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Help Guide: Buying the Right Chess Set

Help Guide: Buying the Right Chess Set

Help Guide: Buying the Right Chess Set

Looking for a new chess set? Whether it’s a treat for yourself or a gift for someone else, we’ve got you covered with this straightforward guide to make your choice easier.

Size Matters
First up, consider where the chess set will live. Big, detailed sets are great if you have the space, but not everyone has room for a 23-inch board. To avoid surprises, grab a tape measure or use a piece of cardboard to simulate the board's size in the intended space. Remember, chess boards are measured from one end to the other, so a 19-inch board means it’s 19x19 inches.

Standard Size?
There's no one-size-fits-all. Tournament boards are usually between 19 and 21 inches with each square sized to meet certain regulations (1.97” to 2.25”). The overall board size often includes a border, making FIDE-compatible boards larger than 15.75 inches, typically around 19 to 21 inches. Our top seller for tournaments? The 19 Inch No.5 Wooden Chess Board with Inlaid Mahogany.

Matching Pieces with Board
The King's height is key in choosing your set. Tournament play usually calls for a King Height of 3.75 inches. The right fit between pieces and board depends on both their design and size, with the King's base diameter and the pawn's base diameter being crucial measurements. As a rule of thumb, squares should be at least twice the diameter of a pawn's base.

Just the Pieces?
If you’re buying pieces alone, ensure they fit your board. The size of the squares should complement the diameter of the pieces, especially the King and pawns.

Style: Classic vs. Contemporary
The Staunton design is a classic and recommended for tournaments. But we also have luxury and contemporary takes on Staunton, as well as completely different styles like the Isle of Lewis set, known for its historical and unique designs. Theme-based sets are fun but prioritize form over function.

If you’re new to chess or buying for a novice, sticking to Staunton or similar designs is a safe bet. Tournament players will also prefer the traditional Staunton sets.

Material and Colour
Choose based on personal preference and where the set will be placed. Think about the room’s style and colors when deciding. We offer sets in wood, metal, resin, and alabaster, among others.

For more on the types of wood we offer, check out our wood guide.
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