Monday, 13 February 2023

Clono - a quick review

 I decided to test out the Clono system at Street Chess yesterday. For anyone not familiar, it is an electronic scoresheet and game broadcast system that has recently been approved by FIDE* It runs on android devices, with the intended platform being 7 to 10 inch tablets. What I was testing was the feasibility of broadcasting games played at Street Chess in realtime

I provided a 7 inch android tablet to one of the players, to see how easy it was to (a) set up at my end and (b) to record a game in a rapidplay event (15 minutes per game).  It turns out that while the concept is good, it currently needs a lot of improvements to be practical.

The main issue I had as an organiser was that everything has to be entered by hand. Although I set up the tournament details a few days early (and you can find it here ), I had to enter each player involved by hand. I then had to enter the pairing for each round by hand (it currently only supports output from the Tournament Service paining program), as well as having to find out how to activate a new round (this took some time). As I was also trying to handle a 45 player event on a tight schedule, the game I was broadcasting often started late. 

There was also two technical issues. Firstly, once I had registered the tablet to a board (board 7 in the first round), I couldn't change that, so the pairing was on board 7 forever (even if it wasn't). The tablet can be tied to a specific player (so they can keep the same one), but I couldn't work out how to switch over to that. Secondly, despite fully charging the tablet, it ran out of charge after 3 hours. Now, while I understand that this is due to the choice of the tablet, it may force organisers to buy expensive models, simply for the longer battery life.

As for my tester, in the excitement of playing, he often failed to keep up with the moves. This is not surprising, as the tournament is played at a fast time limit, but it does defeat the purpose of using it as a reliable broadcast system. 

While I do plan to keep testing it, at this stage it isn't the solution I was looking for. Of course, rapid events may not be the target market for this system, but with a few little tweaks (supporting pgn pairing uploads for example), it could become a better system

(* I was a member of the FIDE Rules Commission when we approved the use of electronic scoresheets, although I am not aware of specific approval for the Clono system regarding FIDE rated events)

Here is the only completed game that was recorded, which wasn't the actual tournament game, but a casual game played after the first round.

Chia,Johanna - Radisich,Matthew [C50]
Street Chess 11 February 2023 Canberra, Australia (1), 11.02.2023

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