Resigning in Chess

Do you play on in a dead lost position because you don't know how to resign gracefully to your "lucky" chess opponent? Do you feel embarrassed to resign too soon with a large crowd looking over your shoulder? To admit defeat because you were outplayed or that your opponent is better than you (never mind his higher rating; you have always been underrated) is unheard of in chess. I have never seen a chessplayer whose eyes were not gleaming with murderous revenge after losing.

The act of resigning gracefully is an art few have mastered. In theory, the simple task of resigning gracefully consists of gently, but firmly, picking up your king and laying him on his side while simultaneously saying, "I resign" in a distinct manner. You then extend your right hand and congratulate your deserving opponent for a fine game, shaking his hand with dignity and pride.

In practice, however, other methods of resigning are more commonly employed. One popular method when using your opponent's pieces is to gently, but firmly, pick up the king, then hurl it as far as you can across the tournament room (Alekhine method), knocking the rest of the pieces over (Korchnoi method), while simultaneously saying a host of profanities in a wild and crazy manner (Gufeld method). The opponent's board sometimes comes crashing down his head as an extra gesture of a well fought game. Another gesture of the middle finger may follow.

Another popular method of resigning is the extension of the right arm towards your opponent. At first, the gesture looks like a friendly handshake. But as the arm gains momentum, the open hand becomes a closed fist gaining acceleration towards the nose of the unsuspecting opponent. For hypermodern players, both arms are extended towards the opponent. The hands stay open but placed around the neck of the opponent who is then shaken vigorously until the opponent's face turns a dark blue color. Usually, the tournament director intervenes at this point to make sure the game is over.

Here are some guidelines for chessplayers on how to act after a hard-fought game of chess.


1 Be tolerant. Why tell your opponent how badly he played?

2 Remember, you never had an inferior position.

3 Tell your opponent he played well but needs to work on his opening, middlegame, and endgame.

4 Remind your opponent that he played his moves too fast and careless.

5 Recommend some beginner chess books to your opponent to improve his play. Books by Reinfeld should work.

6 Invite him to stay longer and analyze the game for all of his mistakes.

7 Challenge your opponent to another friendly match at your convenience.

8 Try not to laugh at your opponent.


1 Be tolerant. At least you know your opponent got lucky.

2 Remember, you never had an inferior position (until the blunder of the last move).

3 Tell your opponent he should have lost because of his poor opening, middlegame, and endgame.

4 Remind your opponent that he played too slow and delayed the game.

5 Recommend some better playing conditions next time.

6 Tell your opponent you must go and already late for an appointment because of his slow play.

7 Challenge your opponent to another revenge match at a more suitable time.

8 Try not to cry in public.


When is it time to resign?  If you have a lone king and your opponent is about to queen his 8th pawn, it is time to resign.  If your opponent has two bishops on the same color, it is time to resign.  If your opponent is making great computer-like moves and talking into his shoe or hat (or taking long breaks in the bathroom), it is time to resign.  If your opponent has mate in one with an hour or longer left on his clock, it is time to resign.  If you are in a rook and pawn endgame with Magnus Carlsen, it is time to resign.  If your king is surrounded by two enemy rooks, two bishops, two knights, and you are in the middle of the board, it is time to resign.