Pass or resign

I just finished a 9x9 game and was wondering if black should have resigned instead of passed as he did. When black passed, I passed also, the scoring system was okay concerning points, but I had a kind of feeling that resign might have been more correct.
On the other hand, I think black couldn’t make any living shape, so could you argue that the borders were closed?
So is was it 100% clear that pass was the right choice, or would resign have been more correct. Might there be a grey zone between pass and resign?
Here’s the game:
9x9 game pass or resign?

White is 25k. I’d plead ignorance. As long as he accepted the score without too much trouble I wouldn’t worry about it.


Hello, I was the black one in this game. As you can see from my rating, I am new to this game and I had no idea what is the difference between pass and resign. I think GO is just a game like chess or bridge and I am enjoying it. Feel free to call me ignorant. The ethics of this game are standoffish for newcomers. While playing my first games, the last thing to think about is if I should pass or resign. Games are for fun. Computer games are for ignorant fun.


Passing or resigning doesn’t matter that much, resigning is just to end the game faster when you are sure you can’t win.

Although it is courtesy to resign when you have lost you are not obligated to do so you are free to play to the endgame and pass once you believe there to be no more moves.


Players in the high kyu and some dans don’t resign.


Hello @ando.viispert, and welcome!

Ando, I’m totally sure that the word “ignorance” was used in its most basic meaning: “not knowing” (rather than todays usual interpretation as “deliberately ignoring”), not meant to offend you but rather to defend you.

Mh… I think I disagree … in my experience the game is very welcoming towards newbies, which IMO can also be seen in the system of handicap stones.

LOL, yes, and no worries, these things will be clearer within the next few games.


There really never is “should” for resign. It’s not ignorant not to resign. It can be frustrating if the opponent doens’t resign, but…


Exactly. In this case there is no reason to resign, as the game is already finished.

Sure! I think the OP had a fair question that was not directed against you.


For me there are no circumstances at all where not resigning is inpolite. Even if you have clearly lost by a high margin, wanting to see how the endgame plays out and what the final score is a legitimate reason to play on. Being impatient and asking the opponent to resign is inpolite for me.

Not passing can be impolite. It is inpolite if instead of passing you make totally pointless invasions that have no chance whatsoever of succeeding AND IF you are aware of that pointlessness, which means you are just playing on hoping the opponent will tire of it and resign or time out. Because of that second ‘if’ being inpolite depends strongly on playing strength. For a 25k I wouldn’t even consider ‘invading’ with stones that can be captured immediately as inpolite. OTOH many of my own failed invasions would probably have been impolite were I a high dan. (Because in that case I would have known in advance that they have to fail.)

BTW: I actually I dislike it when people resign 1 or 2 moves before the game is over anyway. For me that spoils the game record. But this is probably a feeling not shared by many. And it is a problem much bigger in chess than in go, where many people resign as soon as they see how they will be mated.


On 9x9 I totally agree. On 19x19 there are circumstances where I would view it as polite to resign.

Well yes, it is a legitimate reason for you, but go is a two player game and you have to think about your opponent as well. Playing an already won 50 points difference game is boring. No thought process involved, just mindless clicking for half an hour. Just admiting defeat in chat and asking if your opponent would mind practicing endgame with you can go a long way, is usually accepted, and one need not worry about being impolite.

Oh yes :D. That’s like the worst option to me as well.

No, that’s just plain rude. :smiley:


I strongly disagree. A player who has a 20-30 point advantage will play safe and accept to lose points to secure a win. You should not expect to learn from the endgame or the point difference.


Just to clarify, my question was theoretical and not directed against white (@ando.viispert) : I didn’t feel offended or insulted by the pass instead of the possible resign.

To rephrase, and this might seem strange for a 14 kyu like myself playing since a couple of years: was the game in fact finished?

I understand that if the answer is 100% clearly yes, then subsequent passes are the normal way to end a game. If no, I thought that resign was the formal way of ending the game.

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At this point, I believe that all of white’s stones are dead, and as long as black plays reasonably, there should be no way for white to live. This would mean that the game is over. Note that there is no need for black to close in his territory because the entire board is his territory. This is a consequence of the fact that white has no living stones on the board.

Because of this, I think you should interpret your opponent passing as meaning that he thinks that all his stones are dead and the game is over. Of course if he disagrees, it is within his right to try to make his stones live, but that does not appear to be the case here.

If we accept that all of his stones are dead and the entire board is your territory, than the correct move for you is to pass as well, because you have no moves left that will gain points.


If the game is not finished, why would you resign?

One obvious time a resign is needed in online go is when you are 100% sure you can’t beat your opponent, but passing would result in the score calculator being unable to calculate the score because there are too many open territories: then resigning is the only way to end the game.

The real life equivalent of this applies: you resign instead of passing when it would be pointless or impossible to count the score, but it is clear that you have lost.

Another time to resign is if you pass and your opponent plays on, but you are still 100% sure you can’t win. Same sort of thinking: resign is there for when the game is definitely over, but passing won’t do the job.


You said that when black passed, you passed too, By definition the game was finished. In a way your pass validated your opponent’s pass.

To address your point, all territories were indeed decided, so passing was the right thing to do. Even if it was not the case, what matters is what the player believes (in this case the judgment made by a 25 kyu), not the result of a post-game analysis.

Pass = I consider that all areas are decided.
Resign = some areas are still undecided, but I am so far behind that I’ll never catch up, let’s not waste my time and yours.

My personal opinion is that resigning after all areas are decided is rude. It implies that you kept playing while you knew the game was already over.

I think what is confusing in your case is that the end of the big fight coincides with all territories being decided. This is very unlikely to happen on a 19x19.


To be fair I think he pointed out his question wasn’t aimed at the 25k who didn’t know, he was genuinuely asking so as to be better informed.


Great way of putting it.


@GreenAsJade right, right, I didn’t mean it that way and it was actually related to something I said later in my reply. I have edited the post and I hope it comes out better now.


Not sure if it is just me that feels this way, but my personal beliefs on the difference are:

Resign or don’t as you see fit. If you don’t believe the game is over, there is no obligation to resign IMO (and personally I see far too many people resigning before the game is even close to being decided)

However, I find it unusually frustrating when people pass before the game is finished. People who pass when there are still unclarified borders should simply resign. Pass means there are no more moves left that benefit me and passing with unsettled borders makes that simply untrue.


Even more - if you pass with undecided borders, you can end up with a situation that the scoring phase can’t resolve correctly, which is embarrasing for everyone: you have to play on!