Posted on 25th Aug 2016
From time to time, Wholesale Chess customers have questions about the timing modes on their chess clock. In an effort to help everyone better understand how to get the most from their chess clocks, we've put together this list of popular chess clock timing modes and which chess clocks have these timing modes available.
Popular Timing Modes
Sudden death - players must make a predetermined number of moves in a certain amount of time or forfeit immediately. A particularly popular variant in informal play is blitz chess, in which each player is given five minutes on the chess clock for the entire game. The players may take more or less time over any individual move. The opening moves in chess are often played quickly due to their familiarity, which leaves the players more time to consider more complex and unfamiliar positions later.
Simple delay - when it becomes a player's turn to move, the clock waits for the delay period before starting to subtract from the player's remaining time. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the clock waits for five seconds before counting down. The time is not accumulated. If the player moves within the delay period, no time is subtracted from his remaining time. This time control is similar to a Bronstein with time added before the move.
Fischer - before a player has made his move, a specified time increment is added to his clock. Time can be accumulated, so if the player moves within the delay period, his remaining time actually increases. For example, if the delay time is five seconds, and a player has four seconds left on his clock, as soon as his opponent moves, he receives the increment and has nine seconds to make a move. If he takes two seconds to move, on the start of his next move he has seven seconds. There is also a variant of this time control that adds the delay after a player makes his move (Fischer after), so the delay is added to the player's remaining time and is available for his next move. If however time runs out during his move, the game ends without the delay time being added. This variant prevents the player who is in time-trouble to take advantage of the extra-time.
Bronstein - with the Bronstein timing method, the increment is always added after the move. But unlike Fischer, not always the maximum increment is added. If a player expends more than the specified increment, then the entire increment is added to the player's clock. But if a player has moved faster than the time increment, only the exact amount of time expended by the player is added. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the player has ten seconds left in his clock before his turn and during his turn he spends three seconds, after he presses the clock button to indicate the end of his turn, his clock increases by only three seconds (not five).
Word - it is a sudden death time control, without any increment or delay. The difference here is that when the time expires by dropping to zero, a flag is set, and the clock immediately starts counting up without limit. This time control applies to games where the amount of time used after the allowed time can be subtracted from the player's score as a penalty.
Hour glass - a player loses in this time control when he allows the difference between both clocks to reach the specified total amount. For example, if the total is defined as one minute, both players start their clocks at thirty seconds. Every second the first player uses to think in his moves is subtracted from his clock and added to his opponent's clock. If he uses thirty seconds to move, the difference between the clocks reaches one minute, and the time flag falls to indicate that he loses by time. If he has used twenty nine seconds and then pushes the clock's button, he has one second left on his clock and his opponent has fifty-nine seconds.
Simple Up-Count and Countdown
Sudden Death Only
Sudden Death & Simple Delay Only
Sudden Death, Delay & Bronstein/Fischer Modes**
** Various Fischer and Bronstein modes are available. Please review the product description for each item to determine which modes are available.
* All information listed above is believed to be accurate but since manufacturers make changes to their products regularly, please read the product description and online owner’s manual (where available) for each clock your are considering to ensure the clock supports the timing modes you require.
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