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How to DGT

How to DGT


The County now uses the DGT 2010 digital clocks for all its home fixtures (illustrated on the right - click on image for enlargement).

For those not familiar with using digital clocks, sitting down at the board to use one for the first time can be a source of confusion and distraction, which is not what you need at the start of a game. This article sets out the various features of the DGT 2010 timer with practical examples for the application of QPF time controls.

This article is a revised version of that which appeared previously on this site. Revision dated 05 Oct 2011.


To turn the clock on and off, press the button underneath. (Please TURN OFF when your game is finished.)

Players are not expected to set the clocks, the clocks should already be programmed with the applicable time control at the start of their game. If a clock is not set, please refer to one of the controllers.

Before starting the clock, make sure the white bar on top of the clock is DOWN on BLACK'S side of the board, so that the bar is UP on White's side. Note a white king is showing in the display on White's side of the board, a black king showing on the other display. Before the clock is started, pressing the white bar will cause these symbols to switch sides.

When the clock is properly set, press the PLAY/PAUSE button in the centre, below the main display (which looks like >|| with a clock symbol). This will start the clock on the side where the white bar is UP, indicated by the colon between the digits blinking.

To stop or pause the clock at any time, press the PLAY/PAUSE button.

To restart, press the PLAY/PAUSE button again.


The clock displays hours and minutes for any time above 20 minutes (h:mm) - see above illustration.

For 20 minutes and less it shows minutes and seconds ( - see figure 1 below.

Note: the clock display shows either "HRS/MIN" or "MIN/SEC" to show what it is displaying. The two faces will act independently.


The first thing to understand is that digital clocks operate in 'countdown' mode. To put it another way: analogue clocks show how much time has been used, digital clocks show how much time remains.

'ALL IN' time control:

For the time controls now in use in the Essex League, whether all in 90 or all in 80 + increment, expiration of one player's time is indicated by the appearance on that clock face of a FLASHING BLACK FLAG. This is equivalent to a flag fall on an analogue clock and indicates that player loses the game.

Incremental mode adds a time increment with each move, including the first move. So, for instance, All in 80 + 10 seconds a move, White starts with 80 mins 10 secs. At the start of the game, however, only hours and minutes are shown, so the additional time cannot be seen. Moreover, it is possible if the first few moves are played quickly, for the player to have MORE than 80 minutes shown on the clock!

'QPF' time control

For time controls employing a quickplay finish (e.g. county matches), there is a greater difference between the behaviour of a digital clock by comparison with the analogue clocks we're all used to. Practical experience has shown that these differences, if not understood, can give rise to uncertainty, or even arguments between players as to what the clock indications mean. We have a recent example where a player was "talked out of" a legitimate win on time. These notes attempt to explain clearly what these differences are and what the indications on the clock mean.

ANALOGUE CLOCK: Before, coming to the digital clock, we will simply set out what we are familiar with when playing a primary time control with a quickplay finish, using an analogue clock: when both players have made the time control, the clocks are stopped and turned BACK to apply the quickplay finish time and the game continues. If a flag fall occurs before the time control is reached, one of the players has lost and the additional time never gets added.

DIGITAL CLOCK: Two things are different when employing a DIGITAL clock with this type of time control:
- the additional time is added automatically,
- this is done WHEN ONE PLAYER HAS USED ALL OF THE INITIAL TIME PERIOD, not when the players have made the required moves for the time control. The first point of confusion usually arises here: the players have made their time control moves but the clock has not changed. Don't panic, the clock has not malfunctioned, nor been wrongly set, the time will be added when one clock has used the whole of the primary time limit.

At the point where the additional time is added, the clock that has first expired its primary time period will show a STATIC BLACK FLAG and the additional QPF time will be added to BOTH CLOCKS, immediately, automatically, and the clock will go on running. (It is this point which is a cause of confusion here as it tends to suggest that the player has plenty of time.) The BLACK FLAG = a flag-fall on an analogue clock. If that player has not made the requisite number of moves for that time period, the opponent may claim a win on time.

The WM recently experienced an instance where an opponent who had NOT made his time control move, responded "it wouldn't have given me the additional time if I hadn't made the time control". The simple answer is "YES IT DOES". (It is this point which we need to contrast with the analogue clock described above.) The static BLACK FLAG indicates a flag-fall and the same procedures of checking the time control moves have been made should be undertaken as with an analogue clock.

To reiterate: a static BLACK FLAG is displayed on the clock which first reaches the end of the first time period (on DGT clocks, the flag is displayed for the next five minutes). This is equivalent to the flag fall on an analogue clock. It does not of itself indicate a loss on time, merely that the time has expired. The clock will instantly add the QPF additional time and carry on running. Therefore, at this point, the players should check that the requisite number of moves have been made, just as you would when using an analogue clock. If the player whose clock is showing the BLACK FLAG has NOT made the required number of moves when this happens, the opponent may claim the opponent has LOST ON TIME.

When the FINAL time has expired for either side, a FLASHING BLACK FLAG is shown on that clock, which does indicate a loss on time.

The full instruction manual for the DGT 2010 clock (pdf) is available here.

Refer: FIDE Laws of Chess Article 6 - The Chess Clock.

To demonstrate the above points, here is an illustrated example of the process of adding QPF time:

1 - In the illustration to the right, both clocks are displaying minutes and seconds. Note the symbol between the minutes and the seconds is a full stop - compare with hours and minutes shown above and below which are separated by a colon. Click on the image for an enlargement and note that both clocks show the "min/sec" symbol. (This timer is paused for the photo; note the >|| symbol in the middle.)

In this example, the left clock face (White) is showing 11 seconds remaining (0.11), while Black has six minutes (6.00).

2 - Run White's clock on for just 11 seconds and it's all change! In the picture on the left, White's clock has reached the end of its primary time allotment and 30 minutes quickplay finish time has been added to BOTH clocks. Note the black flag on the left to signify that this clock was first to expire the first time period allowance. At this point the players will check their scoresheets to see that the required number of moves have been made; if not, in this example, Black can claim a win on time (note the miniature kings bottom right of each display indicating the players - click image for enlargement).

But why do the clocks look so different from the previous picture? The answer is that, with the addition of the extra 30 minutes, the clocks have switched back to displaying hours and minutes (note the legend "hrs/min" on each clock). White's clock is therefore showing 29 minutes (seconds no longer displayed, so the actual time might be 29 minutes and between 0 and 59 seconds). Black's clock is showing 30 minutes plus the six minutes carried forward = 36 minutes.

3 - Finally, the clock does have a move counter, which is incremented after each move by Black (i.e. it doesn't show "half" moves). The move counter can be viewed at any time by pressing and holding the +/# button (see picture right). In this illustration, 22 moves have been made by both players and it is White's move (note that the clock was paused at the time of taking this picture, but it is not necessary to pause the clock to show the move counter). If it were Black's move at this point, White will have made his/her 23rd move, but the counter will not increment to 23 until Black has also made 23 moves.

However, the clock's program does not record the number of moves required for the time control. This point is made to underline the fact that the BLACK FLAG only indicates the expiry of time, a 'flag-fall', not whether the time control has been met. It should also be noted that the "move counter" actually records the number of times the white bar is pressed, not how many moves each player has made on the board; there might be a difference!

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