Use of Digital Clocks


Digital clocks are increasingly replacing analogue clocks for use in chess matches. There are many clocks available at a range of prices from £20 to £70 each. Essentially, they come in two types:-


1.            Single time period clocks – these allow for a single programmed time period. You cannot program a quick play finish within a set time following a given amount of moves. In other words, you cannot add an extra 15 minutes of playing time following black’s 35th move without manually adjusting the clock. This manual adjustment is not allowed under FIDE rules. These clocks are fine for quick play, rapid play or blitz games in which there is a single playing period. They are typically priced at £20-£35 each.


2.            Multiple time period clocks – these allow for one or more additional time periods after the initial time control to be defined by the user and saved. Some only allow one user-defined set of timings and moves to be saved, others up to three. They are typically priced at £45-£75 each.


The DGT 2010 digital chess clock is approved by FIDE as the official FIDE chess clock. It is usually priced at £59.99 each. Three or more can be bought for £59.73 each (+£3.87 postage) details or £59.99 details or even maybe £48.73 each details


The April 2015 FIDE Competition Rules do not specifically mention how electronic chess clocks must function.

The 2014 FIDE Laws do not specifically mention how electronic chess clocks must function.

The 2011 FIDE Tournament Rules provide the fullest description of requirements:-

1)          If electronic chess clocks are used, they must function in full accordance with the FIDE Laws.

2)          The display should at all times show the time available to complete a player’s next move.

3)          The displays must be legible from a distance of at least 3 metres.

4)          From at least a distance of 10 metres a player must have a clearly visible indication of which clock is running.

5)          In the case of a time control being passed, a sign on the display must signal clearly which player passed the time control first.

6)          For battery-powered clocks, a low-battery indication is required.

7)          In the case of a low-battery indication the clock must continue to function flawlessly for at least 10 hours.

8)          Special attention should be given to the correct announcement of time controls being passed.

9)          In the case of accumulative or delay timing systems, the clock should not add any additional time when a player has passed the last time control.

10)      In the case of time penalties it must be possible for time and move-counter corrections to be executed by an arbiter within 60 seconds.

11)      It must be impossible to erase or change the data in the display with a simple manipulation.

12)      Clocks must have a brief user manual for the clock. Electronic chess clocks used for FIDE events must be endorsed by the FIDE Technical Commission.


It is useful if clocks can quickly and easily be paused either to summon an arbiter’s assistance or to vacate a building should a fire alarm sound or to prove a loss on time.


Items in bold are quotes from FIDE Laws or Rules, all other text is hopefully useful, but is the opinion of Adrian Gladwell and not necessarily endorsed by Wiltshire Chess.


2014 FIDE Laws of Chess

2015 Competition Rules

2011 FIDE Tournament Rules

September 2015 (updated link Sept 2017)