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?

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    Not a parent or a strong chess player, but I see no reason that this should be an issue if she would like to play with a clock or if the goal is to prepare her for tournament play. Is there any particular reason you're hesitant to do it, or are you more so just asking for confirmation? In any case if you were wondering about getting a clock there is a free app offered by chess.com you could use if you'd like. Jun 1, 2021 at 2:51
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    @StephenDonovan, I am wondering if it is a good idea to ask her to play under some time pressure, or should I encourage her to take her time to find the best moves to the best of her ability.
    – Zuriel
    Jun 1, 2021 at 2:55
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    Oh, yeah I can understand that. Well again I can't speak for the chess coaching side of things, but as far as the pressure goes, my approach would probably just be to try it and then see what her reaction is. If she doesn't find it fun or it stresses her out, I'd say put it off to the side until later. As long as you don't force it I don't think it could do much harm. (but that's just my two cents) Jun 1, 2021 at 3:04
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    When I was young (8–10, perhaps) and played at a kids chess club with clocks, my father and I also played together. Often to even the odds we played 30-15 or 30-10, so that I had more time to think and he less. Jun 1, 2021 at 13:51
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    At some point, kids start overthinking. The clock is useful when they need to learn that sometimes you have to just make a decision and see what happens.
    – J...
    Jun 2, 2021 at 10:05

5 Answers 5


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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
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    At any age the most important thing is having fun. It is a game after all, no matter the level of competition.
    – TCooper
    Jun 1, 2021 at 23:36
  • Sometimes, and for some people, the fun is in rutheless competition. This is barely every a healthy mindset for kids or teens, tho. So while I generally agree @TCooper, this is not always true for everyone.
    – Mafii
    Jun 2, 2021 at 8:37
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    Wasn't there a question/answer not that long ago on this site, where an organizer of a tournament for small kids lamented the use of the clocks and the problems it posed for the very young players?
    – mishan
    Jun 2, 2021 at 14:45

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.

  • "unless your time is ticking, don't touch anything" Is that only a recommendation for children, or is that the rule used in tournaments? I thought you were allowed to play as soon as the opponent had finished playing their move on the board, even if they hadn't hit the clock yet.
    – Stef
    Jun 2, 2021 at 14:28
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    Its specifically for children and new players, because otherwise it can turn into chaos and the kids get upset. However, I feel it is a good "rule" to use for my kids in tournaments, because it gives the opponent a chance to forget to press their clock and run their clock down. I've noticed if the kids are thinking about the opponent's clock winding down, they are more unlikely to forget to press their own clock.
    – user92979
    Jun 4, 2021 at 4:23

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.


Buy the clock and put it on a table a few metres away, 5 minute time control. Then let them play a game of chess. After each move, they have to run over to that table and press the clock. It's a lot of fun for anyone.

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    Nearly run-around-the-house-chess: put a chess board on one side of a 'house'; one player (white) starts at the board and the other at the other side of the 'house'. Then run around the 'house'; when you're at the board, you get to make a move. So if you overtake your opponent, you get to move twice in a row. Jun 1, 2021 at 20:26
  • One problem I had noticed, is that the younger ones feel, that there are on a disadvantage in this games. Maybe form some teams to balance that.
    – user27863
    Jun 2, 2021 at 10:31

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