What Side Does The Chess Clock Go On?

chess clock

You’ve been playing chess for a while now and think you’ve got the basics down pat. The pieces move in their little L-shapes and zig-zags, you know how to get checkmate, and you’re familiar with common openings and strategies. But there’s still one nagging question in the back of your mind that you’ve never quite figured out – what side does the chess clock go on? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in your confusion. The positioning of the chess clock seems like such a minor detail but it’s crucial to keeping proper track of time during competitive games. Read on to finally get a definitive answer to this perplexing question once and for all.

The History of the Chess Clock

The chess clock has been used in competitive chess for over 150 years. Originally, chess games had no time limit, which meant some matches could last for days. Not very practical!

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In the mid-1800s, inventors created the first mechanical chess clocks. These early clocks used a pendulum to keep time and had two faces – one for each player. When it was your turn, you’d press a button to stop your clock and start your opponent’s.

The modern chess clock was introduced in the 1920s. It featured two separate time displays and a lever to switch between them.

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When digital clocks became available, chess clocks naturally followed suit. Most tournament chess clocks today are digital and programmable, allowing for different time controls and time increments.

Some people wonder why chess clocks are needed at all or why the players don’t just use separate timing devices. The key reason is fairness. With a single chess clock, both players’ time is displayed, recorded, and controlled using the exact same device. This eliminates any possibility of time discrepancies and ensures an even playing field.

Whether you’re a casual player or a competitive tournament competitor, the trusty chess clock allows you to keep the game moving at an enjoyable pace without argument over how much time remains on the clock.

Chess Clock Placement Rules and Etiquette

The chess clock should be placed on the side of the board corresponding to the color of the player whose turn it is. So if white moves first, the clock is placed on the right side of the board from white’s perspective. For Black’s first move, the clock goes on the left side.

This placement convention allows each player to easily press the clock button and see the remaining time after making their move, without having to reach over the entire board. It also helps prevent accidentally pressing your opponent’s side of the clock, which could result in a time penalty!

Some basic chess clock etiquette to keep in mind:

  • Press the clock button firmly and clearly after moving, so your time is recorded properly.
  • Do not pound the clock or slam it around, as this could damage the mechanism.
  • Do not press your opponent’s side of the clock for any reason. Only touch your own side.
  • If the clock malfunctions or a problem arises, stop the clock immediately and call for a tournament director or referee to address the issue before continuing play.

Whether you’re playing casually or in a rated tournament, following the standard rules for chess clock placement and etiquette is important for fair play and sportsmanship. Keeping the clock on the correct side, pressing carefully and clearly, and avoiding touching your opponent’s clock will help ensure an enjoyable game for both players. If any confusion arises, don’t hesitate to ask a more experienced player or check an official rulebook.

Tips for Using Your Chess Clock Correctly

Tips for Using Your Chess Clock Correctly

Using a chess clock properly is important to keep games fair and running smoothly. Here are a few tips to help you master your chess clock:

Make sure you clearly understand how your particular chess clock operates before starting a game. While most work similarly, different brands can have different button layouts or ways of setting timing controls. Read the instructions or watch an online tutorial to learn the basics.

Decide on a time control before beginning play. The two most common are “sudden death”, where players have a set amount of total time to complete all moves, and “increment”, where a small amount of time is added after each move. Discuss which you prefer with your opponent.

Pay close attention to the clock during play. Glancing at the clock should become second nature, to ensure you’re keeping pace and not falling too far behind on time. Try to maintain a steady speed of play.

Press the button firmly and clearly when it’s your turn. A soft or ambiguous press can lead to time disputes and confusion. Press the button with confidence to avoid this.

If a time dispute does arise, remain polite and courteous. Calmly explain your perspective to your opponent and try to come to an agreement. You may need to call over a tournament director to resolve the issue. Staying respectful will lead to the fairest outcome.

Using these tips will help you gain confidence in operating your chess clock. With regular practice, employing it during games will become second nature and ensure you have an enjoyable, stress-free time at the board.


So there you have it – the chess clock belongs on the right side of the board according to official chess rules and etiquette. While it may seem like a minor detail, proper clock placement helps ensure fair timing for both players and avoids confusion or disputes. Now you can head to your next match confident you know the proper setup and ready to focus on your strategy and gameplay. Who knows, maybe next time you’ll find yourself so immersed in an intense match that you forget all about that clock ticking away on the right. But at least now you know which side it’s supposed to be on!

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