These days, chess clocks are considered an integral part of playing chess. If you’re in a bad position, practicing with a chess clock and focusing on improving your time management can help you win or save your game. Chess clocks teach you all about better time management when you’re competing against another player in a tournament environment. The best chess clocks are available in both digital and analog designs. The right clock for you can depend on personal preference and how you play the game. In this guide, I’ll go over the different options available, how to choose a chess clock based on important factors that can impact a clock’s overall quality, and the features you need to look for to ensure you purchase a clock that can be used in a tournament environment.
Chess Clocks Comparison Chart
Best Overall-Leap Chess Clock
If you’re looking for a clock that’s easy to use, accurate, and loaded with a variety of timing features, then hit that buy now button. This chess clock by Leap comes with all the professional features that most chess players are looking for, including delay time and bonus features, allowing you to choose from a variety of ways to play the game, depending on the type of chess game you’re playing, whether it’s a traditional game or rapid chess. This clock comes equipped with three buttons, so setting the clock and using the extra features is a cinch. The clock’s lightweight battery-powered design makes it highly portable, so it’s perfect for training, chess club use, and tournament use.
- Delay feature
- Three button design
- Large LED display
- Count up mode
- Clock must be turned on and off to reset timer
- Included instructions are complex
This digital portable chess clock includes large seesaw buttons that make it easy to operate. On the right and left sides of the clock you can set auxiliary parameters and basic time. The clock’s audible alarm can be turned on or off, based on tournament rules or personal preference. The clock’s count up mode, quick start feature, and intuitive design make it perfect for chess players of all skill levels and ages.
Premium-DGT3000 LE – Fide Approved Limited Edition Chess Timer
This is a limited-edition chess clock that was released to celebrate DGT’s twenty-five-year anniversary, so it’s a great choice for the serious chess player who is also a collector. This model comes loaded with all of the same options as popular past digital chess clocks produced by the manufacturer. The big draw here is the clock’s wooden design that makes it suitable for the serious chess player in search of a chess clock that will complement their expensive handcrafted wood chess set or someone who wants a clock that’s display worthy. The clock’s larger display makes it easy for players to keep a close eye on their time, while the twenty-five preset timing systems, with five customizable slots, allow the user to choose how they want to time their game.
- Wooden design
- Twenty-five preset timing systems
- Five-year warranty
- Large display
- Delay timing feature
- The price
- Not travel-friendly
This clock includes a five-year manufacturer warranty, a design that’s in accordance with FIDE rules and regulations, and a beautiful, wooden, design that makes this clock display worthy. The price may be a little steep for some players, and the somewhat bulky design makes the clock a poor choice for travel, but overall, this elegant clock is a great buy for the serious chess player who loves a professional, elegant home setup.
Most Durable-DGT North American Chess Clock and Game Timer
This durable, compact chess clock by DGT includes twenty-two pre-programmed timing options, in addition to manual setting options. The sixteen contrast settings will allow you to adjust the display for any type of lighting situation, whether you’re playing a game of chess indoors or at your local park. The clock’s variety of timing options will allow the serious player to put their thinking and time management skills to the test.
- Sixteen contrast settings
- Twenty-two programmed timing options
- Easy to use
- Low price
- Users will have to go through the entire settings process for every game
- Clock must be turned on and off to reset it
If you’re looking for an accurate digital chess clock that comes loaded with a variety of timing options, your search stops here. The clock is affordable, easy to use and set up and provides a wide variety of timing options that can help the chess player train harder and more effectively for their next upcoming tour.
Easy to Use-Chess Armory Digital Chess Clock
This simple digital chess clock features intuitive controls, a portable design, and all the features you could want in a clock that’s tournament worthy and perfect for training. The clock allows you to customize timer settings, take advantage of the delay start feature for each side, and practice timing your chess moves so you can learn how to use your time wisely. The clock runs on one AAA battery, which is a huge plus if you’re looking for a model that’s portable, lightweight, and perfect for practice or chess club meet ups.
- Easy to use
- Runs on one AAA battery
- Tournament legal
- Low price
- Clock is made out of cheap plastic
- Cannot adjust the brightness of the display
Because this model features intuitive controls and a simple design, it’s perfect for players of all ages and skill levels. This battery-powered model is lightweight, highly portable, and can be used for practice, chess club meet ups, and tournaments. While it doesn’t come with as many extra features as higher priced models, it does come with the basics, such as delayed timer options, which makes it a great buy for the price.
Best Digital Chess Clock-ZMart Fun II Digital Chess Clock
This digital chess clock by ZMart features a vivid LED display, a plastic case, and stainless-steel touch sensors. This model features three customizable presets, move counter options, single time or simple blitz controls, time delays and extra timing modes, so you can use the same clock for other games, such as Scrabble. It runs on a total of four C batteries, which is one of the drawbacks, since you’ll only get about sixteen hours of use before you need to purchase more batteries.
- Vivid LED display
- Includes a variety of time delay options
- Can be used for other games
- Low price
- Includes stainless steel touch sensors
- Low battery life
- Not portable
This digital clock is a great buy for tournament use and home training use. However, if you’re looking for a highly portable chess clock, this model isn’t it. Additionally, you’ll find that it has a very short battery life, which can be a deal breaker for some buyers. Overall, the clock is accurate, easy to use, and includes most of the popular delay timing settings and features that chess players of all skill levels are looking for.
Best Analog Chess Clock-INSA Wooden Mechanical Chess Clock
This analog clock by INSA is housed in a solid wood case that’s eye-catching and classic. The clock also comes equipped with an expanded last minute time scale that will take the guesswork out of how much time you have left. While this clock has a reputation for quality, it lacks many of the features that you’ll get from a modern digital chess clock, such as delay timer options, which can be a huge drawback for the serious chess player who wants to train for a tournament.
- Beautiful wood case
- Expanded last minute time scale
- Easy to use
- Easy to use
- No delay timer options
This model is pretty basic. This wood analog clock must be manually wound and doesn’t include delay timers or other features that are crucial for tournament use or for training purposes.
Additionally, analog chess clocks are not as accurate as digital clocks, which can be another drawback for chess players. However, if you’re looking for a clock that will complement your beautiful wood chess set at home, a clock that you can leave out on display, then this model is a great option. But if you’re looking for an accurate clock that will allow you to train like a pro, you’ll need to pass this model by.
Chess Clocks Buyer’s Guide
Whether you need a chess clock to train for an upcoming tournament or you want to practice and perfect how you play the game under pressure, chess clocks are essential, and a basic part of the equipment required to play the game. These clocks consist of two adjacent faces and two to three buttons. When it’s time to move, your clock runs down until you make your move and press the button for the clock that is facing you. This will pause your timer and activate your opponent’s timer. This means that neither of the clocks will run at the same time. A clock will only move depending on whose turn it is. If a player’s clock runs out, they lose the match. Because of this, chess clocks are an important factor in any game. Just like positional or material advantages, having more time than an opponent can give a player a win, even if the positions are balanced.
Playing the game of chess for fun compared to playing it in a tournament setting is very different. You’ll be under significant pressure and all on the clock. Practicing with one of these clocks can help prepare you for a tournament style game and can help teach you how to focus and relax when you’re playing under pressure.
How Do You Use a Chess Clock?
When one player is done with their move, they will immediately stop the clock, which starts the opponent’s clock at the exact same instant. The clock will countdown the time each player will have to complete their move. In the beginning of a game, a player with the white pieces will start their clock. If the minute hand on the clock points toward twelve, a flag will drop down. In the same instant, the other clock will begin to push up the flag. If a player doesn’t make a move on the falling of the flag, they will lose in the same instant. A game will be drawn if an opponent owns inadequate moves to checkmate.
All a player has to do is push the button on their side of the clock to stop the timer. A player has to press the clock button after every move. While this may seem like a tedious process, with a little practice, a player can master their time management skills and perform faster and more efficiently.
Pressure has become another opponent many players face when they’re on the clock against an opponent. Whether you’re a beginner or grandmaster to tournament chess games, every player has to be conscious of the clock.
A solid performance can easily be overshadowed by running out of time.
From some players, it’s difficult to determine how much time they should spend focusing on clock management, but managing time effectively is part of playing the game and should be treated as another enemy.
Chess clocks are often used for training purposes and can help a person become a better tournament player.
Other Important Features
As you can see, these clocks can be used for more than just traditional chess matches and they make great training tools for chess players of all ages and skill levels.
While it’s easy to understand the rules of chess and how to use one of these clocks, purchasing chess clock can prove challenging. In most cases, it’s a matter of personal preference. Everything will be significantly easier if you know what you’re looking for when you’re shopping for a new chess clock to use for your next match.
To help you find the right clock, the following information in this guide will help you make an informed decision, based on your playing preferences.
In most cases, tournament play often utilizes digital clocks, which are said to be more accurate and offer important features, such as delay timers, something that analog clocks do not. However, there are other things to consider before you run out and purchase the first chess clock you come across, such as:
- Stationary or portable
- Button design
- Digital or analog
- Time delay options
- Compensation increment timing methods
Stationary and Portable Chess Clocks
Are you looking for a clock that’s stationary or one that’s highly portable? In most cases, you won’t need to carry an expensive chess clock around with you on the road. Chess clocks that are portable are not nearly as beautiful as high-end clocks that are designed for home use.
Clocks that are designed for home use are often larger, heavier, and made out of high-quality wood materials. Portable clocks are usually lightweight and made out of plastic.
The buttons on the clock you purchase should be large, simple and easy to press. Buttons that are hard to reach and small can result in the loss of precious time during a game.
Digital or Analog
The difference between digital and analog chess clocks will have a huge impact on aesthetics and accuracy.
An analog clock will have a flag that falls when one player’s time has run out. One of the biggest drawbacks of analog clocks is that they’re not nearly as accurate as digital. A player will not always be able to see exactly how many seconds they have left. This could be a huge issue in a tournament setting.
Analog clocks do not come with a time delay feature. However, most chess tournaments will require time controls with a time delay. Time delays can prevent a tournament from turning into a clock slapping match, so it’s crucial that the clock you purchase comes with this feature if you’re interested in participating in serious tournament play.
Additionally, a player cannot use time increments on an analog clock as additional time to move can’t be added. If the chess clock is mostly for decoration, most people often prefer a wooden analog clock for aesthetic reasons.
A digital chess clock is more about accuracy and utility compared to an analog model. Digital clocks are available in basic and standard models. The more you pay, the more features you’ll get. These clocks can come equipped with many different buttons and functions, so you’ll need to read the included instruction’s manual to learn how to take advantage of all the features.
Many models are pre-programmed to work as chess clocks, but some can do a lot more. These clocks can have dozens of timing modes to choose from, which will give you more variety and can be an excellent option for training purposes.
Make sure you consider why you need a chess clock and make your decision carefully. An analog clock isn’t designed to handle the abuse a digital model that’s used for chess club is and it doesn’t have the accuracy you need for use in a true chess tournament. A digital clock can look tacky when you’re using it at home to play a friend on your antique rosewood chess Set. Regardless of the style you choose, just make sure the model you buy will help you learn how to play chess like a master and make the game more fun.
Time Delay Options
Most models of digital chess clocks will come with different time delay options. Why? Because different types of chess games will have different time limits. This is especially true with shorter chess games, including:
- Rapid chess
- Bullet chess
- Blitz chess
- Lightning chess
The fastest chess game is lightning chess. This game has a fixed time per move, such as ten seconds per move or a total play time of one minute. With bullet chess, the player will have less than three minutes to make their move.
Rapid chess and blitz chess are popular types of chess games that limit moves to three to five minutes per move. Some experienced chess players believe that these faster chess games can improve a player’s performance since it involves quick thinking, while others criticize these games that lack the same type of strategic thinking and calculated moves that traditional chess provides.
Because there are many different types of chess games, other than traditional chess, chess clock manufacturers will often include a variety of timing options that a player can choose from based on the type of chess game they’re playing.
Compensation Increment Timing Methods
There are different results or scenarios when it comes to the timer running out. The three most common results include:
- If the timer runs out and an opponent has enough pieces to initiate a checkmate, they will win the game.
- If an opponent doesn’t have enough pieces to checkmate you, then the game is considered a draw.
A player can claim a win when their opponent’s clock runs out by claiming flag. There are some disputes regarding this move. While some players view this as a legitimate way to win the game, others see it as a loophole and don’t consider it a true win. To avoid flagging, players should play the game with compensation increment timing methods. Most chess clocks will come with these three types of compensation increment timing methods, which include:
- Simple delay
- Bronstein timing delay
- Increment time control
The increment time control adds a specific amount of time for each move played.
Playing with increment time control begins with a specific length of time set for each player, then a player gets an added time with each move.
Bronstein timing delay adds more time with every move as well, but the added time will depend on the expended time delay that has been set. If the set delay is nine seconds, that’s the amount of time delay that is added, even if a player takes longer than nine seconds to make their move. If a player moves less than the set delay, then only those seconds are added.
Simple time delay waits for the delay period for each move. For example, a player’s timer will only begin after nine seconds with each move.
In most cases, these different time increments can help a player train to make a move under pressure, which can help improve their performance when they’re playing in a tournament. If you want to train like a pro, make sure the chess clock you purchase comes with a variety of time delay options. These clocks are often pricier than basic digital or analog clocks with one or two modes, but if you want to test your skills as a player, then a clock with more timing options is a must.
Some chess clocks can be pretty pricey. Factors that could impact the price of the clock include design and materials. You can easily find a great digital clock for $10-$40. If you’re looking for a large stationary wooden clock for home use, you can find these clocks ranging in price at $50-$100. Smaller, functional analog clocks for training purposes tend to be more affordable, with prices that range from $20-$40.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Chess Clock is Used in the World Championship?
The Club Clock is used. World Chess produces the official chess sets that are used in championship matches and other types of important events and often recommend the Club Clock.
Why Do Chess Players Use a Clock?
A chess clock is used in chess to limit the amount of time a player has to make their move. The purpose of the clocks is to track the total time each of their players takes to make a move and can ensure that a player doesn’t overly delay a game.
What Happens When a Chess Timer Runs Out?
If one player has insufficient material when their opponent runs out of time, the game will be scored as a draw.
These days, there are dozens of chess clocks to choose from on the market. Because of this, you can find a great clock without much difficulty, for a reasonable price, if you know what to look for. This guide is designed to help you choose the right clock for you, based on whether you need a clock for home use or travel, the type of chess games you play, if you want to use the same type of clocks that are commonly used in tournaments, and what your budget is like. With this information, you should have no trouble choosing the best chess clock from my top 6 list.