What Do You Do When Down Material

When I am down let’s say a minor piece or more I retreat and defend. However, when I am up a minor piece or more I find some opponents continue to attack. This is really annoying, and just prolongs their agony as they often blunder even more pieces in an aggressive but poorly thought out attack. What do you do when well behind in material?

Keep as many pieces on the board and hunt for your opponents mistakes, try to find material winning tactics. I know this is easier said than done, but its the best piece of advice I have.

Or offer a draw until your opponent gets annoyed

If you are down material, then trade pawns, not pieces.
If you are up material, then trade pieces, not pawns.

Depends on the situation. First I try to keep calm cause I’ll play on tilt things get worst for me. Just look for tactics and understand the position. But most of the time if I’m down I try to go on the offense because most players will play passive when they’re up and when they let their guard down that’s when you can take advantage.
Thanks all. RookB2takesmate your post is insightful and appreciated. When I go up material I pull back and regroup, that is get passive, which is why I too often lose when ahead in material. Maybe I need to try your approach.

Checkmate the opponent while they are over-confident.


Look for opportunities to create counterplay or generate threats.


I usually Moo a lot and adopt a Big Sur/e attitude I can still win the game.

If you are down material and just defend and let it play out, you will probably lose. You need to find some sort of way to counter-attack. Look for ways to get positional advantage, maybe some pawn breakthroughs or interesting sacrifices. Look for repetition check, that sort of thing. Don’t just trade down and let it play out as if you weren’t down material, that is a recipe for losing.

Really don't ever give up...unless you feel there is no possible way of winning or getting stalemated. And look for your opponent's mistakes...I have had games where there was no way I was going to win, but my opponent blundered a piece, and I was able to win.

When playing games, it also depends upon how many seconds or minutes your opponent has, if they are below 2 or 3 minutes you still have chance. Just try not to trade, and counterattack in this position:

Now the position is probably going to be a draw...this is just an example, and in games you need to look at this type of check...because you can maybe save a game like this.
Keep the position closed
Counterplay! Launch an attack or try to create imbalance. In some positions, connected passed pawns are worth far more than most pieces 🤷‍♂️

I agree with tygxc (#5) and DoYouLikeCurry (#15). To further explain tygxc's point about trading pawns when you're down material... eliminating pawns will reduce your opponent's chances to use their material advantage to queen a pawn. If all the pawns are gone, they won't be able to beat you if they're only up by a knight or bishop. Or even if they're up by 2 minor pieces, it's hard for them to win without a pawn.


If I am down pawns (opening/middle game): try to win a pawn

If I am down pawns (end game): resign

If I am down a piece: resign


Either hunt for the king or the weakest opponent pieces (for example pawns).

Make better moves.