Never Give In

Adam Hrankowski

Well, almost never

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“You resign now.”The Queen’s Gambit / Netflix (Fair Use)

When do you resign a game of chess?

We could take the advice of Mr. Shaibel, Beth Harmon’s mentor in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. Then, hanging your Queen is a good time to resign. (I can think of two sisters who would probably disagree. What would Mr. Shaibel think of the Botez Gambit? But, I digress.)

Here’s a game where I played White. Mr. Shaibel would not have been impressed with me.

The Engine ranks this position as 21, in favour of Black. Black is up four Rooks, or two Queens and a Knight. However you slice it, White is in the doghouse. “Run!” says the Engine, and recommends Qh8, which leaves Black with a mate in 7. White is doomed, but perhaps we can prolong the agony.

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Black: 21 “Best” move Qh8, Black to mate in 7Screenshot from chess.com

As White, I had 32 seconds left on the clock to Black’s 1:09. I played Re7, slightly worsening my position, if the Engine is to be trusted. (Yet, not a forced mate for Black, now.)

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Black: 22Screenshot from chess.com

Why would I do this? The Rook is poisoned. With so little time on the clock, will Black take the bait?

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White M2: 32s White vs 1:09 BlackScreenshot from chess.com

Yes! This flips to being a forced mate for White. Black resigned here.

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M1. Black resignsScreenshot from chess.com

What if Black hadn’t resigned? Black could have played the one legal move, Kc8. What if I, in my haste, then returned blunder for blunder? What if I had pushed my pawn forward? Would I have? I’ll never tell.

Endgame practice builds chess muscles. I once made an online opponent chase my lone King around the board with his Rook. He kept calling me to resign. We were playing about 800 on chess.com at the time. Why would I assume, at such a low rating, he could avoid stalemate?

He eventually mated me. Eventually. And afterward, I made sure I knew how to mate with a Rook. I suspect he did as well.

Originally published on Medium.

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I thought I was a renaissance man. Turns out I have ADHD.

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