closing tag is in template navbar
timefactors watches



TZ-UK Fundraiser
Results 1 to 49 of 49

Thread: Garde Chess Clock

  1. #1

    Garde Chess Clock

    Not exactly a watch but this may be of interest to some....

    It's the late 80s and imagine a chess obsessed chap who enjoyed playing the noble game, beginning to realise an incipient fascination for watches, clocks and the concept of time. Luckily his game of choice features time as an important strategic component, there being controls to prevent players taking an age over each move and which can be used to pressurise one's opponent.

    Watching rare games on TV and sometimes in person, the masters of the age, Karpov, Kasparov, Short and others - I noticed that one particular type of chess clock was preferred in FIDE world championship matches, national Olympiads and qualifiers.After some research (pre-internet days, so it took some time) I found the model was an East German (GDR Deutsche Demokratische Republik – remember them?) Garde branded clock containing Ruhla mechanisms.

    Korchnoi -v- Karpov in 1978 in the Philippines.



    Spassky -v- Fischer 1972 in Iceland.



    Karpov -v- Kasparov in 1984.



    One polite letter to the East German Embassy and a cheque for the massive sum of £14 later, my Garde chess clock arrived direct from the factory, the very model used by the greatest players on the planet and a patzer like me. I was somewhat amazed the East Germans took the trouble to reply and as a consequence of writing to them, I assume that I am, to this day, on some form of MI6 watch-list.

    Anyway onto the clock.



    A chess clock requires separate times for each player, and this is usually achieved by individual mechanisms – although I suppose in theory one complicated calibre could power distinct dials. Also required are; a method of starting and stopping the individual clocks to record the elapsed time and an indicator (the flag) showing when the agreed time limit has been reached. Useful but not essential is an indicator showing which player's clock is running.

    On the rear of the case, you can see that the screws still show some red paint no doubt to determine whether the clock has been opened. For my example, the warranty has well and truly expired.



    I hope you'll agree that the Garde clock is attractive, with a simple “Bauhaus” dial, contained within a minimalist yet elegant case, the plain sword hands and the overall symmetry. Each dial features a contrasting four pointed star indicator and flag. Traditionally clocks are set so that the time limit is reached when the hands show 6 o'clock; set at four o'clock you might be allowed 40 moves.




    The clocks can be set in equilibrium with neither running. Before play commences, the flags are delicately balanced on the very tip of each minute hand so they will fall within a matter of seconds after the clock's are started. Etiquette dictates that white does not play until his flag had fallen.

    Each button is surrounded by a heavy rubber washer, necessary to protect the activation lever and case, as the buttons are sometimes mercilessly whacked during play, especially when the time limit is approaching. The button presses down on a pivoted lever which uses the rather “agricultural” method of placing a curved metal bar against the balance to brake the movement. It's simple but effective, much like an AK47.




    The movements continue the industrial feel and are two Rhula models marked 69-GDR. This may well indicate the year of design. Both clocks are running smoothly after 25 years of use and while not accurate to the second, are within 20 seconds of each other, which in a friendly game of chess is certainly accurate and fair enough.







    The company made a variety of other clocks and watches throughout the years and are still making chess clocks. Nowadays these are digital, programmable and beep since the timing of games has evolved, along suggestions made by Bobby Fischer. It's interesting to note that the LCD replicates the star design as the indicator for the active clock.





    While not down-playing the advantages of quartz, I do prefer the elegance and reliability of the mechanical version.

    Cheers,

    David
    Last edited by dkpw; 1st December 2021 at 22:53. Reason: Re-insert photos

  2. #2
    Grand Master boddah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    England
    Posts
    12,813

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Great post, very interesting :)
    "I looked with pity not untinged with scorn upon these trivial-minded passers-by"

  3. #3
    Grand Master SimonK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    19,137

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    One of those most interesting posts I have read on this forum. Tiptop.

  4. #4
    Craftsman Richie_101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    South Yorkshire, UK.
    Posts
    849

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    That was great, thanks for posting! :)

    I always assumed that they were some kind of countdown mechanism, rather than a regular clock.... I've been somewhat 'edumakated'. 8)

    PS. £14 well spent IMO.

    Rich.

  5. #5

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Yes thanks for that, something I would never have looked into, but pleased to know some more now & agree was defintley 14 well spent.

  6. #6
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    West Midlands
    Posts
    407

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    I used to play chess to a reasonable standard in my youth and thought I was quite proficient at it. Some years ago we have a young 20 something staying with us who I didn't know from Adam. On on the second night he asked if I played chess. By then Backgammon was my game but I dragged out the Chess Set and got roundly thrashed. Beginner’s luck I thought until the second, then the third game ended in the same way - I wasn't beaten, I was annihilated.

    'You've played before,' I said. 'Captain of the English school's team in my teens,' he says!'

    Cracking post, many thanks.

  7. #7
    Master darrenw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Portsmouth, UK
    Posts
    2,806

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Excellent post.

    I like a good game of chess myself and played a fair bit whilst at school (a good few years back now).

    We always played with clocks, although nothing as swish as yours.

  8. #8

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    I always prefer using the older style clocks. I find the newer digital clocks less user friendly when playing.

  9. #9

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Thanks for sharing. I was watching a Bobby Fischer documentary the other day and I did indeed notice the chess clock.

    Chess is a great game I enjoy playing! :D

  10. #10

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Excellent post, thank you, most informative. £14! Bargain 8)

  11. #11
    Journeyman
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Manchester
    Posts
    63

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Really interesting thread thank you... And what a bargain!

  12. #12

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Enjoyed that, thank you!

    Simple, but robust and functional. And at £14, a steal! Well done.

    :)

  13. #13

    Garde Chess Clock

    Thanks all for the kind comments, I enjoyed writing it. I used to be merely competent but these days, my iPhone can whip my arse. :(

    My chess claim to fame was once at the Barbican Centre in the late 80s, Nigel Short was in his heyday as was Jon Speelman, they were playing qualifiers for the World Championship. I went for a pit stop and returning to the auditorium, I held the door open for someone behind me, it was Anatoly Karpov. The nearest I've come to chess greatness...
    Last edited by dkpw; 3rd December 2021 at 10:34.

  14. #14
    Master shalako's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Surrey, UK
    Posts
    4,244

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Very interesting, thanks for posting. I too am a keen chess player but I do get frustrated playing 'slow' players so may well invest in one of those, can't go wrong for £14! :shock:
    I used to play on line at WCN but it changed format a few years back and was never quite the same but I used to like the 20 & 30 min games.

  15. #15
    Master Thewatchbloke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Oxfordshire UK
    Posts
    6,801

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Excellent post, very informative. Thank you :thumbup:

  16. #16
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    South Staffordshire
    Posts
    619

    Re: Garde Chess Clock

    Thanks for posting that, very interesting!

  17. #17
    A narcissistic bump of a thread I posted a while back. For some reason all the photos had disappeared so I've re-inserted them.

    Cheers

    David

  18. #18
    Thanks for re-posting, certainly interesting.

    Outwardly, the cabinet and dials do have a decent finish!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kingstepper View Post
    Thanks for re-posting, certainly interesting.
    Outwardly, the cabinet and dials do have a decent finish!
    Thank you, you're right they're both nicer than the photos suggest. Although the lume is shocking... ;)

  20. #20
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Berlin, London and sometimes Dublin
    Posts
    13,821
    Thanks for bumping it; I missed it the first time. I always fancied myself as a chess player in my teens; the only problem being that I was completely rubbish.

  21. #21
    If Le Corbusier would have ever made a clock, this what it would have looked like...

    Excellent thing, love the bulletproof engineering!

  22. #22
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Mainly UK
    Posts
    14,250
    I didn't miss this first time around but I had forgotten how much I wanted one. It's a fabulous thing, as is the story of how you obtained it.

  23. #23
    Grand Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    sussex uk
    Posts
    15,360
    Blog Entries
    1
    What a great post!, very interesting and a breath of fresh air on here.

    thank you.


    mike

  24. #24
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    durham
    Posts
    277
    Thank you for this very interesting post.
    I wish I could play chess but could not play to save my life.
    £14 - priceless.

  25. #25
    Master alfat33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    London
    Posts
    6,198
    Great post and before my time so grateful for the bump.

    Brings back happy memories of our local chess club as a teenager. I felt very grown up playing with a proper clock.

  26. #26
    Again many thanks for all the kind words.

    Way back when and now, I'd love to have a Jaques set of Staunton pieces. They are the gold standard and used to be the approved FIDE pieces. They are not cheap but gorgeous. Sadly these days they would be mostly mere ornamentation.


  27. #27
    There's a few on eBay now. Cheapest is £40.

  28. #28
    Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Buckinghamshire, UK.
    Posts
    2,408
    That's beautiful. I used to play with a family friend who had a BHB clock in a wood effect plastic case, which I coveted as both a chess and clock enthusiast. I keep meaning to buy one, but never get around to it. Although I can't agree with Sestrel that this is the sort of clock Le Corbusier would have designed - this is much too aesthetically pleasing for it to be by Corb.

  29. #29
    Grand Master VDG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Whitehole
    Posts
    18,986
    Dork 'n Dorker ;)
    Fas est ab hoste doceri

  30. #30
    Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Ayrshire
    Posts
    2,528
    I have two secrets.

    Never tried Caviar.

    Don't know how to play Chess.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.D View Post
    I have two secrets.

    Never tried Caviar.

    Don't know how to play Chess.
    Both are good! ;)

  32. #32
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Mainly UK
    Posts
    14,250
    A recent eBay search for something unconnected somehow spewed up a chess clock amongst the results. It instantly reminded me that I have had a lingering desire to obtain a GDR produced Garde example from the '80s ever since seeing David's images and write up about his. Like many, I was captivated by the great matches and characters of the era despite having little talent for the game itself.

    As luck would have it, there was a listing for a 'brand new in box' example with a couple of days still to run. The photographs were a little bit fuzzy but good enough to confirm that it was indeed a GDR model so I set up my offer and hoped for the best.

    I turned out to be the only bidder, and for £25.10 including delivery this swiftly arrived all the way from Sofia. It's a lovely thing, it even arrived in the original box.








    Here are two greats in action at the 1986 World Championship in London. Despite a heroic late resurgence Karpov eventually lost to the Beast of Baku by a single point.



    My thanks to David for the inspiration.

    Matthew

  33. #33
    in the 80's we couple of these at home. Don't know why, because of we did not played chess. But it was fun to start-stop and watch flag go down.


  34. #34
    Another one has defected Matthew! Great to see it in such good condition some 29 years since the GDR ceased to be. Have you timed the meovements yet? I've never had mine serviced but for "industrial" clocks they are still accurate over the two hours or so needed for a game. :)

  35. #35
    Master TimeThoughts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    1,147
    Great post. My thanks.

    Must now buy one...

  36. #36
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    18,723
    Great post and interesting information on those. Very tempting........

    By the way, you are The Third Man, and I claim my £100 (left in a plain envelope under the third bench on Paddington Station. :-)
    “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by TimeThoughts View Post
    Great post. My thanks.

    Must now buy one...
    Getting to this thread a little late but I hope you did buy one when you posted...I realised recently that our all-things-digital culture would sound the death knell for these classic clocks and so I bought one before that happened (or maybe it already has happened, and I got new old stock).

    As it turns out, my Garde clock arrived with plastic covers on the back instead of metal ones, and a "engineered in Germany" tag on the dials, which, as everyone knows, means Made in China. I was understandably disappointed but I would have kept it except for the fact that the left clock didn't work. So much for the "engineering".

    The happy ending to this story is that I returned it, got my money back and then found a second-hand Garde clock on ebay for a reasonable price (unlike many others on ebay, which are now fetching north of $200). The one I bought has "Made in Germany" on the dials, so not as authentic or cool as GDR. But it still looks the business - and there is no plastic in sight.

    These classic clocks are going to be hard to find in a few years. If you're interested, I would start looking now.

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrumpymanjack View Post
    Getting to this thread a little late but I hope you did buy one when you posted...I realised recently that our all-things-digital culture would sound the death knell for these classic clocks and so I bought one before that happened (or maybe it already has happened, and I got new old stock).

    As it turns out, my Garde clock arrived with plastic covers on the back instead of metal ones, and a "engineered in Germany" tag on the dials, which, as everyone knows, means Made in China. I was understandably disappointed but I would have kept it except for the fact that the left clock didn't work. So much for the "engineering".

    The happy ending to this story is that I returned it, got my money back and then found a second-hand Garde clock on ebay for a reasonable price (unlike many others on ebay, which are now fetching north of $200). The one I bought has "Made in Germany" on the dials, so not as authentic or cool as GDR. But it still looks the business - and there is no plastic in sight.

    These classic clocks are going to be hard to find in a few years. If you're interested, I would start looking now.
    Update: I came across another of these clocks recently, a 1964 beauty. Shortly after that, an acquaintance of mine offered to sell me his "Made in GDR" one in mint condition (comes in original cardboard box, too). All to say, that I am now the proud owner of three of these Garde chess clocks - each a little different, and representative of the different eras of the clock's fabrication. I'll draw the line at three - but I'm extremely happy to have them, and they look great together in my library.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrumpymanjack View Post
    Update: I came across another of these clocks recently, a 1964 beauty. Shortly after that, an acquaintance of mine offered to sell me his "Made in GDR" one in mint condition (comes in original cardboard box, too). All to say, that I am now the proud owner of three of these Garde chess clocks - each a little different, and representative of the different eras of the clock's fabrication. I'll draw the line at three - but I'm extremely happy to have them, and they look great together in my library.
    That's excellent to read ScrumpymanJack (BTW I love a drop of proper scrumpy) 64 would be a birth year clock for me, so I will admit to a slight tinge of jealousy. If you could post a pic when you have a moment, that would be appreciated. I had no idea that these clocks would reach the heady eBay prices you mentioned. Sadly mine is now very much an ornament, but it does have pride of place in my living room.

  40. #40
    Grand Master Onelasttime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Everywhere, yet nowhere...
    Posts
    10,488
    Damn you thread resurrection. I last played chess in about 1982 but now I really want an original East German chess clock. Gah!

  41. #41
    Craftsman Fender's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    northern ireland
    Posts
    410
    Great thread. I do enjoy historical timepieces.

    More of a draughts man myself but I did once have the pleasure of playing Kasparov during a bumpy flight to Moscow in the mid 90's. Saw the great man sat twiddling his thumbs, whipped out my travel set and extended an invite. After a tricky opening, he became preoccupied with a stewardess from Arkhangelsk and took an age to complete his moves. Turbulence set in, sending the pieces everywhere, and I effectively held him to a draw.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Onelasttime View Post
    Damn you thread resurrection. I last played chess in about 1982 but now I really want an original East German chess clock. Gah!
    Sorry :)

    I've just checked and there are some on eBay but they're not £14 any more. Wow.

  43. #43
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ashford, Kent
    Posts
    24,957
    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Great thread. I do enjoy historical timepieces.

    More of a draughts man myself but I did once have the pleasure of playing Kasparov during a bumpy flight to Moscow in the mid 90's. Saw the great man sat twiddling his thumbs, whipped out my travel set and extended an invite. After a tricky opening, he became preoccupied with a stewardess from Arkhangelsk and took an age to complete his moves. Turbulence set in, sending the pieces everywhere, and I effectively held him to a draw.
    Fabulous. I would never have had the balls to even ask.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  44. #44
    Craftsman Fender's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    northern ireland
    Posts
    410
    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    Fabulous. I would never have had the balls to even ask.
    Me neither, it was of course, a lie.

    I did once lure a chess playing friend into a game. Spied a dusty set in the corner and casually mentioned that I was once youth area champion. Hadn't played in years.
    He took about 15 minutes to realise I was full of crap. Baffled by my random moves. Hahaha. I enjoyed it greatly.

  45. #45
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ashford, Kent
    Posts
    24,957
    As a student I used to play a lot. Played a few games with my daughter to teach her the basics but nothing to speak of since my student days. I did once offered to play table tennis with a guy in a Caribbean resort as he was looking for another player but it's only because I did not recognise he was Jacques Secretin.

    Let's just say he won.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  46. #46
    Craftsman Fender's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    northern ireland
    Posts
    410
    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    As a student I used to play a lot. Played a few games with my daughter to teach her the basics but nothing to speak of since my student days. I did once offered to play table tennis with a guy in a Caribbean resort as he was looking for another player but it's only because I did not recognise he was Jacques Secretin.

    Let's just say he won.
    Hahaha. He was searching for a willing victim.

  47. #47
    Cool!
    I am all for analog, it is more intuitive and faster to read, ideal for when you have to manage time well.
    Or speed.
    I prefer analog speedos, with digitals I never realise how fast I am going...

    Sent from my ANE-LX1 using Tapatalk

  48. #48
    Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Hertfordshire
    Posts
    1,421
    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Me neither, it was of course, a lie.

    I did once lure a chess playing friend into a game. Spied a dusty set in the corner and casually mentioned that I was once youth area champion. Hadn't played in years.
    He took about 15 minutes to realise I was full of crap. Baffled by my random moves. Hahaha. I enjoyed it greatly.
    I thought there was a hint Rowley Birkin QC about that story. The distraction with the stewardess was a nice touch.

  49. #49
    I'm so out of touch with Chess, that I didn't even realise the FIDE World Championship is being contested at the moment, between Magnus Carlsen (NOR) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS). Carlsen is looking good at the moment, with a 6 - 3 lead.

    They're not using a Garde Chess clock, sadly. Instead they have the excitingly named, DGT3000, which yes, does sound like a G-Shock. Like a G-Shock it's an LCD quartz model with of course the push buttons on the top. Red is not my favourite colour, but there are apparently versions encased in wood. It comes with a 118 page manual, which describes how to select one of the seven timing modes available, including as the image below shows, the Fischer mode, as well as many other things including sound alerts!

    It's obviously much more capable and fully featured than a GDR Garde, but it is less elegant.




    And the clock in play, today.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Do Not Sell My Personal Information