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by Michael Atkins, NTD

Digital Chess Clocks have been around for at least 20 years. The original models, like any new product, were an interesting blend of exciting innovation and buggy & featureless technology. They have been getting better and for the past few years, a digital clock with time delay mode has been the preferred clock in USCF tournament play. It is the delay feature which is useful in that it allows claims of insufficient losing chances to be proven on the board.

Tournament Directors are not always masters of the game and asking them to adjudicate many endgame positions is like asking them to hit as many home runs as Mark Maguire. One option available to a director in an insufficient losing chances claim is to place a time delay clock on the board, with the claimant having 1/2 his/her remaining time up to 1 minute (read maximum - 1 minute) with a 5 second delay and the opponent having all his/her time plus the delay. Assuming the game is really a draw, with a 5 second delay, it can be proven on the board.

CHRONOS section updated for Incremental time controls

Latest Changes to the USCF Rulebook relevant to clocks   Click here for all rules relating to clocks that have changed since the publication of the 5th edition

All TDs and players must be aware of the fact that the "delay" or "incremental" time allotment that can be set into the Bronstein or Fischer time controls when in the manual mode can be set differently for each of the two players. It is possible, for instance, to have white getting 5 seconds and black only 3 seconds if programming is done carelessly.

One of the problems with digital clocks is how to set them! Few TDs know how to set every brand of digital clock and more than a few players do not know how to set their own clock!! Know your own equipment - why buy new equipment and then ask a TD to set it for you? Below are some explanations for each clock, recently sent to me by NTD Carol Jarecki, chair of the USCF Rules Committee....

If anyone wants to submit an upgraded description for any of the clocks below, or any new clocks since this was last done, please e-mail me


Tips for TDs

The following guidelines and remarks are not meant as recommendations or criticisms of any of the clocks described. They are being presented as assistance for TDs who are faced with the challenge of having to adjust various digital clocks during tournaments, and as a few helpful tips on some possible idiosyncrasies.

Carol Jarecki, NTD

Click on any of the digital clocks for a description of setting that clock:
Some of the descriptions are in progress....

Updated - 11/27/11 08:03:50 PM



Chronos Blitz

Duel Timer

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GARDE Electronic






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Competition Pro
DGT 2010

DGT 960

DGT Easy Timer DGT +




Clocks which do not have a USCF-type time delay
Those clocks that do not have a USCF-type of time delay offer the Bronstein mode as an alternative method. In both cases, additional time is allowed per move, without time accumulating. The only difference is that the USCF method prevents loss of a specific, pre-set, amount of time at the beginning of each move while the Bronstein gives it back at the end of the move. In neither case can a player end a game with more time than at the beginning, no matter how fast the moves are played.

The Fischer mode and the DGT Tournament mode are not substitutions and may not be used in games under USCF time-delay rules. They are not compatible with the delay or Bronstein since, in both cases, a pre-set amount of time is added for each move, regardless of how much thinking time has been used, and time can accumulate and possibly exceed the original time control.


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