"Official" USCF Clocks and Fischer Time Controls

  • #1

    A few years ago as I was debating weither I could make a "comeback" after not having playedin any tournaments in almost 20 years and in spite of having Parkinson's Disease. IF I could deal with the physical limitations of the Parkinson's, "The Plan" was to play in 1 or 2 "Senior" Opens each year. Towards that end I purchased a Chronos Chess Clock because of the low center of gravity making it almost impossible to knock over. I entered into 4 non-rated "charity" events to test myself. While I finished 1st or tied for 1st in 3 of them and 2nd in the fourth, showing me I still had the ability, I also was able to  answer the question if I would be *physically* able to play in a tournament, to which the answer clearly was NO!!! I now use my Chronos strictly for skittles and pick-up games. In the meantime I have been helping my "student" -- an 83 y.o. Gentleman -- prepare for several tournaments he plays in each year. He LOVES chess, and can't  get enough of it. I've watched as hwe has gone from a rating of 1100 to now of a rating of about 1500. Given that he plays in  at least 5-6  tournaments per year he purchased an Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock, which  the  USCF promotes as "The Official Chess Clock of the United States Chess Federation".  At the end of May he will be  playing  in the U.S. Am. West Championship Tournament. The Time Control?!? 40/90, SD30, inc(rement)/30 -- The so-called "Fischer Time  Control" !!! One week later he  will be playing in Las Vegas, and the  time control will once again be 40/90, SD30, inc(rement)/30 !!! After pushing people to get rid of their analo g clocks for the GREAT things  DIGITAL chess clocks could perform -- including DELAY functions -- and vowing to phase out analog clocks altogether, and  then actively PROMOTING the Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock, as being "The Official Chess Clock of the United States Chess Federation", he discovered that there apparently no way to set the "Official Chess Clock of the USCF" for a Fischer Time Control. Not sure if this is a true statement or not,  but he claims  it can not. My  Chronos?!? NO PROBLEM!!! I had to go online but with a little searching  found a way to  set one  of my modes for a Fischer Time Control. I then programed my the first two modes of my backup Chronos with two different Fischer Time Controls. I am going  to loan my "student"  my pre-programed back-up Chronos to take with him to both events.  My student is pissed to say the very least because  after looking at  several clocks, he purchased the one being marketed  by the USCF as The OFFICIAL Clock of the USCF, now the USCF has jumped to yet another tournamnet time control, yet this one, apparently can't be done by the USCF's own OFFICIAL clock!!!

    The USCF needs top PUBLISH an OFFICIAL LIST of ALL TIME CONTROLS that could be used in ANY OFFICIAL USCF sanctioned Tournament. ANY clock -- be it an "Official" or "Un-Official" but comon digitial clock -- should be able to be  set  to.

      When I bought my Chronos a few years  ago, I  bought it for a few reasons A) there were rumors that my beloved BHB Analog clock was going to be phased out, and ONLY digital would be allowed  B) I needed a clock that had a Low Center of Gravity  and would be hard to tip over  C) Built like a Tank  D) could be "programed" to handle any time control that  could be invented.  While EXPENSIVE and not the least bit intuitive to program, the Chronos met my needs, especially  the Low Center Center of Gravity part. The fact that the Chronos was the  defacto Chess Clock of the USCF at the time I bought it was also considered.

     In a post script note I not sure if the Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock was available at the  time I bought my  Chronos, but after  my  "student" bought his,  I would not have bought it anyway -- to me it is a cheap piece of plastic junk, probably made in China, that will wear out after a few years of use, and is probably easily broken; my Chronos will probably  still be  in use long after I'm dead.

    In the event my student is WRONG and the Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock can be set to run a Fischer Time Control of 40/90, SD30, inc(rement)/30 and also GAME /60 ,  Inc(rement)/30 which  seems to be  yet another of USCF's newer time controls that  is gaining popularity,  PLEASE post how you do it  so I   can pass along the information to my "student".

    P.S. For any USCF members out there, this issue of "Official"  clocks of the USCF, and the use Time Controls should be brought up to the Excutives of the USCF. At the very least the USCF should be FORCED to PUBLISH a LIST of ALL TIME CONTROLS permissible in a UCSF  Sanctioned Tournament, it should also PUBLISH a LIST of ALL allowable digital clocks that can be used in a sanctioned USCF  Tournament. If TRUE that the Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock can't be set to run in Fischer Time Controls, mark my words that the  TDs for both the US Am West tournament and the Las Vegas tournament which followes a week later are likely to have to quell a VERY ANGRY revolt among  players who bought the Excalibur Game Time II Digital Chess Clock because it was blessed by the USCF as its OFFICIAL clock.

  • #2

    That is a lot of words about a clock.

    If you are not already aware, "Official USCF" is always to be read as "Let us gouge you for all of our worthless garbage."

  • #3

    Game Time 2 can be set for fischer time controls.  Use the "Accum" feature. I just played a 90+30 tournament a couple of weeks back with mine.  Works great.

  • #4
    MJ4H wrote:

    Game Time 2 can be set for fischer time controls.  Use the "Accum" feature. I just played a 90+30 tournament a couple of weeks back with mine.  Works great.

    Thank you  for the info. I'll pass it on. I assume the "Accum" feature is easy to find and set?!? Truly appreciate your post. 

  • #5
    ivandh wrote:

    That is a lot of words about a clock.

    If you are not already aware, "Official USCF" is always to be read as "Let us gouge you for all of our worthless garbage."

    Yep, I  agree. TDs can't be expected to be experts in knowing how to set every clock on the  market. My own view of introducing "Fischer Time Controls" into USCF tournaments was poorly thought out -- players -- and a lot of TDs as well -- are just getting around to figuring out how to set their clocks with 5 second delay, and now the USCF springs so-called Fischer Time Controls on them.... I truly  miss the good ol' days where analog clocks, such  as the BHB, were King....

  • #6
    azbobcat wrote:
    MJ4H wrote:

    Game Time 2 can be set for fischer time controls.  Use the "Accum" feature. I just played a 90+30 tournament a couple of weeks back with mine.  Works great.

    Thank you  for the info. I'll pass it on. I assume the "Accum" feature is easy to find and set?!? Truly appreciate your post. 

    It's definitely in the manual.  Basically, with the clock in pause mode, hit the select button 7 times to get to the ACCUM option.  You can turn it on from there.  When it is on, the main display will have an F in it to indicate that the clock is a fischer clock and the time will be added after each move instead of being used as a delay.

  • #7
    MJ4H wrote:
    azbobcat wrote:
    MJ4H wrote:

    Game Time 2 can be set for fischer time controls.  Use the "Accum" feature. I just played a 90+30 tournament a couple of weeks back with mine.  Works great.

    Thank you  for the info. I'll pass it on. I assume the "Accum" feature is easy to find and set?!? Truly appreciate your post. 

    It's definitely in the manual.  Basically, with the clock in pause mode, hit the select button 7 times to get to the ACCUM option.  You can turn it on from there.  When it is on, the main display will have an F in it to indicate that the clock is a fischer clock and the time will be added after each move instead of being used as a delay.

    Yep, I found the Manual on-line, copied the relevant portion and sent it off in an e-mail to my "student". It took him some time to get it to work. Seems there is something called "Accum" and a second function called "Accum All". He had to set the clock with the "Accum All" function. Thank you sincerely for your post. He has back-to-back tournaments coming up: The US Am West, at the end of May, followed by a BIG tournament in Las Vegas one week later. It sent him into panic mode since some clocks can be set to a Fischer Time Control and others NOT. I instinctively  knew my Chronos with some 200+ modes should be able to be set for a Fischer Time Control, but no one -- including an  experienced TD -- knew if my "student's" clock could be. I think last year both  these events had time controls of 40/2, SD/60, d5. This year, according to him, the time  control for both are 40/90, SD/30,  inc/30. Don't ask me why  the change.

  • #8

    Time Delay was patented by Frank Camaratta in the early 1990s. The patent was then assigned by him, gratis, to the U.S. Chess Federation. The resulting GameTime programmable digital clock which resulted was the first of its kind and featured a wide variaty of time controls, along with 96 pre-set time controls and 6 that could be user Set. Included were controls like Hour Glass, Gong, and Byo Yomi. There is even a count up feature that allowed the time to be used for Scrabble and other word games. The Accumulate frature was so named because the term "Increment" had not yet been coined and since that is exactly what that time control option did - accumulate time. If you examine most digital clocks today, you will see that they pretty much copy all the fetures of the original Game Time.

  • #9

    I don't own any chess clock.

    Being as simple minded as I am I would defenitly not go for any of this options. I mean, what is the problem with a simple clock with a flag? why this complex programing stuff just to set a timer?

    Basically if you are playing bullet games you will spend the time of 5 games on just setting up this complex machines.

    Now if all this timer options are really necesary in order to play chess.... then we need a better designed machine. The description of this designs is unaceptable, some of this stuff I don't even know if it is real or just joking, for example this:

    "Basically, with the clock in pause mode, hit the select button 7 times to get to the ACCUM option.  You can turn it on from there.  When it is on, the main display will have an F in it to indicate that the clock is a fischer clock and the time will be added after each move instead of being used as a delay."

    Is this really how this machine was designed to be used? or is this a joke? or is this machine a joke? or the designer is a troll?

    Just saying.

  • #10
    htdavid wrote:

    I don't own any chess clock.

    Being as simple minded as I am I would defenitly not go for any of this options. I mean, what is the problem with a simple clock with a flag? why this complex programing stuff just to set a timer?

    Basically if you are playing bullet games you will spend the time of 5 games on just setting up this complex machines.

    Now if all this timer options are really necesary in order to play chess.... then we need a better designed machine. The description of this designs is unaceptable, some of this stuff I don't even know if it is real or just joking, for example this:

    "Basically, with the clock in pause mode, hit the select button 7 times to get to the ACCUM option.  You can turn it on from there.  When it is on, the main display will have an F in it to indicate that the clock is a fischer clock and the time will be added after each move instead of being used as a delay."

    Is this really how this machine was designed to be used? or is this a joke? or is this machine a joke? or the designer is a troll?

    Just saying.

    To be fair, analog clocks have some issues too;

    1. They are very easy to tip over

    2. Unlike with digital clocks, you can't see exactly how many seconds are left (At best, you can make a rough guess)

    3. They have no option for increments or delays

    I will also point out, although it sounds hard to set up time controls with digital clocks, it really isn't. I've often helped other players at tournaments set up their clocks on the spot- With no prior knowledge as to how they worked.

  • #11

    BlackMonarch: Unless you are the Rain Man of Chess Clocks, frankly I doubt you could set up a Chronos for a complex time control without prior knowledge. It's hard enough with a manual.

    I haven't used my Chronos in months and last week I discovered I had forgotten how to turn it off. (Press center red button and tap left or right button five times. What could be more obvious?)

    To be fair, it's hard to design an interface for complex settings with only three buttons.

    Maybe some people can handle this. But I've been writing software for thirty years and I find setting chess clocks hard.

  • #12

    LOL

    "Press center red button and tap left or right button five times. What could be more obvious?"

    Many of the machines out there have this kind of keys to find eastern eggs the programer hide on the machine. No to do simple stuff like just turn off the machine. I wonder now how you find eastern eggs on this chess clocks?

    I am a minimalist at harth and I can tell you there is somethign fundamentally wrong with the design of this machines...

    What is the need to complicate the settings this much? and if they are not confusing enougth as they are, then add more settigns to play Scrabble too. Why no?

    I just decide to check the manual for the Cronos clock... 58 pages jsut to set up this machine! For christ sake, my car come with a manual of 40 pages and this is becouse it is in 4 languages... what is wrong with this designer?

    This is a quote from the Manual's Q/A Chapter:

    "Q. Can I make the clock beep during byo-yomi?

    A. Yes. There are several options. See the User’s Guide."

  • #13
    BlackMonarch238 wrote:
    htdavid wrote:
    I will also point out, although it sounds hard to set up time controls with digital clocks, it really isn't. I've often helped other players at tournaments set up their clocks on the spot- With no prior knowledge as to how they worked.

    Are you telling me that you can set up the byo-yomi of a clock and not even look at the manual? Just by intuition?

  • #14

    David, take it easy and calm down.

    The Chronos clocks have 4 saved time control slots that are available by simply turning on the clock by pushing the center red button from one to four times.  One push gets you the first saved setting.  Two pushes gets you the second and so on.

    Also, there are only 3 or 4, at most, time controls that a person will use, regularly.  So saving these basic time controls in those first saved slots is easy and then easy to get to without a manual.

    If I am going to play a G/80, d/5 game on my Chronos, for instance.  I simply press the center button twice to get to that setting of one time control, between 10 and 99 minutes, with a delay.  If the clock has G/90, d/5 saved instead of the G/80. I only need to hold that center button down for a few seconds until the digit starts blinking on the display.  Then I can reset the time using that button and the other two, and save it by holding that button down for a few seconds again.  It really is easy.

    You say you don't own a clock.  Well, that tells me you do not play OTB chess with a clock.  If you play live on the internet, the clock is built in with an increment, usually.  The clock makes the OTB game timed as the internet games are.

    I also can set most of the digital clocks intuitively.  It really isn't that hard.

    And byo-yomi is used in GO, not Chess.  I have never worried about this timing option.

  • #15
    BlackMonarch238 napisał:

    2. Unlike with digital clocks, you can't see exactly how many seconds are left (At best, you can make a rough guess)

    It depends on the type of digital clock and player's experience. When I was an active OTB player I could tell how many seconds are left on Jantar or Garde clocks with 2 seconds precision (I used this ability to earn some money from people willing to put a bet on my guess: I estimated the number of seconds, we started the clock and counted).

    Also, Jantar clocks (produced in USSR, then in Russia) were rock solid (which made them especially good for kids) because they could be dropped from the table without getting broken. Digital clocks are rather more fragile

  • #16

    Eyechess: That's well and good because you've set a lot of clocks.

    But when a new person has bought a Chronos clock and sat down with it and the accompanying 58-page manual which has no diagrams, poorly written text ("There are three kinds of delay modes -- andante, adagio, and delay" WTF?) and plenty of fine print, it's a different story.

    You don't know that there are four slots, two kinds of red button presses, you don't know if you can screw the clock up or get it back to the way it was, or what happens to your settings after you hold the red button down or what "bd" mode is or what happens "COPY TO". I could go on.

    No, it is not "really easy."

  • #17

    I certainly am not arguing that the Chronos is easy for the person new to it. 

    The fact is that there are a number of people from all walks of life that own and use Chronos clocks without problem.

    It is in the manual about there being 12 user saved settings.  Of course I have found the first 4 to be the most useful as the other 8 need you to hold one of the side buttons (4 for each) down while turning on the clock and that is too complicated.

    Once the clock is set with the most used 2 or 3 settings, it really is a no brainer.

    Also the first few letters of each time control tells what type of control is being used.  The byo-yomi, for instance, is easy to see because of the byo letters.

    This clock is using hardware that is over 20 years old in design.  The programming is also from that time.  Sure he "updated" the programming a few times, but that was nothing more than changing a few options.  The base programming has stayed the same for over 20 years.

    The newer clocks are a lot easier to set.  The DGT 3000, ZMF-II and Pro, and V-Tek 300 all are pretty easy to set.  I have set them all.

  • #18

    Eyechess:

    Yes, I play most of my games on the computer.

    I don't see the need for increment of seconds and all that jazz.

    When I go to an OTB tournament (like ones in a year or less) it is mostly for recreational reasons and always the TD set up the timer. I don't take any of my chess stuff there. I just hope they have all the things necesary for me to play... I don't even bring a pen for the scoreboard.

    I think it is great that you have figure out the whole timer deal, but for me it just look unneceraly over complicated. I didn't knew this was like this, this is a surprice for me... so you also use the timer for GO? and here I was wondering why I need to learn another language just to deal with this machine?

    You know, I am a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, by any chance I can use the chess timer for this too?

  • #19

    azbobcat, let me first say that I love your attitude; not only to chess, but to teaching.

    yeah, I don't like the switch from analogue to digital either. What makes it harder for me is that although the switch began a few years before, most of the transition has taken place while I was in China, and well away from the chess scene. When I went back to Canada a few years ago and began playing again, I was unprepared to deal with the stupid things. Chess is a hard enough game to play already, why make it more difficult than it needs to be?

    Fortunately, there were still a few players from my generation hanging about, and one of them had a beautiful, well-maintained Garde clock we could use for slower games.

    Today, I look at my Koopman sitting at the back of my desk and think, "Buddy, we sure had some good times"

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