This budget clock is the latest to be approved by FIDE. My thanks to Andrew Butterworth and Chess Direct for allowing the opportunity to review this clock.
It is a later model than that branded for the English Chess Company (Leap PQ9907S?) which has previously been reviewed (see CAA website).
The clock is very similar looking to that one but blue in colour. One big difference is that if the move counter is inactive then additional time shows on both clocks at the same time. Previously, it only added on the time when each clock reached zero so one clock could be well into the second session whilst the other was still in the first. This anomaly has been removed.
As on other clocks the move counter is inactive if the clock is set for 0 moves. However this only seems to work on the user defined modes 00 and 99. If a preset mode is edited then the result may not be as expected. For example mode 4 is 90 minutes for 40 moves with 30 second increments and then a further 30 minutes is added, a standard setting and therefore very useful to have. However, if you try to edit the setting so that the move counter is ignored it will let you change the 40 to 00 but when it is switched on it goes almost immediately to the second session, treating the 00 as no moves rather than an undefined number of moves. Watching closely, the expected time seems to appear very briefly to be replaced by the second time control. The clock shows you are in the second session but the time ‘left over’ from the first session is lost I.e. it shows only 30 minutes and not 2 hours (1hr 30mins + 30mins).
Increments are limited to a maximum of 59 seconds, which might be a problem for tournaments which give 1 minute increments.
One really simple, but very useful, feature is the red band on the rocker arm (see illustration). This makes it much easier to see from a distance which clock is going.
The clock requires only one AA battery and has quite a small footprint which may make it popular for venues with little space between the boards. One downside is the manual which appears to be a poor translation of the original Chinese. Having said that, anyone used to setting other digital clocks should be able to do so without too much trouble.
The clock is currently selling at around the Ł30 mark and is therefore good value.
English Chess Company Digital Game Timer
This company is new to producing digital chess clocks.
The clock produced is quite small (150mm x 102mm x 58mm) so easy to carry and is competitively priced. For a clock of this cost it offers a number of features including being programmable for multiple sessions with incremental and delay modes.
It has one rather different feature. The move counter is ignored unless it thinks there is a loss on time. Where it does think there is a loss the clock freezes and cannot be edited/reset other than by switching it off. When it believes that the time control has been reached it continues to run down until that clock reaches 0 at which point it adds the additional time onto that clock only. There are two types of flag. A white flag shows which clock has reached 0 first. This appears when the clock believes the time control has been reached successfully. The black flag described above appears if the clock does not think that the time control has been reached. The opponent will only get their additional time when their clock has reached 0. (This is the way that the Chronos clock works as well.) In theory it is therefore possible for one clock to be showing the time remaining in session 1 whilst the other clock is showing the time remaining in session 3. My opinion is that this is a major downside to the clock.
The clock has 37 preset time controls. If one of these time controls is edited then the edited time is saved in mode 99 and can be used again. When altering one of the settings for White the same setting is automatically shown when altering the Black side.
Mode 0 can be used to set an additional time control.
The clock has an on/off switch underneath, other than that it has 3 buttons, the start/pause, a plus and a minus button. For those familiar with the DGT 2010 the setting is fairly similar. It has one advantage in that holding down the stop/start button for 3 seconds in the middle of setting means that it comes out of that mode ready to be used. You do not have to cycle to the end.
Pressing the stop/start button briefly pauses the clock but if you hold the button it keeps running for 3 seconds. This could be a problem for someone trying to get an arbiter with only 2 seconds on their clock.
Like the DGT3000 it shows seconds all the time.
Press + or – for 3 seconds shows the number of move, or to be more accurate the number of clock presses. Holding both down allows the move counter to be changed. It is possible to change one move counter but leave the other unchanged. If going back to a previous position the arbiter must remember to change both counters.
I believe it will be priced to compete with the EasyPlus. I would certainly recommend it over that alternative.
Don’t have to cycle to end holding down the button will take it out of editing mode
When setting White options come up automatically on Black side but not when editing
Shows session by number but small
Cheaper than DGT
Small screen size
When black flag appears clock cannot be edited
No back button
When editing clock runs down for 3 seconds before entering edit mode unless pressed twice
You can set move counter for different number of moves played on both sides (eg white 12 moves black 7)
This is the newest and cheapest in the DGT range and is being advertised currently at Ł19.99. It is very basic and in my opinion not fit for tournament use.
It can be easily set using the 4 buttons on the top in the centre of the move switch (I won’t call it the rocker arm). The buttons are On/Off, Pause, Add time and subtract time.
Plus points: The clock is easy to set for a single time control.
Downside: There is no way of altering the time, other than to reset, once it has been started.
It does not allow increments.
Once the clock reaches 0 it starts to count upwards immediately. A flag and a + do show, only the plus shows on the second player’s clock when it exceeds the original time.
Other than looking at the clock face there is no way to tell which clock is running—the buttons pressed by the players do not move.
This clock might be fine for 5 minute games but has limited use elsewhere. In competitive play a player leaving the board would not know which clock was running as neither switch moves as you would expect in what looks like a rocker arm.
My personal opinion is that a clock which does not allow for increments to be added is not worth considering.
DGT 3000 - The DGT 3000, marketed as the replacement to the XL is the latest clock to come out of DGT.
This clock combines the look and functionality with the customisation of the DGT 2010.
In order to set a bespoke time control on the DGT XL required the user to go through a complicated sequence of setting it to the time control they wanted and confirming. Once that was done if you wanted to save it there was another process to go through and if it wasnt done the control that was set would overwrite the previous one. With the 3000 its a simple matter of selecting one of the allocated modes (26 to 30), enter the time control the user wants and its automatically saved, similar to the DGT 2010.
The clock has a very clear display. One of the criticisms I have heard about the 2010 and XL is that its not always clear to players whether its displaying hours and minutes or minutes and seconds. With this clock that problem is eliminated, it has the advantage to the players that it shows them exactly how much time they have in hours, minutes and seconds at all times. It also has a very clear display so the arbiter can see from a distance how much time has elapsed, this is especially useful if the arbiter is trying to look at multiple clocks at once.
A further advantage is that along the bottom there are two icons that display period and periods. The period tells you what time control your in and periods tells you how many different time periods there are. This is useful in tournaments that have multiple different time controls. For example if the time control was 40 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by 50 minutes then if the clock had added the time on then period would say ”2”, if it hadn't added the time it would still be on ”1”€ť. This is an advantage to both the arbiter and player as they know exactly how much time they should have left to play with and whether a flag has fallen or not.
This clock does have a few drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is that when the flag does fall it shows it in the top corner of the display. A small black flag next to a black outer casing can be a little bit difficult to see I have found.
A second drawback is that if the user wants to use the move counter in one of the bespoke modes, this is only available by using a Fischer setting. Move counters are rarely used these days however if you need a setting that do not need a Fischer time control just remember to set the bonus time to 0:00.
Finally this clock has a feature that the 2010 clock has that the user can check if the clock is displaying properly or if anything is wrong with it. By holding down the far right button while pressing on/off it makes the display show everything. Allowing the user to easily see if there is an evident defect. With any luck the clock will still be within the five year warranty period that comes with every clock.
Overall I would say that this clock is excellent and would recommend it to tournaments around the country.
DGT 2010 – There are two versions of this (the one with the blue buttons being the more recent). Unfortunately the settings between the two have some variations. It is a solid reliable clock which has a number of preset options and also user setting options which will be remembered for future use. However, if a similar time control is entered this will overwrite the original.
A disadvantage for the player is that it does not indicate which session the clock is in. This means that you have to calculate if additional time has been added or not if the move counter is not being used.
DGT Easy – Cheap and cheerful. Less expensive than some analogue clocks. It has limited settings which means that it is unsuitable for some tournaments (it can only be set for one session). There is a definite fault that would apply to all tournaments if time has to be added, e.g. a two minute penalty. That is that above 20 minutes you cannot set seconds. So if a clock shows 19.05 minutes you can only set it to 21 or 22 minutes, not the required 21.05. It looks fragile but is advertised as almost unbreakable. I haven’t tested this claim. (revised 26/04/2014)
DGT XL – This clock is needed for the DGT live boards. It has a large number of preset times and the ability to be programmed for 5 time controls which can be stored and used again and again. It is not the easiest clock to program. It does indicate which session the player is in but the number showing this is small and not obvious. Some clock settings are only possible if ‘Fischer ‘ mode is used with a zero increment.
Saitek PRO – This clock seems not as good as the previous model it replaced. There is at least one error in the controlling chip which means that if a player makes the last move of the time control at exactly the same time as the flag falls the clock does not indicate a loss. Setting the clock for different time controls is far from intuitive. It does clearly show which session of play the clock is in.
Chronos – I have limited experience of this clock but found programming it complicated. It is also very expensive.
Silver – There is a version of this clock which allows blind and visually handicapped to use it. Programming settings into it is not easy. I have been unsuccessful in programming it for three sessions of standard play (without increment). On three occasions it crashed on entering the final session despite appearing to be correctly set. Blind players need an additional box each. The current edition is certainly much superior to the original which wouldn’t allow you to reset the move counter until it thought you had reached the time control. That made dealing with an illegal move impossible without totally resetting the clock.
Kaissa – Specially designed talking chess clock. The manual is not easy to understand but with it and a bit of trial and error it is not too difficult to set. Using different buttons to set the time for White and Black is not intuitive. Needs only an ear-piece for each VI player. 8 presets and 20 programmable settings possible. I’m not keen on the display showing seconds all the time (can be a bit distracting).
Garde – A large display is its big advantage. However on being given one to look at by Stewart Reuben it took me only seconds to find a problem with the dual mode model. Having said that I have used the digital only model at one event. It was reasonable but it is the only clock where I have been constantly worried that I had wrongly set it. Expensive – about 50% more than the DGT XL.
Chess Timer (China) – The model I have is called Kirsan. The manual is difficult to understand. Frustratingly if using a non-standard setting it has to be reset after every game. Because of this I haven’t attempted to use it at a tournament.
All of the above by AMcF