When is Resigning a Game ok?

“Quitters never win, and winners never quit” is always true in chess. However, from a parent’s perspective, what expectations should you have of your kids? Let’s explore it. Compare the two statements made by kids at a recent chess tournament:

“I quit because he was winning.”
“I quit because in 3 moves he was going to checkmate me with his rook and knight – I was helpless.”

In the first statement, it is clear the kid in question just felt they were losing and quit. Were they losing? Who knows… but it isn’t a very engaged answer. The second answer is more thorough and demonstrates the resignation occurred with much more reasoning behind it. The second student still might not have wanted to resign, but their answer shows a bit more control in the situation.

So, what are some reasonable expectations parents should have surrounding this issue? If you pay $50 for a 5-round chess tournament and your child resigns, is it reasonable to feel you threw away $10? Let’s look at the following expectations to answer that question.

What did they learn?
Having your child explain what they learned about their game is important. The best way to learn is by going through games

How long did the game last?
As a parent, especially those parents who aren’t chess players, it can be difficult to know what goes on in your kid’s games. However, one thing you can do is look at how quickly the game finished. If your child is finishing games very quickly, odds are they are not taking enough time to think. If they are taking a long time, win or lose, then they are putting in effort. WARNING: Don’t assume this means fast games are always bad and slow games are always good. Just look for a trend – if their games always end quickly, then they need to slow down.

How do they feel when they lose?
It is easy to understand happiness when winning but what should you feel when you lose? Disappointment is acceptable and normal. Getting angry or crying is not acceptable. It is always good if they feel a want to improve. Phrases like “Next time I will…” or “I could have done better in the opening” demonstrate they want to improve. Encourage improvement and discourage intense emotions that capture your child inside of a bad mood.

So, what’s the verdict?
Here are a few reasonable outlooks:

  1. The famous chess saying is “No one ever won a game by resigning.” This is true. If you hold on you might find a sneaky opportunity to get a draw or pull off an unexpected win.
  2. If they can articulate why they were going to lose and are learning from their games, it is fine. Resigning saves time and shows your opponent you know they can defeat you in the given situation.
  3. Resign only if you could beat yourself with their pieces. If you have no clue how they could win, don’t resign.