Advice regarding when to resign

I realize that this is a broad question. However, I find that I tend to keep fighting in games when my opponent can clearly read that I should resign. Does any higher kyu or dan have advice for a general rule of when a lower kyu should resign a game when he is not sure it is completely lost due to lack of reading ability?

I don’t want to continue to waste players time. I, also, don’t want to give up on a game where I have a chance ( and, could learn valuable lessons.)

Thank you for your time and attention

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That’s a tough question. I probably wouldn’t be the best person to answer it definitively (seeing as I often play to the end in hopeless games, and sometimes resign games I could have won with a bit more thought xD). Generally, however, resigning is an option when most areas of the board are relatively settled and you estimate the score to favor your opponent heavily, or have lost a very large group. If for any reason you feel that the game is not completely lost it’d be best to keep playing.


That is my opinion too. I find that some players get unhinged though, especially in tournament settings (blitz especially) when the stress level is abit higher. And, it could be construed that you are just trying to win on time or by your opponents mistake. I don’t want to alienate people who could teach me more about the game later. But, I also like to battle to the end.


Thank you for replying.

It is helpful.

If you cannot tell when you are far behind, you should train your positional judgement :smile:

Some pointers on how to improve positional judgement:

  • Learn to count the points, and do it often. Nothing helps positional judgement as much as fast and accurate counting.
  • Observe how many weak groups there are on the board. How many moves would it take the weak group to settle, and how many moves would it take to surround it completely?
  • Estimate the mistakes from the move history. Have there been blunders, bad shape, small moves? The player who makes more mistakes is further behind.

If you keep playing in spite of a decisive disadvantage, or if you deliberately avoid the judgement because maybe you don’t want to know if it’s time to resign, I would say that that is rude to the other player.

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Thank you for responding.

I guess it depends on what is “far behind.” I do check the score estimation often. And, if it is within 20 - 30 points, I tend to keep playing. Although, in the end, I have noticed that the score estimation isn’t always close.

I don’t avoid judgement. I just don’t have good “positional judgement.”

I will endeavor to work on that.


It’s probably a bad habit to rely on the score estimator. First, it’s not very accurate during any phase of the game, and can be quite badly misleading if you use it to make strategic decisions. Second, relying on it will not help improve (and possibly even diminish) your counting and positional judgment skills.

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Thank you.

I agree with both points (about the SE being wrong and it possibly diminishing my counting skills.)

How does one develop that skill of counting?
I play 99.99% online. I have only had to “count” at the end of a game, in person, a handful of times.

While we are on the subject of missing skills, my skills are woefully uneven. I feel like I learned the game wrong. Not learning basic fundamentals in favor of learning what it took to win against human opponents.

Now, I have bad habits from my days of battling through DDK to SDK that are stopping me from obtaining Dan.

Sad but true.

= /

I am probably not the best to give an advice, given the fact that you are higher skilled player than I am, but if you are SDK I think it’s time for practicing/studying positional judgement, I am starting on that by now (I am 13-15k strong). And it’s true that the estimator is usually inacurate, but it can give a pretty certain number if it’s marking groups as dead/alive correctly. I was playing a game last week and it was 13x13, I was ahead by 20 points or so in yose, and I made a mistake which made me lose a big group and lost by 3 points, the other player admited he should have resigned long ago but he didn’t, and it is kinda rude. The game was correspondence so I have no excuse for making that mistake, but even so…
I think that if you see you are around 20-30 points bellow and you can’t find a place to invade, or a group to kill, you should resign, it’s annoying when people overextend a game waiting for you to make a mistake. Althought these mistakes make you become a more solid player on the endgame, and it helps you too, I believe. Sorry for the long reply!

It’s true that it is rude (or, at least a waste of time.)

I am seeing that more and more. Not only that. But, if I do happen to win by an opponents mistake by going on long after the game should be over, then it is building bad habits into my playing style.

It is high time that I learned correct positional judgement. Truthfully, I must already know it on an intuitive level. I just never called it that.; and, I tend to believe that I can make up last minute points with endgame attacks that minimize my opponents’ territory.

= )

It’s important to remember that go is considered a martial art of the mind.
More discipline!
Less sloppy sparring!


Recently I decided for myself: resign when you’re well behind and your opponent has begun to simplifiy, when there’s no reasonable way for you to complicate.

One game recently, OTB, we both simplified into almost tedium, because we both thought we were to win. I was wrong, by one liberty. I resigned when it became clear I’d missed one of his liberties…

OTB without a timer, it’s never a problem with the clock, to slow down and at least do a quick area-comparison, though. When I used to play online games often, with time pressure, my positional judgement (area counting esp.) went out the window too often, to the detriment of my game. Dunno if I’d be any better with time pressure, it’s definitely more difficult to get practice in learning it…

I really cannot agree with this kind of reasoning.

If I am 30 points behind, it is usually because both players have made lots of mistakes during the opening and middle game but I have made more of them. Now, we play out the end game, both make mistakes and the other player makes more mistakes and this is rude and an undeserved victory?

Especially, as I am probably better at endgame exactly because I rarely resign, so why would a player who is weaker at the endgame have a moral right to demand that the endgame be skipped?

I am at a lower rank than the OP, but similar to your rank, and a large percentage of the people who resign to me should not have and I do not feel that it is polite at all to cede premature victory to me.

Positional judgment is a good thing to learn, but it is only a guide to resignation if you can assume a certain level of consistency among the two players.


There is also the issue that usually I am interested in the game beyond the question of winning the whole war. I also still want to know if I can win the ko there even if it will not turn the game, or if that group is unconditionally alive or alive in seki or if that aji is really ok or if playing there will make bad things happen.


Thanks to the OP and everyone who’s contributed to the discussion. This is a subject that’s pretty close to my heart. I recently won a game that I ought to have lost because my opponent thought the game was over and passed and I spotted a group I could capture. In retrospect I think I’d have been happier losing than winning like that, but it’s not easy to explain why…

@Yukontodd this is exactly why I have developed into the player I am. I have only played a handful of games offline. And, that was in the very beginning of learning the game.

@Wulfenia this is very true. I am better at endgame and “invading late” than other players. And, sometimes this leads to my victory.

@Wulfenia I wanted to address this in a separate reply. I, too, play this way. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that I was treating my opponent like a bot. If it isn’t talked about before hand what each player wants to gain out of playing the game (which it rarely is online,) then most people assume you are out to win and gain rank.

Some players will say “have fun.” However, I have noticed that they are not having the same kind of fun that I am having by exploring the nuances of the endgame like you are describing.

Perhaps I need to start playing more unranked games to explore these things. And, make that clear in the description of the game.


Thank you for the reply. I don’t see any logical reason why you would feel “bad” for winning in this manner. Your opponent may have a bruised ego. But, such is life.

= )

well - I think it’s because she had consistently outplayed me all through the game. she was definitely the better player. So I didn’t win because of superior skill, I just capitalised on an oversight, which is fine in a knife fight, but it felt like poor form for a game of Go :slight_smile:

I empathize. I really do. However, even in martial arts sparring competition (which Go is definitely a martial art,) the person who gains the point wins. The “better” player should know when she is safe from all attack.

= )

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Thank you for your reply.

I have thought about this, but I cannot agree. Assuming (possibly erroneously) that your opponent is as interested as you in playing out the game is most certainly not “treating your opponent like a bot”. I don’t see any difference to (possibly erroneously) assuming that your opponent wants you to resign at the earliest moment.

Also, I certainly do not try out every cut or something like this and I play fairly quickly and I have never had complaints about playing out a 1-point-ko at the end and similar things. However, I had pretty disagreeable complaints from stronger players about honest (but erroneous) attempts to kill a group at the end where I simply did not see that it woud not work.

I think that the annoyance factor is about equal.