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Resigning a game with grace!

by Sagar Shah - 07/08/2019

Wei Yi, currently rated 2727, is world no.27. He is one of the finest chess players in the world with a fine tactical acumen and an ability to play fearless chess. Known as the best chess prodigy, Wei Yi became the youngest GM in the world to not just cross the 2600 Elo mark but also 2700! He has created many brilliancies in his chess career, the most famous one being Wei Yi vs Bruzon Batista in 2015. However, in the fifth round of the Belt and Road International 2019, he was at the receiving end of some brilliant play by Surya Sekhar Ganguly. Wei Yi made an opening error and was completely lost after move no.9. Credit goes to Ganguly for making the next seven moves with great precision and all that Wei Yi could do was resign the game. But here lies the point of the entire article. Instead of just resigning the game, Wei Yi played a small practical joke, gave up his queen in a funny way and even after the event was sport enough to laugh at his own mistake! Check out the Chinese prodigy's great sportsman spirit.

In round 5 of the Belt and Road International 2019 Surya Sekhar Ganguly was paired against Wei Yi. The Chinese player with a 100 extra Elo points was definitely the favourite in the battle. However, after just nine moves, he was pushed to the wall as he made an opening error.


Surya Sekhar Ganguly vs Wei Yi, Belt and Road 2019, Round 5

9...Bc5 by Wei Yi was a mistake which allowed Surya to powerfully take over the initiative

The entire game can be replayed below with the video analysis as well, but before that I would like to show you the final position.

Ganguly has played his knight to e4 and attacked the queen on c5. The knight on g4 is hanging and subsequently also the bishop on g3. Black is utterly lost and he could just resign the game. But instead of it, Wei Yi played:

...Qg1!! The double exclamation is for the sense of humour! Of course Surya was not going to take on g1 with his rook. Ganguly took with his king and Wei Yi resigned.

After the move ...Qg1+ the mood at the board lightened up. Ganguly took the queen and was smiling. He knew why Wei Yi had sacrificed the queen. The Chinese GM was also smiling at what he had done. After an intense game of chess, it feels nice to see that both players could share a nice joke together. Wei Yi's sportsmanship can be seen from this photo at the closing ceremony!

Every once in a while you should have the ability to laugh at your own mistakes! | Photo: Surya Sekhar Ganguly's Facebook

It goes without saying that Wei Yi is going to go back home and will spend a good number of hours in fixing this line with black. But as of now all we can say is that we are impressed with his sportsman spirit.

Wei Yi's opening mistake and Ganguly's gutsy play explained in this video by IM Sagar Shah

My experience of resigning with grace

This game took place at round 8 of the Abdul Jabbar tournament in Nagpur in 2008. I was playing my good friend Sohan Phadke and just after a few moves in the opening I had won a piece. Sohan could have simply resigned the game but instead decided to fight with whatever was left. I became careless at some point, later nervous and finally was dead lost! Thinking on the board about how the events had transpired, made me feel really depressed. I could have simply resigned the game and then felt miserable for the rest of the day. Instead I decided to something cheeky!


Sohan Phadke vs Sagar Shah

I touched my king and castled long in the above position! Of course, it was an illegal move because on move 10 I had castled short! Sohan, who was completely concentrated under time pressure, was stunned with this move! His immediate reaction was to call the arbiter. I stopped the clock, smiled and resigned the game, Sohan also began to laugh and so did the crowd! Although eleven years have passed since this game, this episode is quite vivid in my memory!


Do you recall a game in your chess career, where you resigned with grace? Well, if you do, then let us know about it in the comments section below!

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