Nothing Is Over!

There is a dangerous “mind virus” being propagated by Paul Anderson, and his ilk, here in the chess community of Colorado Springs.

And I am not referring to

No, this “meme” is much more serious, and dangerous.

It threatens to rob of us of

  • beautiful games,
  • studies,
  • tactics, and
  • all of the things that we love about the game of chess. 

It promises to stunt the minds, and growth opportunities of our young, and steal the last hopes and dreams of our old.

What is this horrendous seed of poison that Paul is trying to plant into our collective consciousness you ask?

Paul’s warped idea is that you should resign early, which shows respect to your opponent, and chess “maturity”.

The Scream

Normally I think that Paul, who writes the really interesting Colorado Springs Chess Newsletter, has a lot of great ideas and thoughts.

But this brain child of Paul’s goes against just about everything that I believe in, and rant about in my own chess newsletters.

My own ideas about “when to resign” in a game are based on the teachings of my mentors Paul Grimm, Francisco Baltier, and Rambo – John J Rambo!

Nothing is Over!

Or to quote Bluto from Animal House

What? Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

I love this kind of fighting spirit!

In the past year I have looked at thousands of games looking for good examples to use in my chess tactics newsletter, chess column, and chess training database.

The most important thing I have learned the most is that we all make mistakes, and we are constantly making them.

Just recently I have seen

And these are the types of blunders that are happening to the best players in the world!

Paul likes to publicly praise his opponents who resign down a pawn or 2 against him.  Of course he does!  He wants to reenforce this type of behavior in others, just like Pavlov ringing a bell to make a dog salivate.

When people resign early against him, it just makes his life easier, and basically gives him free rating points!

But when the tables are turned, does Paul himself resign early? 

Hell to the no!

Recent stories include drawing Jeff Baffo in a blitz game after blundering a queen, beating Buck Buchanan after a dubious knight sac, and drawing Jeff Fox down a bishop.

See, Paul likes it when people resign against him, not the other way around.

It is kind of like taking the bus and using public transportation instead of driving a car – everyone thinks it is a great idea – FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO DO!

It is a good idea for you to take the bus, I’ll pass.

I could easily give hundreds of examples of games where someone was losing, didn’t resign, then came back to win or draw.  That would be like shooting fish in a barrel.  Instead, I will just invite you to play my friend Paul Anderson sometime, and do as he does, not as he says :-)

Postscript: You can read Paul’s original article “Wise Beyond Her Years“, which prompted this response :-)

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5 thoughts on “Nothing Is Over!

  1. I agree with you, Tim, in general. I also agree with Paul, when it comes to some games.

    Tim, your point is very good for players down minimal material against strong players or more material against very weak players in over-the-boards games. I drew two games in a single tournament years ago being down a piece or more against weak opponents. If I had resigned early I would have denied myself the possibility of a draw (you can never win or draw by resigning!). If I had their position and they, mine, I would have won both games. Because of my stubborn insistence on playing the games out and drawing them both, I actually came in first in my section, winning $400 (I won my other 5 games).

    Blitz is different – I have won or drawn many a game after losing my queen to a minor piece in 1 minute chess. So, unless you are playing a master, and time is the primary issue, don’t resign early unless it’s obvious you have too little material and your opponent has an overwhelming position against you. Besides, playing blitz, where time wins or loses most games, is just plain fun!

    Paul’s point is really more appropriate for very strong masters who play against each other, or for very weak players giving up tons of material to a very strong player. Grand masters often resign in positions that I have to really look at to understand why one of them resigned. I do figure it out eventually, but it’s not obvious. And a very weak player giving up tons of material to a strong player may as well resign, as there is really no chance of a draw even. Still, when I come across a very weak chess player losing a lot of material to me, I don’t mind continuing the game at all – it’s an easy win for me and, perhaps, a learning experience for my opponent. :)

    • Exactly, Paul’s point is for very strong master level players. Neither of which adjective applies to Paul. A sometimes good expert, yes. A great contributor of Colorado chess related tomes (second only to Life Master and Leisure Guru Brian Wall), yes. Qualified to assert another’s work is mindless and meaningless, HELL TO THE NO.

  2. I resign ONLY when I do not see ANY reasonable hope of making a draw. I have played about 400 games at FICS (at 30 mins and longer) and I have saved some like 20-30% of the games – because I was playing till the bitter end. Of course I was trying to make many problems for my opponents, but in general – when you see some light and hope for playing – keep playing! Only when you are playing agains very strong player and you haven’t got any compensation for big material deficit – you can think about resigning.

    Sorry for Paul and others who wants to convince me of resigning early: If I have had to resign when I lose 1 or 2 pawns… I would not play chess at all! Most people make mistakes – sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, but when you are resigning after some hanging pawn (or piece) – you are making mistake. It is great task to save very difficult (or lost) position as well as making your opponent life much harder (if he wants to win – let him work hard for it!)

    You can consider resign very early (after losing 2 pawns or a piece) when you achieve FM or IM level (it is 2300-2400 ELO rating) when playing against GM rated 2600-2700. None of the amateurs (rated below 2100-2200) should resign early – that way you will not learn how to defend stubbornly and how to make your opponents life hard!

  3. In a way, I disagree with both of you, but I disagree with Paul the most.

    If someone resigns after dropping a few pawns, it is not always but often after they thought they were losing, so they tried to trick you with some hope-chess moves, and then later realized that you saw through their shenanigans, and so to atone for their “chess sins”, they resign a hopeless position.

    If someone is playing HONEST CHESS, then they have no moral obligation to resign and should usually play it out to examine their opponent’s technique for flaws, or to learn from.

  4. I have to agree mostly with Tim here. There are times to resign, yes. When you have a totally hopeless game and other things to do and you cannot convince your opponent to a draw. But, down a few pawns? NO! Down ANY piece in the early part of the game? NO! I have lost a QUEEN in early midgame and won anyway. As Tim pointed out, even grandmasters can make bad blunders. Unlike those grandmasters, I will play on to see if I can trick my opponent into making more or worse blunders. Why quit? Okay, if you’re in a tournament and have more games ahead, resigning a losing game can be an understandable choice. But otherwise, why give up? As for showing respect, wouldn’t your opponent prefer to actually checkmate you? Wouldn’t you? I know I would! :)

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