Resigning is where you give up and concede defeat. You lose and your opponent wins. Usually you resign because you are way behind and have no chance of winning.

Resignation Etiquette

The tournament procedure for resigning usually involves a verbal statement like “I resign” along with an action indicating resignation, such as turning your King on his side, pushing your King into the center of the board, or stopping the clocks. A handshake is customary. In senior tournaments, the verbal statement is often omitted (or it might be “yes” or “well played” or something else) and players may simply stop the clock, or offer their hand for a handshake. Nobody’s thrilled to be resigning but most players are courteous in defeat.

Resigning needs to be unambiguous. Some care needs to be taken to ensure that your opponent is stopping the clocks to resign, rather than claiming a draw. A handshake without a clear verbal statement could be a draw offer or a resignation, although the context of the position on the board usually makes it clear.

Don’t Resign!

Resigning is optional. You can keep playing as long as you like, even if you only have a King. After all, you might be able to still swindle for a stalemate, which is a draw (better than resigning).

You cannot compel resignation. Your opponent has the right to make you finish the game, no matter how long it may take. You cannot ask the arbiter to declare the game a win (except when time has run out in tournaments where “adjudication” is used). Just play for checkmate. Carefully. Don’t forget about stalemate.

Resignation is Final

You cannot “un-resign”. If you resign and then later you figure out a great saving move (e.g. your coach showed it to you), you cannot then ask to continue the game, nor can you go to the referee to ask for an adjudication. If you resign, the game is finished.

Keep on Fighting!

Are you sure you want to resign? There is a saying in chess that “You cannot win by resigning.” Even if you are despondent about your position, you’ve lost your Queen or worse, but sometimes you get lucky. Your opponent makes a mistake and you win their Queen back. Or you get a draw or a stalemate. Are you sure you want to give up so easily?

Related Chess Rules Topics

Read more about these related chess rules, chess puzzles, and other chess tactics and strategies: