Resigning in Chess – Is it ever ok to resign in chess?


Chess game

In chess, players can choose to resign if they no longer want to play their position; it is interesting to see how this plays out in competitive settings. Believe it or not there is a right way to resign and some things to avoid, but we should learn more things about it generally in order to understand it better.

For beginners this article will assist you in fully understanding the “resignation option” in chess, understanding this rule will help you become a formal chess player. Keep on reading if you are interested.

Is it okay to resign in chess?

Resigning in chess is a legal option that any participant can do, this is a privilege given to tournament players that wish to conserve their stamina for bigger games. Even in casual games most people are willing to give the right to resignation to their opponent, you cannot force those that don’t want to play.

Resigning is not only okay in chess but it is a must-do in some situations, it is very helpful in competitive tournament settings where players need to be more conservative. One would not want to play a position that is lost when they can just rest, it is better to preserve one’s energy for more better encounters in the future.

When we are talking about casual games on the other hand nobody is really stopping you from resigning, if you do not have the motivation to play then you have the right to absolve playing. When playing against chess hustlers in your local area most would be fine with the concept, however there might be an exception.

If you are playing with a friend who wants to play a won position then they might ask you to continue playing, in this scenario you might have to play. But this is not because of a rule in chess, rather a social contract that you have made with your friend to continue playing.

Why do players ever resign in chess?

If you have been playing a couple of chess games then you will realize that not everything is set in stone, no matter how much you are down in material there is still a chance of winning. It doesn’t matter if you are down by five points or even eight points, as long as you are not checkmated then there should be chances of winning.

This makes some wonder why a lot of people resign in the first place, if there is still a sliver of hope then why not take the chance?. But as I have discussed before, winning individual games is not the point of tournaments, rather winning as many points as you can.

There are many reasons why a tournament player might want to resign, the biggest of course is the stamina it takes to play a whole game of chess. Not only that it shows professionalism it also conserves stamina, in a tournament there are many games to be won after a loss.

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Even if you lose one game which would cost you a whole point, you can still get it back the next game as long as you can ensure peak performance. Conserving a player’s energy when there is a better position would be the optimal way to go, wasting energy when the likelihood of winning is low is not efficient.

What is the proper etiquette for resigning?

In formal tournaments there is such a thing as etiquette that players have to follow in order to be respectful and become presentable, there is also a mix of technicality along with it. There should be a proper procedure to follow in order to differentiate a resignation from a draw offer, plus it prevents the loser from intimidating the winner.

After a loss most people would be filled with intense emotions from the mistake they’ve made, this may cause them to be petty and cause drama. Plus if there is no proper etiquette for a resignation then it might be confused as with a draw offer, this could lead to more confusion as the tournament progresses.

The proper etiquette involving a resignation in chess comes with saying or whispering the phrase “I resign” and respectfully shaking the opponent’s hand, this is the most accepted way of resigning. Some also allow the player to stop the clock after shaking their opponent’s hand (for documentary reasons), but a shake should be enough in most cases.

If you resign from a chess game this way most people wouldn’t bat an eye, it is the most respectful way of resigning that doesn’t allow intimidation. Stopping the clock will allow the arbiters to record what is the remaining time before the resignation, and if there are any corrective measures, to implement it.

What’s the difference between a draw offer and a resignation?

I have briefly touched on this above but it would need some clarification, after all mistaking a draw offer for a resignation (and vice-versa) is a terrible mistake. It can cost you a whole point or even worse a penalty from the arbiters even for an (unintentional mistake), this is something that beginners should learn.

The difference between a draw offer and a resignation lies in the phrase that you say to the opponent, when offering a draw you should say “I offer a draw” instead. After you wait for their response you shake your hand if it is accepted, that’s really what’s different about it.

In a draw offer, a draw is not immediately declared and after you make the offer, the opponent has to respond to it by putting their hand first (for the handshake). If you have muttered the phrase “I offer a draw” your opponent would be the one to initiate the handshake, this is different from a resignation.

In a resignation after you have muttered the phrase “I resign” you will be the one who should reach the hand first, after this the opponent will reach their hand and there will be a handshake. Mistaking which player should initiate the handshake first might confuse your opponent, it could lead to a technicality that will lose you the game.

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Are there penalties for resigning in chess?

For people who have never been in a chess tournament before they may think that there is a penalty for resigning, after all is it not undesirable to not finish the game. If we are talking about the organizers side it will be bad for the event if the games are not entirely played, the sponsors could be at risk.

Imagine paying for a basketball game only for one side to resign after being down by 20 points, and in the second quarter much less, fans will rage all over the place. However we do not see the same thing for chess tournaments, even when people resign a whole round there will still be no penalties for the players.

There are no penalties in chess tournament wise when it comes to resigning, it is a privilege in any chess competition for a participant to resign. There might be modified casual games that penalize resigning but this is not formal, there shouldn’t be a penalty if it is a formal event.

There is after all a big difference between a basketball game and a chess game, fans go to basketball games expecting only one game, on the other hand fans go to chess games expecting multiple games at once. If one player resigned there are other things that could be viewed, and if all players resign in one round then the next round will begin in the next 5 minutes, it is different.

Can a tournament player resign at the start of move one?

This is a good question that a lot of beginner tournament players are always asking, the answer is yes, a player is allowed to resign even before or at the start of move one. Some call this move as an act of “forfeit” even though there aren’t any penalties involved, professionals who do this might face consequences though.

If you were in a formal tournament and suddenly started resigning on move 1 on many games consistently, then you might be called out, after all there is no point in resigning before the game even started. If you do it once and with a good reason then it is fine, maybe you have been battling with headaches for a long time and just want to rest.

With a reason like this it would just be fine and you can have your rest, however if you resign on move one without any reason then it is normal that you would get some questions. In a competitive setting where people won’t even let go of one point this behavior is weird, but there shouldn’t be any penalties.

If you do this consecutively and it is obvious that you are only messing with the organizers then you can get kicked out, such a behavior is just inexcusable. Just make sure that you give the organizers a good reason for resigning on move 1, most of the time they will listen to your personal concerns.

Can you withhold a resignation even when the position is losing?

Some might ask if it is possible to withhold the resignation if they still want to play on, there might be participants who want to still try winning with a losing position. The answer is yes, resigning is not mandatory even if the player’s position is losing, it will rely on the will of the participant. Now there might be some people out there who will despise people who keep on playing while having a lost position, however this is not illegal in any way.

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Ethically you can make a case that one should resign if their position is losing, however you cannot force them to resign if you think their position is losing. This is because you might have a different opinion than your opponent , he/she might think of a way to win.

Most people believe that it is fine to play a position that is losing since it is a display of resiliency, that you can believe in yourself even if the odds are against you. People who rant on players who don’t resign are usually treated badly, chess after all is a competitive game.

One cannot expect to win just by having a momentary material advantage, a player should know how to close the game by their own strength if they are really worthy of a win. If your position is losing there is no rule suggesting that you have to resign even out of respect, it is in your own volition whether to continue playing or not.

Should resignation in chess be forbidden?

Some say that chess players should play no matter how dire their positions have become, they even think that the right to resign should be taken away entirely. This is fallacious thinking that is short sighted, players want to focus their energies on big games that end up being their best games in the tournament.

This is the opposite of people who think that players should resign when the position is losing, these are the people who think that players shouldn’t resign at all in any circumstance. That they should just keep on fighting even if the position is losing in order to show sportsmanship, however there are games that are just a waste of energy.

If you are down a queen in a tournament that has many games moving forward, it makes sense to preserve your calculating power for the next games, there are better opportunities in the future. By this logic the players should exhaust all their energy until the last rounds, a phase where the player might actually have a good chance (but no energy left!)

It is legal to resign in chess if you think that the position is losing, there are no penalties whatsoever if you resign from having a lost position. You can even resign from move 1 because of personal related issues, just make sure that you do not resign in every individual game in order to avoid scrutiny.

Also there is a difference between resigning and offering a draw, players should say different things and the one who will initiate the handshake will differ. If you have read the article then you would have no problems, thank you for reading.

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