My five-year-old daughter has learnt the rules of chess and is able to play complete games by herself. I do not have a chess clock and she has never used one. I am wondering if I should let her start using a chess clock, or should I wait when she gets older. If I do use a chess clock, what time control is recommended for players at her age?
I am wondering if I should let her start using a chess clock, or should I wait when she gets older.
At your daughter's age (5) the most important thing is having fun. If she is having fun now I would skip the clock until she reaches the level where she wants to enter competitions which have clocks.
There is certainly no harm in explaining to her what chess clocks are and why you can't just stop moving in a game you are losing but I wouldn't encourage playing with them if there is any chance it puts unwanted pressure on her.
As an arbiter / organizer I would use clocks in junior tournaments in two situations:
- For all games all the time only when the players have reached a suitable standard. This basically means a level where the games are to be graded by the national federation or rated by FIDE
- For parts of selected games when required to meet time deadlines. This would be for games in low level (ungraded) tournaments where the tournament schedule calls for x games in y time and a particular game looks as if it is going to overrun. In that case at the time when this becomes apparent (one or both players sitting on their hands instead of moving) a clock is introduced with 5 minutes per player with no increments.
I wouldn't overthink it since you can always go for a trial-and-error approach. You can try online if you don't have a chess clock and see how it goes. I wouldn't say there's a specific time control recommended for each age. I wouldn't say it's a priority either.
Anyway I wouldn't suggest Blitz as it will probably make her rush too much (thinking too little is a much common problem than thinking too much at early ages). Something like 10 or 15 minutes would be about "normal". How much time does it often take her to make moves?
I like to use the clock with little kids (and press-clock-with-correct-hand) simply because it stops the waiting player from grabbing pieces when it is not their turn... basic rule is "unless your time is ticking, don't touch anything". Otherwise a game can descend into chaos, especially between two players.
Especially between 2 young players, I would use 10+0 time just so the game doesn't go on forever and become boring for the opponent. However if it is a decent game, they are thinking, and time runs out, then I would reset the clock and encourage them to keep playing.
ie the clock is there mostly to help enforce polite turn-taking.
Ask her if she wants to play with the clock. If it's her decision and says yes, she will be more likely to enjoy playing with it. In addition, generally playing with a lower time limit, ie. < 10 minutes, is not that good for a beginner, as it hinders progress by not letting you analyze the lines. It also forces you to rely on your gut feeling and make moves with intuition, which a beginner simply doesn't have, so maybe at this point it's best to leave it.