Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
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Chess is one of the best games to play to improve thinking skills, concentration, and awareness. Whether you play it for fun or competitively, it exercises both parts of the brain and makes think faster. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, people over 75 years who play chess are less likely to develop dementia compared to those who don’t. However, when it comes to purchasing one, choosing the best chess set isn’t easy because the one you select should match your personality and the purpose behind buying it.
To make it easy for you to pick a chess board, we reviewed the best ones available in the market on your behalf. We reviewed them based on their main purpose, which can be decor, to play with friends and family, and for travelling. The next thing we considered was dimensions, which include square sizes, the board size, and chessman height among others. We picked a variety of materials and themes as they are two important features that help in building an ambiance while playing chess.
Our team spent hours playing the game on all of the eight chess sets. Honestly, we didn’t know it would be so refreshing. The reviews that you will find in this article are a compilation of our research, technical specifications, customer reviews, and expert reviews. This article consists of comparison table, in-detail reviews of each chess set, and a buying guide to help you find the best chess sets for your home.
A beautiful set made of ebonized boxwood and natural boxwood, The Superior Grandmaster Chess Set from The House of Staunton is a handcrafted mastery. It is a standard set that was introduced by the manufacturer, The House of Staunton, in 1993 and ever since been a customer favorite. You get 34 chess pieces along with two extra queens to use for pawn promotion. Nicknamed The Maestro, this particular chess set has been used in several blockbuster movies including The Luzhin Defense, The West Wing, and Wild, Wild West. It was turned into a digital game by world-renowned game developer, Ubisoft, for their famous chess game, Chessmaster. It is also used as equipment for The United States Chess championship every year. Each square is 2.25” big and made up of Blackwood (black boxes), and Maple (white boxes) enclosed beautifully in a Mahogany frame. The overall thickness of the chess board is 0.5” and has molded edges with a satin finish. You can use the chess set to play or add it to your home decor. After you finish playing, store the chess pieces in the Mahogany slide top box, which has a green velour lining. The set comes with a one-year warranty and has a 30-day return policy, which you can use if the set comes damaged.
What we liked:
Affordable, high-quality chess board
Made with premium quality blackwood, maple wood, and mahogany
A slide top box protects the chest pieces when you aren’t playing
Dragon Chess Set by CHH is a dream come true for all Game of Thrones lovers. The three-dimensional set has a fossil-themed base with a transparent glass with a checkerboard pattern on top that holds the dragon-themed chess sets. The base is made of polyester resin, which makes it durable and strong. On the other hand, the pieces are made with pewter, which is an alloy of tin, copper, and antimony. It adds a rustic touch to the pieces. It gives a sophisticated touch to your office, game room, or living space without being too intimidating. Since it is a strong accent piece, you can design the space around it by using simple tones of grey and copper against a white background. At the four corners, you will find castle towers that are completely blackened because of a huge blast during the war. Some dragons were also killed while fighting for their master’s dynasty. The 3D chess set is easy to clean as you can lift the glass to wash the blackened terrain. Everyone loved the set so much when it was launched that the company sold out in just a few days. It is available again, so purchase it immediately make your colleagues and friends jealous.
What we liked:
Easy to wash and clean
Makes an interesting decor piece
Affordable, compared to other themed sets
What could be better:
It can be hard to play, since many pieces look similar
If you love chess and have a big backyard, this set is made especially for you. Measuring at 9′ x 9′, the board is made of heavy-duty nylon material, which is waterproof and UV protected. You can also set this up in an unconventional office space and playgrounds to help your employees or students relax. It makes a fun housewarming gift for chess lovers. The chess pieces are over 20″ tall with the king measuring at 25″. They are made with high-density polyethylene substance, which is waterproof and UV protected as well. Each square is 13″ big. Metal grommets with metal stakes are fitted at each of the four corners to hold the mat in place during extreme temperature. Each piece weighs between 1.5 to 3 pounds, which is light enough to be easily moved. If you plan to keep the mat outdoors, you can glue sand to their bases to add weight and prevent them from rolling off during heavy winds. MegaChess Giant Chess set will be shipped to you in just four days. It doesn’t come with bags to store the mat and chess pieces, but the manufacturer sells them separately. The price might stop you from purchasing the set but once it is yours, you will have a fun time. It doesn’t come with a warranty but there is a 30-day refund policy. MegaChess also offers a variety of sizes in giant chess sets.
Another wonderful chess set from the world famous The House of Staunton, the US Chess Quiver Chess Set Combo makes an amazing travel buddy. The chess pieces are made with single-weighted regulation plastic, which the board is constructed using top quality vinyl. It can be used officially for tournaments as it meets all US Chess Federation and FIDE Requirements. It is suitable for people of all ages from children to the elderly. You get a quiver chess bag in the package, which you can use to store the board and pieces. Its handle makes it easy to carry the bag around with you. The set has 34 pieces in total including two extra queens. The board rolls up easily and is built specifically for schools and colleges. It is easy to store and coated with a waterproof finish for durability. The United States Chess Federation exclusively manufactures it. It is also the most affordable chess set on our list and makes a decent Christmas present as well. The House of Staunton is known for its undistinguished quality, and although this set is made of vinyl and plastic, it will last you for a very long time. It comes with a 30-day refund policy but only if the board or any of the pieces are damaged. It is easy to replace pieces as you can directly buy them from the manufacturer.
An antique chess set belonging to the style Staunton, Wegiel Ambassador set is made using a combination of different woods including, birch, sycamore, hornbeam, and beech wood. The chess board is made of beech and birch, while the pieces are made of hornbeam and sycamore. The set itself is a blend of antique features with a modern structure, which makes it different from other chess sets. The board has numbers and letters that coordinate in algebraic form. Each square measures at 2.24″, while the board is 21.65” x 21.65”. It is handcrafted in Poland, so you notice some minor differences but don’t bother too much about it as it only makes the chess set unique. You will also notice some glue under every piece, which is used to stick felt to the chess piece. The board has a felt covering underneath as well. It folds into half to turn into a box, which is indented to store the chess pieces. The chess board’s manufacturer, Węgiel, have been in business for the past 55 years and are known for their high standards and exceptional quality. They currently boast a collection of over 50 different sets with unique dimensions and colors. The chess set is used in many championships across the globe.
What we liked:
High quality and handcrafted pieces give it a premium appearance
Manufacturer is known for excellent customer service
Stonkraft Collectible Folding Wooden Chess Game Board Set with Magnetic Crafted Pieces is the best chess set to play daily with your kids during the holidays. When open, it is 14” x 14” in size, and when folded, it is 14” x 7” in size. As a portable set, the pieces are smaller than average height, with the king measuring at 2.75”. The chess pieces are magnetic and made using brown and yellow polished Rosewood respectively. Even though it is more affordable than other wood sets, there’s no compromise in the quality or durability of the materials used.
Since it is a foldable set, you can store the pieces inside it. It is laced in a cloth, which feels like satin and protects the pieces from sunlight and dust. It is made in India by sourcing the best wood from local Indian forests, giving the set an authentic appeal. This set makes a great Christmas gifts for your young kids, nieces, and nephews. They can set it up on their kiddie table.
Each square is 1-¼” in size. This same chess set is available in a number of sizes. But Notice that since it is an Indian company, the customer service is delayed.
If you are looking for a strong accent piece to designing your room around, we have found the best one for you. The RADICALn Handmade White and Green Onyx Weighted Full Chess Game Set is both beautiful and affordable. It is handcrafted as the materials used, white and green marble, are delicate and cannot withstand industry processes. It is a heavy chess set and weighs over 14 pounds, which means it is purely made for decorative purposes. Compared to chess sets that you use to play, the pieces are smaller in size. The king is 3” tall, whereas in the wood sets, it is over 4” long.
All chess pieces are handcrafted as well. RADICALn offers another style of chess set called the checker’s chess set, which is equally stunning and made using the same materials. You will get 32 checker pieces, each of which is 1” in diameter. The board is 0.5” thick and has a smooth polish. Both of the sets arrive at your doorsteps in a secure, styrofoam packing, so chances of breakage are minimum.
Considering the delicate characteristics of the pieces and board, the manufacturer offers a 30-day return policy. If you want to replace certain pieces, call up the manufacturer, and the representatives will help you out. Keep the chess board and pieces away from children.
Welcome the characters of your favorite fantasy novel and movie series to your den with the Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set by The Noble Collection. It is an officially Warner Bros authorized merchandise and includes a foldable plastic chess board and 32 chess pieces. The set is a miniature version of chess set we saw in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is a big board measuring at 18.5” x 18.5” with the king measuring at 4-½”. You will get two drawstring pouches, one black and one silver to store the respective chess piece sets.
The pieces have sharp edges, so we don’t recommend you to give them to young kids as they tend to put everything in their mouth. It costs way more than it should, but since it is an official merchandise, you wouldn’t want to give it a miss. It makes a perfect game for themed-game nights or on Halloween.
Call all your friends, make scary food, and play chess with them. The best part of this set is that you can make your own alterations to have a fun time. If you don’t want to play, set it up in your room as it makes an excellent decor piece as well. You will have to stick the pieces to the board, though, as they tend to fall over.
What we liked:
An awesome gift for Harry Potter fans
Skillfully crafted chess pieces
Works as a decor piece
What could be better:
Made with low-quality materials
Things to Сonsider
With so many choices available in the market, it becomes difficult to pick the right chess set. And that’s why we have a buying guide made just for you. Picking a kind of chess set is a very subjective decision, so we divided the buying guide into two sections – features that will help you with the purchase and frequently asked questions.
Do you need a chess set for serious play or decoration?
This question is going to decide the features you want your chess set to have. There are two options to choose from – serious play and decoration. Serious play sets are mostly made out of wood. They are durable sets made for practical use.
However, wood sets are usually pricier as they are constructed using expensive varieties including mahogany, birch, and beech wood.
Chess boards are typically made of wood, marble, plastic, polyester resin, vinyl, and alabaster. Wood boards are the most expensive as they are handcrafted, followed by marble, and then alabaster. The black and white wood used should be strikingly different but complement each other at the same time. A lot depends on the board’s frame as well. The chess set you choose should suit the table’s color and design. For example, The Superior Grandmaster Chess Set from The House of Staunton has round edges and goes well with the modern or mid-century decor. On the other hand, Wegiel Ambassador chess set is a purely antique piece and goes with antique decor.
When it comes to chess pieces, everything is about aesthetics. The dark pieces should look good visually with the black squares. Deep-colored pieces add elegance to the set and your room.
Dimensions: Board and square size and chessmen height
In tournaments, the standard size of the king is 3.75″ tall, while the board is 20″ x 20″ square. In the more expensive sets, the kind size increases up to 4.5″, but the board is still 20″ x 20″. A thumb of the rule to remember is that the base of the king should cover only 75 percent of one square. If you want to buy a standard size chess set, go for the US Chess Quiver Chess Set Combo from The House of Staunton. If you are looking for something compact, Stonkraft Collectible Set with Magnetic Crafted Pieces is an amazing choice. If you want something huge that you can set in your backyard of office, there’s no product better than MegaChess Giant Premium Chess Set. It is 9′ x 9′ with the king being 25″ tall.
Do you need a chess set to travel with?
If a travel chess set is your requirement, you will need one that folds to create a box. It is easy to store in your bag and also has indents to hold the pieces in place. Another type of travel chess set is the one in which the board folds. It is made of vinyl and has an elongated cover to hold the board. It has another bag to carry the chess pieces. These chess sets are lightweight and usually smaller than an average-sized set. The Stonkraft Collectible set from our list can fold and is 14″ x 14″ in size. If you want a set that rolls, go with the US Chess Quiver Chess Set Combo from The House of Staunton. It has standard dimensions but is lightweight and easy to carry. Some chess players choose to carry chess sets with them, so they can practice their moves while traveling.
Does a reliable brand name matters?
Buying a renowned and reliable brand is important because they promise premium quality, exceptional customer service, and easy replacement policy, which regular brands don’t. The House of Staunton is the best brand to purchase from. It has been in business for the past 55 years and even featured in several movies. The sets are of high quality, and the wood doesn’t warp or gets discolored even after being in the family for years. It is also used as the official equipment by The United States Chess championship every year. Węgiel is another reputable brand from Poland, which makes handcrafted chess sets. You can pass these chess sets from one generation to another as an heirloom. However, if brand reputation isn’t your concern, then go for the smaller brands that are more affordable. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice. For example, if you want to buy the Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set, which is official merchandise of Warner Bros and manufactured by The Noble Collection. Despite some quality issues that can arise, it is still an awesome chess set because it is a replica of our favorite childhood fantasy movie series.
What is your budget?
Your budget is going to play a huge role in deciding your final choice. It also depends on how often you will be playing chess. If you don’t mind the cost and play regularly, a high-quality set, like The Superior Grandmaster Chess Set from The House of Staunton and the Wegiel Ambassador European Chess Board Game, could be your best option in the long run. You are not just paying for the ready product but also the expensive wood used, years of trained craftsmanship, and the number of queens. Many good quality sets give you two extra queens for presenting a pawn. If you are low on budget, go for moderately priced sets like the Stonkraft Collectible folding wooden chess set.
You can always start with a low quality, affordable chess set and build your way to an expensive, premium quality set. Investing $400 to $600 in something that you will use once a year doesn’t make any sense. Once you are ready to purchase from a premium brand, you can use our review as a guide to finding a quality board.
You will find chess pieces in a variety of choices, but the main difference between them is weighted or unweighted. Chess players prefer weighted pieces because they don’t topple over and disturb other placements. These pieces have steel slugs that keep them in place. The weighted category is further divided into double-weighted or triple-weighted. It doesn’t influence the game in any way and there are no official or standard weights. It is your personal choice to go for weighted or unweighted chess sets.
Wood boards and chessmen are more durable than plastic and of better quality compared to plastic ones. They are like a one-time investment that becomes an integral part of your family’s heirloom.
After reviewing the eight products, we found three that we like the most. Our top favorite is The Superior Grandmaster Chess Set from The House of Staunton because it is a classic model and looks regal. The board is made of Blackwood and Maple wood encased in Mahogany. It was introduced back in 1993 and is still today the brand’s best seller. Second comes the Dragon Chess Set by CHH. It is an amazing decorative set that you can use as a centerpiece to decorate your room or office. Set it in such a place so that you can play a game with your colleagues and family. The MegaChess Giant Premium Chess Set is our third favorite mainly because it is humungous. It is 9′ x 9′ and constructed using heavy-duty nylon material, which is UV protected and waterproof. The king is 25 inches tall, which makes the chess set an excellent investment for game nights.