Wasting time in a lost game


I had never seen this until it happened to me the other night. I suppose it may be a fair ploy in some cases, but I found it quite unnecessary and offensive.

I was playing white in a 4-stone handicap game, and the game was finished. A preliminary count showed that I was ~20 points ahead. We played with a clock, and I had around 2 minutes left, wheras my opponent had around 5 minutes left. The dame were filled and the status of all the groups were clear. (By the way, this was not a blitz.)

He proceeded to continue to play moves inside my territory, leaving me to capture his stones when required or passing, seemingly with the hope that my time would run out before he had reduced me to living groups with just 2 eyes each.

As it happened, he ran out of moves before I ran out of time, and I won by what turned out to be 17 points. But I don't think I will want to play him again anytime soon.


@Morten Pahle That's the downside of playing absolute time settings. I have encountered it multiple times in real life tournaments. Pro players will never do this due to how shameful it is and pretty much everyone in the Go world will know and despie you for it. Not forgetting that they usually have byoyomi/overtime. Ah the perils we amateurs have to face!

Note to programmers of computer Go players: A good number of computer Go programs play this way, and it's very irritating when the human player has already won the game.


Indeed, but recognising whether one has won or lost requires an ability to evaluate the whole board position, which in turn requires the ability to judge the status of all groups on the board; these two judgement calls are very difficult to program into computers. Once they are able to do this reliably, you will likely find that they won't need to know when to resign very often :-)

-- BenFinney

You were ahead on the board, and your opponent was ahead on the clock. In other words, you'd sacrificed time for position, and now your opponent was attempting an upset using what tools he or she had. If you were ahead in territory, and your opponent had received thickness in exchange, would you be mad if they tried to use their thickness to their advantage?

To me, it makes sense to either accept the clock as part of the game or not play with a clock at all.

-- DougRidgway

I accept cigarette smoke as a part of the club atmosphere and as such as part of a game. But if my opponent continuously blows smoke into my face, I won't play him soon again either. Mortens example is an extreme case of unsporting behaviour. Even passing requires a small amount of time, and if multiplied by the number of empty spaces with liberties on the board, the opponent can win on time in many cases. See also the tournament rules of last Toyota Denso cup in Amstelveen, tipping the balance even too much in favour of sportmanship for my taste.


The opposite thing happened in a tournament I played in January. I was about 30 points or more down on the board, with 10 minutes on the clock. My opponent had about 30 seconds. The tournament rules were sort of like "sudden death": when my opponent ran out of time, he would not be allowed to move; but I could make moves, as long as I had time on the clock. Similar to sudden death, but more like "sudden paralysis" or "sudden coma". So there I was with 9 minutes more than he, about midway through the yose. I thought about engineering a win on time; instead I resigned, to the surprise of everyone. If the board position were less clear, I would have kept playing. But I just didn't feel good about winning on time when the board position was so hopeless by itself. (But I could not fault a player who would keep playing to win on time; it is part of the rules after all.) I guess I don't have the killer instinct. -- TakeNGive

Jasonred : The point being, Morten was not ahead on the board but behind on time... the game was actually OVER... this is different from not resigning when you're 50 points below, but half the board is open, and you have 30 minutes while your opponent has 30 seconds...

Unfortuneately, this bad behaviour is very common in all blitz games, whether Go, Chess, or any other timed game :( ... -- Tim Brent

Fhayashi: I had someone do this to me in a blitz game on KGS. I had things mostly wrapped up, he kept playing silly moves to eat up time. Then he finally passed, I passed, and during the "dead stone selection" phase, he suddenly "undos" and plays another move. It's all legal though, so I can't really complain. I've won and lost games where we've played in the opponent's large eyespace and kept getting/giving "pass" responses, only to end up with a big, dead group.

JasonD: I like to think of it this way: my opponents are perfectly capable of managing their time, as am I. Running out of time means you lose, regardless of the board position. If you dont like it, you shouldn't have agreed to the time settings. If you lose on time, you need to think a little faster or manage your time better.

What is the point of spending most of your time getting a superior board position, and then complaining because your opponent uses a strategy that allows him to win? Having a 30k player play against a dan with the dan having only 30 seconds of play time and the 30k 30 minutes... who should win? If the dan agrees to the time settings, he shouldn't complain. See Complaining about time settings

I like the statement above about trading territory for thickness, or whatever. Trading time for a better position is the same thing.

Calvin: In tournaments using Ing Timing, using overtime is compensated in points. This can lead to some odd strategies, but solves certain problems. For example, if you know you can win the game by a lot if you just had a couple more minutes to solve a life and death problem, you could purchase that time in Ing timing, whereas with conventional time systems, you'd either just take your best guess or think and lose on time.

Jay?: This (and other unsportsmanlike) behaviors happen, online and, less frequently, in real life. My solution is to resign and never play them again. I play enough games that it's not going to matter.

BobMcGuigan: In the old days (75+ years ago) in Japan there were no clocks but sometimes pros used time as a weapon. There is a good story on this topic by Nakayama Noriyuki. John Power's translation is published in Go World issue 50. Hoshino was playing Sakata and adopted a strategy of trying to outlast his opponent. Many hours were spent on each move, the goal being to tire out the opponent (there were no adjournments) and cause mistakes. This is a different kind of (ab)use of time than that discussed above. I think it all depends on one's reason for playing. In the go clubs I've frequented, clocks are almost never used for friendly games, except if it is explicitly a blitz game. So why are there almost universally time limits on servers? I think it is to keep things moving along and to allow someone to know approximately how long the game will last. Most server games are "friendly" games so, in my opinion, the goal should be to play good games. Sudden death games guarantee poor play due to time consciousness.

nachtrabe: In a club atmosphere, because it is a circumstance where everyone knows everyone else, there is a cost for rude behavior. There is no cost for rude behavior on a server. Thus, while games on a server can be considered "informal," I would hesitate to call them "friendly."

I have played opponents on servers who, when it was clear that they lost on the board, just started progressively taking more and more time. If they have 15 minutes on the clock plus byo yomi, they take fifteen minutes for fifteen moves even after it is clear that they have lost. These are opponents I will never play again.

Another opponent played me in an untimed game. He took 1-3 minutes per move... even when he was 40 points behind on the board. It wasn't until he was nearly 100 points behind on the board (I managed to capture a large group) that he finally relented and resigned. The consequence of this is that I no longer play untimed games.

Club games are a very different atmosphere from sever games. Things that almost never happen in the former are commonplace in the latter.

Blake: If you don't like losing on time, you should play with different time controls. :) If you use byo-yomi timing, you will have 30 seconds per move for as long as you can keep moving within 30 seconds; in canadian overtime (IGS timing), you have a certain amount of time to play a certain number of moves, infinitely, as long as you play that number of moves in the set time. Either method prevents time-killing.

Quantumf What about the situation where your move takes a particularly long time because of the capture of stones? I recently lost a game, played under Canadian rules, where I had about 15 seconds for my last move. However, this move involved taking about 20 stones off the board. I wasn't able to complete the removal of stones in time and ended up losing. This seemed ridiculous, and one could certainly extrapolate to an extreme example, for instance, removing a 100 stone group in 30 second Japanese byoyomi. You would be unlikely to be able to remove all those stones in time, certainly not without messing up the board.

  • DrStraw: You are obviously referring to playing over the board and in this situation is considered normal to be able to stop the clock for removing more than 4 or 5 stones.

Imagist: I was playing a game once on KGS where the settings were around 30 minutes/30 moves (Canadian byo-yomi). We both played much more rapidly than the clock warranted, but I didn't think anything of this until it became clear that I had won (after about 100 moves). My opponent had about 25 minutes left in which to make 20 moves, when he stopped playing. Not resigned, stopped. He was obviously hoping to cause me to leave out of boredom, making me the escaper. However, I stuck around. With about a minute left on his clock, he played a move (probably hoping I had forgotten about the game). I hadn't, and I responded, leaving him with a minute to make 19 moves. This all would have been annoying if I hadn't started playing another game on Cyberoro as soon as his intentions became clear. :)

Oh, oh, I think everyone has such "nice" impressions from server-go (there may be situations eg. tournaments where its ok). Well this could be annoying with the first thought, but with the secound.... I have pity on my opponent and I start wasting time thinking if I should help him and solving question like:

-Why he is doing this?

If he win this way his rank wont change, because this is not the best method to improve the readout.

-May be he will exacerbate me?

Isn't go also a game which is high philosophic? If he has the philosophy of exacerbate his opponents, I am wondering how he could evan understand the rouls.

-May be he has problems with losing a game?

Also strange. I always thought losing is normal and without accepting that you will never find the line between over- and underplay. If it is so, he should play only with weeker players (no handy), or better start playing Tetris.

Sometimes in a good mood I decide to help him out of his dark golees room and start typing my first comment, ofcourse politely. Sending this to the client, looking up to the screen... and ... he already left the room.... well sometimes a glass of water is half full and sometimes a glass of water is half empty. QWerner

This reminds me of when I played an alleged fan of Hikaru no Go, and once the game was over, he started playing in my territory, forcing me to capture him, and then in his own, trying to prolong the inevitable. We were on a faulty version of Fischer time, where if you played quick enough, you could gain more time than you lost, and I wanted to go to bed, so (I'm sorry to say) when he proclaimed, "I'll never resign!", I got upset and complained that he was helping neither of us by doing as he did, and that he was no fan of the game. He resigned and left. I doubt he and I will ever meet again - partly because it looks like the server we used got closed.

The above sounds like how Fischer time is normally implemented, not a faulty version at all. Anyway, the solution to all problems is to use Fischer time, Area scoring, and time paralysis (automatic pass every move instead of automatic loss) as the rules for the game.

You can then split your own territory into shapes impossible to make life in, make everything Pass alive, and run out of time.

Wasting time without moving is a little harder in Fischer time than in absolute, and so long as you can keep alternating moves you can follow the above strategy in a won game.

This is a solution for server games with strangers, the solution for friendly games is for your friend to not be a jackass.


togo: Unfortunately the solution with making groups pass alive does not work with seki ...

Wasting time in a lost game last edited by on December 24, 2016 - 23:28
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