Ethics - when to resign

I think it’s better to resign rather than to play it out.

When you resign, you stop the game at a point where you feel like you can’t win. The game record reflects this.

You can then go and review to see what caused the game to become unwinnable from your perspective, and you can find out what move/sequence/idea caused you to end up resigning.

There may be benefits to “learning the endgame”, but I’m sure there are bigger benefits to not losing the game at move 100 and then painfully playing your the rest of the game.


From Cho Hunhyun’s (former world champion) autobiography - “Life works in unpredictable ways. One can start out with nothing, but ends up with everything the next day. If one succumbs to grief and despair, the game ends there. But the game continues as long as one has the will to stay in it.” Also, “Never give up too early. I held on until I reached the next round of the game and the next . . . not because I was craving to win, but because there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Look at your motivations for wanting to continue. If it is because you’re feeling greedy, vengeful, and feeling bad, then you have already lost the internal game. If it is because you believe you can win, play on. Especially in an even game. If your opponents get frustrated then they don’t understand what they signed up for. When we play we agree to play. That’s it. Full stop. Whatever happens on the board. Whoever your opponent. We agree on the rules of engagement, the time settings, to abide by the community, and to do our best.

Playing online is humbling. There are so many . . . Interesting characters. I have had people insult me in the chat the entire game. It is difficult, and I usually lose my cool. What happens is I stop playing MY game, and start playing THEIR game. When I start playing their game I have lost. Likewise, if you feel like you have won, but the score hasn’t been counted, and your opponent hasn’t resigned you haven’t won. I have lost so many games because I think that I am winning. If you think you can win, play.

All that being said, it is nice to be nice and respectful. Just throwing stones into a corner to see what happens is a little dirty. Yes we should all do more corner tsumego. It is still really underhanded to do that in byo-yomi. How we win, and being a good sportsperson is also important. As others have said, if you are playing with someone five stones above your rank and hoping to catch them off guard with a SnapBack or something they should be able to see, then that is just disrespectful. If I won like that I wouldn’t feel well.

I resign when I feel as though I have lost, either mentally or visibly on the board. Don’t throw your stones in too soon. Look around the board. Think about your options. Check in with your feelings. Do you WANT to keep playing this game? If you can see a way forward, plow on! Only playing will tell if you were right. Put your whole self into it. Really try. This is life and death!

Also, losing is not so bad. Played with someone of your same rank, or close in rank with the proper handicap you should win 50% of your games. That is a lot of losses. It is always helpful to practice losing.


i think you are right. this game base on both dark player and white player’s competiton. so if one of the players don’t want to play, then game is over. i can understand why you get sad. sometimes, there is someone who cares about only scores, not thinking a little for others. but friend, just take it easy. people like this are much fewer than friendly players. if you meet such conditions next time, just accuse him by rules.

On a tournament resigning is good to be less tired for the next round.


Unless it’s an elimination round.


Sometimes the player who is leading may blunder because of lack of attention. In a tournament I had killed a big group and was leading by a lot, so I lost concentration. We kept playing for a while, I was wondering why my opponent didn’t resign. Then he made a desperate attempt to make two eyes… I then made a wrong response and he lived so the game became undecided. Later I made an endgame blunder and finally lost by 10 points.

Conclusion: don’t expect your opponent to resign and keep concentrated until the end of the game.


I would typically suggest to not give up in mid-game, since before settle, any estimation is just that - an estimation. And as players’ strength increases, so do their abilities to turn the table (tesuji moves, semeai, ko fights, yose, etc.). At some point (usually beyond dan level), players would start to learn to settle in “safer” ways - not for best scores, but for clear-cut boundaries, and “remove variations”, like deliberately remove ko threats, etc. (there is a term for that in Chinese - 收束, not just about settle, but limiting the settle process). Usually it’s a good idea not to push your luck with complicated tesuji moves when you are ahead, but to let live with simple and not so sharp moves (especially true under time pressure)

You would most definitely be able to feel your opponent doing the limiting settlement (as your strength grows), and sometimes you would find your opponent start playing neutral (but potentially threatening) moves, as if asking “I’ve already won, please give up and don’t waste both of our time, or I’ll make the game ugly”.


Compared to other games like chess, resignation is much more debated in go. This is because in most other games, continuing a lost game is usually just a waste of time. In go, on the other hand, there is always some chance for actual reversal, even in hopelessly lost games.

This is why some people can get angry about the opponent not resigning. They don’t (just) worry about the time they waste afterwards, but also about the time they used so far. Since a “stupid” reversal could leave the feeling that the whole game got ruined and was an unworthy use of their time.


Frankly speaking, a “stupid” reversal is possible only because of a “stupid” mistake by the leading player.
It happens from time to time that someone complains in the forum because their opponent was losing and making useless moves and then they lost a group and the game.
If someone can’t keep safe his advantage, he should only blame himself, not their “not willing to resign” opponent .


I have lost many games I was leading due to silly oversights in the end-game. I consider none of these wasted, they are all opportunities to grow. Likewise, I have won games I thought I had little chance to.

What exactly makes early-game mistakes or mid-game mistakes more legitimate than end-game mistakes?

I have also won games I was losing because an opponent miscounted and resigned in the mid-game after a small mistake that didn’t completely throw away their lead.


Some players simply resign or escape because they don’t want to waste the time when their opponent drags out a losing game, or stalls by playing self-atari moves, infilling, or repeatedly restarting (stalling should be reported). They figure they can easily regain the lost rating points. In some cases where this happens multiple times to a beginner, they get airbagged into a real rank far above their actual skill level. This is unfortunate for the whole ranking system.


That’s wild. I would have thought this was such an unlikely possibility (to face multiple opponents in a row with that mindset), but if it happened then it must be a significant enough thing…

How often does this come up, and what happens to the beginner since mods can’t adjust rank? If the games get annulled, then doesn’t that reinforce that behavior?

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This is certainly a valid approach. But many players feel differently. I personally got used to these randomized “results”, and have learned not to take the game too seriously, but for others this is still a notable reason to turn away - and the root of the frequent resignation debates.

The problem is that Go games are long, use a lot of energy, and generally have a “serious” feeling. Other games with this kind of “who laughs at the end” character, on the other hand, tend to be short and less serious. People can enjoy quick and light fun, and can also appreciate long and serious games - but less so the combination. It is no coincidence that even in Asia, the local chess variants are more popular than Go.

I think this is partly about improvement and motivation. Getting better at Go is hard, getting more lucky is also hard, but the two require entirely different kind of practice. :slight_smile:

I very strongly take exception to the idea that end-game mistakes are “random” or “luck” - endgame accuracy is a skill just as much as opening theory, shape, and reading.

People who devote all their time to training their opening and mid-game but neglect to train their end-game in my opinion have no right whatsoever to complain about people not resigning. All they want is for the game to end before their weakness is exposed.


Note we are talking about game reversing large swings, and “stupid mistakes”. Better endgame can turn a close game to your favor, but not more. Early and midgame advantage can be gained by playing better overall, slowly outplaying the opponent (many small mistakes from him).

Oversights can happen at any time. There is no point during the game in which you are immune from misreading a sequence or incorrectly counting liberties… the only difference with end-game blunders compared to earlier ones is you have much less opportunity to turn it around afterward. That in no way delegitimatizes them. Bots have proven that there are no “good” moves. Games are won or lost by the sum of our mistakes. Whether or not you think those mistakes are “stupid” is largely irrelevant. A 50 point blunder is exactly the same effect on the result as 50 1 point errors.


This is exactly the problem - same effect, but very different correlation to Go strength. Getting the opponent to make 50 1 point errors has much less to do with luck and more likely to be a consequence of you playing better overall.

If you’re so focused on taking additional 1 point gains when you’re already ahead, that you overlook a 50 point life and death blunder. That is very much a result of skill and focus, not luck. Go is a game of perfect information. There is no RNG, hidden secrets, or unpredictable obstacles. All stones are on the board for both players to see. If one player reads out a result-changing sequence and the other does not, there is no luck involved here.

There is a famous saying:
“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”


If this were true, all games between the same players would contain the same move sequences. :slight_smile:

The variance and the luck factor for 50 * 1 and 1 * 50 is still very different mathematically. You have some actual chance to get a lucky win vs a few stones stronger opponent by 1 * 50, but not by 50 * 1.

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Players not making identical moves in different games is not the same thing as randomness.

Statistically speaking, you’re EXPECTED to beat a few stones stronger opponent sometimes. Maybe it’s only 1 out 10 games or something small like that, but just because they’re stronger doesn’t mean “luck” is the only reason they lose.

It comes down to play style.
An aggressive player is more likely to accumulate those 1 point gains AND is also more likely to leave behind a 50 point weakness.
A safer player is more likely to take small losses during the game AND is more likely to be able to fight big areas from a place of strength.

Reducing either style down to mere luck is in my opinion both disrespectful and arrogant, implying that a player who has built some advantage early in the game DESERVES to win without putting in the effort to secure the win.