Sub-page of HowToResign

There are definitely right ways and wrong ways to go about resigning a game of Go. For example, throwing the board across the room is generally seen as a bad way of resigning [1]. I've been interested in the etiquette of resignation ever since I was about 14k and began seeking out challenging games.

The novel First Kyu has a passage about "Looking for a place to resign" (can anybody provide a quote?). I think this is the most honorable way to resign a game.

In response to the above request, from 'First Kyu': "A high ranking player, in a losing game, often plays a move which obviously does not work. On seeing the opponent to correctly respond, he resigns. This custom is commonly referred to as 'looking for a place to resign'. Yong, staring intensely at the corner, must have picked it as his place for resignation...The time he was taking now was to prepare himself for the loss of this all-important game."

I seem to remember reading that a "universal" way to resign the game is to place two stones on the board at once. Has anybody ever run into this? I wonder just how universal it is. In the past, even when the other player doesn't speak English, they invariably understand the anguished look on my face as yet another group falls apart, so the actual phrase "I resign" is almost secondary.

Just some thoughts, -- Matt Noonan

[1] As mentioned in BadHabits: Nuclear Tesuji

unkx80: Putting two stones (sometimes more) seems to be a very universal way to resigning - I have encountered this countless times in a few places - and I resign this way as well. It breaks the language barrier.

In other instances I have encountered the opponent saying "I lose" instead. If I am not wrong the Japanese players tend to resign this way (seems that my guess is reinforced by the comic Hikaru No Go).

Scryer: In HnG the resigner frequently says (in the English translation) "I have nothing" or words to that effect. What is the Japanese phrase for this?

Karl Knechtel: Seems you refer to arimasen.

IronChefSakai: When you say put two stones on the board, do you mean play in two places or put two stones together on the edge? I wouldn't want them to think I was cheating if I played in two places ;)

unkx80: I mean putting two stones together in any part of the board. :-)

jandrews271?: My understanding is that this counts as a resignation since it's technically an illegal play which would cause you to forfeit the game in a formal setting like a tournament. By doing it intentionally you are clearly admitting defeat. Putting a stone down, and then lifting it up would also be an illegal play which could be used to resign, but playing two stones at once is much more clearly an intentional act.

Bill Spight: Sweeping the stones off the board is also an internationally understood way of resigning. ;-)

AvatarDJFlux: As far as I know, the traditional Japanese way to resign, apart from saying in Japanese "I have lost", is to place a couple (not necessarily two, but more than one... ;-) ) of captured stones on the goban.

Ah! And please, do not forget to thank your opponent for the game after you've resigned!

ChristianNentwich: Keep also in mind the option of pouring your captured stones into your opponent's bowl (if you have any), that seems to be universally understood. Another bad way of resigning is to put your bowl on the board, scattering the stones, I remember reading that this happened in some famous (old) game.

rubilia: I have seen chinese players throwing their prisoners back into the opponent's bowl immediately when captured. That was not meant to indicate any resignation, for sure.
caraoke?: I think it's because Chinese rule doesn't count prisoners but rather the amount of stones you have on board with the amount of land you've captured.
ThorAvaTahr: I think rubilia understood that :P

Charles Matthews: I think correct (Japanese) etiquette is to tip your prisoners gently from the lid of your bowl onto the board. This is consistent with the Japanese idea that one tidies the board only by putting one's own stones back in the bowl, moving the opponent's stones gently aside. This isn't a habit of Chinese or Korean players, though.

Matt asked for a quote from First Kyu by the late Dr. Sung-Hwa Hong. It's on the next-to-last page:

A high-ranking player, in a losing game, often plays a move that obviously does not work. On seeing the opponent to correctly respond, he resigns. This custom is commonly referred to as 'looking for a place to resign'.

Bill Spight: Well, that makes a nice story. :-)

Looking for a place to resign refers to trying desperation tactics in a technically lost game. How obvious the counter is depends on the opponent. As a rule, it is obvious. However, in my experience, I have sometimes missed the obvious and have sometimes looked for a place to resign without finding it. ;-)

As Janice Kim says, "Resign while you still can."

Marco75: a Korean friend of mine (an expert player, but don't ask me what his rating was) once told me that a polite way to resign is to play in the very corner of the board in a situation when that move makes no sense. The rationale would be that such a move is so bad that it spells "I resign".

He added an anecdote about a player, in a tournament game, playing in the 1-1 corner and his opponent insisting that he resign (and winning that argument).

Can anyone confirm that that is a Korean way to surrender?

Andre Engels: I should have known that one earlier. I have once made such a move, but not to resign, but to tell my opponent that in my opinion he should resign - something like "I'm so far ahead, that even passing will not bring my position into danger."

ian: My favoured method is to press the "Resign" button

Don'tgoaway?: Yes, this is indeed my prefered method as well.

kokiri: In my experience in Japan, the methods of resigning used were

1) saying 'I resign'

2) pouring your prisoners onto the board

3) playing on the 1-1 point

4) playing two stones

in that order; 1 & 2 being far more common than 3 and 4. My games are not at a sufficient standard, however, to feature the idea of looking for a good place to resign. I'm still at the level of making one last desperate invasion and then resigning when it doesn't work which is probably bordering on the Bad Habits -- kokiri

Coyotebd?: I think you should say "You have won" to honour your opponent. Not a tradition I heard of, but it's a more positive way of resigning.

unkx80: These days I encounter an increasing number of a "new" way of resigning, usually in friendly games. Obviously I have won the game by a large margin because of capture of a large group or some other reason, but the opponent continued playing. Some time after the opponent made a move, and while I was thinking my next move, he will suddenly start saying, "I should have played this move here and..." and then proceeded to rearrange the stones to the position in question. Personally I do not quite like this "new" way of resignation because the action almost always suprised me.

Dave: Interestingly this seems to happen fairly often in televised professional games in Japan. The loser may say "I resign" too quietly for anyone but their opponent to hear but the first visible hint that the game is over comes when they reach out and start rearranging the stones. This typically catches the timekeeper and the pro doing the commentary by surprise and there a quick checking back and forth among the non-participants before the announcement is made that the game has ended. :-)

Hu: Clearly, in a graceful and esthetic game such as Go, even (or especially) resignation should be graceful. Simple and direct tend to be graceful. Violent and disruptive are not, and they are also signs of lack of self-control and immaturity, as is unkx80's rearranging opponent Thus simply saying "I resign" is simple and direct where there is common understanding of language, as is pressing "Resign" on a Go server. What might help would be a list of How to Resign in Other Languages.

It strikes me that the next most graceful way would be one not quite mentioned, which would be to simply move one's bowl lid with opponent prisoners in it over to the opponent. This should be understandable by all. Then the question arises, what does one do when no prisoners have been taken?

Placing two stones on the board or the edge of the board seems to be graceful, but might not be understood by many.

Standing up and proffering one's hand for shaking would be another way, but some cultures such as Japan are more reluctant to touch hands than the West. Standing up and bowing might be another approach, but might be difficult for prideful Westerners.

Tipping prisoners onto the board is unambiguous, but difficult to do gracefully. It also makes it much harder to review the game, and reviewing games with the opponent is almost always a graceful gesture. -- Hu

ThorAvaTahr: Now there's an idea for a resignation... Rearranging the opponent. I never tried that yet, but maybe I will ...

karmaGfa : In Taiwan, I played some people who resigned by :

Malweth: Also in Taiwan... I played at one go club and the way all of them resigned was to tap two stones on the goban. They weren't really placed (as in played) just held in the hand. I also played mostly kids, though.

Another universally understood way of resigning is violently disrupting the position on the board beyond all possible repair while making use of the most colorful phrases your language of choice affords. This usually gets the message across, but do not be surprised if your opponent does not offer you a rematch.

Tamsin: Many chess players do not tip over their king anymore, but reach out and shake the opponent's hand to indicate their resignation. This would surely be a very good way to resign when playing go in the West. A firm, friendly handshake puts an end to hostilities and invites a constructive post-mortem.

Chestnut: Don't shake hands with any Japanese people! Handshaking is particularly frowned upon in Japanese culture, and when you try to shake a Japanese person's hand you usually end up with a limp and sweaty palm -- it makes them nervous because they're not used to it. Not entirely sure about the Chinese and Koreans but I think their attitude towards gratuitous physical contact is the same. Even if they're living in the West they still seem averse to shaking hands outside of business encounters (where it's mandatory).

rubilia: I think, regarding chinese culture, you're completely wrong here. Although hand-shaking is not particularly popular, people like to touch each other quite often when talking. There's a lot of physical contact involved in common chinese everyday body language. I don't know so well about Koreans' one, but I have heard, compared to Japanese people they use to keep much less distance, too.

ilan: The usual practice in chess is to stop the clock without making a move.
IanDavis I am tempted to start resigning by placing two captures on the board in chess now

Perhaps if you play two stones, you should play them inside the squares (instead of on intersections)? That should make it clear. --Daniel-chan

For maximum clarity, I suggest playing them right inside the lid of the opponent's bowl. -- (Sebastian)

Naustin-In a game record I was looking at Sakata resigned by retaking a ko immediately instead of playing elsewhere. In some ways it seems one common thread of the mentioned methods other than stating the fact is breaking the rules in some obvious manner.

Bob Myers: Could you give us a pointer to this game record? If the illegal move is actually recorded in the game record, it would seem to me that this would not be a resignation, but rather a loss by rule violation (hansoku-make). In the professional world, as far as I know you resign with a little nod of your head.

Hikaru79: Heh, that reminds me of the game Cho Hun-hyun played and lost by making an illegal move. This time, playing a suicide move, probably under the impression that he was taking a ko, seeing as how he had just made a ko threat, and there was a ko very close to the point he played. [ext] Go4Go forum has more on that. But what I mean to say is that "some obvious manner" is not always that obvious ^^;

Funduk: Maybe I'm just way too new at the game, but it seems to me (for internet purposes anyway) that simply passing would do... No? That way my opponent is given the decision of whether or not to continue. I have tried doing this but playing beginners isn't a very good test of the idea. I think that if I was playing with a strong kyu player and I passed when I was obviously losing they would catch the drift. That way if they want to keep playing they can. This type of thing I think was mentioned before too in the sense of asking your opponent if they want to continue. But this way would probably bypass language barriers.

WillerZ: No, at least not unless you make your intent clear. If you pass in the middle of the game without explaining your intent, your opponent may think "Passing when the game is nowhere near over, what an idiot - I'll not play him again." If one player is far enough behind that they should resign, then the other player is not going to get any benefit from the rest of the game anyway. Use the resign button, tis what it's for.

ThaddeusOlczyk: I seem to remember a chess player ( Tal I believe ) resigning by urinating on the chess board. Though some debate this and believe that he was simply looking for a cheap way to win on time. ( Do you think the opponent would ever touch the pieces? )

PurpleHaze: No, it was Alekhine (Aleksander Aleksandrovich Aljehin). It was at a simultaneous exhibition in Portugal and he was very drunk.

Hicham: Is it bad form to resign when it your opponents turn? Usually I wait for my opponent to play befor I resign, but is this really necessary? It feels strange to wait knowing that you are going to resign anyway, why wasrte your opponents time?

kokiri - well it's clearly the norm to resign in response to you oppo's move -face to face i think i would only resign on my opponents move if i had been behind, struggling to pull of a stunning reversal for a while, and wanted to save us both the hassle of carrying on. online, it's much more common. It happened to me in a tournament once where i was sweating severely trying to figure out a way of saving a group i thought had just been reduced to 1 eye, only for my oppo to throw in the towel...

jandrews271?: I think it's generally a little disrespectful to resign on your opponent's turn since you could just as easily resigned during your own turn, rather than making your opponent start thinking about his next move and then interrupting him. The implication is that you couldn't be bothered to think carefully enough before you played to decide that you needed to resign, and playing thoughtlessly is disrespectful since it implies you don't think much of your opponent's ability, and because it reduces the beauty of the game for both players.

Andy Pierce: Something I have seen on occasion on IGS is where a player will essentially go and make themselves a cup of tea and wait for the clock to run out so they lose on time rather than simply resigning. I consider it to be impolite, but I guess people still do it. Last night it was an 8d losing to a 7d. Maybe it looks like you just forgot to keep track of time, rather than getting flat-out beaten.

gaius: Letting your time run out is actually fairly common in Japanese byo-yomi. I personally like it, as it gives you like 30 seconds to contemplate your blunder and hopefully spot a brilliant, unnoticed reply... (actually, I mostly do it to prevent having to say "I resign" ;) --- Nobody mentioned it here, but many players I know, when they resign like to play the two stones. but then often in such a place that had the move be legal, they would be winning. so placing the two stones in a nice cut or kill. Although I think this is searching for the limits of politeness it is still fun.

One obvious way of resigning can be seen in Hikaru no Go: grab stones on the board with both hands and squeeze them, then stare at the floor and don't react to anything. Additionally, shedding some tears helps.

The next section is moved from [resign right before the dame are filled

In my opinion, this shows lack of respect for the opponent: You have forced the opponent to take the trouble of going on while the game was already decided, but you are unwilling to take the trouble of estimating the score and admitting the humiliation of the large difference yourself. -- Andre Engels

What if the dame involve an undetermined seki, which is the difference between a close game and a large loss, the possible capture of 3 large groups of stones about the seki, in a game that was just a social game for fun? Was it then disrespectful and rude not to resign? --TB I guess one should never play for fun?

It is disrespectful to consume the stronger opponent's time when the only way to win is for the opponent to make a large mistake. While such large mistakes sometimes do happen, to force the opponent to prove that they are not that stupid is disrespectful.

If a game-swinging seki or other position is undetermined, then by all means play on. What is assumed for the sake of the discussion here is that in both players' minds the game is clearly won barring an incautious mistake.

The less that is at stake (i.e. social game compared to tournament final game), the greater the disrespect. Resigning early and discussing it is more social and respectful of the opponent's expertise.

Alex Weldon: I'm convinced that my IGS rating would be about one stone higher if I did this, or the other players didn't. Everyone else does it, and about a quarter of the time, I do get so frustrated and impatient that I blunder a large chain of stones in yose and lose. Conversely, I always resign early if I'm clearly losing, so I don't win any such games to compensate for the ones I lose that way.

Ah well, ratings don't matter, and at least I can feel good about being polite even to impolite people.

The other day, I encountered a strange mix of good and bad manners: I was playing a game in person, and my opponent played on when badly behind, until I overlooked a sort of combination shortage of liberties/oiotoshi kind of thing in the last few moves of the game, and lost a huge section of the board. I tried to resign, but my opponent felt bad, and insisted that he resign, since he should have much earlier. We argued about it a little bit (me claiming I deserved to lose, for making such a stupid mistake, him claiming that it was unforgiveably rude of him to allow the game to go on to that point, etc.). It was just a friendly game, though, so we quickly just forgot about it and started playing the next game.

Warp: This is a bit unrelated and much less impolite than resigning at the dame-filling stage, but in my personal opinion resigning on your opponent's turn is a bit impolite as well. If you are going to resign you should be respectful and do it in your own turn.

When it's clear that you have lost and you are going to resign and it happens to be your opponent's turn, it's (in my opinion) polite to wait for him to play and then resign. This is like saying "yes, your response was good, I have nothing."

However, if you resign while your opponent is thinking, that's like saying "well, I'm not interested in your response, so forget it". This is rude and your opponent may feel that he was thinking in vain and it can be frustrating (I personally feel this way when someone does it to me).

SnotNose: I think some players play a move that doesn't work as a last ditch effort to see how you'll respond. If you don't take a moment to think and you play quickly, you may fall into the desperate (and avoidable) trap set up by the move. If you sit there thinking then your opponent begins to realize that you're going to find the flaw in the move and they resign. I think this is okay. (Note also: your opponent may not have seen how bad his move was until you start examining it. When they see the problems on their own, they resign.) The main ways I lose games is that I play one careless move, after playing 100+ careful ones. I am happy to have opponents that require me to play every move carefully but that also resign when I've passed the test and am clearly not going to fall for trick plays at the end of a won game.

Niklaus: I sometimes do this. When I do it I don't mean to offend or disrespect my opponent. It's more like "I trust you to find the obvious response to my crappy move, which I thought would save my dead group, but as soon as I played it I saw that it doesn't work"

Bellicose somthing like this is mentioned in the book FirstKyu it is called looking for a place t resign and it is just that. a last ditch move to see if they respond correctly and then you lose or if they overlook the threat and then you have the oppertuinity to come back.

TJ: I think a resignation is a resignation...I had an op resign just before passes, and I took that to mean "I just realized I've lost the game and probably could have resigned a while ago, so I won't waste more of your time." Resigning after the counting begins might indicate some pretty bad sportsmanship, but before then...well, you win, why ruin it by being steamed up about it?;)

Warp: I'm sorry, but I'm still not convinced. You may think that "by resigning now I'm telling you that I'm sure you will make the correct move so let's just end this". However, in my opinion you should think about your opponent's feelings, not yours. There's a good chance that your opponent will find it rude that you show no interest in his response even though he is thinking about it. There's a good chance that he will feel frustrated since he spent his efforts in reading and double-checking that his answer will work and then you will just interrupt him before he is ready.

In my opinion, if there's a chance that your opponent will find your action rude, then you should not do it.

TJ: Okay, maybe wait until it's your turn...but what matter how late in the game it is? That's really what I was arguing in the above comments. By extension, however, let's not imagine someone is being purposefully rude by resigning during your turn...maybe they counted while you were thinking, and felt like they were looking into the abyss.:) Some people think you're rude if you continue to play a lost game, end of story; some think it rude to resign when there are just dame left; some think it rude to resign once the end-game has been reached. Personally, I think it's never rude to resign, but that a resignation WHILE SCORING is actually a temper-tantrum and not a resignation...the game's already over...and therefore to be avoided for everyone's well being. It's also polite to be understanding of someone losing their composure, however. Sometimes it happens.

(Sebastian:) This page has become almost a lonely hearts column, so let me ask you about this experience, which puts the words "disrespectful" and "bad sportsmanship" into proportion. It doesn't really belong here, but then again, where does it belong?

Yesterday, I had this strange game with Daselki [30k?]. Towards the beginning, he said: "You're gonna win", and then around move 50 he passed. I offered to undo, but he refused and later explained "I didn't know what else to do". He did so again in chuban and shuban, so that it was no surprise when I was winning in the end. So much for self-fulfilling prophecies! When there were only a few points left, he said he was tired and excused himself.

How should one react to this? This was certainly "bad sportsmanship". Not sure if it was "disrespectful" - maybe he just doesn't know any better. On one hand, I felt dissappointed, but on the other I felt sorry for the guy. Should I have asked him to resign? When? Right after he passed for the first time? Should I really ask him to resume - as we agreed - next time I meet him?

BTW, How does KGS handle this? Will the game remain active forever? I'd like to keep it as a souvenir, but while it is in progress I can't save it, and I wouldn't want to resign it, either.

Warp: If he was approximately a 30k then there's a good chance that he simply didn't know the basic concepts of the game, for example what passing really means or that you can actually resign. It may be that he thought passing is just as valid and good as any other move (in some entirely different games that may actually be the case), and perhaps he didn't realize that actually winning/losing has some importance in kgs and that one can and should resign when one has lost.

FeGo: I believe that one can learn a lot by playing yose complete against an stronger opponent. Indeed, i use to resign whenever the difference was clear, but after a time I realized that my main weakness was yose, because most of the time I didnt play it. Although to play until the end waiting for your opponent to make a big mistake is in fact impolite and a lacl of respect, I believe that to play up to the end in non official games is really helpfull for kyu players like me.

WillerZ: Not so sure about that theory - stronger players stop bothering to kill things when they know they've already won.

Karl Knechtel: Many kyu players like a challenge, and prefer to play with reduced or no handicap. You can, probably, indeed learn more about the beginning of the game this way, but endgame suffers for the reason WillerZ points out. The obvious solution is to take full handicap (or even a stone or two extra) at least part of the time.

MarkD: I was watching a game of Nagahara sensei vs. a german 1d at the Ischgl Go Meeting. The 1d tried to resign right before the game was finished, but Nagahara sensei refused to accept the resignation and told his opponent that they have to count the game now. The 1d was about 60 points behind at this time and after the game he was told by Nagahara that it is very impolite to continue playing.

Minue: The german 1d was really rude. Nagahara pro should teach some basic manner of Go before teaching Go there.

Jonii[[2d]]: I really don't get what's so annoying about resigning before the dame are filled. I mean, win by 25pt or w+res, who cares? And if you guys find continuing a game rude, I'm quite interested in hearing the logic behind that one.

Games can played for reasons other than winning. I am under impression that some even find it fun to search the best moves. And if you don't want to continue playing a game you have practically won, it's kinda rude to claim that continuing is rude, don't you think? Your selfish habits of disliking weird time usage of the opponent or something like that should not be forced on the others, and trying to do so would seem quite 'rude'.

And, to go on, I think Nagahara was being ridiculous, but pro players can afford to do that. Refusing to accept resignation would be considered to be really rude under any other circumstances, and even here only the fact that Nagahara is pro and opponent is not saves him.

There's also the players who take it a step further and resign right before the user clicks the done button to confirm the scoring.

Here are a couple of disrespectful behaviours that I have encountered:

  1. My opponent in a game suggested to me that I should resign after I lost a group. However, I had a clear idea of the score and was ahead. I think it is quite rude to suggest to your opponent to resign. You should at least respect your opponents judgement about the timing to resign. In this particular case, it just made my opponent seem to not understand the object of the game.
  2. I have known pros to get frustrated if you play way past the point at which you should resign. Especially in a simultaneous game, it is very tiring for the pro to keep playing. If you are tens of points behind, you should probably resign out of respect for the pro.

end of discussion on resign right before the dame are filled

HowToResign/discussion last edited by Dieter on June 6, 2008 - 00:15
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