Chess Clocks - Traditional or Digital?

A guide on what to consider before buying a Chess Clock

Chess Games

Whatever your budget, one essential the serious chess player should not be without after a chess board and chess pieces is a chess clock.

So what should you be looking for in a chess clock?

Forget the familiar timers from high school, there's a diversity of chess clocks available now to suit all tastes and budgets.

Regardless of your personal preferences in the matter, there are a number of overriding factors to take into account when selecting a chess clock.

Points to consider:

First, the clock should not be a distraction. A loud ticking is the last thing you want when you need to concentrate hard for a competitive time limited match. Not only may it distract you personally, your opponent would have good grounds for complaint too. A battery operated clock could prove to be a better option, so long as you remember to have fresh replacement batteries to hand and select one with touch sensors that don't emit beeping noises.

As well as being stable, your chess clock should be easy to read. Black on white is the best color combination for contrast.

With battery-operated LCD models pay particular attention to the digital read out. A flashing colon separating the hour and minutes is irritating for many people, likewise glowing power lights, especially if the clock is situated towards the edge of your field of vision when focusing on the board.

A further consideration is a carrying case for your chess clock. Some chess clocks come with a custom-designed case that will provide maximum protection from bumps and knocks. Alternatively, there are universal carrying cases that can be purchased over the counter that will do the job.

Traditional Chess Clocks

Keeping these points in mind, the choice distils down to traditional precision engineered chess clocks with familiar clock faces. The pros are they're dependable and not much ever goes wrong with them. The con, and it's a biggie, is that the traditional clocks only do one trick, keep time.

Digital Chess Clocks

Digital clocks, on the other hand, are much smarter. They have a wide repertoire, with dozens of modes including those for timing five minute chess, chess andante, chess byo-yomi, chess hour glass, chess progressive, GO Japanese byo-yomi, GO adante byo-yomi, GO progressive byo-yomi, GO Canadian byo-yomi, GO Ing byo-yomi, FIDE, count down, count up, Adagio, sudden death, Adante, Fischer, sudden death and delay, delay with move counter, count down and delay, Shogi, and shuffle chess.

All this extra functionality over time-honored wind up chess clocks comes with a price tag. And we don't mean dollars. Most digital chess clocks - especially those at the top end of the market - come complete with a thick user manual that can easily run to 70 pages or more!

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