Chess "Respect" 3
Game #1- GM Julio Becerra vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura
Nakamura spent 30 minutes going through every variation (at least I think that is what he was doing in those 30 minutes) before he resigned. In most of these lines, it looks like what I would think to be the simplest and most obvious moves are just losing for black. But for players who are not at that level (which would probably be the majority of chess players), it might be harder to see this and not so obvious that black is lost. In that case, I think you should play it out. But in Nakamura’s case, it would have been disrespectful when he clearly knew he had lost and he was playing another high rated player who would have known the same thing. For me, if I was in this exact position and knew that I was clearly losing, it would depend on who I was playing if I resigned or not. Nakamura saw that there was no way for him to win or draw so he resigned.
Game #2- GM Aleksander Lenderman vs. GM Melikset Khachiyan
From my lessons with Khachiyan, it appears Melik knows his endgames very well (and that is an understatement). I would guess that Alex has played Khachiyan enough to know this. I think that Alex got a lot of negative comments about playing this endgame out. This was the tournament right before the Copper State International where he gave me the advice about resigning. I would guess that a lot of the reason that Alex talked to my mom about this is because of the comments he got from his game. Like I said before, I really do think Alex is a friend and was trying to help. Another thing I have noticed though is that players (even high rated players) are much less willing to resign when there is something important on the line. This game was played in the US Championship. The desire to win is probably a lot stronger there than in just a regular tournament.
Game #3- GM Gata Kamsky vs. GM Ray Robson
Again this is an example of "it depends on who is playing". Everybody probably noticed that if the bishop can take the pawn then it reaches a K + 2N vs. a K position which is usually a draw; however, if white plays it correctly, he would never allow black to take the pawn. And when you understand that white was Gata Kamsky, it becomes very obvious that it is a resignable position.
Game #4- GM Sergey Karjakin vs. GM E. Sutovsky
To me, it looks like white is definitely winning and with two GMs playing, it may be enough to be resignable, but if I were playing I probably would play it out (at least a little bit) just to see how my opponent would respond.
Game #5- NM Parker Zhao vs. IM Sam Shankland
Okay, so maybe there is an NM in there too. I couldn’t resist putting this game in of my IM coach, Sam Shankland J. As David Pruess said, black can’t stop going down the exchange, but it is still complicated and so worth playing out. And even though black ended up losing this game, he came back and redeemed himself by winning the US Junior Championship.
So what is the conclusion? Chess respect takes a lot of things into consideration. It is a lot more than just having “respect” for your opponent. Who you are playing is a part of it, what you are playing for is a part of it, how important the game is is a part of it, and your personal knowledge of the position is also a part of it. And even though everyone has the right to play it out, that does not mean that it is always the right thing to do. On the other hand, what may be a totally resignable position to you, may not be to your opponent and so they may play it out and it is your job to prove otherwise. Right now, I am at the level where I play a lot of high rated players. They might have a better personal understanding of a position than I do. To them it might be totally resignable, but to me, I may not see it that way and so I play it out because I think I still have chances. What might look like a lack of respect might just be not having as much knowledge of the position as they have.
Of course, everyone is human and everyone is going to make mistakes. I heard a saying one time that said something like, “The person who makes the least amount of mistakes, wins.” Not, the person who makes no mistakes wins (though there is a level where those mistakes are small). Sometimes you play out a game just because you are frustrated and playing out the game is a good way to get out that frustration. Everyone will have opponents at one time or another play out a resignable position. My advice is: STAY COOL! It is going to happen and I wouldn’t recommend showing your opponent that you are frustrated because that might be the very thing they need to play on.
I hope Alex (if you are reading this) that you don’t think I was being negative about what you said. It has been a good thing for me to think about. In the end, it is all about learning.