Chess Clocks - Rules Vary From Game To Game

by Ron King

It is a well known fact that chess players who compete at tournaments must play efficiently and without delay. At tournaments players have a limited amount of time to execute their move and they are aided by the chess game clock. The chess clock was not around in the old days, yet it is hard now to find a chess competition, amateur or professional alike, that does not use chess clock rules.

There are 2 common versions of chess clocks--the traditional (analog or digital) clock and Fischer-clock. The traditional chess clock has 2 time counters, 1 for each player. After a player makes his move, he pushes a button which halts his counter and starts the opponent's. This act continues until the conclusion of the game. In analog clocks there is a flag that will fall if time has ended for one player, while digital clocks will beep to signal that. The Fischer-clock, recommended and named honoring former World Champion Grandmaster Robert Fischer, is utilized in a similar way. The difference is that a constant amount of time (say 5 or 10 seconds) is added after every move. This helps prevent players from getting into time-trouble.

The negotiated time controls are in relevance with the chess game clock used. Time controls may differ from game to game. Players need to take into account the time controls stated when a tournament is to take place.

Various time controls give chess games different names. A standard game usually has a time quota of 2 hours or more. A speedy game falls in the range of 20-45 minutes, and a blitz game in the range 5-15 minutes. There are even shorter time controls, such as 3 minutes per game or 1 minute per game, commonly referred to as 'lightning' or 'bullet', mostly played online. One that is not at home with chess will find them tiring.

But what happens if a player fails to finish his move in time? Basically, he loses the game. There is an exception--if the player who still has time does not have enough material to win, then the game is drawn. Adding to this, a player who would usually win the game, had he enough time, could call the arbiter and suggest a draw. The arbiter will view the position and form his decision. There are some issues regarding time controls but they are as a rule tournament-specific. In the majority of tournaments, players are in charge of checking their opponent's time; in others the arbiter can show a flag fall as well. These details are indeed of trivial importance and chess clock rules are examined every now and then.

What is mostly important is the way a player uses his time. A player should try to avoid getting into trouble. One must try playing slower, or he risks blundering. Use of time has to be logical. If 2 hours are available for the whole game, this makes about 3 minutes per move (assuming a game is averaging about 40 moves). If one feels that the game is going to be rather long, he may play a bit faster. Early moves generally require little thought and some moves are more or less automatic. Than again, hard situations will require more thinking and thus additional time. In practical chess it is always beneficial to have more time available than the opposer has. Most of all it is crucial to pay attention to the chess game clock and stick with the chess clock rules.

About the Author

For more info, check out the articles at Learn Chess Now or Chess Basics. Ron King is a web developer; visit his website Authoring Articles.

Copyright 2008 Ron King. This article may be reprinted if the resource box is left intact and the links live.