Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

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J T Melsom
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Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:41 am

Not the greatest thread title, but I am interested in the experiences of other forumites in the introduction of digital clocks particularly to club chess.

The key question would appear to be one of cost, since the clocks are not cheap, and many clubs lack the financial reserves for bulk purchase. How have clubs handled this? Have counties/leagues provided assistance? Have matches been played with a mixture of analogue and digital?

How soon after digitalisation have organisations changed rates of play if indeed such changes have been made?

What other issues have arisen that might not be obvious to a club administrator?

And finally although cleary digital clocks are the way forward for many, analogue clocks are rarely life expired. Are there any practical suggestions for recycling the old clocks?

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Anthony Higgs
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Anthony Higgs » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:54 am

Funds-wise we bought our clocks from money raised by bequests so I'll let others comment on more practical measures!

Rates of play have not changed at Horsham with the introduction of digitals - our time limits for internal games mirror the league we play in so that new club members can get used to these time controls before they play a league match for the first time. With a set closing time I can't see us ever using increments even though they are the preferred currency elsewhere.

As for 'issues arising' it is very sensible to ensure everyone is familiar with setting the digitals, otherwise one or two people get lumbered with setting them for others. A guide sheet contained in the clock box is a good idea, as is a demonstration to the whole club (usually at an AGM where everyone is present and can ask questions without getting shushed). Also make sure you have spare batteries to hand somewhere so you are not caught out!
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Steve Rooney
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Steve Rooney » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:12 pm

Our club moved to digital clocks this season, thanks to a generous donation from one of our members. I think we are one of four clubs who have switched recently in our league. There are still some clubs with analogue clocks however so the subject of increments hasn't come up for standard play games. We have a new rapidplay league this season which is run on various nights with four teams involved and this has the option of using 20min or 10min + 10sec and the latter has been much more popular.

Robert Stokes
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Robert Stokes » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:51 pm

Quote "usually at an AGM when everyone is present".

Quite a few of my club deliberately miss the AGM because it's boring and we aren't playing chess. That said, it is usually over in less than an hour and the chess then starts.

Robert

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:27 pm

J T Melsom wrote: What other issues have arisen that might not be obvious to a club administrator?
If league rules say that an extra z minutes is added after both players are satisfied that x moves in y minutes have been completed, then they may need to be modified. A player silently objecting to digital clocks could demand that league rules be followed to the letter. In other words, the clocks are set to y minutes at the start of play, with the extra time added by pressing the "add time" button z times.

Notwithstanding the problem of players trying to play at a thirty in ninety pace, I suspect with digital clocks you have to abolish the intermediate time control. It's just too much of a recipe for confusing players when you have the uncertainty period between the completion of x moves and the addition of the z minutes. This particularly applies with the addition of fifteen minutes as you may well not have the visual clue of the clock jumping back to the hours:minutes display.

J T Melsom
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:39 pm

Roger,

I think the point about intermediate time controls is important and needs to be understood - is it the case that with some/most designs of clock the +15 to finish setting familiar to many leagues requires an intervention at the appropriate time? However, I have never found the idea of extra time being owed but not displayed confusing. If I found this to be bewildering I doubt I could cope with many of the other complexities that the game of chess throws up.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:51 pm

J T Melsom wrote:Roger,

I think the point about intermediate time controls is important and needs to be understood - is it the case that with some/most designs of clock the +15 to finish setting familiar to many leagues requires an intervention at the appropriate time? .
There are three ways you can use them.
(a) the traditional approach using the add time button. I don't think anyone does this in practice. On one occasion in the Berks League, the home side set the clock this way, it was disruptive that it took several minutes to reset or reprogram the clock when the extra time had to be added.
(b) The approach used by Congresses is to set clocks to an initial period of x with z added when x expires. This falsely shows a flag fall at time expiry and players can and do run themselves out of time thinking there's more time to come.
(c) With a bit of devious thought, you can program the clock to automatically add time at the correct move number. The difficulty with this, apart from its propensity to annoy arbiters, is that the DGTs don't make it particularly obvious as to how many times they have been pressed, thus it isn't easy to know that the clock is synchronised with the score-sheet.

Just another thought. If you are prepared to tolerate a smart phone being switched on set to airline mode, there are a number of digital timers that can be downloaded and installed. I haven't found one yet that does intermediate time periods, although they usually support increments. Using a phone in this way does require players to touch the screen rather than violently assault the button or lever, as can be the case with traditional clocks and DGTs. (If you hit a DGT hard enough, or in the right place, you can dislodge the power connection)

James Toon
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by James Toon » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:49 pm

Pimlico Chess Club uses the DGT 2010 digital clock with a simple increment - either G80 + 10s a move from the start in one league, or G75 + 15s a move from the start in another. Experience suggests the second of these is an improvement. The extra time per move in the ending is worth more than the loss of 5 minutes' base time overall.

These entail quite a fast rate of play, equivalent to 60 moves in 90 minutes. Almost all games are finished inside 3 hours. A small number have lasted up to 15 minutes longer. Our league matches start relatively early (between 6.30pm and 7.00pm) so we have some leeway for longer games.

The clocks are very easy to set up and we haven't had any problems so far. The price is the only drawback. We have benefited from members' donations.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Reg Clucas » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:08 pm

In the Stockport League there are now two alternative time controls - all moves in 90 minutes, or, where digital clocks are available and both sides agree, all moves in 80 minutes with a 10 second increment. Some clubs (including mine) still have only analogue clocks. However, whenever I have played a match at a club which uses digitals, no-one has yet suggested that the increment mode be used, which is a pity. One doesn't feel comfortable suggesting using the increment mode when visiting another club. I suspect lack of familiarity with setting the clocks may be a factor, and in this regard Anthony Higgs makes a good point about having as many people as possible familiar with the clocks..

Our club is considering getting digitals, and a couple of weeks ago I started a thread asking a few questions about DGT2010s, so any one who would like to contribute to this thread would still be welcome - http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6343

I think setting the clocks can be an issue for arbiters as well. Last weekend I played in a rapidplay where DGT2000s were being used (I presume this is the DGT2010's predecessor). At one point an incident occurred where an illegal move was made, and it was necessary to add 2 minutes to the opponent's time. The offending player had just over 4 minutes left, his opponent had about 2 & a half minutes. The arbiter said it was too difficult to add two minutes, so he just set both clocks to have 5 minutes left. Both players were satisfied with this, but I wondered is it genuinely so difficult to make this adjustment to a DGT 2000? If so, is the 2010 any better in this regard? Or was it just the arbiter's lack of knowledge?

J T Melsom
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:22 pm

I find it interesting so far that several leagues operate with different time controls depending on the types of clocks available. Do any leagues allow clubs to play with a mixture of clocks and therefore different time controls on relevant boards?

James Toon
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by James Toon » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:33 pm

The London League operates a system in all divisions whereby the default on odd boards is 30 moves in 75 minutes with a 15-minute quickplay finish, and the default on even boards is 36 moves in 90 minutes followed by adjournment. It would be possible to use a mixture of digital and analogue clocks, but as far as I know clubs use the same type of clock on all boards.

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Anthony Higgs
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Anthony Higgs » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:38 pm

Robert Stokes wrote:Quote "usually at an AGM when everyone is present".

Quite a few of my club deliberately miss the AGM because it's boring and we aren't playing chess. That said, it is usually over in less than an hour and the chess then starts.

Robert
Oh for all AGMs to be less than an hour!

Ours have featured other demonstrations, not just how to use the clocks - a particular favourite was "how to put a table away" for the benefit of the malingerers who slink out without packing up and leave it to others... :D
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J T Melsom
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:40 pm

James, I recall playing a match in the Civil Service League with a mixture of clocks, but a consistent time control. I can see the finances can require a degree of pragmatism, but I've always felt that players should play under the same conditions. Given the amount of illegal clock lifting and staring at the display that goes on with analogue clocks, I wonder whether time scramble junkies are better served by digital. If so then it might constitute an advantage. But that may well be a digression.

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Anthony Higgs
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by Anthony Higgs » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:47 pm

J T Melsom wrote: I've always felt that players should play under the same conditions.
The type of clock does not necessarily have to mean all the players play to the same time limits. In the Mid-Sussex League a quickplay finish (with attendant differing intermediate time control) can be played if both players agree, leading to different time controls on different boards. This makes no distinction between analogue or digital.
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J T Melsom
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Re: Digital Clocks - issues arising from introduction

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:54 pm

Anthony

I really meant conditions in terms of type/quality of equipment or indeed amount of space. I don't like team members to be treated as anything other than equal. But to be honest, I'd rather not have differing time limits. Although this gradualist approach can be useful to effect change, I tend to see it as a fudge.

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