And fittingly, both FIDE Masters I've beaten (the only Masters I've beaten) have resigned in positions I wouldn't have resigned in myself. Is this, I wonder, due to their superior understanding and trust in their opponent's technique and accuracy? And thus conversely, is the reason I wouldn't have resigned due to my own lack of insight into when a position is actually clearly lost? Or are there other reasons? I'm not sure. Let's take a look.
The first position is from January from this year, and my opponent with the black pieces resigned here:
Now, it's true I was fairly confident that after 22... Qa3 23. Qxa3 Bxa3 24. Bxb7 Ra7 25. a6 I would be able to play for a win based not so much on the extra pawn, but on the trapped nature of his rook on a7. I was fairly sure that the win was just a case of managing to attack the thing with my dark-squared bishop, in fact. However, when I briefly analyzed it with a computer after, it wasn't so obvious that I could have managed that - and trying to do so might have allowed him to wriggle out by, for instance, trying to exchange his knight for the b7 bishop. But none of that mattered, because my opponent resigned. Should he have played on?
The second position is from my game last night in our London League match against Athenauem. My opponent had the white pieces and resigned here:
The white knight on a5 is attacked and has to move. At first glance it looks as if wherever it goes, then 39...Nc4 just wins the other knight, pinned on e3.
However, this is not the case and as my opponent held out his hand, I was still trying to work out what I'd do after 39.Nb7 Nc4 40.e5+ Kg7 41.Nd6, which saves the piece because the c8 bishop is trapped, one way or another. Now, black should still win this just by gobbling some pawns (the computer tells me) but there are also certain clear ways for black to go wrong; in particular after 41...Bxe3+ 42.Ke2 Nxd6? 43.exd6 a draw suddenly looks like a plausible result due to the opposite coloured bishops. So should he have played on, at least to make sure I avoided this? I would have.
And what about you, dear reader. Would you have resigned both of these positions? Either? Neither?