Chess Clock Buying Guide

for scholastic players

updated December 2016

If you are an elementary, middle or high school student looking to buy your first chess clock, this guide is intended for you.

Young chessplayers, invest in a chess clock! It adds to the fun of casual games with friends, it allows you to play speed and bughouse chess, it's required for tournament chess in 6th grade and above, and you will use it your whole life.

Should I get an analog (clock hands) or digital display clock?
We recommend a digital clock for three reasons. First, with fewer moving parts, they're less likely to break. Second, chess tournaments give preference (or even require) digital clocks with the delay feature. Third, they're funner! It's exciting to see exactly how many seconds your opponent has left, ticking down, down, down!

Where should I buy my clock?
Buying online gives you good selection and price. Chess House, Wholesale Chess, Ebay, Amazon are all viable options.

Which digital clock should I purchase?
Most are fine, just make sure it allows for multiple settings, including the "time delay" option. And you don't need to overspend. Below are our very quick ratings of current clocks on the market.

Chess Clock These clocks are fine:
ZMart Fun II - aka ZMF II
Omcor Game Timer 960
DGT Easy Plus Timer (make sure it's Plus)
DGT 960 Folding
DGT North American
Saitek Mephisto Competition Game Clock

These clocks cost more than you need to spend: (over $60):
ZMart Pro
DGT 2010
DGT 3000
VTEK 300
Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock III
Chronos clocks - the Rolls Royce of chess clocks

These clocks do not have the delay feature:
DGT 1001
DGT Easy Timer clocks (except the Easy Timer Plus, which does have delay)
LEAP chess clocks

For an in-depth clock survey: Time for a New Clock

Common Time Controls in NW Washington

  • 25 minutes, 5 second delay - most Saturday elementary tournaments
  • 30 minutes, 5 second delay - Hot Summer Chess; State Mini-Teams Championship
  • 40 minutes, 5 second delay - High School Chess League
  • 90 minutes, 5 second delay - High School, Middle School State Chess Championships
  • 3 minutes, 2 second delay - Speed Chess Playoff for the HS State Team Championship
  • 5 minutes, no delay - Washington Blitz Chess Championships
  • 5 minutes, no delay - Elementary State Bughouse Chess Championships
  • 1 minute, no delay - Bullet Chess
  • 15 minutes, no delay - live chess

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