USCF Tournament Clock Issues


I just played in my first little tournament last weekend.  I admit I sometimes get so involved with what I'm doing that I forget to press the clock.  I'm quickly learning to get better!  While playing it occurred to me that for several moves my opponents were moving their pieces after I moved mine but not telling me that I forgot to press the clock.

Is this illegal?  Don't I technically own the move and the time unless I press the clock button?  What would you do in the future if people move on your time and don't tell you your clock has been ticking.  

I've heard of people sitting on their hands and not saying a word to run down an opponents time, but I've never heard of actually moving on your opponents time.



Pressing your clock is your job, not theirs.  Once you make your move and let go of the piece, they can move, or they can sit and think.

They could just sit and wait for your clock to run out, never having made a move, and win on time.  They can play and not be using any of their time because you didn't press your clock.

You can't blame them - you're the one who isn't stopping your clock.

I recommend practicing with a clock, get used to it.  Move your piece, hit the clock, automatic.  Practice with the clock on both sides of the board - sometimes on your right, sometimes on your left.  If you don't have a clock, set something there to represent the clock, and hit it after every move.


Once you've released your piece, the opponent is free to move.  The only restriction is that you must be allowed at least the chance to push your clock - even in time trouble, they can't move instantly and hold their button down (on an analog clock) and prevent you from pressing yours.  But if you don't push it immediately, they don't have to wait for you.

To conserve time, you should try to develop a habit.  Move, hit clock, write it down.  1,2,3.  Make it your practice to always hit your clock before touching your pen.  If you forget and pick up your pen, put it back down and hit the clock, then pick it back up and record your move.  In time you will train yourself to this regimen and it won't be an issue.


Thanks for the tip Estragon.  I wasn't sure how to do it properly.  The "writing it down" part adds an element to the equation.  I was writing moves down before pressing the clock, and sometimes forgetting to press it.

 The first game I played like this last weekend I used 45 of 60 min of my time and my opponent used only 10 of his, mostly because he moved when I was writing down my move before pressing the clock!  I ended up barely winning the game in time pressure.  My opponent was nice enough to tell me that if there is only 5 minutes on the clock the TD says I can stop writing down my game.  It was much easier to move quickly and think without stopping to write things down.