Surely at some point in your life, you will have seen these clocks in various chess matches. Chess clocks have some important differences from the usual clocks, but their basic resemblance is that they count time and most of them they do that with great precision. These clocks are essential equipment for big chess matches and in some tournaments, players are obligated to bring their own chess clock.
The Importance of Chess Clocks
They are so widespread and so essential to a game of chess because time constraints allow good players to stand out from the slightly better ones. This, though at first glance seems difficult to comprehend, can easily be understood by someone with a simple example. In a chess game, finding a good or even optimal move requires time that varies from player-to-player. If this difference in time continues to burden the same player, then obviously one of the players will run out of time and he will lose. So, time as a variable can influence the outcome of a game between players with similar levels of skill.
The main problem is that the fear of running out of time influences your decision. If you have played a couple of times in tournament matches then you will know the frustrating feeling of losing to someone who has less skill than you. For a few years, I was losing matches that I should have won because I couldn’t deal with time management. Psychology is a big part of chess and it affects both advanced and amateur players. Thankfully, someone noticed this problem and offered me some tips to solve it.
Eventually, I found out that I could train myself to handle the pressure on timed matches. The most important factor that helped solve this problem was training using a chess clock. I intentionally bought a clock that was similar to the ones I used in tournaments. This was a little psychology trick. When I started, I made sure that the duration of the games was relatively large so the pressure to me would be insignificant. However, I always kept decreasing the duration of the game because I wanted to learn time management. In a few months, I managed to greatly increase my speed and to have more concentration. Over the years I have witnessed similar stories with my own and in my opinion, players who participate in tournaments ought to own one.
How to Use Effectively Chess Clocks
The operation of a chess clock is quite simple. Firstly, it consists of two different clocks that indicate the time remaining for each player. They are not completely independent of each other, since when one of them stops counting, then the other one continues to count. This process can happen by pressing a button. Any player who finishes his move presses the button on his side and immediately the opponent’s clock starts, while at the same time the clock of the player who just finished his move stops counting.
In addition to simply removing the amount of time that a player takes to make a move, there are some other techniques that have been applied in the past to many international games and have now been established in many big tournaments. One technique is time delay. With this method when a player finishes his move, the clock doesn’t start immediately but with a time delay for the other player. For example, if the delay is 3 seconds, the remaining time is 15 minutes and the player needs 17 seconds to make his or her move then the clock with this setting will do the following process. Initially, the clock will stay at 15 minutes for the first 3 seconds, but then it will normally start counting the rest of the 14 seconds, finally reaching the final value of 14 minutes and 46 seconds.
Another technique is the so-called Fischer named after the famous Grandmaster. In this case, before even a player makes his move, a certain amount of time is removed from his clock. So in total, a player loses the time needed to make his move plus the added time.
Finally, another well-known technique is Bronstein. In this case, the remaining time is increased by a certain amount after a move is completed. If a player completes his move in less time than the amount of time that is added to the clock then, the remaining time stays the same. This way, a player’s time can never be increased, but it can stay stagnant or it can be decreased.
These are the most basic functions of the chess clocks that have occupied players for several years. Of course, apart from these time-measuring techniques in a game, there are still many other ways to do it.
Parameters That You Should Consider Before Buying
Chess clocks are divided into two major categories, analog and digital. Analog clocks are obviously the oldest ones and their design many times is amazing. These clocks usually do not have extra mechanisms they simply reduce time to each player, but they offer a special touch in the game. When a player’s time is over, a small flag is activated in some of them. They are definitely great decorative items and people like to take a closer at them if they see one of them. On the other hand, the digital ones are obviously more modern and they offer a variety of functions. So, in general, it’s all about choosing between practicality and aesthetics.
In addition to choosing between digital and analog clocks, a chess player must also take into account some basic parameters for purchasing a suitable clock.
Material: The material from which the watch is made tells a lot about its durability in the long run, but also about the feel of the button press. In addition to this, the material plays an important role in the general clock image. Metal and wood are obviously the finest materials you can come across in a chess clock, unlike plastic that in whatever form it is offering a limited aesthetic image on the watch but making it at the same time less resistant to wear and tear.
Functions: Each clock offers its user various functions. Choosing the right clock will be done according to the buyer’s requirements. These functions can be time delay, Fisher, Bronstein, Word, Hour glass, etc.
Button: As simple as the clock button is shown, it is very important in terms of touch feel, even saving time. There are two basic types of buttons. One is the push button and the other is the touch button.
Notifications: In a chess clock, alerts for a fairly reduced time, weak battery, and player change sound are very important in a game.
Autonomy: Another important feature for such a clock is its battery autonomy. A good watch should be able to operate after hours of use. There is no worse thing during a game than having to interrupt it due to an unexpected malfunction of the clock.
Price: In general, chess clocks are affordable but still the price is an important factor. Each person has his own budget and nobody should spend more than he/she can afford.
Recommendations About Chess Clocks
If you try to make a search online you will find many great offers on chess clocks. I like shopping online because I have a variety of products to choose from in comparison to shopping at a local store. However, this can backfire because too much information can create confusion. So, I think it is important to mention in this article the best chess clocks that I found online.
It is a good and affordable chess clock that can be easily moved as it is small (6.6 x 4.1 x 2.3 inches) and light (10.4 ounces). Its construction material is entirely plastic and it looks modern. The clock has two large and easy-to-read screens. As far as its functional features can support simple time-outs, Fisher time and delay time of up to 59 seconds. These features are very good and in combination with its low price, this clock is suitable for any player. In addition to this, however, an important advantage is the easy way to choose the different settings as it contains three buttons. This makes it easy for every user even if they have the first contact with chess clocks.
Power is provided with a single AA battery, unlike other clocks on the market. This makes it easier to use because you do not have to worry about charging two or more batteries but only one. Besides, it also offers an audible alert when a player’s time is over. This notice is very important in blitz games because usually, it is difficult to determine the winner when the time difference between the players is very small.
Finally, this clock has a one-year guarantee from its official dealership thus providing security for the buyer. It has to be stressed that the packaging is also thoughtful and friendly to the buyer as it can be used for future storage and transportation.
- Light and small
- 1-year warranty
- Simple design
- Very basic modes: Fisher mode, time delay
This clock has received great reviews by buyers and you can check it out here on Amazon.
LEAP Robolife Professional is another simple and affordable clock. It’s small in size, extremely light and you can operate it by using an AA battery. So, if you would like to take the clock wherever you play, this is a suitable clock for you.
Its material is a durable and quality plastic called ABS. The manufacturer offers one year guarantee and he claims that you can use it for at least 10 years.
There are two screens on this clock that are large enough considering its small size. Therefore, players won’t have an issue reading them. You can use this clock to play international chess, Chinese chess, and I-GO. Among its modes are time delay, bonus time and count up/ count down timer. The duration of a game can you reach as far as 10 hours which is more than enough time for any type of game. There is a sound warning when a player runs out of time and the previous time for each player is stored in its memory. All those functionalities make it a tempting option to any player. It has received excellent reviews and it’s definitely one of my favorite clocks in this list. You can check it out here.
- All the basic chess modes
- Suitable for Chinese test end I-GO
- At least 10 years of life span
This clock belongs to the category of classic mechanical clocks. It’s a very durable option and the noise that comes out of the clock is greatly reduced. The feature that stands out in this clock is its wooden housing that is well manufactured. It is a very quality and elegant clock.
One of my favorite features in this clock is its classic design. Its indicators look traditional and there is a flag that is dropped down when a player runs out of time creating an amazing effect. This clock comes with a wooden box that is used for easy and safe transportation of it.
It’s the simplest clock in this list because you simply adjust the time and you start playing. However, there are no extra modes that the plastic clocks have. The beauty of analog chess clocks like this one is that you don’t need a battery to use them. All you have to do is to wind it up. A couple of rotations are enough for it to operate for several minutes.
Many people use these clocks as a great way to decorate their living rooms. They are not common objects and people tend to take a closer look at them. So, if you want basic modes but an elegant clock to make your friends jealous then this is a clock for you. You can check it out here on Amazon.
- Very accurate clock
- Wooden housing
- Elegant item
- No batteries required
- Simple to use
- Limited chess modes
It’s another analog clock that really stands out. It is made out of high-quality wood and its parts are made out of metal. Like the other analog clocks, batteries are not required and all you have to do is wind it up. However, there are no additional time modes in this clock. Like any other mechanical clock, any person can easily use it.
Betterline has added the red flag feature which makes the game more interesting. Like the previous item of my list, this one can be used as a decorative piece. Both of them have similar features and craftsmanship. There is a 100% money-back guarantee in this clock. It has received very good reviews and you can check it out here on Amazon.
- Very accurate clock
- Made out of premium wood
- No batteries required
- Money-back guarantee
- Limited chess modes
It’s one of the best digital clocks available in the market with excellent performance characteristics. It’s available in three different colors: green, red, and blue. The design of the clock is amazing with great attention to detail. There are two LED screens that display each player’s time in the bright light. Above each screen, there is a light that is used to determine which player has to make a move. The user can disable both the LED screen and additional lights despite the fact that they are one of the best characteristics of it. Another great feature of the clock is the use of touch buttons. They are made out of stainless steel and they are extremely durable. They are definitely well manufactured since there is zero time delay when the player a button. This feature is essential when playing blitz chess.
This chess clock operates as good as it looks. There are more than the basic game modes available in it. You can use time delay, bonus time, Fischer, and Bronstein. There are some other modes that are described in the manual including some for playing Scrabble, Shogi, and Byoyomi. This clock may require more batteries than the previously discussed ones. It’s extremely autonomous because you can use it for 1600 hours before changing batteries. It is designed to have low energy consumption.
There is a nice looking box for storing it. There’s also a 1-year guarantee by the manufacturer but hardly any buyer ever uses since these clocks art designed to operate for many years. These clocks are the best sellers in the market because they offer great value for money. So if you need a digital chess clock with many modes in a great design then you should consider this one. You can check it out here on Amazon.
- LED lighted screens & Touch Buttons
- Amazing design for a digital clock
- High-quality manufacturing
- Many game modes
Chronos is one of the most well-known brands in the market. All the clocks made by this company are notorious for their durability and reliability. This one is called Chronos GX which is one of the most modern clocks of the company. It is made out of metal that protects the inside parts of it. There are two screens that enable both players to easily read their remaining time. Also, there two touch buttons that have zero delay. There are two LED lights that inform which player has to play. You can safely transport the clock in a casing offered by the manufacturer. It is very autonomous and it uses 3 AA batteries.
The best part about this clock is its game modes. There are so many modes that you can choose from. You can use 4 preset blitz times, 8 preset tournament controls and many different time delays.
It’s one of the clocks that you may use for a lifetime. If you are serious about practicing in chess and participating in tournaments then, this would be my first choice because you would need a reliable clock that offers many game modes. So, it is definitely one of my favorite clocks in the market. Obviously, It has received excellent reviews and you can check it out here on Amazon.
- A durable clock that may last for a lifetime
- Zero delay touch buttons
- An extremely big number of game modes
- Perfect for people who participate in tournaments and are serious about learning chess
- Casing for transportation
Another modern chess clock is definitely the one manufactured by DGT. It’s made out of high-quality plastic, it is durable and it looks great. There is only one screen big enough to contain information like each player’s time, the player who has to make a move and the winner. You can choose out of 16 different settings of contrast depending on the lighting of the place that you are playing. There is one big push button and when it is pressed there’s zero delay. People like that button because it is easy to find it in a timed game due to its size.
The best feature of this clock is the variety of game modes. There are 10 different algorithms that you can choose from to count time. The most important modes are time delay, bonus time, Fischer, Bronstein and bonus tournament. Also, you can play other games like Go, shogi checkers and Scrabble. You can easily use any of those modes described above and there are instructions on the product’s manual.
It has a low consumption of energy and it operates with the use of 2 AA batteries. An amazing feature of this clock is that the user of this clock gets notified when the battery is low. It is extremely important since players who use them in tournaments need to know that the clock won’t run out of power. The clock has a 2-year guarantee that is the maximum amount in this list. Buyers love it and they have given it excellent reviews. You can check it out here.
- Big screen & 16 modes of contrast
- Big push button
- Low battery warning
- More than the basic modes
It’s another digital clock offered by DGT. This clock is different than the previous one. There is also a countdown and an up count mode. The maximum amount of time that can be set for the countdown is 9 and a half hours. In chess mode, when a player is close to running out of time, the clock warns the players.
It is made of durable plastic and like the other clock of DGT there is one screen. Despite its small size, there is a big enough screen and anyone can read the numbers. Overall it looks great because the designers have cleverly used black and white. You can easily take it wherever you are playing. The manufacturer claims that it can be used for at least 12 years. So, there are no structural vulnerabilities on it. Also, free batteries are included in the packaging of the clock.
There aren’t many game modes in this clock making it a great option for schools or chess clubs. However, it is a great clock for a common game of chess. I would say that this is a great chess clock for kids considering its simplicity small size and durability. The reviews on this clock are very good and you can check it out here on Amazon.
- Large screen considering its small size
- Easy to use
- Good chess clock for kids and clubs
- Easy to take it wherever you go
- Limited modes
- Not the best option for tournaments
Final thoughts and tips
Before closing, I would like to share some tips that come from years of experience using clocks. If you are serious about improving your skills at chess you definitely need a clock. If you are participating in tournaments, practicing with a clock is almost mandatory. I strongly recommend using the technique that I have described earlier in the article because it has helped me a lot in the psychological part of the game. And better psychology means more victories.
Experienced players don’t remember moves but they have learned to use their instinct under pressure. So as soon as you have understood the basics and have played plenty of matches that is the perfect time to start using clocks. Remember that you have to start small (large remaining time) and to keep challenging yourself a bit. You will have to trust the process and depending on your learning curve decrease the remaining time. Before you know it, you will see a huge difference in your response times.
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