Why You Should Never Resign
The end of a chess fight.

Why You Should Never Resign

Gserper
GM Gserper
Dec 24, 2017, 12:00 AM |
110 | Fun & Trivia

Despite severe criticism for a very high number of draws, the London Chess Classic was an interesting event followed by chess players around the world.

After the first three rounds where every single game was drawn, many people, including the super-GM Levon Aronian, called for abolishing draw offers!

Levon Aronian, 2017 London Chess Classic.

Aronian suggested to do away with all draw offers, not just those before move 30. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

One of the commonly named reasons to prohibit draw offers is a sports analogy: Just imagine a soccer match that ends after just 20 minutes because both teams agreed to a draw! I don't want to start a discussion here about differences between chess and other sports, but using the same logic, why don't we prohibit resignation as well?

Imagine a soccer match where one team is losing 0:3 and decides to resign in the middle of the game! Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is exactly what we have in chess! Sometimes the spectators don't even understand why a player decided to give up, like in the following game from the above-mentioned tournament:

I can almost hear a club player snort: "What, an extra pawn for Black? Big deal! Yesterday I won a game being down a bishop!"

It is difficult to refute this logic by explaining that the super-GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is not exactly a class-D player, and therefore we will always see games like this:

Yes, it was the invitational U.S. championship and yet White kept playing the endgame down a rook and a knight! Most strong players frown upon such behavior. But again, I really doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo hates the other team for not resigning and stopping the game in a completely hopeless situation.

I addressed the subject of resignation in an old article.  In that article I shared the advice that I give to all my students:

If you are a beginner, then you should never resign: Play till checkmate. First of all, your opponent, who is probably a beginner himself, may possibly stalemate you despite (or because of) his huge material advantage.  But even if he does beat you, you'll get another lesson how to convert a winning advantage in to a win.

Here is a game where my student strictly followed the advice:

It turns out that even grandmasters occasionally use the same approach and sometimes it works on the master level too!

So, should you resign in a lost position or play till a checkmate? It is a very individual decision, at least while resignation is not abolished.  

Meanwhile, you can take your cue from a little bear:

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