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Chess has one of the longest histories, but today, the two-player game is still played by millions, from beginners to advanced competitors around the world.
While there are a ton of options on the market, Director of Business Development at Chess at Three, Adam Trodd shares his advice to help you find the best set for your needs. "Start by considering your personal goals for your chess playing experience," he says. He suggests to prioritize comfort, set a budget, and select a set that visually appeals to you. With this in mind, we researched the best chess sets and deemed the CB2 Marble Chess Set (view at CB2) best overall for its sophisticated design and quality pieces.
If you’d like to try your hand at the game, here are the best chess game sets for all skill levels and needs.
Best Overall: CB2 Marble Chess Game
Doubles as home decor
Users found the black pieces to be poorer quality
We think this sleek gray and white game is about as sophisticated as you can get, making it our top pick. The Banswara marble game board and pieces are hand-made by artisans in India, yielding a smooth finish with an ever-so-slight sheen to catch your eye. Whether playing or not, this set makes a beautiful coffee table decoration or dining table centerpiece, sure to spark conversation.
It’s not traditional by any means—the board is heavy, making it more of a permanent decor piece than a game you can assemble and disassemble on a whim. Thus, this is not the best board for taking on the go. Still, while the pieces are a bit abstract, experts will have no problem practicing their skills on this board.
Plus, the pieces are not your typical Staunton-style—they are modern interpretations. Though a beginner might have some initial trouble identifying pieces, it should become natural in no time. The price and high-quality makes this set privy to experts. Beginners may want to practice a bit more before investing in this statement piece.
Best Budget: Cardinal Game Gallery Chess & Checkers Wood Set
For chess and checkers
Easy to store
Small pieces pose choking hazard for kids
The standard chessboard doubles as a checkerboard, and it comes with all of the pieces you'll need to play both (32 wooden chess pawns and 24 wooden checkers).
Despite its low price point, this set delivers on both looks and quality. The components are wood—no plastic here—and the pieces are sturdy and large enough for even little hands to grasp. The board itself measures 15.75 x 15.75 inches and folds for easy storage.
Best for Beginners: Winning Moves Games No Stress Chess
Great for beginners
Double-sided board game helps explain positions
Includes cards that help explain rules
Not made of durable materials
Beginner kids and adults will appreciate helpful teaching features, like "action cards" that illustrate the game's rules, helpful hints, and details on how the pieces can move. The double-sided game board displays where to position pieces for starting play.
What you sacrifice with this particular setup is refinement. The board and pieces are cardboard and plastic, respectively. It's a price many learners, particularly those with children, are willing to pay since it makes learning a breeze.
Best Personalized : Etsy Wooden Chess Set
Different size and font options
Long shipping time
For a personalized gift for the chess player in your life, opt for this handmade wooden set from the ArtisRaw shop on Etsy. This beautiful set is handcrafted from Tunisian olive wood and is available in three sizes for even further customization. Buyers can choose their favorite font out of six options to inscribe a name or phrase right on the board. The set is elevated with two drawers overnight for easy storage. Additionally, the artisan includes a free pot of wood polish to keep your set looking shiny and new for years to come.
Best for Kids: The Noble Collection Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set
Great for kids
Easy to store
Pieces crowd the board
For kids, choose a game set with a little more whimsy to hold their attention through long rounds of chess. This set mirrors traditional-style sets, so they'll learn the game's rules and have no problem switching to a more traditional game board once they get older. The design is highly-detailed miniature recreation of the wizard chess set depicted in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Officially licensed by Warner Brothers, the game looks just like it does in the movies. Though hard molded plastic, each 2- to 4-inch game piece is expertly and intricately designed for the most realistic look. If there's any downside, it's the size of the large, intricate pieces that tend to crowd the board a bit. The pieces shouldn't bother novice and recreational players, but it is a consideration for anyone engaged in more serious play.
Best Electronic : Sharper Image Electronic Lighted Chess
Suitable for one player
Great for solo play, this electronic chess set is perfect for those looking to sharpen their skills before facing an opponent. With the built-in chess computer, players can choose between 64 difficulty levels and four game styles with all of the instructions and chess rules easily displayed for beginners or those who need a quick refresher. If you make a wrong move then playing on your own, the computer will give you another chance, ensuring you learn as much as possible. Also, the smart board lights up for late night playing and learning.
Best Modern : Printworks Modern Chess Set
Includes bags for storing pieces
Not as sturdy as other options
Freshen up your chess play with a more vibrant colorful board. Exclusive to Anthropologie, this modern-inspired set from Printworks has all of the normal fixings of your usual chess board in a muted blue color palette. The board itself is plexiglass, which is surprisingly durable and easy to clean in case of any messes. At 9.75 sq. inches, it's slightly smaller than your usual board, which makes it great for those with limited space. All of the 40 wooden game pieces come in a cloth bag for easy storage and transport—and the entire set comes in a minimal checkered box that you won't mind showing off.
Best Travel: Hey! Play! Wooden Book-Style Chess Board
Easy storage inside the board
Lower quality than other options
If you want to have the option to play chess while on the go, look no further than this folding set. At 11 x 11 inches, it's a bit smaller than your average chess board. It folds in half for easy transport and storage, and the interior has enough space to hold all of the 32 wooden Staunton pieces. Plus, the edges are meant to resemble a book spine, so you can display it on a bookshelf without a problem.
Best 2-in-1: MoMA 2-in-1 Chess & Checkers Set
For chess and checkers
Made from sustainable materials
Easy to store
Pieces crowd the board
With this colorful set, you'll never have to choose between chess and checkers again, since you always have the option to play either. Made of sustainably grown rubberwood, the set includes 32 chess pieces and 24 checker pieces and consists of a reversible game board that doubles as a lid for the storage box. A bright pastel color scheme makes gameplay extra fun.
Best Wall Mounted: Wall Chess
Comes in various sizes
Saves your place
Wall chess is a great option if you don't have the time to play an entire game in one round (or want to save space). This oak set is designed to hang vertically, with each piece locking into place after every move. A special marker keeps track of where you left off, so you can pick your game up again whenever. It's made in Huntsville, Alabama, and comes in two different sizes—small (12 x 12 inches) and large (18 x 18 inches).
Best Luxury: Jonathan Adler Acrylic Chess Set
Comes in various colors
Great to display
Easy to store
There's no denying it: This set is an investment. But, if you're looking for a piece that will serve not only your chess needs but your decor needs as well, it's a great option.
The chessboard and pieces are acrylic, lending the set a retro vibe accentuated by its oversized construction. Depending on the look you're going for, you can choose between an electric orange and yellow or smoke and a clear color scheme. Each of the 32 pieces is screen printed with their character silhouette (Kings have a cheeky mustache, while queens have a clearly defined pout).
Best Novelty: Ian Flood & Chris Prosser NYC Skyline Chess Set
Easy to store
Fans of architecture will love this option from British designers Ian Flood and Chris Prosser, which transforms the Flatiron Building, World Trade Center, and other noteworthy pieces of New York's skyline into a picturesque chess set. Once you get used to the difference, the gameplay is surprisingly the same. The 32 pieces are double-weighted to keep your moves extra secure and have felt bases to ensure that the metal board stays scratch-free. The board itself folds in half, making for easy storage—that is, if you ever want to take this handsome set off display.
For a sophisticated and functional set, the Marble Chess Set (view at CB2) is an aesthetic and modern set that is made out of durable and handsome marble. The hand carved pieces are sure to make a statement in any home and make for longtime use that is easy to clean and upkeep. Gamers of all levels will love playing the game on this handmade set.
What to Look For in a Chess Set
The costs for classic game can vary depending on skill level and material. Those designed for experts will be more expensive than those made for beginners, and handmade wood sets will cost more than plastic ones. If purchasing for children, a more budget-friendly and durable option may be more suitable.
Chess sets come in a variety of materials from wood to plastic to acrylic. Whichever material you opt for can affect the weight and the look of your chess set. If purchasing to display as a decor piece, opt for a more fashionable set made of acrylic or metal. These materials will also provide less upkeep than a wooden set. Plastic is a durable and more affordable choice, but it doesn't rank as high in design.
Storage and Portability
As with other toys and board games, considering storage space is important when purchasing. Luckily, many options on this list come with convenient storage options like compact boxes or included drawers for pieces. Some sets fold completely in half, perfect for playing on the go.
"Preferences for board & piece material, size, weight, and design often vary from competitor to competitor. Context is key," Trodd says. His personal preferences differ depending on if he is at home or on the go. "I personally enjoy the benefits of a felt travel chess board with triple weighted pieces. I am always on the go and frequently enjoy playing chess outdoors. The board is easily transported, and the weighted pieces help keep in the pieces on the board if it is windy. For in-home use, I prefer boards that are smooth, wooden, and aesthetically pleasing," he continues.
What is a good price for a chess set?
A good price for a chess set depends on the set's quality, material, and intended use, but Trodd offers a general rule. "Prices can range from $20-$2000," he says. "Travel chess sets are usually $20-$50, whereas in-home boards can easily range from $60-$2000."
Where can you buy chess sets?
Where you look for a chess set is based on a customer's preferences. "Boards can easily be purchased from Amazon or Google," says Trodd. Consumers could also choose to visit their local chess shop for an in-person, more in-depth buying experience, or visit big box stores offer more convenience and a wider range of options and prices.
What is a quality chess set?
"'Good quality' chess sets allow the player to feel comfortable moving the pieces and to feel at ease while playing," Trodd shares. Truly, what a quality chess set looks like will vary from player to player, so you should consider your specific goals when shopping for your set.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance home writer. She has written and edited hundreds of gift guides and articles about consumer products for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. Though not an avid player anymore, she learned to play chess at a very young age. To make this list, she considered each set's price, a player's experience level, and design. Additional reporting was done by Julia Fields, lifestyle writer at The Spruce.
Expert advice was provided by the Director of Business Development at Chess at Three in New York City Adam Trodd.