I often wonder if it is better to resign or keep playing at a disadvantage after making an obvious blunder (for instance, leaving a piece hanging, only to realize too late that you made the mistake).

Let me be clear: I am referring only to casual games (not tournament), and my main goals are 1) to have fun and 2) to improve.

It can be frustrating to keep playing at a disadvantage, but does that additional challenge help make you stronger, or is it better to just resign and start a new game?

An example would be the game below, where I blundered (black) on move 13 and left my bishop hanging... should I keep playing or resign?

 [FEN ""]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Qxd7 8.Nc3 Nxd5 9.d3 Nc6 10.O-O Nxc3 11.bxc3 O-O-O 12.f4 f6 13.Ne4 Bc5+

4 Answers 4


First, I would try and keep a very straight face, and maybe your opponent will "trust" you, and overlook the blunder. It has happened before even with very strong players.

That said, if the opponent takes it, you should probably decide based on your level of skill and your perceived level of skill of the opponent, and if the position is messy.

For example, if you are playing a master, and the position is just a clear piece down, you should probably resign. If you are playing an 800-player, then it is very possible that you can play on despite your error.

What I mean by "messy" is if the position is a tactical mess even without the piece, it is more likely that your opponent can still make an error, but if it is just a clear piece down with no tricks, as in the position you gave, then you may as well resign if your opponent is a reasonably decent player.

Lastly, is it a blitz game, or an over-the-board tournament game? (I know in this case, you said it was casual.) If it is blitz, it really does not matter as much either way since it will be over soon; but if it is OTB, it matters more, but your opponent also has that much more time to figure things out.

In the end, there is no right or wrong answer, and you have to evaluate the circumstances, and do what you think is best at that moment.

Do keep in mind that if it were a tournament game, that playing it out may also tire you for the next game.

  • In the position above, I would probably just resign. There is not much to be learned by playing that position a piece down. If the opponent were the weaker one, you might let them have the learning experience of trying to convert the winning position. Mar 20, 2020 at 19:29

In general, there is one question you should ask yourself to help decide whether a given position is worth playing out: "With colors reversed, would I have any trouble whatsoever winning this?" If the answer is yes, then you should definitely play on. If the answer is no, and you have a reason to believe that your opponent will not mess the win up, then there is no real point in continuing the game.

In the example you gave, I would say that it depends entirely of the level of play. If it's a game between titled players I would expect a resignation from black but at lower levels I don't think it would be necessary to resign quite yet, as I think there is enough life in the position for a master to turn the game around as black against the average club player (with this I simply mean that there is plenty of room for mistakes left in the position).


I understand that one of your goals is

2) to improve.

Think of this as an opportunity to improve. Regardless of evaluation "what is the best move?" is a useful question. How to play for a win when down material is a skill to work on. When losing it becomes more important than usual to find moves that provoke or trouble your opponent and aim for a swindle. These are good chess skills.

As @Akavall points out in this position "anything can happen" you definitely can play actively here.

I once won a game where I dropped a piece in the opening. I won a pawn but went into the ending of rook vs rook+knight and won because it turned out my opponent had no idea how to play this ending.

I always play on if I drop a piece in the opening because there is so much to try. Usually I end up resigning in the early middlegame.

I read an article by a GM that I cannot find right now where he said winning a game where he lost a piece in the opening was the critical game in his chess development. It is when he realized that he was going to be very good at chess. I think it was a chess.com article.

Since this is a casual game you may consider whether you are annoying your opponent. Folks get annoyed for any reason and you may wish to behave so that they continue to want to play you.


I would not resign this. With opposite side castling and queens still on the board, anything can happen.

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