Chess sets can be works of art. Some of the best sets available online greatly enhance the fun and excitement of a competitive game of chess, one of the world’s oldest and most enjoyable board games.
The following top 10 chess sets are among the best of the best and will bring joy to players of any age. Many families pass sets down through generations as heirlooms. Any of the ten sets listed below would fill that role quite easily and thus bring chess happiness to multiple generations.
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the materials that are used in construction of a set and to special features of boards, men and boxes. A high-quality chess set is an investment that can deliver many lifetimes of usefulness.
Great sets like the top ten chess sets reviewed below are a wonderful way to bring art, friendship, competition and a bit of history to any home or office. Spend time choosing the perfect one for your unique taste.
The top 10 chess sets are listed in no particular order, but the ten on the list represent the very best choices available on the market today.
The set includes men, board and box. The king height is 4 inches, with a base of 1.6 inches and a billiard cloth base pad material. Board size is 23.75 inches square and the height is .5 inches. Weight of the entire set is 40.8 ounces and two additional queens are included along with the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The board of this set is a gorgeous piece of artistry in and of itself, composed of Blackwood and Olive wood for the dark and light squares, respectively. The pieces are also composed of top-grade woods and evoke a slightly historical impression while serving a modern, functional purpose of simple chess play.
The glistening board and pieces bring drawing-room, old world elegance to any game of chess, though some who prefer louder, more battle-themed sets will not choose this one. Chess players come in all stripes, which is why there are so many different styles of sets in this top ten listing.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 3.5 inches, with a base of 1.6 inches and a felt base pad material. Board size is 20 x 19 inches and the height is 3 inches. Weight is 34.4 ounces and the 32 standard pieces are included.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The stained-wood board and chessmen in this set come with a handy 3-inch below-board storage space that brings convenience to game-play and artistry to the otherwise simple, sleek board. The sturdiness and simplicity of the set might be too plain for players who gravitate toward “historic” boards and battle themes with galloping knights and human-like bishops, kings and queens.
But for chess enthusiasts who appreciate a “clean” look and utility of the storage drawers, this set is the perfect choice.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 4 inches, with a base of 1.75 inches and a green felt base pad material. Board size is 21 inches square. Weight of this set varies based on pieces chosen by the buyer, and two additional queens are included along with the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
Ebonized boxwood pieces rest on an elegant, side-notated mahogany board with a birth veneer in this classic of classics tournament chess set. Sturdy pieces of classic chess design and a board that helps players make quick recordings are just two of the big pluses of this set.
Players who want more historical or artistic motifs will likely opt for one of the other choices on this list, but for classic chess competition and practical, long-lasting pieces, this is a wise option and makes an appropriate gift for your chess-loving friends or family members.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 3.25 inches, with a base of 1.5 inches and a green felt base pad material. Board size is 17 inches square with a height of .75 inches. Weight of the chess set varies based on pieces chosen by the buyer, and the standard 32 pieces are included.
Features, Pros and Cons:
Here is something you don’t see every day: A true work of art that doubles as a stunning chess set. Based on pieces designed by artist Man Ray, and with knights sourced directly from an Italian artist (the rest of the pieces are crafted in Germany), this set is for players who love modern art.
For chess devotees who want simple boards and pieces, that are perhaps more recognizable, this selection might be a bit too artistic. But the set’s beauty and rarity cannot be denied. It would make an unforgettable family heirloom and adds flair to any room or common area where it is displayed.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 4 inches, with a base of 1.6 inches and a billiard cloth base pad material. Board size is 22.5 inches square and the height is .5 inches. Weight for this set is 51.4 ounces and two additional queens are included along with the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
This beauty includes a board crafted in Spain, pieces made from top-grade wood and a classic storage box. The elegant look and simple design are a work of chess artistry. Players who enjoy the historic, battleground-style sets might not be satisfied with the quiet, drawing-room atmosphere this set brings to any room.
The elegance and classiness of chess is carefully build right into the simple, sturdy pieces and solid board that looks like a museum piece from old Leningrad.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 4 inches, with a base of 1.62 inches and green felt cloth base pad material. Board size is 21 inches square and the height is .75 inches. The chess set’s total weight varies based on buyer choices, and two additional queens are included along with the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The pieces are made in India and the board is crafted in the USA, so the quality and artistry that make up this fine set are unmatched. Chess aficionados who enjoy just the right mix of creativity and simplicity in their sets will be quite happy with the elegant, simple look of this selection.
The wooden board is as solid as a rock and the pieces are cleverly decorated to look like reverse-color images of each other. Players who want pieces that resemble combative soldiers might choose another set, but this one is a nice choice for anyone who appreciates top-grade boards and chess men.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 3 inches, with a base of 1.18 inches and green felt cloth base pad material. Board size is 22 inches square and the height is .75 inches. Shipping weight of the Gold and Silver Egyptian Chess Set varies based on buyer choices.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The gold and silver pewter composition, along with the striking Egyptian motif makes this one of the most historic offerings on our list. Players who enjoy history and themed chess sets will cherish this unique bit of history. The metallic, combative impression is unforgettable, though chess enthusiasts who want smaller, less complicated themes might opt for plainer sets.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 3 inches, with a base of 1.25 inches and green felt cloth base pad material. Board size is 16 inches square and the height is 4.75 inches. Total shipping weight varies based on buyer choices, and includes the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
Art, history and action combine to make this set one of the most unusual offerings on our entire list to top 10 chess sets. Players who enjoy the spectacular and the combative feel of a chess set that truly brings history to life (with a board that’s a whopping 4.75 inches high!) will revel in this one-of-a-kind creation.
Those who prefer the simpler, non-historic versions of chess sets might opt for another, plainer set on this list, like Staunton’s “Library Imperial” set, for example.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 5.75 inches, with a base of 2 inches and green felt cloth base pad material. Board size is 23.25 inches square and the height is .75 inches. The set ships at 8.1 pounds, and includes the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The pieces are beautifully hand-carved from top-quality wood, made in Poland and exhibit a uniquely artistic rendering of old-world charm and history. Players who prefer simpler and plainer pieces might prefer another set, but the “Large Gladiator” offering combines art and history like few other chess sets on the market today.
Includes men, board and box. The king height is 3 inches, with a base of 1.5 inches and billiard cloth base pad material. Board size is 18.75 inches square and the height is .5 inches. Shipping weight totals 2 pounds, and two additional queens are included along with the standard 32 pieces.
Features, Pros and Cons:
The ebony/maple board is crafted in Spain and the set has a classic, simple look. Players who want “artsy” or historic chess sets will likely wish to choose another product. However, those who prefer the clean, sleek look of simple chess boards and easily recognizable pieces will love this non-fancy style and elegant, gorgeous set that fits nicely in any room of the home or office.
Ordering Information for the Top 10 Chess Sets
Both companies, House of Staunton and Chess House, feature responsive, helpful customer service departments for those who have questions or shipping concerns. Customers who want to return sets also have the option to do so as long as all items are returned in their original condition and in a timely manner.
Chess House and House of Staunton also offer replacement pieces for those who need them from time to time, but there is no guarantee that a piece will be in inventory at any given time. However, most sets are commonly sold and both manufacturers have plenty of spare pieces on hand when needed.
All the top 10 chess sets on the list can be ordered directly from either the House of Staunton or the Chess House websites at www.houseofstaunton.com and www.chesshouse.com.
Types of Chess Sets
Chess sets are produced using a wide range of materials, allowing players to choose from a variety that suits their needs and tastes. Let’s take a look at the different types of chess sets that are available.
Wood is the most common (and popular) among the types of chess sets in the market. Wood is preferred by many players and collectors because it is relatively light but has enough weight to give the player good tactile assurance during a game.
Wooden chess sets are made from raw wood which is then carved or cut to specifications. Mass produced wooden sets are generally machine-made using cutters and printing presses which shape and color the board and pieces. Customized pieces may also be ordered through this method, although these chess sets tend to carry a higher price tag. For more unique sets, many collectors prefer the hand-carved variety. These take longer to produce particularly if they are customized to the collector’s specifications, but offer a unique quality that many players love.
Why Choose Wood: Natural wood has charm and warmth, and is a material that is readily available. Some of the most common types of wood used for chess sets include maple, birch, walnut, aspen, wenge, rosewood, teak, mahogany, sycamore, elm-root, and ebano. Wood exhibits wonderful qualities and can come in a variety of shades ranging from white to beige to brown and nearly black. Polished or varnished, wood also shows off wonderful graining that many collectors prize.
Glass was one of the earlier materials used for chess sets. In fact, some of the earliest glass chess sets were made in as early as the 9th century in the Islamic Empire. A few antique pieces still exist among private collectors and museums.
Why Choose Glass: Perhaps because of its fragile nature, glass has an ethereal quality. It can absorb or reflect light and if the pieces are crystal-cut, they can split light into different colors of the rainbow. Glass has a magical quality to it and it can be clear, frosted, translucent, or even colored. It is waterproof and will never rust. Glass is an expensive material but a well-chosen chess set may just be worth the price.
A caveat: glass is fragile and more delicate compared to other types of materials, which means it should be handled very carefully during a game. This delicate quality is the reason why glass is the chosen material for chess sets that are used as decorative sets. A glass chess set is not exactly the type that should be in the same room as clumsy and careless hands.
Metal has a solid, substantial feel and it is a beautiful material of choice for many types of chess sets. Some of the most popular metals used include gold, silver, pewter, and bronze.
Obviously, gold tends to be the most expensive of these chess sets, followed by silver. Pianki’s Medieval Venice chess set, for example, can set you back by about $27,000. Luxury chess sets may be made from solid 18k gold or .925 sterling silver. Pewter is a classic material of choice and offer a pleasant weight. It is often paired with brass in a set. Bronze is another beautiful material that offers the shine, weight, and solid feel that metal pieces provide. Over time, it could develop a patina called verdigris, a greenish tint that gives the metal a wonderful character.
Why Choose Metal: Aside from the weight and feel of the chess pieces, metal is preferred because of its beauty and shine. Metal chess pieces are often burnished or polished as a last step in the production process, which brings out the smooth, beautiful quality of the material.
Ivory is sourced from the tusks of elephants, so it is likely that the chess sets available today are antique and pre-ban sets, or made from mammoth ivory, which is considered legal ivory. Since supply is limited, ivory chess sets tend to be sold at higher prices.
Why Choose Ivory: Ivory is a milky-white, beautiful material that is hard and substantial, but can be carved. It has enough weight when held, and has grain structures that are unique to the animal from which it was sourced.
Contrary to popular belief, plastic can be as elegant as other types of chess sets. This material is an excellent choice for beginners, especially children. Plastic is also lighter than other materials, so plastic chess sets tend to be compact and portable, making them ideal for travel, picnics, schools, and community game rooms.
Why Choose Plastic: Plastic types of chess sets are affordable, readily available, sold in different styles and colors, waterproof and weatherproof. The pieces are often weighted and the material may be mixed with fiberglass for more strength.
When it comes to sizes, there is a wide range of chess sets to choose from, from the minuscule to the giant pieces. Here are the basic sizes to expect in the market.
The “normal” sized chess sets are generally the tournament-sized sets. According to the US Chess Federation, the standard size of a square should be 2″ to 2 1/2″ while the king should be about 3.35″ – 4.13″ in height. Following the 75% Guideline, the base diameter of the king should occupy 75% of the square diameter of the chessboard. This should give a general idea about the ratio of the pieces to the board in terms of size. Normal-sized chess sets are great for tournaments, casual games, and collections.
Giant chess sets are best suited for the outdoors or in large halls and rooms. Giant chess sets are perfect for children and groups for fun games. While smaller or standard chess sets are mainly for two-person games, large sizes often attract more players, making chess a team sport. The smallest sizes in the giant chess set category start at around 8″, 12″, and 16″. The larger ones start at 25″, 27″, and 48″. The true giants are around 72″ high, although bigger sizes may be customized depending on the customer’s specifications.
Small chess sets prove that size does not matter. Small sets are preferred by many because they are ultra-portable and lightweight. They are easy to carry and tuck into a bag or luggage for trips. There are certain adjustments to expect from the size of these sets, however. Tiny, four-inch boards, for example, often feature magnetic pieces to ensure that they are not easily lost. In some models, the chess pieces are round and flat (similar to checkers pieces) to make them even more portable and lightweight. These are fun sets that come in a variety of styles and materials, with wooden folding boxes, plastic, and roll-up fabric boards.
Most Popular Chess Set Themes
Civil War-themed chess sets are perfect for patriotic players, especially collectors. Unlike standard chess models, the sides on Civil War sets are called Union and Confederacy instead of Black and White. The pieces are also modeled after prominent figures during the period, including Abraham Lincoln, Robert Lee, Ulysses Grant, and Jefferson Davis.
The Harry Potter theme is one of the types of chess sets that appeal not just to Potter fans but also to other people, particularly collectors. The Harry Potter chess set is based on the giant chess set that was used to play the final challenge in the The Sorcerer’s Stone. The pieces are replicas of the set used in the movie, but are generally at the more standard sizes.
Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings chess set is a must-have for collectors. The pieces are replicas of the important characters in the epic film, such as Aragorn for the white king and Twilight Witchking for the black king. This a fairly challenging set to use, since the pawns are designed after different characters. A well-made piece will make any player and collector proud.
The medieval period was the time of the brave knights, epic battles, and romance. The appeal of this period is one of the reasons why medieval-themed chess sets remain popular. These chess sets are often molded or hand-carved, then finished with paint, varnish, or other sealers to give them a durable, shiny surface. These boards come in different designs and materials, including wood, metal, glass, or plastic, or a combination of two or more. The sets vary greatly in style, such as Renaissance, Crusades, Robin Hood, and the popular houses or families of the period.
Dragons are a classic choice, and perennial favorites in design. The chess pieces are made of different dragons to represent each piece. The pawn dragons are generally smaller and there is a choice in the design of the boards depending on the set. Some of the most majestic sets feature 3D boards made from glass or shiny metal.
The Dark Knight battles the Joker and his cohorts in the Batman chess set. A veritable collectible treasure, the Batman chess set features notable characters such as Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, Robin, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman.
Chess Set Variations
Chess is traditionally played between two individuals using a flat, horizontal board. However, there are other ways to make this cerebral game more exciting and challenging.
The Three-Way Chess involves three players, with three sides on the chessboard. The rules are the same as the traditional chess, except that three players will be playing against each other. The board is shaped like a hexagon, with the center squares connected to allow even moves. In general, the game is won by the first player who delivers checkmate, which means the other two players lose, although other variations of the game exist. The 3-Player Chess comes in a variety of game play and designs.
The Vertical Chess is a traditional chess game played vertically, with the board mounted on a wall. The board features small shelves on which pieces are placed and played. The game rules are the same, except that pieces are moved up and down the board – literally. This type of chess is perfect for small spaces.
The Circle or Circular Chess is a variant of the game played on a board shaped like a circle. The board is made up of 16 squares and 4 rings. The board is played using the Shatranj game, which means certain steps such as en passant, the two-step initial Pawn move, and castling are not considered options. To win the game, a player must stalemate, checkmate, or do a ‘bare king’.
Modern vs Antique Chess Sets
Antique chess sets are highly prized for their collectible value. They range from wood to metal and may be designed using older carving and production methods. Sets that are 100 years old or older are considered true antiques by the antiques trade. They are mostly available among collectors and dealers. Antique sets typically show some wear and tear, but may still be good enough for display or even for a game. Most designs follow the Staunton (the style of which appeared in 1849) or pre-Staunton styles.
Modern chess sets, on the other hand, are more contemporary. The great thing about these pieces is that the production methods used are much improved and there is a wider range of design styles and material combinations used. Modern designs can follow more traditional styles, contemporary, or even avant-garde styles, making the game of chess that much more exciting.
Chess Set Brands
1. Chess house
Chess house is among the top chess set brands in the country. Chess house offers some of the unique chess sets around the country. Their products are vetted, and the chess pieces meet the chess standards. All the sets come in a secure package. Moreover, the sets can be shipped all over the world. Chess house has a great reputation with 100% customer satisfaction reviews.
Additionally, they have an outstanding return policy on all their sets. Also, they have replacement parts if you ever lose some of the chess pieces. Not only do they have gorgeous and large sets, but also small ones that are easily portable and you can go with them camping. If you are looking for the best gift idea to give to someone who loves chess, then this is the chess set is a winner.
2. The House of Staunton
Every chess player fanatic knows about the house of Staunton as it is a legend in the chess set brands. This chess set brand is one of the Top 10 Chess Set Brands in the world. Its reputation goes beyond measure, and this is because they offer high-quality products. House of Staunton aims at making luxurious and gorgeous chess sets that will blow your mind away. An interesting fact is that they make sets from different materials ranging from wood, plastics, and natural stones. This will ensure that you have the set of your dreams.
Moreover, they have an amazing collection of different sets that have the luxury and unique look to them. They make themed set that has a great historical background that will make your gaming fun. Additionally, all the sets come packaged in chess boxes that are gorgeous and perfect for gift giving.
3. The chess store
Whether you are looking for a luxurious wooden chess set or a gorgeous metallic one. The chess store always has the best options for you. All the chess pieces provided in the chess store are approved and meet the chess standards. Also, the chess store has a variety of chess sets to choose. The sets depend on the material you want from wooden, plastic, natural stones and metal. This ensures that all the customers’ needs are met and the customer is satisfied. Equally important all the chess sets come with chess box that is perfect for gift giving and storage. The sets are styling, luxurious and gorgeous looking which make them a perfect set in your living room décor. Enjoy an amazing game with your family with this set from The chess store.
4. Mega chess
Have you ever wondered how it would feel to play with giant chess pieces? Then you need to get yourself one of the mega chess sets. The giant sets are popping up around the country and make up part of a perfect game for you. Moreover, this set makes part of a great outdoor décor. They can merge into your landscape and allow your landscaper to come up with an outdoor theme around them. Who wouldn’t want their backyard to have the magnificent giant chess piece?
Additionally, mega chess has launched their new glow in the dark chess pieces. This means no more getting knocked down by the chess pieces anymore in the dark. The chess pieces are made from long lasting durable material that can withstand any weather. Not only are the giant chess pieces a perfect décor for your backyard but also can blend in your home as well. Beautify your play game room with this majestic chess pieces and enjoy a game with family and friends.
ChessUSA ranks among the Top 10 Chess Set Brands in the country. They provide you with the best chess sets that are durable and can serve you for a lifetime. ChessUSA offers you chess boards and chess pieces that are beautiful and gorgeous and match your home décor both indoors and outdoors. A set can completely change your living space and give it that luxurious feel to it. Also, they have folding chess board which don’t take up a bigger space and are great for traveling. If you are more of natural stone and marble kind of fan then chessUSA has got your back as they have fantastic marble sets. Not forgetting the vintage lovers who always stick to wooden sets as this brand has got them all. You don’t have to struggle with finding the perfect chess set for you anymore.
6. Chess bazaar
Nothing says classy and stylish than owning a piece of antique may it be furniture of sculptures. Enjoy this marvelous feeling by getting a chess set from chess bazaar that will definitely live all your guests marveled. Every set is handcrafted by a professional and polished giving it that antique styling look. Not to mention the unique sense since all the chess sets are different from each other. Chess bazaar uses hardwood to make their sets which makes them long-lasting and durable. Moreover, these sets can withstand all weather and are perfect for outdoor use.
Additionally, chess bazaar makes all their products portable and easy to travel to from one place to another. The most outstanding thing about chess bazaar is that they have personalized and unique chess gifts. This makes each gift you give to a chess lover unique and special.
7. Chess warehouse
A chess set is not only a perfect gaming tool but also a piece of art. Getting the right set can transform your living room or office from a boring, dull place, to a stylish, gorgeous space. This changes the attitude of the people coming to see you and they can relate to you well. Owning a set can greatly improve your social life and instill proper life skills. Chess warehouse offers durable chess sets made from long-lasting material. All their chess pieces are verified and accepted by the chess standards. The sets come with a great gift box that is perfect for gift giving and storage of the chess pieces. Chess warehouse has some unique sets, and they are of a great size that gives them the perfect grip when playing. Also, the sets are portable, and you can travel with them to go camping or upcountry and have fun with your friends.
8. Chess central
Innovations and technology have taken up another level. At chess central, they offer not only chess boards and chess games but also chess software. You don’t have to play chess the old fashioned way anymore because you can simply download the app from their web. However, if you like sticking to the old ways and insist on old is gold. Then chess central has the gorgeous, high-quality chess sets that will blow your mind away. The chess sets are crafted with care and caution to give that unique and stylish look. Not only do the set look gorgeous but also are long-lasting and can be played in any weather. Enjoy playing chess with your friends and family by getting a set that will merge in with their home décor. Every set has a certain beauty in it, and this is what makes it a great art piece to brighten up your home or office.
9. Chess Baron
Chess Baron has looked at all the scopes of a chess game and come up with different chess sets types. From the themed sets that are magical and help bring out the fan and reality of two sides on war to the visually impaired sets that allow you to enjoy a game of chess and make you involved in it. They have the luxurious chess sets that are crafted with precision and colored with so much grace to make them unique and outstanding. Also, their sets are pocket-friendly, and anybody can get a set at home. If you love playing chess while traveling, then chess baron has got your back. They have sets fitted with magnets so that they can stick to the chess board allowing you to play even on a bumpy road. The allure of these sets is breath taking, it engages all players and spectators right away.
10. American chess equipment
American chess equipment is gaining its popularity and earned a spot on the Top 10 Chess Set Brands in the country. American chess equipment teamed up with WE games brand to ensure that they bring you the best sets. The company has been in business for over 30 years, and they continue making one of the best sets in the world. All their sets are made from durable material that make them serve you for a long time. Everybody feels pride in inheriting a family heirloom. Hence these sets are made to last you a lifetime and pass down to generations. All the chess pieces are Staunton meaning they are verified by the chess standards. The brand has tournament sets which are of high quality. Their chess sets can be used in school, at home or in the office.