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Chess Clock LISA

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Why digital clock?

Digital clock provides new approach to chess.

Formerly chess games had fixed time controls for given number of moves. Number of time controls (periods) was unlimited. This represented serious disadvantage: in time-trouble the play lost its character - superior game passed (sometimes temporarily but perhaps even several times in a game) to situation when there was hardly any dependence on the position but only the time was critical. Games were adjourned and continued later (next day or so) which led to incorrect influence to the game (intervention of third parties, usage of literature and computer) as well as the tournament (adjourned games allowed incorrect tactics). In extreme cases one game could be adjourned even more than once. Floating tournament time schedule resulted in complications for all parties, especially for organizers.

Thus, in accordance to existent trend to get all sport branches more attractive and with the affort to include chess to olympic sports significant change has turned up: games are not adjourned any more. Due to this fact and many other practical reasons (continuity to next tournament rounds, possible attendant programme etc.) time limitation of games was necessary. This was done by using new timing modes – since specific moment all remaining moves must be accomplished in given limited time (guillotine).

Then most of problems mentioned above were solved – except of the problem with extreme time-troubles which became even worse then it was before – in late last period the game was gradually like rapid and then blitz. Finishing of such game was often totally degenerated – e.g. after six hours of earnest play there was a chance to attempt winning even quite lost game thanks to twenty seconds.

To avoid this and in the same time keep the guillotine advantage as much as possible, two more changes were done:

  • change of the FIDE laws, paragraph 10 – Quickplay finish which can result but in disputable verdicts – e.g. when the arbiter with ELO rating 500 points less should decide whether the player is making affort to win the game by normal means.
  • bonus modes were introduced
In bonus mode, besides of fixed time for the period (or the whole game) an extra time (bonus) is alloted per every move. This leads to compromise: the game should be a bit longer (in case of a lot of moves) but the influence of extreme time-trouble is eliminated (the player has at least the minimal time per every move).

Of course, bonus modes can be realized with the electronic clocks only. But this is not the only reason for using digital clocks. They would be spread in any case; the trend of digitalization of consumer goods can not omitt even chess clocks. It brings a lot of other advantages: accuracy in settings as well as in running, much better reliability and additional features. Until LISA was introduced mechanical clocks had one basic advantage: they could be set admittedly less accurate but much easier. You could simply turn the button and arbitrary time could immediately be set.


Reliability of mechanical clocks according to experience and information available from Czech and respective Central Europe area: reliability of Czech "bakelite" clocks Prim from sixties and seventies was highly piece-to-piece dependent. Traditional Garde (Ruhla, GDR) which was used even in top tournaments including final of World Championships and Olympiads had a bit unreliable timing machines and problems with lever mechanisms. Less user-friendly and more robust (from the internal construction point of view) Jantar (USSR) had comparable and also piece-to-piece variable reliability.

Repair costs represent about 5 EUR. According to common experience number of failures rapidly increases since first damage of the clock.

Thus, mechanical clocks in inventories of chess groups are gradually past service and as they are advanced in age, there is a need of alternation. There are evident changes in current market supply: perhaps only "innovated" version of Garde is produced (Gardι Uhren und Feinmechanik Ruhla GmbH). Chronotechna Cesky Sternberk totally stopped production of mechanical clock (not only chess ones) and then went into liquidation. Jantar is not officially imported. Some clock types from Balkan are available by manufacturers which do not enjoy significant tradition in this country (Insa – Yugoslavia, Aradora – Romania). They seems to be comparable to Garde. To compare the reliability, there are not enough experience in long-lasting high volume operation. According to importesr's information, some thousands of pieces were sold with negligible number of complaints.

Even if Omega or Rolex mechanical chess clocks were produced, good electronic clock would probably be more reliable. The very electronics is nearly accident-free, mechanical parts are not used (only pushbuttons have partially mechanical nature) which in case of top make results in nearly 100% endurance in all situations while common usage – perhaps except of a drop only.


Thus, even if prices of expensive common mechanical clocks are comparable to cheapest digital ones, it is convenient to purchase only digital ones henceforth due to their much higher performance and all other aspects (except of the price). FIDE prefers bonus times and it is a question of short time only and the crucial part of the chess world will be equipped with digital clocks in so far as using of them will be declared to be compulsory in official chess events (and necessary condition for FIDE ELO rating).

Information and orders: infolisacz