign that same position every time? I would be more likely to play on if I out rated my opponent by 700+ points, or if the clock was a major factor. Then I'd want the opponent to prove that they have the skill to it finish off. In this situation I didn't need King Kong to prove to me that he could win the game. I knew he could. It was my way of making a quiet statement about playing out hopelessly lost positions. Maybe my resigning took away the pleasure of totally crushing me, by promoting the queenside pawns. I wasn't going to hang around to find out.

In my next post I'm going show two games from my weekly Thursday night "cracktion" tournament. One game I lost despite my opponent making me retract my ill timed resignation, and the other I won because I didn't resign a pretty much lost position based on Steve's and my history of time pressure implosions. As they say those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.


Glenn Wilson said...

In the diagrammed position I'd probably play on for a few moves. I'd play 30. Nf5 hoping for Rxb2 31. Rc1 Rxa2?? Give the opponent a chance to make a fatal error. If he doesn't, then I'd probably resign soon.

I once played a high expert; he had not played for a year or so. I was probably an "A" player at the time. I set up a classic smothered checkmate against him with his K at h1, pawns at h2 and g2. I just played my Q to g1 and he resigned as he saw what I saw -- after taking my Q I would play Nf2#. Game over. Then a spectator asked why he resigned and why I had just sac'ed my Q.

We patiently showed him the smothered mate, when to our horror, he pointed out that it was not mate at all. I got the full point because of the resignation. But after I played Qg1+ the continuation would have been Queen takes g1 so when I play Nf2 he can play Qxf2. This smothered mate pattern works if he captures with a Rook, but not with a Queen! Anyway, what was my point? Oh yeah. He resigned too early.

Polly said...

I had a similar situation occur twice against the same player. He sac'ed the queen. The first time I was black and I saw that I could simply take the queen with my king because the knight was not on h3 which is the classic smothered mate pattern.

A year or two later at the same location he did the same thing again. This time I had white, and I resigned. We stopped the clock, and one of the players who was watching said, "That was a funny queen move." I looked at the position in horror and realized what I had done.

One would have thought the reverse would have occurred. (Blow it the first time, remember the second time.) As I said in my next post those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it. Except in this case I didn't repeat history!

Liquid Egg Product said...

When to resign? Rule of thumb seems to be: the higher the combined ratings of the players, the more reasonable it is to resign sooner. Throw in playing an opponent better than you.

@Glenn: That's the kind of story that makes an indelible impression in the brain.

Anonymous said...

There is a famous tournament game between two Masters where one guy resigned in a position where he had a move which should have made his opponent resign on the spot.