Continue while dozens of points behind
(This page can be considered a discussion page for How To Resign. You may want to read that page first.)
I don't know if the usual etiquette here is to edit pages at the top or bottom, but as a 28k I often, instead of resigning, type "I should resign now, do you mind if I play on?" If my opponent is short of time then I will resign, but I do like to continue playing and finish the game off - surely you learn more Go by playing more Go, and although I might have 20 minutes to finish this game I might not have the required time to start a new one.
--Eratos (First post!)
Truly a bad habit that is committed by the weaker player, disturbing the stronger one. "Dozens" is the complaint at my level (1 kyu) but when playing against a 6 dan, I might play until the end, while 10 points behind, thereby annoying the dan player.
This habit comes mostly from not being able to count a game, and since that is a matter of skill, one should not be too hard on the sinner. But when you know you are fifty points behind, please resign.
Do many folks feel this way? I often find that people seem disappointed when I resign a game I'm clearly losing (and I don't mean right before the end). I've actually become a bit more hesitant to resign recently since I started getting the impression that most folks would rather play it out.
I would be interested to find out if most players would rather their opponents resigned in these situations.
It could depend on the players' level, I suppose. I can imagine a player who does not like to have his wins conceded by his opponents, only because he enjoys making the large kills and actually counting the big wins. I think that this habit/obsession becomes rarer and rarer as the level of plays increases.
I also think that such a mindset is completely wrong in the frame of Go. Although winning is of course the objective, to me another objective is to enjoy the game. The players are actually, together, 'composing' a game which should be enjoyed by both. If the composition becomes 'false', none of them will enjoy it, and resigning the game shows that you respect your opponent's 'musical ears'.
Guo Juan once said that (western?) amateur players suffer when playing, constantly chastising themselves or their opponents for the weaknesses of their moves. I suppose her message was that we should play moves that we enjoy and try to take pleasure from the game, much in line with Takemiya Masaki's thoughts. :-)
Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I find this rather irritating, at least if it happens in a game with high thinking time. If it is a game with only 15 minutes or so, or my opponents continues as if it were, I don't mind continuing, but I find it very irritating to have to wait and wait for the opponent's moves when the only thing decided by them is by how many points he is going to lose. The reverse also holds, causing me sometimes to resign when things are 95% rather than 100% lost.
In general, my opinion is that playing on implies that one should try to win. I think that that is a better criterion than the amount one is behind. Being 10 points behind in a dead end game is probably more reason to resign than being 40 points behind in an early middle-game position with several potential weak groups on the board. Playing on in a completely lost position is in my opinion wasting the opponent's time as well as insulting him/her by implying that (s)he might well still lose from this position.
But as said, that is all just one man's opinion.
-- Andre Engels
I agree that playing on implies that you should try to win, but for an amateur game where both players are still learning, even if one is far ahead it is still a learning experience. Although starting a new game would be a learning experience as well :)
-- Andrew B
I completely agree. I am very much a beginner and if I resigned the games where I would have lost (quite a few), I would have had no practice in the endgame. I find that I learn a lot about the weaknesses of my groups in the endgame, and therefore am thankful I played them out.
TakeNGive 11k: I used to continue playing when I was hopelessly behind, until a much stronger player expressed annoyance with me. (In the hope that other strong players would like to play me, I've mended my ways.) He chastised me for hoping he would lose attention and blunder so I could swindle him in the endgame; but that's not what I was doing.
My reason to continue was this: Even losing, I was having fun. It seemed a shame to stop just because I was losing -- especially to a strong player whose moves were wonderful to watch. (What I'd forgotten was that just because I was still having fun, that did not mean he was still having fun...) I suspect this is a reason behind the "disappointment" mentioned by RussellKhan above -- nobody wants to stop if they're having fun.
There also may be a cultural factor at work. Shigeno Yuki (pro 2-dan living in Italy) wrote that she had to get used to Westerners continuing lost games (see her column at the Nihon Ki-in site). Eventually, she rationalized that to some Westerners go is merely a game, and after all, most Japanese would not resign a game of cards or mahjong just because they had fallen behind. Many high-level Western players, taught more or less in an Eastern tradition, regard go as more than merely a game, and feel that the stronger player is doing a big favor by playing with someone weaker. But as go's popularity increases in the West, that attitude may be less common.
-- TakeNGive 11k
This seems like a good place to link to a conversation on The Art of Resignation.
-- Matt Noonan
BillSpight: When I was 2-kyu I chanced upon the Nihon Kiin Central Hall by the Tokyo train station (long since moved to Ichigaya). I got a game with a young man who gave me 2 stones. I was trailing, not by dozens of points, but by a substantial margin. At the end I desperately played some kikashi and managed to live inside his "territory". The swing of 25 points or so let me eke out a win.
Afterwards I found out that he thought I had said I was 2-dan! I never got him to give me 5 stones. ;-)
Of course, when I started I did not know I could live. But the position was difficult enough that he had overlooked the fact that Black could make a live group. And 4-dans were stronger in those days. ;-)
When I was a shodan in Hawaii the local 5-dan gave me a game one day. At one point he indicated that the game was over, and that I had lost. I asked to play on, and made an invasion. The subsequent fight eventually covered 3/4 of the board. He finally prevailed, but not without a struggle.
These days I play occasionally with friends. I rarely play anyone under 4-dan. I can tell you that we make plenty of blunders. Once I was wondering for ages why a 5-dan hadn't resigned. I dropped my guard and proved him right. It has been at least 6 years, and I am still embarrassed by that loss.
In my opinion, if White is giving 4 or more stones, the game should be regarded as a teaching game. If White wants to stop and say, "I have won, let's go over it a bit," fine. But with a smaller handicap, White should not get on a high horse.
Online games where somebody is paying for the time are another matter. Wasting their time in a probably hopeless cause is ungracious.
SakataEio never resigned. Once in a commentary he remarked, "I played on because I wanted to see how badly I would lose after making 6 mistakes in a row." He lost by 6 points, BTW. ;-)
Scartol 25k: I think this gets into some matters of pedagogy. Most teachers seem to approach their students as incapable of seeing things that they cannot. If/when I become skilled enough to teach others Go, I doubt I will insist that someone resign.
When teaching writing, I wouldn't commit to reading a student's work unless I had enough time to respond thoughtfully to it. I had to read a lot of really bad writing, so I think the analogy is valid.
Frs: In my opion, the question "Should i resign or play on?" is related to the goal of the game.
If the goal is
- to win the game, I should resign exactly at the moment, when I can't see the smallest chance of winning.
- to play beautiful moves or finding exciting combinations, I should resign when there aren't any beautiful moves and sequences left.
- to have some fun, I should resign if I or my opponent get bored.
- to learn some new concept, I should resign if there is nothing to teach me anything.
- something else, I should resign, if I can't reach the goal of the game anymore.
Just my point of view (I'm a beginner): I don't like to resign, and I don't like my opponent to resign, for a simple reason:
I want to see the final black-white patterns on the board!
I find them beautiful, esthetic; you can see the b/w struggling for space, it looks like a fractal, and it's always different... and I'm amazed by the fact that such views are created as a side effect of a competition: this makes them a kind of natural beauty. I sometime take pictures at them before putting away the game (I'm lucky to play with a nice looking set). All this is true only when dead stones has been removed, and dames filled. It takes a little time (but not much compared to the length of the game) but I find it visually rewarding.
Does anybody agree?
I certainly agree that the final position of a go game is a beautiful thing, but don't you think the beauty is strongest when both sides control nearly equal areas on the board? In this respect, resignation prevents an ugly imbalanced final position. :)
Unlike in other games, Go players learn to accept things I think which are realistic. Fifty pts behind in a game against a strong dan player is insurmountable. But beginners generally are in the middle of that process that in part is dealing with learning about that very thing, strength.
For example, when I began learning, I despised the idea of taking a handicap. My feeling was and still is that I learn far more by getting whooped in an even game. In fact after losing a 9 stone game against a one dan, i came back to play him even and come within 12 pts! Assume nothing may be the moral.
As a strong kyu player I can understand how annoying it can be to play against less sophisticated players. However, as a recent beginner, I can also state that there can be perceived a veneer of rude snobbishness among experienced players.
The answer is best stated at the beginning that a limited time is involved. And every good doctor needs patience.
Dieter's comments on Steve's opinion: there can also be perceived a veneer of rude snobbishness among native English speakers. I guess that was unintentional - sorry. Concerning the point you are trying to make, the number of points by which you lose to a stronger player is meaningless indeed. Handicap forces the stronger player to exert his full strength. If you lose, it will either be due to a tactical mistake losing the semeai or due to excessive slow play. In both cases you will learn from the loss. Play her even handed and she'll win even if you don't make mistakes you can learn from.
I played a 9x9 as white with a newbie recently. I was far ahead (20+) but he passed in the end-game when one of his groups could still make life. I killed the group rather than passing (I thought he had assumed it was alive.) He complained that I should have accepted his pass rather than humiliating him. I explained that I thought it was a teaching game, and all ended well.
Perhaps we should try to make it explicit, at the start of the game, if we consider this a teaching or "real" game.
Jasonred When playing newbies, sometimes I violate the rules and traditions of go, and in that sort of situation, instead of accepting the pass or killing the group, I make a discreet cough, or say, are you sure? Look carefully...
Sometimes, a handicap should be more than just komi or stones, don't you think? Or am I just encouraging bad habits?
Bill: Jasonred, you may have been violating the rules of go, but not its traditions, according to my experience in Japan. There, allowing or ever encouraging an opponent to take back a move is common among amateurs.
I tend to play on. Of course, I usually think I'm even or close (25 kyu). I also had a game at It's Your Turn where I went from about 60 points down to win by 36.5 points, so all depends on luck I guess. -- Tim Brent
Of course, the lower level the fight is at, the easier it is for the proverbial windfall of points to swing the odds...
I also tend to play on, but it depends on our relative strengths. In a game where I am behind to a nominally weaker player, I'll often reckon that my chances of substantially increasing my territory or killing some groups in the endgame are good, and will play on. On the other hand if the opponent is much stronger than me and the game is close, I won't even try the borderline risky invasions and am more likely to resign. -- Martin
If my opponent has been polite, and gracious and honorable, and I am sure I have no way to win, then and only then do I resign. If there is a chance of winning, I refuse to resign. If you think this is rude then you are a snob, unless you are a 9 dan professional. If on the other hand, my opponent has misled me about their rank and refused to give me the proper handicap, sat down only to get a practice game and an easy win, then they deserve to sit through every excruciating dumb play I can think of, and you can be sure that I play some extra stupid ones just to annoy you. You never owe your opponent a resignation while there is a chance in your mind to win, maybe you see something they don't. I have pulled off with no doubt 3 wins in the end because I captured large teams of my opponents stones, not because they were as you say bored with playing me but because they were so high ranked but because they didn't see what I saw and the set up play for capturing the team looked so small as to seem like they were plays a 20 kyu would make at the end of a game. Go choke on your mueslix. In one case my opponent started a ko fight with false eyes, refusing to live a group he could have lived with one play to reduce an insecure moyo when all fuseki had not been played. I can tell when my opponent sees my plan, and I can tell when my opponent sees that I can see their plan. I've never asked my opponent to resign, no matter how low they were, even if it was their first game, only once, and that was because they were asking me to let them escape and them escape. Don't attack me and not cover your house and expect me to resign, your lead is virtual. I never want my opponent to resign when he sees a way to win, or even when he thinks he does.
Asking your opponent to resign early is asking your opponent to think like a loser, and that's more insulting than playing the game out. Sometimes, I've learned a new play even against something I've beaten, so there is knowledge gleaned even in very mis-matched games. You owe your opponent nothing, you owe yourself respect. text
Dieter: You owe respect to yourself AND your opponent. No one can force you to resign early but neither can one force you to play in the first place. I have learnt to avoid certain players, not because they see things I don't see but because they monopolize my weekly playing evening with a game that has become uninteresting after 50 moves. Practising patience is important, but practising fighting close games is important too.
Sean: I've had that happen to me where people tell me I'm losing and I should give up. I just tilt my head sideways, look at the board and say, "How can you tell?" Usually they either tell me something interesting or understand why I'm playing on. I'm pretty clueless.
Ben: 1150 on yahoo games... I find that i have different resignation habits depending on what medium I am playing in, either online or actually on a board. And I tend to resign very easily online, today for instance, we were less than thirty moves into a game where my opponent had placed stones near almost every star point, giving him influence over most of the board. This placement occurred while fighting out a corner, and when i made a terrible error, actually 2 subsequent errors, and lost the fight i realized there was no way for me to win, barring terrible mistakes on the part of my opponent, who was 300 points higher in rank than me, and far less likely to lose focus and screw up as much as I needed him to. So i resigned. This is pretty typical of me online, as it isn't very hard to tell most of the time when i've lost the game entirely. However, on a real board, I like to see the end patterns, cause they truly are wondrous. Once, a game ended up looking exactly like bullwinkle :) Dieter: What's a bullwinkle ? Darron Shaffer: Bullwinkle is a cartoon moose, well known in USA.
Jasonred I'd have to say that it's the reason for the game that counts. Are you trying to learn, teach, or just raise your win loss ratio? Of course, sometimes theres nothing left to learn in that situation, and sometimes you want to stubbornly go for the win. As for one of the above comments, may I request that rants are kept to a minimum, please put constructive or at least entertaining stuff here, not just yelling randomly at every high level go player on Sensei's? And if you do, at least keep it grammatical?
Charles Matthews Do consider that resigning and taking ten or fifteen minutes to discuss the game with your opponent may be more interesting than playing out a hopeless endgame.
WilliamNewman: I sometimes tell people they can play with the wrong handicap, they can play slowly, or they can not resign when they're behind, but they should please not do more than one in any given game. Especially in a face to face game, with no formal time limit, so it's possible for someone to fall decisively behind and then start playing more slowly. That's really irritating. I don't mind much if my opponent wants to reach and count a final position, especially since weaker players often aren't good at counting in their heads. But playing out a lost game *slowly* seems really inconsiderate to one's opponent.
BobMcGuigan: One of the Japanese nicknames for go is shudan, which means talking with the hands. I think there is a similar thing in Chinese, too. Thus a game can be viewed as a conversation. Not resigning when you are very far behind and can't catch up given reasonable play, is simply rude, an insult to your opponent. In effect you are saying you expect your opponent to play badly enough that you can make up a 50 point deficit, implying that your opponent is an inept player. Of course you have to be able to judge the score reliably, and whether something is a reasonable hope depends on your playing strength and that of your opponent.
Once, some 12 years ago, I was playing White in a tournament game with a 3-dan player who had bad luck and lost some groups. He was more than 40 points behind at the end of the middle game. He stubbornly played on. To encourage him to resign I played dame points when there were still good endgame moves left. He didn't get it, kept on, and lost by 38 points. I am not interested in just winning the game. I want the game to be a good one, rewarding in other ways than simply notching up a point. If people insist on playing rudely, refusing to resign when there is no reasonable hope, playing desperate bad moves in the hope I'll overlook something, etc., I simply avoid playing them in the future.
Some players fight on to the bitter end because they don't like to lose. Actually, if terms of play are correct, one should expect to lose close to half the time. So we'd better accept the fact that losing is respectable, but rude play is not.
As for not getting practice in the endgame if you resign games when you are dozens of points behind, again, if the terms of play are appropriate you should have a lot of games which are decided in the endgame.
Jasonred : Okay, that seems rather extreme for a 3-dan, especially for a tourny game. I'm about 20k and only play shidougo, so I can get away with more, I guess. Especially if I just say, right, I've lost, can we keep playing just so I can see how many moku I would lose by?
When playing Shidougo, is it better to play even games even if you're a stone or two difference in strength? Especially at the lower levels?
Bill: One advantage of online go is the availability of other players. One disadvantage, IMO, for beginners is the availability of other beginners to play with. In my first year of play I never played anybody below 5 kyu, and I hardly ever played at an adequate handicap. I think that those two facts contributed to my rapid progress during that year (up to 4 kyu). If I had played a lot with other beginners, I think that I would have acquired a lot of bad habits that would have impeded my progress. When you are learning, I recommend taking an inadequate handicap from a stronger opponent, if they are agreeable. And, since it is a teaching game, do not resign (again, if they are agreeable). :-)
TJ : A point I recently brought up, only because a beginner opponent told me I had won and then kept playing without resigning (rather confusing in itself!)...I said I thought he resigned, he said he wanted to practice the endgame. As I told him, you can't practice the endgame when 50 points behind, because your opponent is bored, isn't worried about sente, and will make simple "safe" plays instead of pushing to make any points anyways. So, you not only aren't learning much, you could be damaging your own skills right along with your reputation for politeness. If you're going to lose, can see nothing at all to try out to gain points, however far-fetched (NOT in the sense that opponent must blunder, but that you can't read it all out for dead sure), then resign! Don't just play the endgame out, unless perhaps you're a few hands away from the end anyways...and even that's probably just a bad habit of mine.
Neil : Indeed, the important questions to be answered is what the purpose of the game is. Is it a game, or a social ritual?
I see the game as a game, so I see no harm in playing it out to the end. I only resign when I am frustrated with my play. Likewise, I never feel that my opponent should be expected to resign. I started a game, so of course I'd like to finish it.
If my opponent sees the game as more than a game, then I would rather play against someone else. I have better things to do than throw stones on a board in a ritual.
Why expect an early end when you are ahead? Why take offense at playing out a game you agreed to begin?
Scryer: Your opponent also sees it as a game, but many disagree with you about what constitutes "the end" of the game. In particular, if you lose a huge dragon in the center and nothing on the board is big enough for you to make a comeback, I and many others would consider the game over. If you know baseball, consider the situation where in the second half of the ninth inning the team coming to bat already has more runs than the team in the field. Do you consider it poor sportsmanship to expect that the game should already be over? Your margin of loss does not change the outcome of the game: if you lose by 130 you are just as lost as if you can eke out another 10 points in yose and lose by only 120. Chances are neither you nor your opponent will learn anything from the rest of the game. Resign and start another game, and release your opponent to enjoy and learn from another game.
Neil: Yes, in a way, I do think it can be considered poor sportsmanship to expect that the game should end because you think you are ahead for good. I think one should expect to finish any game one starts. An opponent is not a computer, a tool to be reset when the game is no longer interesting to you.
In no case should one resent an opponent who merely wishes to finish a game.
TJ: One counts during a game, and has an eye on possibilities. As you get better at counting, you have some idea of what the outcome is going to be, at least within a range. At the point when you don't have enough power to make even possibilities of gaining enough points to enter into the range of points of the end outcome, well, resign. I have rarely felt resentful of someone who doesn't resign, though I assume they either see a possibility I haven't, or think they see something that isn't there. My last rated game, I resigned early on, barely into the middle-game. I had no chance whatsoever without my opponent making truly idiotic moves. On the other hand, the two games before that, I had somewhere around a 50 point loss. In my inexperience, I thought I had some chance right up into the endgame, however mistaken I was.
Resenting and judging what may or may not be bad behaviour is one thing. How members of the go playing community should attempt to behave themselves is another: when you're going to lose hands down, resign.:)
Hu: When the writer above writes "I only resign when I am frustrated with my play", that is an indication of selfishness. Yes it is a "game", but it is not "win at all costs" or even "satisfy my greedy desire to play everything I want without thinking about my partner". Those who play selfishly end up playing less, because fewer people want rematches, which makes it a self-defeating strategy.
dnerra: I want to play advocatus diaboli a little bit. Too often I have seen, say, dan-level players complaining that their opponent did not resign, when they were some 15 pts ahead. 15 pts is not really much, I (as a 4-dan) could easily make that many mistakes just starting from early endgame. So if you add some mistakes to some overly cautious play, such a lead can easily disappear if the trailing players happens to play an unusually good endgame for his level.
I think ComplainingYourOpponentShouldHaveResignedAfterYouHaveLostTheGame? is a habit about as bad as the one described on this page. You were ahead, yes, but you made the mistakes, too, to let him catch up.
I would agree with the consensus of this page, however, if the player is making moves that show he has accepted the loss, i.e. if he is not trying to stretch a little, trying to provoke fights or overly cautious play by the opponent.
Neil: Er, if neither side is fighting then the game will be over very quickly, no?
mdh I was playing an opponent and we were at the end of the end game. I was in B.Y. so I did not have time to count but I thought the score was close. My opponent needed to play once more in his territory to capture and connect but started Passing instead. Since I had just lost a game by .5 I wasn't going to let this one point move go. So I do 4 Dame plays taking away liberties of the group in question. Still he keeps passing. So I figure he is waiting for the Dame Sente? move. When I finally atari that section, he still passes and I capture 15 or so stones. After about 30 seconds, he resigns and leaves the game. I did some post scoring estimates and found that I was ahead 15.5 points before this started so I did not need that 1 point. I was left feeling confused and a little guilty for rubbing in a loss even though I really didn't. Was I rude not to pass as well and end the game? If he started passing knowing that he had lost and wanted to get the game over, should he have resigned instead? Or should I think it simply an oversight on his part and was letting me fill useless Dame points?
dnerra: Probably he was just annoyed about his mistake, not about you.
Deebster: I agree with dnerra, although if you're that close to the end, why resign? Especially when playing online where counting is effortless.
TJ: As a related issue...I recently had a discussion with another player, and we came to the conclusion that it is never impolite TO resign, however late in the game, except for once the scoring phase has started. So, I've resolved to stop playing out endgames when the only reason I'm continuing is that I feel like I should "finish it off", having come so far anyways, although it's clearly a loss.
Alex Baxter - I would say it's impolite to resign after the last point on the board is played, and the only thing is left is passing and scoring. This has happened to me three times this week on KGS, and it is very frustrating to play the last point, expect a pass, and get a resign. Especially on a computer, let the points be counted! If you know you have lost before the game is over, resign, but if you play to the end, respect the score and how much you lost by. Perhaps it is a vanity thing for me, but I think I deserve a B+XX rather than a B+R if the game is essentially over when the resign occurs. Sorry if I repeated any previous arguments. I'm feeling a little frustrated over here.
Rakshasa: I'd consider it impolite to resign if there's less than 20 yose moves left. They are played out 1 minute or so, so if you kept playing this far then resigning it would seem like you were just hoping for some thinko from your opponent.
Dieter: Yes indeed. Suppose you play a game without time limits and the game is clearly lost but you refuse to resign. After 20 hours of pushing the limits of politeness you get tired and bored yourself while your opponent clings to his victory. You resign. If I were the opponent, I'd say : no no, we're going to PLAY THIS OUT !!!
WillerZ: There have been a lot of comments along the lines of some people may be offended if you resign at some number of moves from the end. What's wrong with asking your opponent "It looks like I'm too far behind to make the difference up, would you like to have my resignation now, or would you prefer to play it out?". At least if you ask, they can choose what you do and thus will have no cause to be offended. On the matter of people continuing after they "should" have resigned, that rather assumes that they know when they should resign. Down at the big end of the kyu range, most players do not know how to count -- in a recent game I saw someone say: "it looks like you have probably won" just before the scoring phase; there was no "probably" about it, white was 175+ points ahead.
Robert Pauli: . . . and the estimate made by White? :-))
WillerZ: White had estimated he was winning by over 100 points, but hadn't bothered to do a precise count because there didn't seem much point...
Robert Pauli: So you actually "saw" someone say: "it looks like I have probably won".
WillerZ: No, black said it looked like White had probably won.
iopq: Well, I don't count yet, because I don't feel like doing a chore while still learning, but I can see if I have I am behind or ahead by dozens of points. If I am behind, I can resign after 50 moves. But sometimes it's fun to play out a part of the board treating it like a tsumego - a life and death situation has more to teach even if one side already won. I'd play those out. Although I have lost before by 50 points... and I didn't know who was winning until the very end when the computer scored the board --,.--;;
mencial: As a newbie, I prefer not to resign. I may know that a group is dead, but not exactly why is dead. Playing the kill to the end teaches me what the weak points are, how surrounding stones affect the position, how exactly the kill is done, etc. Also, one of my favourite things in go is that you can play a part of the board, a little fight, independently of the situation in the rest of the board, and see how the points on that part fall to one side or the other. It is good learning for knowing when the game is over in the future. One of the reasons newbies do not resign when the game is over, is because they do not know when the game is over.
Of course, I should ask the opponent to turn the game from a fight for the win into a teaching experience. But most of my games are teaching experiences from the beginning... --,.--;;
 See discussion on that page.
davos: I am a 4 dan player. I don't mind if a 20 kyu player plays on when 100 pts behind. I don't mind when a 4 dan player plays on when about 30 points behind in a complicated position in the middle game. I do mind when a 4 dan player plays on when 30 points behind at the beginning of a straightforward endgame (roughly add 5 points per rank). Avoid getting upset though, when your opponent plays on when you think he should resign. Your game will suffer if you allow yourself to get upset.
kevinwm: I am a 5k player. When I am playing a player who is much stronger (like 4d) or much weaker than me (like 15k), I expect to continue the game until it ends. The point is not in winning or losing, but in the learning that comes from playing someone who is obviously better.
Personally, I gained about 3 stones when I stopped resigning altogether. I found that 3 things happened:
1) Sometimes I was not as far behind as I thought. A 10-15 point deficit in a mid-kyu game is recoverable.
2) Some games, my opponent would make a significant mistake similar to mine and the game would even up, and
3) I learned how to handle mistakes correctly! We all make moves in every game that are less than perfect - the big question is how quickly do we recognize it, and how well do we recover from such mistakes. There is learning in playing out a lost position and making the best of it.
I have also offered to resign, but asked to play on when a game was way out of whack.... and I would've been fine if my opponent requested that I not continue to "beat a dead horse".
HonFu: As a 2K KGS player, I resign a lot of lost games, but others I don't resign, and sometimes I get scolded by my opponent after he has just lost his "won" game.
One important reason for not giving up, when you're behind, despite all the impoliteness in it, is and may well be, that you really DON'T respect your opponent's skill and INDEED think, he will blunder! In my opinion this is a very good reason not to resign.
I think so, because I myself lose a lot of games like: "How can it be I played that dumb? That just can't be true!" And other 2ks, players of the same strength, are likely to play just as good or bad as me. If they weren't they would have a higher rank.
So, if you turn this around, to resign would give your opponent a victory which he doesn't deserve, which skillwise he probably wouldn't have been able to carry home, but which will influence his rank positively anyway!
I saw 2k, including myself, doing incredibly silly mistakes: self ataries in the endgame, atariing all around without thinking, attaching to weak stones as soon as they appear on the board, failing to guard a huge moyo which is rather already territory, failing to kill even the boldest invader and lots of other blunders.
So resigning then may be polite but not very realistic. It's a nice present to the opponent, and it makes you and other players look stronger than they really are. Maybe we can wait with this kind of politeness, until our mistakes have really become so subtle that no desperate opponent would ever be able to turn around our 20-point lead.
Maybe an indicator of when to resign could be (other opinions please!): "Okay, this game is so lost that even I, in his place, wouldn't lose it anymore, regardless how drunk or bored I was."
This, indeed would be a point where we really should resign.
Knott?: I feel that a good rule of thumb is that could a pro possibly win this game if he was allowed to take over my position, if yes continue playing. This means that you fight out quite a lot of games. Then as soon as you don't enjoy the game I also resign and I have no problem with my opponent doing the same thing.
DeathWind: It is not really a terrible thing but at the very least it's still nevertheless a bad etiquette. Players should kick this habit when he or she has reached a decent rank say like 15 Kyu or so. I usually feel slightly annoyed when my opponent plays on when he is behind by 60 points or more. I rarely voice out my feeling openly in the game though.
Tapir: I disagree with the tacit assumption that it is usually the weaker player who continues while behind. Anyone who plays blitz games online with handicap may know what i mean. There are quite a lot of players specialised on playing blitz against weaker players... so being behind in the start is natural, but really annoying is the way some players continue even while hundreds points behind to possibly win on time (i.e. lag, connection breakdown) or on misclick.
Rotwang? When I think we ought to resign: When there is very little chance of our winning, and no chance of us winning in a reasonable way, e.g. most of us make blunders, but when the only chance of changing the result of the game is through a horrific blunder, then it isn't a game worth winning in my opinion. Like other posters have said, the early and middle games tend to be chaotic, especially if one player is conscious that he behind so wants to start fights etc. but when there are no more weak groups or weaknesses in shapes for the losing player to exploit, and the territory margin is obvious, I think it is generally poor form to play on. Of course, we have all lost such 'won games' and probably won some as well, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a low chance of such a thing happening, which will only diminish as you improve. Perhaps this is another way to look at it: can this game be won in a way that you could be proud of? perhaps not, that's fine, but could this game be lost by your opponent in a way that, if you were playing his or her side, you wouldn't be totally frustrated and angry with yourself if it happened? if the second, then I think resignation is appropriate. You can almost always play another game :)
Caveat: I do thinkt hat there are times when players ought to resign, but I am not suggesting that anyone actually asks their opponent to resign, unless they do it very carefully and respectfully in a teaching context.
Most of the posters seem to argue that to expect people to resign when significantly behind means that there is some element of etiquette or that Go is treated as more than just a game for the purposes of enjoyment. But you don't have to be taking Go too seriously to operate with the expectation that you will resign if you cannot win or cannot win in any kind of reasonable way, or to expect your opponent to do the same. However, I think that resigning as opposed to playing on till the bitter end adds to the total enjoyment of the game. Sure, player A, who is behind might be having fun (good for him, it's always good when someone actually enjoyed playing Go ^_^), but player B who is winning might be bored rigid. Is it fair to expect B to sit for another half hour or more while the game is concluded? If one argues that B agreed to play and is therefore obligated to finish, then one seems to be in the camp of those who demand a certain etiquette and think that some customs and manners are important.
Another complaint against the culture of resignation (or more specifically expecting an opponent to resign is that it shows too much attachment to the result of the game. But I think this too is an unfair criticism, surely if one's motivation for playing on is because one could theoretically win one is showing more concerned with the win/loss result than we normally say is best for enjoying the game and improving.
Another reason for supporting a culture of resignation is that often our opportunities to play Go are limited. Suppose that a club meets for 3-4 hours, the players in that club are unlikely to appreciate having to play out a game that they have almost no chance of losing when doing so will take up time that could have been used in an infinitely more interesting game.
Also, if we continue without resigning because we want to see what the score will be, or practice life and death, we shouldn't be upset if the opponent who is winning starts trying to kill groups that he doesn't need to, or makes seemingly pointless invasions or plays dame, since he we are playing for unusual motives ourselves.
Regarding less experienced players and newcomers: I think it is best to *tactfully* inform them that they might prefer to discuss the game, or start a new one, than finish some clearly resolved game. However, I think we ought to give such players a large margin for resignation, and be only too happy if they answer "I don't see what's so bad for me, let's find out!" or "I would like practice at the endgame" etc. The thing is: not all dan players are patient with beginners, sometimes, if you want their knowledge, you have to play by their rules, and that might mean that they are prepared to spend 2 hours on a game, and if a less experienced player takes all that time up in palying out a lost game, then they wont get a decent review. This is what I was told the first time I played a dan, and I think it is fair.
P.S. It should go without saying that it is a bad idea to ask someone who is very new to the concept of life and death to resign, as they need to finish a certain number of games to know what is territory etc. I can remember being in that position and being told I should resign and not having a clue why.
Sorry for the lengthy post, but I feel that the anonymous poster who wrote "You never owe your opponent a resignation while there is a chance in your mind to win" has missed some good reasons why we ought to resign, and more generally, that expecting a certain readiness to resing a lost game doesn't necessarily mean that one is taking the game too seriously.
se: Clearly it is good to resign when you are far behind, especially when playing a stronger player. But I have say that telling your opponent to resign can often be at least as rude as continuing to play when behind, especially when phrased as a matter of etiquette. I once played a (supposedly) even game on KGS in which my opponent played a killing move that I hadn't seen coming. I stopped for a moment to regain my bearings and see if there was any point in continuing -- expecting, indeed, to resign. After a few moments my opponent said "Gentlemen resign now." I found it utterly infuriating -- as if I a) didn't know the etiquette and b) didn't know I had lost the game.
On top of everything else, after looking at the player's record, I realized he or she was sandbagging, resigning many games after two or three moves. It's possible of course that the player had a bad connection, which would explain both the impatience and the artificially low rank. But if that were the case, the player should simply have said so.
ra66it?: As a 7k player, I like finishing my games. I play to learn, and I try to only play casual games, and learning the endgame is also important.
I always think back to one of my games, where I was clearly winning by a lot. In the endgame, I made a gigantic mistake: over 100 points. I ended up still winning that game. That is one of my most memorable games.