Never Withdraw from a Chess Tournament!

Hello everyone, Welcome to the May 2022 Chess Gaja Newsletter, and it’s me, your friend and coach GM, FT Priyadharshan Kannappan. In this month’s blog, I wanted to talk about withdrawing from chess tournaments and why it’s a bad thing to do!

There is a prevalent habit that’s particular to the U.S. Chess scenario! That’s withdrawing from a tournament if a few rounds don’t go the way you have planned.

I have played in tournaments on 3 continents, and I have never seen tournament withdrawal happen so common as in the U.S.

I wanted to delve deeper into this and convince you why you shouldn’t withdraw from an event even if you have a terrible event.

Reasons for Withdrawing from an event

The common reasons for withdrawal are the following

  • Losing a few games in a row
  • Losing against really lower-rated players
  • Schoolwork to be completed
  • Having a flight to catch
  • Emergency

    I will not comment on withdrawing due to an emergency or travel situation in this article. Instead, the blog will discuss the other reasons mentioned for tournament withdrawals.

Losing a few games in a row

The tournament didn’t go as you had planned, and you have lost a bunch of games, and you had no realistic chance of winning a prize or reaching the goal that you had in mind at the start of the tournament.

I know it sucks to be in such a situation as your motivation levels would be on an all-time low, and you would start questioning your ability to play chess, and you might think it’s good to withdraw from the tournament to avert more disaster in the event.

Reframe your goals

At that moment, what I would suggest is to “REFRAME YOUR GOALS” as you came to the tournament to give your best right. In such a scenario, reframe your goal for the tournament from “Winning the Event” to something like “I will take it 1 game at a time and give my best.

Whatever result happens, I will accept it, and I am so proud of myself for still hanging in there and fighting it out even when things are not going the way I want it to be!”


Reframing your goals will give you a new perspective on what has happened and give you the ability to better handle the situation at hand, as you won’t feel terrible about what has happened so far.

Losing against really lower-rated players

So you are losing against lower-rated players, and your rating is dropping at an alarming level, and you start thinking, if I withdraw now, I can salvage my rating from not falling further.

The problem with this approach is that if you are in bad form, it will continue into your next event if you withdraw hastily from this tournament. So the best way to get out of a bad form is to fight it out and get the “Sunset” part of your performance done with as much as possible in 1 bad event than having 2 bad events!

Once the bad streak ends, you can look forward to strong performances in future events.

Schoolwork to be completed

This is a big issue for many kids where the school isn’t fully supportive of your chess tournaments, or there is no other option as it’s a very important homework to be submitted.

You have to juggle school homework and chess during the event, and trust me, I know how hard it is as in between rounds in so many events, I have done my homework instead of preparing for my next round opponent.

There isn’t any solution to this other than just trying to get better at time management. If you think excessive HW would have to be completed, I would say better skip planning for the tournament altogether, as you need to give your utmost best to get the best results in a tournament!

Having a flight to catch

Many a time, it’s not just about flight, but players would be like, instead of playing the final round where I have no chance to win anything, if I get going now, I can reach home by Sunday night, so I will have the Monday to go to school or work or do whatever I want!

When you sign up for a chess tournament, you commit yourself to play the entire event giving your absolute best for every game!

If you can commit only to 75% of the tournament, please don’t sign up for it! As that’s not what a professional or an aspiring professional chess player would do.

My final thoughts

If you start withdrawing from events, it will become a bad habit, and at the first possible bad outcome that you face, you will withdraw from a tournament EVERY SINGLE TIME!

One of the important traits in becoming a successful chess player is to be resilient and to handle pressure, so if you withdraw from events, you will never be able to learn those traits, and that basically means you can never become a successful chess player in the long run if you get into the habit of withdrawing from events.

Key Takeaways for you

Refer to a friend

I hope you liked the article! If you do, please share it with your friends and also, in the comments box, let me know what topics would you be interested in reading in future blogs!

If you have a different opinion on anything mentioned on the blog, please share that in the comment section!

Good luck in your upcoming tournaments

GrandMaster Priyadharshan Kannappan

Image Credits :

1. Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

2. Man thinking photo created by wayhomestudio –