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In a recent online game, I offered a draw when the endgame is clearly drawing. To my surprise, instead of replying to my draw offer, my opponent resigned. I have no idea why they did so and my best guess is a misclick.

I am brainstorming and I guess there might be some possible scenarios that one may resign when a draw is offered:

  • In a tournament, if winning is the only meaningful result for a player while drawing and losing make virtually no difference to them. Seeing winning is hopeless, they may resign instead of accepting the draw offer.
  • A player is clearly losing while his opponent who does not need to win the game, or in a hurry to leave, offered a draw. Embarrassesd at this draw offer, the player chooses to resign instead.
  • A player chooses to lose a game on purpose, such as keeping their rating lower so that they can enter some tournament with a restriction on rating.

I have two questions related to this:

  1. When a draw is offered, can a player resign as a reply? I think it should be technically legal for them to decline the draw offer first and resign on the next move, but is it legal to reply with resignation when a draw is offered?
  2. Though extremely rare, is it considered unsporting (if legal at all) to resign at a draw offer?
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    Re: "chooses to lose on purpose" -- in the Swiss Gambit the player deliberately loses the first game of a Swiss system tournament, in order to come up against weaker players in the later games. – Pete Becker Jul 12 at 20:11
  • Is there also a possibility that the opponent does not recognize that the position is a draw? – justhalf Jul 14 at 2:47
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is it legal to reply with resignation when a draw is offered?

Of course. This is all that the FIDE Laws of Chess has to say about resignation:

5.1.2 The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game.

You can resign at any time during the game. It doesn't even need to be your turn. I have done this. I once played a move that would blunder my queen, realized as I pressed the clock and immediately resigned before my opponent could play the move I missed.

is it considered bad sportsmanship ... to resign at a draw offer?

No. Why should it be? There are some circumstances where it could be considered good sportsmanship. Suppose, in the last round of a tournament, player A requires just a draw to win the tournament outright and offers his opponent, player B, a draw in a completely winning position. Player B could accept the draw but it might be more sporting to just resign.

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    You do have to be careful about not intentionally losing, though. – D M Jul 12 at 12:47
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    Thank you! I always thought there are only two ways to decline a draw offer: Verbally declining or making the next move. Now I realise that one can also decline a draw offer by resignation. Thanks for pointing this out! – Zuriel Jul 12 at 14:42
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Anybody can resign at any time.

Why he did not take the draw sounds like he is throwing the game to hurt someone else in the standings. He needed a win for himself but otherwise he preferred x lose and y win (or place higher).

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