Player Etiquette

A Further Defence of Playing On 20th October 2010

Former Horsham member Matt Hayes continues to maintain an interest from afar and offers the following support for the right to play on regardless:-


"I understand Bernard's point about late resignations and how one can feel a lack of etiquette is involved when an opponent plays on until the bitter end. However, there is nothing in the rules to say that a player has to resign and I find that kids especially are likely to play on until they are mated or mate is just a couple of moves away.

"I have had a number of games over the years where I have thrown away a "winning" position or my opponent has done likewise. One particularly embarrassing incident occurred in the first round of my first ever weekend Swiss tournament. It was in Portsmouth, probably around 2001. I was up a rook and three pawns and was becoming extremely impatient as my opponent insisted on playing on. I started moving too quickly and, when my opponent threatened mate, I casually defended it... completely missing that he was actually threatening mate in two different ways. My opponent even apologized afterwards! Now, had he resigned then he would have lost the game. By playing on, he was hoping that I would make a slip. Who am I to tell him that he should have resigned a game that he ended up winning?

"There is another side to the coin: sometimes kids (or lower rated players) will play on knowing full well that they are lost but wanting to see how their higher rated opponent finishes them off. I find nothing wrong with that. We learn far more from our losses than from our wins!"


Matt Hayes

Formerly Horsham CC

David Fryer: Watch Out Bernard ....

14th August 2010

In my opinion checkmate ends the game.

I have had an IM play on a rook down against me and a WGM play on a queen down - I didn't feel insulted I simply shrugged my shoulders and kept my focus to convert the win.

Yes playing on and playing slowly when clearly lost is very annoying but I also find annoying players who resign with a mate in one or two on the board. I always give my opponent in these situations the satisfaction of checkmating me.

I have never seen a tennis player resign when two sets down 5 games to nil and 40 love down !

Be prepared Bernard when Uckfield reach the 1st Division we will never give up.

David Fryer

Uckfield Chess Club



Bernard Cafferty Reflects On The Appropriateness of Playing On In A Lost Position

13th August 2010


I recently returned from the enjoyable English Chess Federation Congress at Canterbury. A goodly number of Sussex players took part, given the nearby location. Other Sussex players visited to observe the play. It is not every day you get the chance to watch Michael Adams in action!


My own tournament was the 7-round British Senior Championship, in which I was taking part for the first time. Six of my seven games finished before the first time control which gave me plenty of opportunity, after a short post-mortem with my opponent, to walk round and observe the finishes in the second session of play - in the British Championship, the Major Open and the smaller Senior event. A remarkable contrast showed up: in the Senior event, play ended in logical resignation at an appropriate point in nearly all decisive games. In the other two tournaments, this was not the case. Some game finishes simply appalled me; others have called this trend "insulting to the opponent" on the English Chess Forum.


I agree. Let me quote some examples. One teenager in the British Championship played on for ten moves in the ending bare king against two bishops as White gradually tightened the noose around the enemy king. Resignation only came when two moves short of mate. In another, a youngster in the Major Open played on with bare king against two united passed pawns. In another Championship game, a player, not a teenager, played on with R, B and P against Q, B, P for about ten moves and even for a few moves with K and R plus pawn against the enemy Q, B and P until the superior party got fed up and played the simple QxR+, which finally induced resignation.  Simon Brown has a different set of examples on the English Chess Forum - see his 8.56pm message published yesterday (Tuesday 10th August 2010) on page 5 of the relevant thread in General Chat. Sussex players were involved in many of these finishes.


The pernicious trend set me thinking. Such blatant examples occurred very rarely in high-level games in the decades when I played in the British Championship (1957-1981) except when a player was much material up , but down to his last few seconds, and a possible flag fall offered the weaker party some hope of retrieving a clearly lost position. In those days, the time limit was 40/2.5 and then 16 an hour in the adjourned sessions. In the last decade or so, the time limit has been different and a time bonus for every move played is added. Such a bonus meant that a player in time trouble did not risk flag fall in trivial technical positions like K, B, B versus K. At Canterbury, the time limit in the British and the Major Open was 40 moves in 1'40" with 30 seconds added for every move played. In the Seniors, it was 40/2 and an hour each to complete the game.


So, why does this deplorable attitude of late resignation now show up as a matter of course? I can only think of two explanations: encouragement by coaches for juniors to play on 'to the bitter end', and the prevalence of QP finishes in local leagues and other similar competitions with a standard 3-hour session. That is the relevance of this letter to the Mid-Sussex League which has recently allowed optional QP finishes.


However, the shorter sessions with a fixed closing time and likely expulsion at 23.00 by an irate caretaker are not similar to Canterbury where a planned 7-hour session could be extended slightly if the rare game strayed over 100 moves. I repeat - with the 30-second bonus, there is no point in playing on in a clearly lost position, such as the examples I quote above.


In closing, I hope no junior coach will feel offended by what I have written. Advice to go on to the end is appropriate for beginners and semi-beginners. My strictures apply to players graded above, say 100. The examples I saw came in games with players in the grading range 155-190. As I say, I looked on with amazement and not a little disgust.    


Bernard Cafferty 

(Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club)