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How to Buy the Right Chess Set
Get Just the Right Pieces and Board for You

How to Buy the Right Chess Pieces and Board

There are so many choices on the market today. How do you buy a chess set (pieces and board) that will meet your needs? First decide which type of set are you looking for - decorative, practical or both? ChessCentral has put together the following information to help you in your buying decision. Chess pieces and board should reflect your personal style and taste, as well as fit your budget.

Here you can see our complete line of chess sets and pieces.

A good rule is to buy the best quality you can afford, because a good chess set lasts a lifetime and can become an heirloom, with many memories attached to it. There will always be a look of respect from your opponent when a beautifully made chess set is brought out. And of course nothing can heighten your chess playing experience more than the feel and weight of a finely crafted Staunton chess set.

Fischer Spassky Chess Set
This is the same design that Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky used to contest in one of the most widely followed world title matches in history at Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972.

Match the Chess Pieces to the Board

The size of chess pieces in relation to the chess board is mostly a matter of personal taste. Tournament play is the exception, since very clear specifications are given for piece sizes and boards. USCF equipment standards are outlined in their rules. For pieces USCF specifies a King that measures between 3 3/8" to 4 1/2" with a base diameter of 40-50% of the height.

Standard Chess Pieces

This Duke chess set is designed to be a workhorse, particularly for use in
clubs and tournaments, and in a price range to meet that purpose.

If you look at our descriptions of chess pieces you will notice that we always include the height and base diameter of each King. That's because we have found this ratio to be an effective method of choosing a chess board for a given set of chess pieces. 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. You can increase the square size by 1/8", but the square size should not be any smaller. For example, a Staunton King with a base diameter of 1.75" would require a square size of 2.25" x 0.78 = 1.75" (1.75 / .78 = 2.24). Hence, you should use a chessboard with squares of either 2.25" or 2.375" (+1/8"). But a very simple way is just add .5 inches to the King base. That should do it!

We have made it easy for you to select the the perfect chess board by placing a chart with each set to help with chess board square sizing. If you need further assistance, do not hesitate to email us at: email@chesscentral.com

Choosing a Chess Set and Chess Board


Jaques Wood Chess Board

Matching the pieces and chessboard together for an aesthetically pleasing look is relatively simple. Think about the coloring and wood type of the dark pieces in your chess set and the dark playing squares of your chess board, then match them accordingly.

The white squares of most good chess boards, made from wood, are carved from Bird's Eye Maple (BEM). The dark squares are varied in material left to your personal taste. Consider where you plan to place the board. Will the chess board rest on a Rosewood table? Then you may wish to choose that wood for your chess board's dark squares. Or you may wish to contrast, such as a deeper-colored dark square like Striped Ebony to add grace and elegance.

How will the Chess Set be Used?

If you are planning to make daily use of your chess set and carry it to tournaments and chess clubs, you would want to choose a extremely durable set. Now is the time when a weighted plastic chess set would be of most use.


Centurion Plastic Chess Set

If you need a chess set for the office or to keep handy, you would prefer the convenience of a travel chess set. These sets are small and compact, usually magnetic or pegged. Some are finely crafted enough to be kept on your coffee table, ready for immediate use.

Magnetic Travel Chess Chess
Travel Chess Set

Chess sets are often chosen as a wonderful way to help decorate a room. Many studies, libraries and dens have a chess set as their centerpiece. These chess sets can range from practical, which are used often for play, to simply for show with truly heirloom and collectible quality.

Pricing of Chess Sets, Pieces, and Boards

Many factors combine to determine the cost of a chess set, including:

1) Type of Wood Used in Chess Sets and Chess Boards

Ebony is more expensive than Rosewood, which is, in turn, more expensive that Boxwood, etc. Exotic woods are more expensive still - and let's not forget 2,000 year old ivory chess sets! These reach into the $5,000+ range.

Learn more about the wood chess pieces are crafted from check out this article: Chess Sets, Pieces, and Boards - The Wood

2) Chess Set Craftsmanship


Beutiful craftsmanship in chess pieces

Look at the quality of the Knights in particular. A set of finely carved Knights can represent up to 50% of the total cost of the chessmen. Then, the quality of the turnings, the finish and the uniformity also add to cost. Another place craftsmanship can be seen is in the King's crown. Look at the craftsmanship displayed in the decorative crown. Remember that the Knight and King are the "crowning" pieces of your chess set.

Take a look at these High Quality 
 Chess Sets and Pieces
Take a look at these Matching
 Chess Boards

Interested in tourmnament chess sets and pieces?