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The Best Chess Sets for Every Situation

A person wearing a blue LED mask and a hood.
Chess Armory

Despite being 1,500 years old, chess is still played every day around the world. Whether it’s your first time learning how to play or you’re a chess veteran, if you want to play the Game of Kings like a real king, you’re going to need a high-quality chess set.

What to Look for in a Chess Set

Depending on where you’re planning on using the board, and what your budget is, there are a couple of things that you should consider before making your purchase.

  • Portability: If you plan on taking the board with you for use on the go, then a folding board/mat is basically a must. Folding boards fold up to allow you to store the pieces inside during travel, and mats roll up and use a bag for the pieces.
  • Craftmanship/Durability: Usually the physical quality of the pieces and the board itself, has a direct relation to the price of the board. The higher quality boards are naturally going to be more expensive.
  • Board and Piece Material: A lot of people have a preference over the materials used for their chess boards and pieces. Some love the classic wooden look, others prefer smooth marble or the tournament-style weighted plastic. It usually comes down to personal preference and aesthetics.

Best Overall: Chess Armory Wooden Chess Set

brown and white chess pieces and board with a black box
Chess Armory

If you’re looking for a high-quality chess set that is easily tucked away when not in use, the Chess Armory Wooden set is a great choice. This set includes a 15″ by 15″ walnut inlaid board and handcrafted Staunton style chess pieces that have felt bottoms. This wooden set is made with a classic look that never goes out of style.

One of the best things about this set is that not only does it fold in half for piece storage, but also the felted interior has individual straps for each piece. This makes it incredibly easy to keep the pieces sorted which helps during board setup and also keeps them from being damaged while shaking loose inside the box.

Best Overall

Chess Sets by Chess Armory - 15 Inch Wooden Chess Set Board Game for Adults and Kids with Extra Queen Pieces

Chess Armory's Wooden Chess Set has a full-sized 15-inch board, handcrafted wooden pieces, and the whole thing folds in half for convenient storage.

Best Tournament Set: Tournament Triple Weighted Chess Set

white and green chessboard with black and white pieces
Wholesale Chess

Chess isn’t always just a casual game; chess competitions have been ongoing for centuries but if you’re trying to become a grandmaster, a tournament-style chess set might be worth the investment. This Tournament Chess Set has triple weighted Staunton style pieces that feel great to move around. The vinyl mat is twenty inches long and has the row and column designation printed on all four sides.

For storage, this set comes with a carrying case that has handles and a shoulder strap. The carry-all chess bag has two compartments for the black and white pieces and even a separate padded compartment to safely store a chess clock if you have one. When rolled up, the mat fits snuggly in the bag and has elastic bands that hold it in place.

Best Tournament

Wholesale Chess Heavy Tournament Triple Weighted Chess Set Combo (Green)

If you're getting serious with your chess journey, a Tournament style set and carrying case is an inevitable purchase. The pieces are weighted perfectly and in classic Staunton style, and the vinyl matt rolls up and stores away in the carrying case with all the pieces.

Best For Learning: Winning Moves Games No Stress Chess

portable chessboard and pieces on a pale blue mat with cards and its box
Winning Moves Games

If you’re trying to learn how to play chess or maybe attempting to teach a child, the No Stress Chess set is a fun and easy way to learn the fundamentals of the game. The board is double-sided; one side is just your standard board grid and the other has all the starting positions of each piece labeled and even a couple hints about where to move pieces. The board and pieces aren’t made of the most durable materials though, so be careful not to damage them.

On top of the board hints, the set includes a rulebook and 56 action cards that help you learn how to play the game. If you’re playing for the first time, just draw an action card. It will tell you which piece you should move and the rules behind its movement. After a while, you’ll start to understand how all the pieces work together and can play without the cards and the hints flipped over.

Best For Learning

Winning Moves Games Winning Moves No Stress Chess, Natural (1091)

Whether you're learning chess for the first time, or trying to teach someone new how to play, the No Stress Chess set explains how the game is played in a fun and interesting way. Hints and action cards are there to assist even the most clueless of players.

Best for Travel: Yellow Mountain Imports Magnetic Mini-Set

silver and black chessboard with gold and silver pieces with its box
Yellow Mountain Imports

Sometimes you just want to be able to take a game of chess with you on the go. This Yellow Mountain Imports chess set perfect for all sorts of conditions. The board folds up for on the go piece storage just like most boards in this style, but the thing that sets this board apart is its magnetic pieces. Whether you’re in the car, on a bumpy train, or hitting turbulence in a plane, this magnetic board will stop your pieces from falling over and rolling down the aisle. Its also very compact, measuring in at only 6.3 by 6.3 inches.

Best for Travel

Yellow Mountain Imports Travel Magnetic Chess Mini-Set (6.3 Inches) - Compact, Folding, Educational Board Game

The Yellow Mountain Imports Magnetic Chess Set is perfect for on the go play. The pieces all have small magnets in them which prevent them from being knocked around while traveling in a car, train, or plane.

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