Around this time last year I had several posts where I discussed resignations and the timing of them. There was my discussion with King Kong about why I resigned. Then less then a week later I had the game where my opponent refused my resignation. There was this position that my adult opponent made me play out last winter. Then there was the game where I've felt kind of bad because I didn't resign in an ending of rook and 3 pawns vs my lone rook. I ended out winning on time. Though in that post I did make the remark "One never wins a chess game by resigning."
One can not get a draw by resigning either. But is there a point where dignity become more important then trying to squeeze a draw or win out of a hopeless position? How does one define a hopeless position? Down by a queen or more? Lone king against mating material? Positions like that are pretty resignable. Though one will see Grandmasters resign against other Grandmasters down considerably less material then a queen. How can I forget the master who resigned against me after blundering his queen in the opening? Actions such as these demonstrate the respect the players have for their opponents' ability.
Then you have the positions that were resignable many moves ago, and now it's a forced mate in one. Once it's reached that stage it doesn't really matter if the player opts to resign or allows himself to be mated. Pick your poison! Though don't be a total knucklehead like White in the position below.
Black had just played 66...Qb3+. 67. Kd4 is White's only move. Did he play it? No. He wouldn't make a move. He figured he'd let his remaining 50 minutes run out. I really didn't want to sit there for 50 minutes, especially since my friends were waiting for me to go out for dinner. I complained to the tournament director, who chastised my opponent for his behavior and awarded me the win. The next day my college aged opponent did come up to me and apologized for acting like a jerk. He said he was pissed off about playing so poorly, but realized that was not an excuse to behave the way he did. Apology graciously accepted.
I don't have problems with kids playing out a hopeless position against their peers. There can be educational value in seeing a mating attack played out to its conclusion, even if one is on the receiving end of it. It's important for young and inexperienced players not to give up. They need to develop the hang in there attitude. As they become more mature and experienced they will have better understanding when it's appropriate to fight on, versus accepting defeat and moving on. It's the same sort of process they will deal with in life.
So what about about an adult player rated mid 1700s who plays out lone king versus queen, bishop and king against an older adult rated mid 1400s? The best he's going to get is a draw if the opponent runs out of time or stalemates him. The former was not likely since they were using a delay clock and the opponent had over 5 minutes when he promoted. What will a stalemate accomplish?
Is this game deciding first place in the World Open where holding a draw means $10,000 clear first? No. It's a 2nd round game in a small club tournament. There's no entry fee or prizes. The tournament provides members a chance to play rated chess under tournament conditions. Here are some interesting questions:
Does that type of money on the line make it acceptable to play on?
What would you do?
Eventually they reach the position below is with white having about 3 minutes left.
White initially reaches for the king, but pulls his hand back. 1. Kc3 will cause stalemate, and 1. Kb3 will lead to mate on the next move after 1...Kb1, 2. Qf1# Then he reaches for the queen. Any queen move along the b file except b2 or b3 will force mate after 1...Ka2, 2. Kc3+ Ka1, 3. Qb2#. Unfortunately White played Qb3, rewarding Black with the cheapo draw.
I'm sure there may be many out there that are thinking "See! Black was right to play on and go for that draw! White didn't deserve the full point for botching such an easy win." I respectfully disagree. When I see opponents play out such an absurd position I feel as though they're insulting the opponent. Essentially they're saying "I don't think you're good enough to finish me off. I'll take a cheap draw if I can get it."
Readers remember my Saratoga Open saga and quoting my Tae Kwon Do school's mantra. "Quitters never win. Winners never quit. I'm not a quitter. I'm a winner." So how does that fit into a timely graceful resignation? After all when one resigns that's quitting, and one loses. How is one a winner when he just lost a game of chess? In my opinion a properly timed resignation demonstrates respect to one's opponent. It's a simple way of saying "You have demonstrated your ability by reaching this point. There is no need to prove more to me. Good job!" Showing and receiving respect goes a long way in this game we call life.
I'll get off my soapbox now. Am I becoming a curmudgeon in my old age? I hope not.