by Mike Jones
Learning to play chess in high school was one of the best things that I ever did because it helped shape some of my problem solving skills. For something that looks so simple and unassuming, chess is an incredibly complex game where each move opens up near limitless game play possibilities. With so many options to consider, playing chess can be daunting for beginners, which is why it's important to play chess with a set that you're comfortable with.
If you're shopping for a beginner's chess set, then I think it's best to go with something basic to learn on until you get comfortable. Then once you know what you're doing, move on to a nice glass or wooden chess set, or even one of those fun novelty chess sets. And if you take your chess seriously, then you can go all out for one of those high quality luxury chess sets that just look like a dream to play. Regardless of your needs, this guide is here to help you find the perfect set for your games - even if you're new to the game and need your very first entry-level chess set.
|Wegiel Ambassador European Chess Board Game|
|Wobble Chess Set by Umbra|
|Chess Armory 15" Wooden Chess Set with Felted Game Board Interior for Storage|
|Metal Chess Set With Deluxe Wood Board and Storage|
|Chess Geeks Quadruple Weight Tournament Chess Game Set - Chess Board Game with Natural Chess Pieces, Black Vinyl Board|
|16 Inches Handmade Black and Coral Marble Full Chess set Game Original Marble Chess Sets Come with Free Wooden Velvet Storage Box|
|Dal Rossi Italy Copper and Bronze Chess Set on Walnut Shiny Finish Chess Box 20" with compartments #L2053DR|
|Yellow Mountain Imports Magnetic Travel Chess Set|
|Chess Junior from Cubes.Art|
|Millennium ChessGenius, Model M810 - Grandmaster Electronic Chess Computer|
Instead of buying up the first cheap chess set that you see for sale, let us give you a few tips on what you should consider before making a purchase. With so many different sets available on the market, it's a good idea to have some parameters in mind when shopping. That way, you can easily find exactly what you need to meet your needs.
To the beginner, it may look like all chess sets are the same. Truth is that there are several types of chess sets out there for you to purchase. Below we'll go over those types so that you have a better idea of what's out there on the market. This type comes in different sizes and materials, so you can choose something that best meets your needs and preferences.
If you're looking for a little insight on some of the top chess sets on the market, then you're in luck! Our editors have taken the time to share their thoughts on some of our favorites that you can buy right now. Below you'll find our top chess set reviews that feature what we like about each set and why we think it will make a good addition to your game table.
Probably the most common sets that we've come across are wood, and it took us a long time to narrow it down to just our favorites. Hopefully one of these great wood chess sets will be just what you've been looking for.
Hand crafted in Poland, we think that this is one beautiful folding wooden chess set for a great low price. The board is made of birch and beech wood and has some incredible detail along the perimeter of the board. The chessmen are made of sycamore and hornbeam wood.
Honestly, this is a very classy chess set and the detail on the pieces is truly detailed and beautiful. It really seems like a more expensive set than it it, which is nice.
The board is a good size at 21.65″W x 1.18″H x 21.65″D, and the pieces are: King 4.5″, Queen 3.66″, Pawn 2.28″, with the squares measuring 2.24″x2.24″. The board folds in half and you can store the pieces inside, where it is lined with felt.
Our only minor complaint with this board is that the pieces could be weighted a bit more because they do tend to get knocked over if you're not careful.
And if it matters to you, there are not any extra queens in this set. But overall, we think that this is a good folding wooden chess set in the under $100 price range. (*)
If you want a wooden set but are on a tight budget, then you should check out this set from Chess Armory. It is a bit smaller at just 15″ x 15″ but it also folds with a felt interior for storing your pieces. For the chessmen size, the king piece comes in at 3-inches. And they are Staunton pieces.
The set features inlaid walnut and looks good for the cost. The pieces are not weight, but seem sturdy enough for that not to be an issue when playing.
Overall there's not a lot to complain about here since this is one of the best chess sets under $25 - $50 right now. So, if you need a cheap chess set that is of good quality, then this Chess Armory set is a great choice. In fact, it gets our pick as one of the best chess sets for beginners .
This magnetic set from Yellow Mountain Imports is the perfect option for a portable chess set that you can take with you on trips or even just let the kids play with it in the car on long drives.
This set has an ultra low price and is small enough to take with you, but larger enough to play on. When open, the board measures 9.7 x 9.7 x.95 inches.
Honestly, there isn't a lot to say about this one. It is super cheap - I bought mine for a cost under $15 at the time (*) - and it is perfect for taking with you when you're traveling. It's also good for the kids, even around the house, since the pieces stay on the board due to the magnets. We think it's hard to go wrong at this low cost if you need a magnetic travel set.
If you're shopping for a chess set for kids who also need to learn how to play the game, then we whole heartedly recommend the No Stress Chess set by Winning Moves Games .
It is the perfect chess set for beginners who need a lot of extra help, like children. The board has teaching instructions and it comes with a deck of "action cards" that are designed to teach someone how to play the game of chess.
A cool feature of this one is that you just flip over the board once you know longer need the extra help and it's just a regular chess board that you can play on.
It has an affordable cost and is a great way for you to teach your kids how to play the game of chess.
If you're not sold on the No Stress Chess game above, then take a moment to consider Chess Junior from Cubes.Art .
This is a slightly different take on your traditional teaching chess set. Instead of chessmen, it uses cubes (dice) that feature the chessmen on them. And, instead of learning via a traditional game play, it focuses on teaching via 'reduced' learning games.
Sure, it sounds unconventional but it works because it makes the game more fun for children, which makes it more accessible for them. The recommended age group for this one is ages 5 and up.
Overall, we find this to be a quick and fun way for kids to learn how to play chess. And, the cost of this one is reasonable as well. It's definitely a good alternative to traditional teaching sets.
Honestly, here at Gaming Weekender we're not big fans of electronic chess set, preferring to play it old school instead. However, we know that some people actually like to go the electronic way, so we took the time to evaluate what's available on the market. As it stands, there is really only one model that we feel comfortable recommending - the Millennium ChessGenius, Model M810 - Grandmaster Electronic Chess Computer .
Based on our finding, Millennium makes the best electronic chess sets on the market, period. And of the models that they make, we prefer this M810 model.
But let us warn you - it is not cheap. In fact, it is one of the more expensive models that we recommend.
That being said, it is fun to play and the chessmen are magnetic, so they stick to the board, which makes it great for travel. The computer has a backlit display, which is perfect for low lighting on planes. And, it has a teaching mode that you can turn on and off.
Overall, if you want an electronic option, then we firmly believe that this is the best that it gets.
While it is easiest to buy a complete chess set made up of the board and pieces, you can purchase each item separately. Of course, when you do that you need to make sure that the pieces match the board. This is important because pieces come in different sizes and you don't want to end up with pieces that are too big or too small for the squares on the board.
Now, if you're not a serious player, then you can make your choices based on whatever is most aesthetically pleasing to you. Otherwise, you should know that the USCF (United States Chess Federation) has regulations on the proper sizes of the pieces. USCF regulations state that "a King that measures between 3 3/8″ to 4 1/2″ with a base diameter of 40-50% of the height."
So, if you want to do everything by the books, the people over at Chess Central make is easy. They state that "the proper square size for a set of good Staunton chess pieces is such that the width of the base of the King should be 78% of the width of a square. So, divide the King's base diameter by 0.78 and you get the proper square size."
Another thing that you'll want to keep in mind that you should try to match the materials of the pieces to those of the board. For instance, if you have a wooden board then choose pieces that closely resemble the dark and light wood on the board.
While we've covered the basics above for the hobbyist chess player, there are actually a few more things you might want to consider if you're serious about this game. Here are a few additional considerations:
About Mike Jones
As a child of the 80's, my fondest gaming memories are playing Pitfall, Frogger, Kaboom! and Chopper Command on our old Atari 8600. These days I've been rocking the Nintendo Classic and learning some new card and board games with the family."