Using the Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock for Crossfire

It is rather embarrassing but I’ve had my Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock for nearly two years, have tried to use it for a Crossfire game twice and failed both times. Most recently for Operation Crossfire. The trouble is that this is a complicated clock because it is for competitions, we hardly ever use it, and we leave it to the last minute to figure out how to use it. Disaster. This time I thought I’d write a few notes to remind myself for next time.

How to get one

The Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock is, of course, a Chess Clock. It can be used for any game but most commonly for chess. I got my Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock from Amazon (USA, UK, or Canada) but any game store that sells chess sets will likely sell a chess clock and Saitek are pretty common.

Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock

Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock

Basic operations of the clock

It might sound silly but we forget the basics, like how to start the clock. The basic rule of a game clock is:

Press your button to stop your clock and start the other bloke’s clock

It should be pretty obvious which button to press as it will be raised and have a green light. In the photo it is 13 seconds into a Blitz game and I’m on 4.47 time remaining. As soon as I press the button the other clock will start.

Stop Turn on Game Clock

Stop Turn on Game Clock

The basic rule is also true at the start of the game when neither player’s clock is running. If you press the raised button the other clock will start. The photo shows how a normal Blitz game starts with both clocks on 5 minutes. Press the lighted button and the other clock will start.

Start Blitz Game on Game Clock

Start Blitz Game on Game Clock

Pause and Reset

Not surprisingly if you want to pause both clocks then press the PAUSE button. To recommence press the PAUSE button again.

At the end of the game press the PAUSE button for 3 seconds and the game will reset.

Modes

The Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock comes with seven built in modes: 1 Hourglass, 2 Blitz, 3 Tournament, 4 Fischer, 5 Bronstein, 6 Game, 7 User. The current mode and sub-mode are shown on the display in the lower left corner. For example, if you see “2C” in the lower left then you’re meant to know the clock is in Blitz mode in the 25 minute sub-mode. Actually Blitz isn’t too bad as it tells you at the top of the left hand screen, but other modes are less informative. If you really don’t have a clue then turn the clock over and check the chart handily printed to the bottom.

Although the instruction videos say “Moving between modes is very easy”, it isn’t true. The 4 Way Control Pad is the way to move between modes, sub-modes and settings. And that is where the confusion comes in. Normally LEFT/RIGHT is used to move between modes and UP/DOWN is used to move between sub-modes. But for modes 3 Tournament and 7 User special rules apply. In these modes LEFT/RIGHT only takes you to to the next mode if the display shows “–:– | –:–“; if the display shows one of the sub-modes you need to use the UP/DOWN to scroll through the sub-modes until you get “–:– | –:–” displayed, then use LEFT/RIGHT to move to the next mode. When the display shows a sub-mode of modes 3 and 7 you can use the left/right to scroll between settings. Like I said, not so obvious.

Only some of the modes are useful in a wargaming context so I’ll concentrate on those.

Blitz Mode (2A – 2E)

In Blitz Mode each player has a certain number of minutes to complete all his/her moves. By default both players get the same amount of time. There are preset modes for 5, 15, 25, 30 and 60 minutes, corresponding to sub-modes 2A to 2E. For a wargame you’re likely to want the longer durations. You can also edit these values to give a longer game – but that takes you into User Mode. Also for a wargame you might want to give one player more time than the other; often this means giving the defender less game time than the attacker; again this involves editing the settings and takes you into User Mode.

Tournament Mode (3A – 3I)

Tournament Mode games can have one, two or three stages (called primary, secondary and tertiary). In each stage the players have a certain amount of time to complete a fixed number of moves. A player must equal or exceed the target number of moves within the time limit; failing to do so loses the game. However, the target moves is optional. Another option is the delay before a player’s timer starts, typically 5 seconds.

Here are the default options for the sub-modes:

Sub-mode Name Primary Secondary Tertiary
3A Delay 40 Moves
120min
5sec delay
20 Moves
60min
5sec delay
30min
5sec delay
3B FIDE 1 40 moves
90min
+30sec per move
15min
+30sec per move
3C FIDE 2 40 moves
100min
+30sec per move
30min
+30sec per move
3D FIDE 3 40 moves
120min
20 Moves
60min
30 min
3E FIDE 4 40 Moves
120min
20 Moves
60min
15 min
+15sec per move
3F Traditional 40 Moves
120min
20 Moves
60min
(repeating)
3G Club 30 Moves
30min
(repeating)

I’m not sure much of that is useful, for example I can’t imaging wanting to include a target number of moves in a Crossfire game.

However Tournament Mode is useful if you want different stages in your scenario. For example, in Seestrasse Sector in Operation Crossfire the Allied player has two objectives with a duration of 90min and then 15min. You could set those up as two stages although I don’t know, of hand, how that would work given the Axis player only has a single time limit.

If you do want to modify the standard stages in Tournament Mode you have to edit the settings and you will end up in User Mode.

Game Mode (6A, 6B)

Game Modes has two sub-modes: Game + Delay (6A) and Game + Word (6B).

Game + Delay (6A)

This is like a 30min Blitz Mode (2D) with a 5sec delay on each user move. Otherwise same utility and restrictions as Blitz. Whether you want the delay or the pure Blitz depends on how generous you are to the players. Given time limits are going to be quite long in a wargame, compared to Chess, I don’t think I’d bother.

Game + Word (6B)

I’ve no idea what the significance of “Word” is in the title of this mode. In this mode, there is a fixed game time (30min by default), but when the clocks reach zero, the time expired indicator appears on the first side to reach zero, but the clock does not stop but keeps going. In fact the clock then starts to count UP. This allows you to track how much over time the player has gone.

This mode would have been useful for the Seestrasse Sector in Operation Crossfire where we didn’t want the game to stop when the time ran out. Being over time just affected the final result.

User Mode (7A – 7C)

The User Mode is for your own personalised time modes.

If you want to make your own personalised time mode then:

  1. Use the 4-way Control Pad to choose the normal Mode you want e.g. Blitz, Tournament, Game + Word, or whatever
  2. Press the EDIT button
  3. Press the UP or DOWN button to increase or decrease a value
  4. Use the LEFT or RIGHT buttons to move through the settings
  5. Press the STORE button
  6. Use the UP or DOWN buttons to select a user memory location (7A – 7C)
  7. Press the STORE button again

How I would have done the Seestrasse Sector in Operation Crossfire

If we played the Seestrasse Sector scenario again I’d use:

  • Mode 6B Game + Word
  • Allied Player with 1 hour 45 minutes on the clock (90 minutes for Objective 1 and 15 minutes for Objective 2)
  • Axis Player with 1 hour 10 minutes on the clock (70 minutes)

Being in Game + Word mode means the game would not stop at the expiry of either time limit but would instead start counting up to record how much overtime each player gets.

The only problem with this approach is you’ll have to notice at what time the Allied player achieves his objective 1 and whether it is within the 90 allocated minutes. The clock isn’t going to help you with that.

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2 comments to Using the Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock for Crossfire

  • Chris

    I have a Saitek Game clock II – Digital Game Timer. I would like to have a Blitz with 15.00 (minutes/seconds) countdown instead of 00:15 (hours/minutes) countdown. Is this possible?

  • Eric Tobias

    Can the Saitek Competition Pro Game Clock be set to have a continually time control until the end of the game, i.e., 1:30/40 moves; then 0:30/15 moves until the end of the game?

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