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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2023-08-27
Founder of Chessily.com

Best Tournament Chess Sets And Boards in September 2023

If you are a serious chess player who wants to compete in tournaments, you need a chess set that meets the official standards and suits your personal style. A tournament chess set should have a board size of 2 ¼ inches per square, a king height of between 3 ¾ and 4 ¼ inches, and pieces that are made of wood or plastic and follow the Staunton pattern. But within these criteria, there is still room for variation and customization. In this article, we will review some of the best tournament chess sets available on the market, as well as provide a buying guide to help you choose the right one for you.

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Here are our recommendations for the best chess sets and sets for tournaments in 2023:

Best Overall Tournament Chess Set: Ultimate Tournament Chess Set Combination II*

Best Budget Tournament Chess Set: Regulation Tournament Chess Pieces and Chess Board Combo*

Best Wooden Tournament Chess Set: Design Your Own House of Staunton Deluxe Tournament Combo*

Best Tournament Chess Set for Clubs and Schools: Deluxe Chess Set Combination and Triple Weighted Regulation Pieces*

Best Rollable Tournament-Size Chess Set: US Chess Quiver Tournament Chess Set Combination*

Best Foldable Tournament Chess Set: Ultimate Tournament Chess Set Combination II*

Best Overall Tournament Chess Set

If you want to buy the best overall tournament chess board and set, you need to pay attention to two main factors:

1. The material of the pieces and the board: This affects how durable, attractive, and comfortable your chess set is. The most common materials are plastic and wood, each with its own pros and cons. For example:

  • Plastic pieces are lighter and cheaper than wood pieces, but they may also look less elegant and feel less satisfying to move.
  • Wood pieces are heavier and more expensive than plastic pieces, but they also have a classic look and a smooth touch. Some wood pieces are also ebonized (black stain) to create a contrast with the natural wood color.
  • The board should match the material of the pieces, as well as the size and style. For example, a walnut or ash board would go well with ebonized wood pieces.

2. The price of the tournament chess board and set: This depends on the quality and features of the set. The price range can go from $15 to $549 or more , depending on the material, size, weight, design, and brand of the set. Of course, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good tournament chess set, but you should also avoid cheap sets that may break easily or look unprofessional.

Based on these two factors, we have compared several options and found the best overall tournament chess board and set for you. And the winner is…

Ultimate Tournament Chess Set Combination II

» A versatile tournament chess set, highly customizable

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If you are looking for a high-quality and elegant chess set to play in tournaments or at home, you might want to check out the Club Series Chess Set from the House of Staunton. This set has a 3.75″ King with a 1.5″ base that fits perfectly on any standard chessboard. The pieces are made of premium woods and have a smooth and glossy finish. They are also weighted and felted for a comfortable and stable grip. You will love the craftsmanship and detail of these pieces.

The chessboard is made in Europe from mahogany and maple wood, giving it a warm and natural look. It has a folding design that makes it easy to store and carry. It also has labels for the ranks and files, which are helpful for learning and improving your chess skills. The board is 0.5″ thick and has a satin finish that protects it from scratches and stains.

What We Like

  • Highly customizable
  • Foldable and easy to transport

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit pricey

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Best Budget Tournament Chess Set

If you are looking for a tournament chess set that won’t break the bank, you may want to consider a budget-friendly option that still meets the standards and requirements for competitive play. Budget tournament chess sets are usually made of plastic or vinyl, which are durable, lightweight, and easy to clean. Plastic pieces are often weighted with metal or sand to give them a nice feel and balance. Vinyl boards are flexible and roll up for convenient storage and transport. They also come in various colors and designs to suit your preference.

A good budget tournament chess set should have the following features:

  • A board with 2 ¼ inch squares and a clear contrast between light and dark squares
  • A set of pieces with a king height between 3 ¾ and 4 ¼ inches and a Staunton-style design

With these features in mind, we have selected the best budget tournament chess set that offers great value for money and quality for performance. The best cheap tournament set in September 2023 is…

Regulation Tournament Chess Pieces and Chess Board Combo

» A cheap, yet durable vinyl tournament chess set

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Looking for an affordable and high-quality chess set that meets all US Chess Federation Tournament requirements? Look no further than these Single Weighted Regulation Plastic Chessmen. With their Staunton Pattern design and durable plastic construction, these chessmen are ideal for serious chess play and will last for years to come. In fact, they’re the exact same chess pieces used by the US Chess Federation in all of its national tournaments! Each set comes with 34 pieces, including 2 additional queens for pawn promotion. The look and feel of the chessmen has been specifically designed to minimize the possibility of damage during play and transport, and their high-grade plastic construction makes them virtually unbreakable. At 3.75″ in height with a 1.5″ base diameter, they’re just the right size for comfortable play.

For the perfect complement to these chessmen, get the Regulation Vinyl Tournament Chessboard. Measuring 20″ x 20″ and featuring 2.25″ squares with algebraic notation on all sides, this vinyl chessboard is durable and resistant to tears, spills, and other abuse. Its squared corners make it easy to align and unroll for play, while its portability makes it great for use with either the Standard Chess Bag or Deluxe Chess Bag. So whether you’re a serious player, a chess club, or a school looking for a high-quality chess set that won’t break the bank, this set is an excellent choice.

What We Like

  • Budget friendly tournament set
  • Virtually unbreakable

What We Don’t Like

  • Plastic as a material

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Best Tournament Chess Set Made From Wood

Wooden tournament chess sets are popular among chess enthusiasts who appreciate the natural beauty, durability and weight of wooden pieces and boards. Those tournament sets come in different types of wood, such as sheesham, ebony, rosewood and padauk, each with its own distinctive color, grain and texture. Some wooden chess sets are also hand-carved and inlaid with intricate details that make them unique and potentially even valuable.

When buying a wooden tournament chess set, there are a couple of important points to keep in mind:

  • Type of wood: Wooden chess sets are made from different types of wood (duh), such as sheesham, ebony, rosewood and padauk. Each type of wood has its own characteristics and advantages. For example, ebony is very hard and durable, but also very expensive. Rosewood is very beautiful and rich in color, but also prone to cracking. Padauk is very exotic and vibrant, but also very rare. Overall, we suggest choosing a type of wood that you find aesthetically pleasing,
  • Quality of craftsmanship: Wooden chess sets are crafted by different methods, such as hand-carving, machine-cutting or laser-cutting. You should look for sets that have been carefully carved and finished, with attention to detail and a high level of precision. You should also check the quality of the board, the felt pads, the storage box and the extra queens. You should avoid sets that have rough edges or uneven surfaces.
  • Style and design: Wooden chess sets come in various styles and designs, such as Staunton, Lardy, Dubrovnik or Zagreb. Each style has its own history and aesthetic appeal. For tournament play, you should choose a Staunton-styled chess set!
  • Budget: Wooden chess sets vary in price depending on the quality, size, design and type of wood. You should have a clear idea of how much you are willing to spend and look for sets that fit your budget. You can find wooden chess sets for as low as $30. We recommend not cheaping out on your tournament set. Between $100 and $200 is a good amount of money to spend on your new wooden set!

With all that in mind, our recommendation for the best wooden tournament set in September 2023 is:

Design Your Own House of Staunton Deluxe Tournament Combo

» A foldable tournament chess set with many customization options

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Are you tired of searching for the perfect chess set? Look no further than the Design Your Own Complete Chess Combo. With this option, you have the freedom to create a customized set that meets your specific needs and preferences.

The process is simple – just choose from a variety of plastic chess pieces, veneered chess boards, and bags to create a unique set that fits your style. Whether you prefer a traditional Staunton design or something more modern, there are plenty of options to choose from.

And the best part? All of the most popular items are available, ensuring that you get a high-quality set that is both functional and beautiful. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, having a customized chess set can make your games even more enjoyable.

Not only does the Design Your Own Complete Chess Combo allow you to create a set that suits your style, but it also makes for a great gift. If you know someone who loves chess, a personalized set can be a thoughtful and memorable present that they’ll cherish for years to come.

Overall, the Design Your Own Complete Chess Combo is an excellent option for anyone who wants a customized and high-quality chess set. It’s easy to use, versatile, and a great way to add a personal touch to your games.

What We Like

  • Highly customizable
  • High-quality wooden board
  • Foldable and easy to transport

What We Don’t Like

  • The many choices can be quite overwhelming

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Best Tournament Chess Set for Clubs and Schools

A tournament-size chess set used in clubs or scholastic play has to tick two extra boxed, besides obviously being tournament-rated:

  1. Durability. Meaning that the chess sets are strong, sturdy and can handle a lot of use. Chess sets for clubs are played with by many different people, sometimes every day, so they need to be able to resist damage and wear. Besides the obvious practical downsides of having broken pieces or boards, you want your chess sets to look nice and professional, especially if you host tournaments or invite guests to your club.
  2. Affordability. Chess sets for clubs and schools may need to be bought in large quantities, depending on how many members or players need to be paired up.

Durability and affordability are therefore very important for tournament-size chess sets for schools and clubs because they make sure that the chess equipment is reliable, functional, and economical. You don’t want to waste your money on chess sets that break easily or look cheap.  

With that in mind, our best tournament chess set in 2023 for scholastic play and chess clubs is:

Deluxe Chess Set Combination and Triple Weighted Regulation Pieces

» A budget friendly, abuse-proof tournament chess board & pieces for clubs and schools

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If you’re looking for a high-quality chess set that can withstand tough play, look no further than the Deluxe Chess Set Combination. This set includes everything you need for a great game, from triple-weighted plastic chess pieces to a vinyl tournament chessboard and a deluxe chess bag.

The chess pieces themselves are designed in the traditional Staunton pattern and feature a 3.75″ king with a 1.5″ base diameter. The set includes a complete set of 34 pieces, including two additional queens for pawn promotion. The pieces are manufactured out of plastic and are triple-weighted for improved stability and performance. This makes them perfect for players of all skill levels, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pro.

The vinyl tournament chessboard is also a great addition to the set. It features rank and file labels on all four sides, making it ideal for beginners who are still learning the ropes. The board is manufactured out of high-grade vinyl and is designed to resist dirt, tearing, and spills. It can also be rolled up into a tight tube-shape for easy transport, which is great for players who are always on the go.

Finally, the deluxe chess bag is the perfect way to store and transport your chess set. It’s 24″ x 9″ in size and is designed to hold all of your chess equipment, including your clock, scorebook, and two pencils. The bag features two zippered compartments to comfortably store the chess pieces, as well as two internal loops to hold the rolled-up chessboard for easy transport. It even comes with a removable shoulder strap and two nylon handles, making it easy to carry around.

What We Like

  • Very affordable
  • Classic design
  • Abuse-proof

What We Don’t Like

  • Vinyl board and plastic pieces are rugged, but don’t offer a luxurious feeling

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Best Rollable Tournament-Size Chess Set

Best Foldable Tournament Chess Set

A foldable tournament-size chess set is a chess set that has a board that can be folded in half and (sometimes) even has storage space inside for the pieces. The board is usually made of wood and has a standard size of 20 inches by 20 inches with 2.25 inch squares. The pieces are also made of wood or plastic and have a standard height of 3.75 inches for the king. A foldable chess set is a convenient mix between the luxury of a full-sized chess set and a more compact rollable version. The main differences between a foldable and a rollable chess set are:

  • Material: Foldable sets are usually made of wood, while rollable sets are usually made of vinyl or silicone.
  • Price: Foldable sets are usually more expensive than rollable sets, depending on the quality and craftsmanship of the materials.
  • Durability: Foldable sets are usually more durable than rollable sets, as they are less prone to wear and tear from folding and unfolding. Rollable sets can get creased or wrinkled from rolling and unrolling, which can affect the appearance and smoothness of the board.
  • Stability: Foldable sets are usually more stable than rollable sets, as they have a solid surface that does not bend or curl. Rollable sets can sometimes slide or curl on uneven surfaces, which can affect the movement and placement of the pieces.

Our winner for best foldable chess set in tournament size is:

Ultimate Tournament Chess Set Combination II

» A versatile tournament chess set, highly customizable

Check Current Price

If you are looking for a high-quality and elegant chess set to play in tournaments or at home, you might want to check out the Club Series Chess Set from the House of Staunton. This set has a 3.75″ King with a 1.5″ base that fits perfectly on any standard chessboard. The pieces are made of premium woods and have a smooth and glossy finish. They are also weighted and felted for a comfortable and stable grip. You will love the craftsmanship and detail of these pieces.

The chessboard is made in Europe from mahogany and maple wood, giving it a warm and natural look. It has a folding design that makes it easy to store and carry. It also has labels for the ranks and files, which are helpful for learning and improving your chess skills. The board is 0.5″ thick and has a satin finish that protects it from scratches and stains.

What We Like

  • Highly customizable
  • Foldable and easy to transport

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit pricey

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Regulations on Tournament Chess Sets

With chess being a tightly regulated sport, there are also strict rules on what chess sets can be used in official tournaments. Luckily, all chess boards and sets sold as “tournament-rated”, will conform to those standards. If you’re interested in the exact regulations, feel free to read on.

 According to the FIDE Handbook, the chess equipment used in FIDE or Continental Championship, Olympiad and other FIDE registered tournaments should conform to the following standards:

  • Chess pieces should be made of wood, plastic or an imitation of these materials.
  • Chess pieces should be of Staunton style and clearly distinguishable from one another. The king should distinctly differ from the queen, and the bishop may bear a notch or be of a special color to differentiate it from the pawn.
  • The recommended height of the pieces is as follows: King – 9.5 cm, Queen – 8.5 cm, Bishop – 7 cm, Knight – 6 cm, Rook – 5.5 cm and Pawn – 5 cm. The diameter of the piece’s base should measure 40-50% of its height. These dimensions may differ up to 10% from the recommendation, but the order must be kept.
  • Chess boards should be square with a side of about 40 to 50 cm and have 64 equal squares in two contrasting colours (light and dark). The colours should be subdued and not shiny. The board should be rigid and stable and not slippery.

The USCF has similar standards for tournament-rated chess equipment, with some slight differences:

  • The square size on the board should be anywhere from 2 inches to 2.5 inches, while the king’s height should be 3.375 inches to 4.5 inches. The standard USCF tournament set has 2.25 inch squares and a king’s height of 3.75 inches.
  • The chess pieces should be weighted and felted for stability and comfort.
  • The chess board should have algebraic notation on all sides for ease of recording moves.

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