Finding the best chess clock can be a challenge. If you are new to chess, you probably enjoy playing slow, casual games with other players. There is nothing wrong with that of course and it’s a lot of fun. The problem is that games that are not timed can technically last forever. That is why most people want to impose a time limit. For brand new players, I would suggest G30 which means that each player gets 30 minutes and the game cannot last longer than 1 hour. A person can lose a game if her or she runs out of time before their opponent.
Many chess coaches encourage their students to write down the time on their score sheet after they record a move. The reason for this is so that the teacher can see how much time their students are taking for each move.
Frankly, this is a good habit for players to adopt regardless. Key moves that take a lot of thought should be recorded. Most chess database software like Chessbase allow you to enter move times. Chess.com and LiChess record the move times you make automatically. In fact, LiChess has a cool feature that allows you to replay a saved game in “real time”. Every move is played using the exact time the players took to make them. Review a game in real time gives you a sense of what the players were thinking and where they got stuck. Sometimes, you will see a tactical move that is played instantly, which means the player was probably expecting it.
There are lot of websites that review chess clocks so I won’t spend a lot of time writing about all the features and functionalities from the various vendors. Instead I will recommend a couple of simple, inexpensive chess clocks.
Best Chess Clock for the money
The LEAP PQ99075 Digital Chess Clock. It’s priced on Amazon for about $20. The features are simple and it is a good way to get your feet wet in timing your chess games.
Some things to note about using a chess clock:
- If you’re playing blitz chess, which is game in five minutes or faster, you should always press your clock with the same hand that moves a piece. This is general chess etiquette but it would be enforced under tournament conditions.
- The person playing with the Black pieces gets to decide which side they want the clock on.
- You have to call a person “down” if their time runs out.
- If both players clocks goes to zero, the game is considered a draw.
Best chess clock for its features
The DGT North American Chess Clock and Game Timer is a common digital clock used by many local clubs. I consider it the best chess clock under $40. It is as fully-featured chess clock that has all the bells and whistles you can think of. It even has an audible alarm if your time runs low. Instead of buttons to press, it uses plastic “flippers” that act like a see-saw. Once you press one side the other comes up and so on. It is light to the touch and very durable.
Resetting the clock requires some dexterity. You have to press the power button (located on the bottom of the clock) to turn the clock off and then on again. It’s easy to do but I’m always worried I will drop the clock as I lift it to gain access to the power button.
To start the clock, you press the middle red button . This starts the clock for the person who’s button is in the up position.
There is an informative video review of this clock located here.