Best Chessmen Ever

DGT 3000 Setup Test

We test them so you don't have to.

A very fine update to the old XL. Bigger display, more info, same basic design.


Unboxing DGT 3000

New off the shelf, it's not even listed on the official DGT homepage yet. A replacement upgrade of the old 2003 DGT XL, it was about time. Same design, but nicer color, better LCD screen with more info available. This one can display hours *and* seconds at the same time. Compatible with DGT electronic boards and yes, with latest Picochess 0.28 too.


Novag Quartz Chess Clock

Novag Quartz Chess Clock
A chessclock from prehistoric future. Make that 1980. Prepare to be awed.

I love Novag’s attention to design. They were always a step ahead above H&G or Fidelity or anybody else in *that* department. We are talking eighties and early nineties here, the golden era of dedicated chessbots. Until the engines wiped them out.

The designers were out of line on this one, though. Form over function, so much that it hurts. Ouch.

  • Plastic.
  • Breakable Hinged display.
  • Fancy automatic power on. Ooh. Aah.
  • Detachable buttons. Yes. Detachable.
  • Star Trek communicator look and feel. Not in a good way.
  • Membrane buttons.
  • Aaaaaargh.

They tell me the clock can be hooked to a Novag Savant. Riiiiiiight, ...


Chess Clocks Setup Test #10 - ZmartFun ZMF-II

An update to our chess clocks setup tests, a review of the new ZmartFun digital touch button clock with a spiffy name: ZMF-II

Yeah, baby, these come in colors! Love the price.


Chess Clocks Setup Test #09 - Garde Electronic

Another update to recent chess clocks setup tests, a review of the extremely rare 2001 Ruhla Garde electronic chess clock.


ZmartFun Chess Clocks Updated

The interesting ZmartFun line of digital chess clocks was updated with new design and some tweaks to internal software. The name is new too, the business cards read “Chess Clock ZMF-II” as of today. Whatever. For some reason the reset button seems to be square now. Mkay. Can roll with dat.

Added are some new features like byo-yomi timing modes and multi time-control tournament modes (up to three time periods). Simplicity was the name of the game with the older model, I hope it stays so with the new one. There are more details in the all-new manual, must check.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 23.37.08

All-new slanted design is very welcome and the clocks are available in some interesting color combos. Definitely not a dull piece of chess equipment. High quality sturdy stainless touch buttons, if the previous model is any indication. Made in effing U.S. of A.

Prices are slashed, at € 54,95 these clocks seem like a bargain. They got the timing just right as at the moment the competition is asleep at the wheel and demand is high. Ordered one (red on red) pronto, will shoot and report as soon as it gets to Ljubljana.


P.S. Here’s a short review of the now defunct older model with some nitpicking:

Looks like they listened. App Clock

Here’s an update to my recent chess clocks setup tests, a review of today’s iOS app update featuring nice and useful digital chess clock:

Best chess clock travel solution by far. Very convenient. Don’t even look at specialized chess clock apps, it’s all feces on the market. It’s not even funny.


P. S. A few suggestions to the developer folks:
  • A randomizer for Fischer random games would be nice.
  • Optional customization of the sounds. Kids want explosions at the end.
  • Never let the users customize the colors! This is a road to hell Uglyville.
  • Optional move counter discretely tucked away in some corner. Trust the design guy, he done good so far.
  • WTF is a clock doing in “Settings”? Sure, it’s not easy to shuffle the layout around to accomodate a new button, but somebody gotta do it. Settings? Really?

Chess Clocks Setup Tests

Setting a modern chess clock is not trivial. Some solve the problem better than the others. Here’s an overview of ten popular examples.


Simple, from another era.

Chronos FX:

This is what you want from a day to day clock. Rugged, easy to reset, fat display. This brand is best on the market.

ZmartFun Chess Clock:

A plastic substitute with bright LED display that fades out in sunlight. An indoor clock only.
Update (feb 2013):
The model shown was discontinued on the day of shooting this video.


Tournament standard. Not much use for anything else.

Chronos Digital Game Clock:

Everything but the kitchen sink. Badass clock.

Garde Digital Electronic:

New with a touch of old. Elegant.

Chronos GX:

FX’s younger sibling. Two pane display, nobody knows why. App Clock:

Very convenient for travel. Elegantly done. Beats all other specialized chess clock apps in the App Store. Lots of ugly design there.

Garde electronic:

A mysterious clock nobody knows. A very, very rare Ruhla clock from 2001.

ZmartFun ZMF-II:

An update, new model. Lower price even.

DGT 3000:

An update to DGT XL. Bigger display, eboard compatibility and US Delay mode.

My personal all time favorite is the discontinued Chronos FX. For travel the convenience of the bare bones app is best by far.


ZmartFun Chess Clock Review

It is an attractive chess clock, digital and all. Nice big blue numbers, green or red if you want them. Stainless steel touch buttons, rugged build. Plastic. A bit square. It’s just a box. Big ass battery combo inside. Makes the clock very heavy. You don’t want to lug this baby around. This is an indoor clock on account of poor legibility under direct sunlight. Those nice bordello LEDs don’t shine outside.

The LEDs seem to flicker in the video on account the camera being faster than the eye. This is not the case OTB. The glow is kinda soothing, actually.

Simple controls, no bells and whistles. One tournament mode. Increment, delay, -- both there. Silent operation. Maybe too silent. This clock is up to something.


Update (feb 2013):
The model shown was discontinued. The new model has a slanted display. Review pending, the clock is on the way as we speak.

Chronos Chess Timers - A state of the matter report

The Chronos Digital Touch chess timers are best money can buy. Price is high featuring unmatched utility and quality. (The European retro exquisite Garde Digital is almost half the price.) Slanted aluminum body, high readability, no moving parts, maximum durability. Extremely easy to use and easy to set up once one understands the process. One touch pause with one touch reset, a feature absent from European digital chess clocks. (Compare to the DGT XL that has to be picked up and switched off on the bottom to reset the timer and start a new game. The Garde Digital Chess Clock has a similar problem feature.)


Pictured are (from top to bottom) the touch button versions of the Chronos Digital Game Clock II, Chronos FX and Chronos GX. As of this writing, these clocks are in short supply and extremely hard to find even online. Most of the major dealers list them out of stock or renege on the deal by the time of shipping. You will be pushed a cheaper plastic (albeit nice and cuddly) ZmartFun replacement. Not. The. Same.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 13.00.35

Curious, I started digging. Information is scarce. The news is bad. There is a legend about a nutty scrabble player who started a scrabble timer business and expanded it to chess by demand … but his heart was never in it. Scrabble, yes, chess, no. The scrabble side of business is booming, the other not so much. The official website is virtually dead, last updated years ago. There are reports of repair delays and the shop not answering the phone. Some say the shop is suffering from chip supply shortage. I dunno.

From the forums in August 2012:
"The Chronos is a Sam Timer w/ the Scrabble function removed and marketed to chess players. It was developed by a Scrabble player named Sam Kantimathi, to market the clock to chess players he removed the Scrabble function (up counting overtime) from the clock and gave it a mythical name Chronos."

“It kind of leads one to the impression that indeed he (Sam Kantimathi) has lost interest in "chess/chess clocks", if he ever had interest i the first place.”

A slimmer of hope from November 2012:
"They have not gone out of business. The had serious problem with their chip sets and are waiting for new chips in order to keep making clocks."

Pictured are three models I somehow happened to get hold of via friends in the States. These were never sold in Europe. The FX I snatched off an American kid playing at WYCC2012 in Maribor, Slovenia. The mother robbed me, but I forked over gladly.

From top to bottom:
1. Chronos Chess Clock II: Touch Switch, introduced in 2003, still sold today.
2. Chronos FX Touch, introduced in 2004, discontinued in 2008. Good luck finding this one.
3. Chronos GX Touch, introduced in 2008. Listed at major dealers, but apparently sold out.

Before the FX there was a DX. There's a brief mention of the DX somewhere on the Net, but no info or pic whatsoever. BX, CX? I have no idea …

The Chronos Chess Clock (the long one) is a full featured tourney & blitz modes with the kitchen sink. A bunch of Go and byo-yomi modes. Lots of overhead. Good for serious all around tournament players. All the FIDE modes and whatnot.

The FX is the best of the lot for a blitz player. Simple timer modes with a handful of tourney settings. One pane LCD display with unmatched readability. Best chess clock ever. Discontinued. Oddly, there are no videos of the FX on YouTube.

The GX is a newer blitz model, functionally same as FX but with a couple of additional byo-yomi timer modes. Same size as GX, but with two LCD panes and a bit different increment/delay/move display. Out of stock at most dealers, but can be found at some web corners for a heavily inflated price.


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