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I was originally wondering why we don't see more torturous type of games among masters. For example, instead of proceeding to checkmate, the player in control methodically takes all pieces of his opponent before ending the game. This would be a more gratifying experience, especially if there was bad blood between the players. Then it dawned on me, that at the master level, a player usual resigns as soon as he knows he lost competitive influence on the outcome of the game, thus he avoids subjecting himself to that kind of "punishment." But chess has a long history and perhaps I'm wrong and there is actually a few good instances of tortuous winning.

Question

Are there such examples of torturous winning, where a grandmaster resists his urge to resign and lets the opponent take all of his pieces before he gets checkmated? Perhaps taking every piece before checkmating is extreme, I would also accept answers that could show a famous grandmaster game where a winning player exhibits "arrogance."

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    Taking all of the enemy's pieces would only be more gratifying than mating quickly to a beginner – David Nov 27 '20 at 7:28
  • I have played this way when winning. I never thought of it as torturing, I thought of it as asking "Why aren't you resigning?" – Michael West Nov 27 '20 at 13:23
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    I imagine it is an impolite, even passive-aggressive act of the loser towards the winner! – Peter - Reinstate Monica Nov 27 '20 at 15:17
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    @MichaelWest: If the loser honestly believes that the winner is incapable of forcing checkmate, either because the loser has a poor tactical understanding or because they doubt the skill level of the winner, it is fair to play on. But that should not happen at the GM level. – Kevin Nov 28 '20 at 2:43
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    Sometimes it’s worth capturing all your opponents pieces in case you lose on time (e.g. in blitz). – Rebecca J. Stones Nov 28 '20 at 7:41
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Are there such examples of torturous winning, where a grandmaster resists his urge to resign and lets the opponent take all of his pieces before he gets checkmated?

No, there aren't, for the simple reason that that sort of behaviour would require both players to behave in an extremely childish manner and childish behaviour (e.g. "hope chess") is something you have to eliminate to become good enough to become a grandmaster.

The aim of the game is to checkmate the opponent, not take all their pieces. Good players understand this. All grandmasters are very good players. Delivering checkmate gives most adult players and all strong players far more pleasure than taking all the opponent's pieces.

What you do see sometimes amongst strong players, including grandmasters, is the player who is defeated by an unexpected tactical blow, which leads inevitably to checkmate, allowing the checkmate rather than resigning when it becomes clear what has happened. This is seen as particularly sporting behaviour. Normal behaviour would be to resign once it becomes clear. Spiteful behaviour would be to resign one move before checkmate.

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    Its just week sportsmanship and if you think about it chess has a bit of a "I'm smarter than you" mentality, and just wiping the bored and bullying your opponent does not demonstrate wisdom, intelligence or skill – David Bateman Nov 27 '20 at 9:01
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I think you will find plenty of examples of such games, in time-controlled games where it is in the interest of the losing player to keep playing for three reasons:

  1. To try and flag the winning player on time - winning.
  2. Time pressure could cause your opponent to blunder
  3. To try and salvage a draw through a stalemate.

Eric Rosen who streams on youtube is one of those players who never accept draws and I don't think I've seen him resign in time-controlled games. He is famous online for "The Rosen Trap" where he gets his opponent to blunder a winning position into a drawn stalemate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsKjIkYiiOA

On a side note: I once played a much higher rated player in a 5 or 10-minute game and he was up 1 or 2 pieces, expecting me to resign (I think) and when I didn't he proceeded to block in my king, and promote each and every pawn of his into knights, then moved his knights[horses] back to his side of the board - in effect building himself a ranch. Like a cowboy. I did not manage a stalemate.

But those types of games are usually not a good source for learning material - except of course if you want to teach to never give up, never give in!

  • He does resign in lichess tournaments. – xehpuk Nov 28 '20 at 16:56
  • yeah but there it is in your interest to play and win as many games as possible in the tournament time period. No point in waisting time on a losing game. – Herald Smit Nov 29 '20 at 9:13
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Probably not what you're looking for, but you might still be interested in this game.

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
[White "GM Andrew Tang"]
[Black "Leela Chess Zero"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Nge2 Be7 10. O-O Nc6 11. Rc1 h6 12. Bf4 a6 13. h3 Be6 14. Bh2 d4 15. Nxd4 Nxd4 16. exd5 Qxd4?? 17. Bh7+ Kxh7 18. Qxd4 Rad8 19. Qe3 Rfe8 20. Ne4 Bxa2 21. Nxf6+ Bxf6 22. Qf3 Bxb2 23. Rc2 Bd5 24. Qd3+ Be4 25. Qb3 Bxc2 26. Qxc2+ Kg8 27. Qxb2 b5 28. Be5 f6 29. Bxf6 gxf6 30. Qxf6 Rf8 31. Qg6+ Kh8 32. Re1 Rd7 33. Re6 Rg7 34. Qxh6+ Kg8 35. Rg6 Rxg6 36. Qxg6+ Kh8 37. Qxa6 b4 38. Qb6 b3 39. Qxb3 Rf7 40. Qg3 Rg7 41. Qxg7+ Kxg7 42. g4 Kf6 43. Kg2 Kg5 44. Kg3 Kg6 45. f4 Kf6 46. h4 Kg6 47. g5 Kh5 48. Kf3 Kg6 49. Kg4 Kg7 50. h5 Kh7 51. f5 Kg7 52. f6+ Kf7 53. Kf5 Kf8 54. g6 Kg8 55. Kg5 Kh8 56. Kh6 Kg8 57. g7 Kf7 58. Kh7 Kxf6 59. g8=Q Kf5 60. Qg6+ Ke5 61. Kg7 Kd4 62. h6 Ke5 63. h7 Kd4 64. h8=Q Kc4 65. Qhh5 Kb4 66. Qgg4+ Kc3 67. Qhh3+ Kb2 68. Qgg2+ Ka1 69. Qhh1#

Writeup of the match including this game.

Of course, this game only went on as long as it did because:

  1. It's ultrabullet. With 15 seconds on the clock you go for the guaranteed mate, not the fastest one.
  2. Leela's a chess engine. It won't resign if it's not programmed to do so.
  3. Humans should savour any opportunity they get to humiliate computers =)
  • I think Andrew took all Leela pieces because 1. It would be a draw if his flag falls, 2. With fewer black pieces, white play is easier: it is easier to premove. – Akavall Nov 28 '20 at 19:55
  • @Akavall yes, it also eliminates the possibility of a blunder. At longer time controls I believe Andrew would also have gone for a quick mate. – Allure Nov 30 '20 at 0:50

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