The 8 Best Chess Sets

Updated December 15, 2016 by Brett Dvoretz

8 Best Chess Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. It's hard to overstate the benefits of this classic game that teaches critical thinking, risk:reward ratios, patience and strategy, among much else. Perhaps one of these imaginative chess sets will give someone in your family a lifelong love of the game. We've included models that will appeal to young, beginner players along with some more traditional boards and pieces for, well, traditionalists. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best chess set on Amazon.

8. Trademark Games Deluxe

The Trademark Games Deluxe is three classic board games in one handsome, but affordable, package; chess, checkers, and backgammon. It folds in half for easy storage when done playing, and has an elegantly simple design most people will love.
  • sturdy carved handle
  • does not include pouches
  • pieces tend to slide on the board
Brand Trademark Games
Model 12-2157
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Street Fighter 25th Anniversary

The Street Fighter 25th Anniversary is an unexpected entrant into the world of chess, but it's a surprisingly attractive and high quality set. It makes a better decoration than a set for play, though, as it's hard to tell which character is which until you get used to it.
  • detailed resin pieces
  • must-have for classic gaming lovers
  • large 18-inch smoked board
Brand Street Fighter
Model NA
Weight 10 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Agirlgle International

The Agirlgle International has a handsome and traditional looking folding board and striking metal pieces. Rather than the traditional black and white colors, it uses brass- and copper-toned chess pieces that give it a unique look.
  • handsome brass hardware on board
  • latches stay firmly closed
  • storage inserts tend to fall out
Brand Agirlgle
Model pending
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Wholesale Chess Forest Green

The Wholesale Chess Forest Green is for the avid player who plans on using their set practically every day. All of the pieces are triple weighted, so they feel nice in the hand and stay firmly in place on the vinyl roll-up board.
  • includes a travel bag
  • comes with extra queens
  • has helpful tips and strategies
Brand Wholesale Chess
Model pending
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Stonkraft Set

This Stonkraft Set is a great choice for travel, with its magnetic pieces that stay firmly on their squares when the board is rattled or bumped. When folded in half, it is compact, at just 12 by 6 inches, and its dark and light wood squares have a nice contrast.
  • indian rosewood and boxwood pieces
  • satin-feel interior case lining
  • good quality set for the price
Brand StonKraft
Model woodchess12
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. MegaChess Giant

Bring some fun to your next BBQ or picnic with the MegaChess Giant set. It features pieces standing 16 inches high, and a massive nylon mat measuring 57 inches by 57 inches that functions as the board. This set makes chess a true spectator sport.
  • high-density polyethylene pieces
  • waterproof and uv resistant mat
  • stakes included for use on grass
Brand MegaChess
Model pending
Weight 25.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Wegiel Consul

The Wegiel Consul is a beautifully handcrafted set that comes from Poland and features an intricate carved design around the borders. Its board is made from a combination of beech and birch wood, and the pieces are made from hornbeam and sycamore wood.
  • pieces are weighted at the bottom
  • chess board and pieces are large
  • board folds in half for storage
Brand Wegiel
Model Chess Consul Brown
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. CHH Dragon

The CHH Dragon is ideal for fantasy lovers. All of the figures are made from high quality pewter, and the transparent glass board gives it an elegant look. The base of the set is made from poly-resin to enhance its durability.
  • kings stand nearly 3 inches tall
  • pieces are all well detailed
  • adjusts well to uneven surfaces
Brand CHH
Model CHH2127C
Weight 24.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

How To Choose a Proper Chess Set

It's easy to approach buying a chess set as a one-size-fits-all proposition. But chess is a unique game and the majority of chess sets feature their own nuances. Choosing a proper set often comes down to considering one's needs.

First, some basics. A regulation chess board features 64 squares, tiled in black and white (or shades of brown in the case of brushed wood). Regulation boards measure 20 X 20", with each square measuring 2.25" (There are even regulation sizes for each piece.) Regulation boards may be important if you are a collector or a purist, but a board's size holds almost zero bearing over the dynamics of each game.

As an alternative, consider that you are buying a chess set for a child. One of the keys might be to find an ornate chess set that causes the child to relate. This might mean purchasing a chess set which features cartoon-character pieces, or a brightly-colored board. Themed chess sets tend to intrigue a child, and that, in turn, might encourage the child to learn.

If you plan on playing chess on a train or in a car, you'll want the pieces to be magnetic, so they don't get swept around the board. If you plan on purchasing a wooden board, you'll want the base of each piece to be made out of felt. If you plan on playing in the park, you may want a soft-tarp board that you can carry in your bag. If you plan on playing on the beach, you may want a fold-up board that doubles as a carrying case for its pieces (and anything else).

If you're buying a chess set for display, you may want to choose a set that matches the palette of a specific room. If you're buying a collector's set, make sure that the set comes with a warranty, just in case any of its 32 pieces happen to get broken, warped, nicked, or bruised.

Several Simple & Fun Ways To Improve Your Chess Game

An average chess game provides the possibility for more than 140 billion different board positions. This is why chess grandmasters recommend that aspiring players practice by playing complete games as often as possible. Playing repetitively is the best way to get in tune with how to execute complex maneuvers, and it also enables a player to see how opponents might respond to an unexpected attack. As you become more experienced, you can deconstruct each game to determine where - and why - a certain strategy got vanquished. More often than not, it is the opening of a game that will determine the balance of power later on.

One popular form of chess is known as blitz chess (or speed chess). Blitz chess requires playing with a 6-10 min game limit, split equally between players. Within that time frame, both players make a rapid-fire sequence of moves with the goal being to think, react, and execute quickly. A lot of players prefer blitz chess because it allows them to sneak in multiple games on the fly.

In terms of building a foundation, it helps to study some of the most popular chess openings of all-time. Openings like the Queen's Gambit and the Grunfeld Defense continue to be used because they are effective. That is to say these openings set a player up to mount an attack while also protecting the back line. You can find step-by-step instructions for executing several of the most well-known openings by visiting YouTube, or various other chess websites online.

If you're up for a challenge, you might consider trying to solve some complex chess puzzles. Chess puzzles are based on determining the best course of action after looking at a board position from a professional chess game. The New York Times prints several chess puzzles every week, and it also maintains an archive of interactive chess puzzles on its website.

A Brief History of Chess

The earliest known origins of chess hark back to the 6th Century in India, where the game was known as chaturanga, a word used to describe the four main divisions of the Indian military (i.e., infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariot brigade). Chaturanga proved to be wildly popular and by the 7th Century it had spread to Persia, where it was called shatranj, which literally means "100 worries." The Persians were known to call out "Shah!" whenever a king was under attack, and "Shah Mat!" (i.e., "The king is helpless") whenever the king was pinned down, thereby rendering the game to be over.

By the 11th Century shatranj had spread throughout Northern Africa, subsequently making its way into Europe, and, most importantly, Russia. The Europeans were the first culture to approach chess as a complex game based on multiple layers of intellect. By the 1300s chess had attained a uniquely powerful appeal. Muslims played chess, as did Christians and Jews and Buddhists. Strangers could bond over a game of chess without ever speaking a word.

The most significant change in how modern chess is played occurred during the late 15th Century in Western Europe. Up to that point the queen was only capable of moving one square in any direction. Enthusiasts noted that the game would feel more dynamic if the queen was able to move as far as she pleased in any direction. Games would end quicker, proponents maintained, and there would be more reason to stop pawns from reaching the opposite end of the board. The change in style, which was controversial, eventually became the rule.

During the 17th and 18th Centuries, chess became the subject of countless books and strategic manuals. Competitive players began to develop unprecedented styles, as average players learned how to bait and gambit and taunt. By the middle of the 20th Century, professional chess had developed into a game with diplomatic implications, at least throughout Russia. Today, chess continues to be played by more than 600 million people worldwide.

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Last updated on December 15, 2016 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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