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Learning for beginners: fight a losing game to the end, or resign?


  • 15 months ago · Quote · #1

    polygamous_king

    Do you guys think one learns more by continuing a losing match when things would depend on an unlikely series of blunders from the opponent, or is it a waste of time, you learn more by starting a new match? It doesn't preclude studying the resigned match to try to figure you more crucial mistakes, which may be the best way you spend your time in that match, rather than continuing it.

    I'm inclined to think that resigning is better, but I may be wrong on that. What type of learning it could offer?

    I think in a way it's just like a series of tactical exercises, but I wonder if it's the type of exercise that would prepare you for situations with a winning potential. The doubt regarding that is that it seems that much of the pattern-assimilation depends on a "holistic" view of the board, which may be fundamentally different on a winning versus losing context, even if tactic procedure is exactly the same.

    It also seems intuitive that if we learn by repetition, the time we'd be using on losing games would have better use on more repetitions of the parts we get right.

    There's also the question of ettiquette, addressed in another topic. When you're loosing just too bad is perhaps very annoying to drag it for too long, specially on correspondence chess. I guess it concerns much more correspondence chess than regular matches or even blitze, but I think it can start to get annoying even in a 10m blitz. Not so much a big deal if it's not a complete waste of time to continue, though.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #2

    waffllemaster

    My advice on this is to resign when:

    1) You believe your position is lost and
    2) You believe your opponent sees and is skilled enough to convert the win and
    3) You believe your opponent can win without difficulty and
    4) You don't believe you can learn anything from watching the winning technique.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #3

    Shivsky

    Depends on the time control, stakes involved and the strength-levels of both players.

    An 1800 in a tournament in "epic blundering" into a bad position will sure as hell not resign against a 1000 ...  though he would do that in a jiffy in a club game.  The weaker you are, the more your opponent can actually count on "statistically" reliable blunders played by you as the game continues.

    You'd want to analyze the game afterwards and do some self-correction (identify mistakes, understand why it was a mistake, look for better alternatives/moves and commit to not make this type of mistake again)  no matter what ... that's what deliberate practice is all about.  

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #4

    LongIslandMark

    +1 on wafflemaser's post. There have been many "when to resign" threads and I think his post sums it up nicely.

    One thing I do when I want to play on a bit when it looks like I have a losing position but just want a bit of practise is to chat that intent to my opponentm but not drag it out too long. Then at least they know you are not being rude. I've never had any bad chat back from that approach.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #5

    Rsava

    waffllemaster wrote:

    My advice on this is to resign when:

    1) You believe your position is lost and
    2) You believe your opponent sees and is skilled enough to convert the win and
    3) You believe your opponent can win without difficulty and
    4) You don't believe you can learn anything from watching the winning technique.

    Notice those are AND statements, not OR statements, especially the last one. 

    I may continue on when I realize it is a lost position, the player has the skill, that it will be an easy one BUT I can learn. I then message them to say that i would like to see how they will mate me.

    They appreciate it and I have never had anyone say "Just resign." They are usually happy to show me. I usually don't even need to take it all the way to mate. But to watch what they do has been a learning experience every time.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #6

    ponz111

    The answer is to resign.  You will learn much more by playing against a real game than playing in a position where you are losing or lost.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #7

    Rsava

    ponz111 wrote:

    The answer is to resign.  You will learn much more by playing against a real game than playing in a position where you are losing or lost.

    I disagree. If I were playing you, a stgronger player and we played through 23 moves when I hang my Q. 3 moves later you come out with an extra pawn when we trade Knights then you pick up my DSB.

    I can learn from you how to put someone away when I have that advantage.

    I already know that I left my Q hanging and so forth. To stop now just makes me know that a dropped Q means I should resign.

    But, if I then play a game where my opponent does the same type of thing I did, I now have an idea of what to do.

    This isn't hanging around pushing wood to waste time, this is playing as best I can while learning how to play against the lost position I am in.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #8

    waffllemaster

    Rsava wrote:
    waffllemaster wrote:

    My advice on this is to resign when:

    1) You believe your position is lost and
    2) You believe your opponent sees and is skilled enough to convert the win and
    3) You believe your opponent can win without difficulty and
    4) You don't believe you can learn anything from watching the winning technique.

    Notice those are AND statements, not OR statements, especially the last one. 

    I may continue on when I realize it is a lost position, the player has the skill, that it will be an easy one BUT I can learn. I then message them to say that i would like to see how they will mate me.

    They appreciate it and I have never had anyone say "Just resign." They are usually happy to show me. I usually don't even need to take it all the way to mate. But to watch what they do has been a learning experience every time.

    Yep, intentional on my part.

    I think it's a good summary of the common sense just about everyone (I'm assuming) uses even if they don't express it or even think about it.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #9

    Elubas

    ponz111 wrote:

    The answer is to resign.  You will learn much more by playing against a real game than playing in a position where you are losing or lost.

    To play devil's advocate, even a position such as 3 queens vs king, is one in which both sides may form strategies as to what is the best way to get a favorable result. Even logic such as "I will have my queens work together to cut off his king by ranks" is still a plan to be formed, simple as it may be.

    Every position is a chess position. They are all situations in which you have to come up with a strategy to achieve your objective. People often arbitrarily say certain positions "aren't really chess," but I think in any position you are coming up with a plan to force mate, direct or indirect. The only distinction I make is that how easy or difficult it is to come up with such a suitable plan will vary.

    I will agree though that some positions are more beneficial to get experience with than others, and it may be a good idea to resign positions in which it is very likely you will lose, even after a long defense, so that you have more time to focus on positions in which the quality of your play will have a serious effect on the outcome.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #10

    ponz111

    I believe most good teachers of chess will tell you that your time is valuable and that you will learn one heck of a lot more by resigning and starting a new game rather than playing out a lost game.

    Sure you will learn something from playing out a lost game but you will learn more by resigning and playing a new game.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #11

    SPARTANEMESIS

    In my opinion it is a good learning experience for beginners to play the game to the end for the sake of learning the endgame. 

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #12

    LongIslandMark

    SPARTANEMESIS wrote:

    In my opinion it is a good learning experience for beginners to play the game to the end for the sake of learning the endgame. 

    For lower level players I agree - but not past when it's just silly. Hard to get experience at end games if you never play them.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #13

    Estragon

    I agree with waffflemaster, especially his fourth condition.  If you are down a piece with, say, five pawns apiece, your game is lost but you would not be sure how to win it if the board was reversed, then by all means play it out.  In a tournament or money game, you would want to be certain the opponent has the skill to do it, too!

     

    But there can be other reasons to play on, too.  Some years ago, before a tournament after a long layoff, a fellow at the club I went to then arranged a training match between me and an up and coming young player who had just cracked 2000 (with a bullet!) and needed experience against stronger players.  In one game, I miscalculated in the opening and ended up with two pawns for a piece, but no other compensation.

    The game was clearly losing, and I suspected my opponent was well able to convert, but the whole point was a training match, so I played on and we both got some needed work in.  He did win that game, though - but I didn't regret playing on.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #14

    SPARTANEMESIS

    Learning the endgame involves learning how to prevent your adversary from ending the game, and learning to recognize when the end is near.  In The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, IM Jeremy Silman states:

    "The final phase of a chess game is usually something of a mystery to the amateur.  Since the memorization of endgame positions can be dry, many players simply ignore it altogether and hope that a quick middlegame knockout will justify their decision to remain ignorant.

    "Learning the basics of endgame play is of extreme importance!  I can't implore you in strong enough terms to correct your flaws in this area.  By doing so you will find that your opening and middlegame play will improve, whole new strategies will suggest themselves, and a newfound confidence will enable you to enter endgames with the strongest opponents."

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #15

    polygamous_king

    Wafflemaster did a very succint summary.

    I also agree with the notion put by Estragon, of being able to see more or less clear how you'd lose, rather than being purely abstract, not even just strategical, but just a matter of odds against you. I guess it may be instructive to try to conceive the strategy, and see if you were right and/or whether you could at least blow it with your best moves, even if there's no hope for actually winning after that. And as someone else said, at the beginner level there's always a good chance of triumphant comebacks. It's a bit disappointing that it doesn't happen so much at higher levels of expertise.

     

    But other than that I think it's unlikely to find such matches particularly instructive, unless you dedicate a huge amount of time trying to extract some lesson from that. And my POV isn't of someone who aims to be some uber-master of the chess world, I was more wondering of "getting somewhat better while still having fun on my spare time". It seems thar more often it won't be particularly instructive, and even less fun.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #16

    thomas_loiselle

    polygamous_king wrote:
    And as someone else said, at the beginner level there's always a good chance of triumphant comebacks. It's a bit disappointing that it doesn't happen so much at higher levels of expertise.

    Fairly logical since the better you get the lesser you blunder.

    But there is always a chance of your opponent forgetting a mate threat when he is in a totally winning position, especially when it's a fast time control.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #17

    SmyslovFan

    Beginners should learn to play the game. Resigning is an advanced skill that players rated +1800 often get wrong. Play the game out to checkmate, but play fairly quickly. Learn from your opponents and see if you can find more efficient mates. 

    If an opponent is a jerk and decides to go for "creative" mates, that's your opponent's prerogative. Perhaps you could learn from them. Quite often, it's those "creative" types who make the blunder that allows a shock stalemate. 

    And here's the secret to playing dead lost positions out: keep positive! You know you're lost. You are just striving to find the most challenging defense. If you lose, you lose. If your opponent doesn't win, you will have a psychological advantage for next time.

    And while we're on the topic, beginners should NOT offer draws! Play the game out!


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