I did not read your entire work on digital clocks but I have a few things to say about them.

My son (11) has been using a Chronos for 5 years. He just last week got a new one. My only experience with the Gametimer is not pleasant. When it arrived in the mail I was thoroughly disappointed with the clunky design and cheap material it was made of. It's a noisy pile of junk and most people I know who have them beat them up so they can eventually get a Chronos. The Gametimer I received in the mail malfunctioned upon its first use. I was happy about this because I then immediately packed it up and sent it back. This product should not be on the market, for more than 4 or 5 dollars, that is. The DGT has too small a display and is noisy. I think it's possible to play Frisbee with it though. The Saitek is overloaded with button/gizmos and is also somewhat difficult to operate without extra effort.

While many are still trying to figure out how to set the new FIDE time control on their clocks, my son was able to set it on his new Chronos and have it ready to go upon startup without much difficulty.  The newer display is easy to read from a distance (good for TDs); the buttons, as you point out, do their job easily; time controls are easy to set and can be set ready for different tournaments for those on a daily diet of tournament chess; bulletproof case; etcetera. My son would not entertain for a nanosecond the current alternatives. Perhaps your ideas (and complaints from players) for display improvement will nudge digital clock manufacturers to improve their product. I think there is a general problem with all digital clocks on being able to reset the move counter if there is an error during the game. But for the time being there is a saying that goes sort of like: Chronos first, everyone else nowhere...


Yours in perpetual check,

Alvin Setzepfandt



Mr. Smythe has been describing the typical electronic clock which uses an LCD display. I have been using the Garde Electronic clock which combines the digital functionality, (programming, time delay) with both a digital display and the standard analog display (clock hands) albeit the clock hands only move in minute increments while the electronic portion displays down to the second. I would be more than happy to provide him with any additional information he would like to have.

Steve Coladonato


I bought a Garde Electronic about a year ago, hoping it would bridge the gap between digital enthusiasts and those who prefer analog. I was sorely disappointed. The digital display is extremely poor, with tiny black digits against a dark greenish-gray background. The minute hand moves in increments of one minute, making a player think he has a full minute remaining when he may have only a few seconds. Acrimonious time-forfeit disputes are inevitable.

In addition, on my specimen, one of the minute hands does not point squarely at the minute marks, so that the flag does not fall reliably when it should. I suspect some other Garde owners may have this problem as well.

I have never used this clock in a tournament, and would never impose it on any opponent. If any player uses one in a tournament which I am directing, I plan to warn the opponent -- even stopping the clock in the middle of the game, if necessary -- that he should ignore the hands and look only at the digits when his time gets below 2 minutes or so.

The Garde needs larger, brighter digits -- forget the bar-graph -- and a minute hand which moves continuously, or at least in increments of five seconds or so. The flag should be mounted inside the clock face, at about the 3:00 position (similar to the old Alpha) and should be operated electronically by the clock's digital innards, rather than mechanically by the minute hand. With these improvements, the Garde Electronic could become a viable clock.

Bill Smythe


Digital Clock Standards by Bill Smythe appeared on on February 19. homepage