Best Tournament Chess Sets And Boards in March 2024
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.
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…
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 March 2024 is…
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 March 2024 is:
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:
- 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.
- 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 2024 for scholastic play and chess clubs is:
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:
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.