Every chess lover remembers the chess set that they used to play their first game of chess.
Whether you’ve just started your chess journey, or you’ve been part of a professional club for the last ten years, you know the importance of a good chess set, and how personal choosing a set can be.
No matter the purpose – travel, recreation, decor – chess sets are an investment, and a quality chessboard will never fail you.
So if you’ve been looking for a great new set, but you just haven’t found the one for you, you’ve come to the right place.
10 Best Chess Sets (Our Review)
Chess Armory 15” Wooden Chess Set
Chess Armory has been making wooden chess sets for everyone, from beginners to more seasoned players, for decades.
This traditional set is made of smooth inlaid walnut and comes with standard Staunton-style chessmen.
Each piece is handcrafted and polished with a felted bottom to stop the pieces from scratching on the board.
The board itself is one of the biggest highlights of this set. It folds in half for easy storage of the chessmen.
The set also comes in a bigger 17-inch alternative, and a 15-inch set with magnetic pieces. The magnetic set coupled with the folding board and in-board storage make for a great option if you don’t want to buy an extra set just for travel.
- Suitable for all players
- Staunton-style pieces
- Felt-bottomed chess pieces
- Easy in-board storage
- Fold-in board can make for awkward play
No Stress Chess
Best For Beginners
If you are still learning to play the game of chess, this is the best option on our list. The set was created with younger players in mind, but it’s equally suitable for adults who want to learn to play.
For our money, Winning Moves’s No Stress Chess is one of the best chess sets on the market to teach you how to play chess.
It comes with a full set of Staunton-style pieces as well as an informational card on each piece. These cards contain the names of the individual pieces, their rules of movement, and what each piece can do.
The action cards included in the sets have multiple uses depending on your skill. For example, on the first level, each player draws a card from the deck on their turn. The card lists possible movements that the player can choose from to take their next turn.
This slight tweak to traditional chess rules can level the playing field between newcomers and experienced players, giving them a chance to hone their skills without being dominated in every game.
If you’re looking to invest in a new set, you’ll need to take into consideration that No Stress Chess is only for absolute beginners. This makes the set obsolete for anyone who has mastered the basics of chess.
No Stress Chess is designed to teach the basics of the game and eliminates a lot of strategy or advanced skills.
- Teaches fundamentals of chess
- Great for children and beginners
- Doesn’t teach advanced skills
- Flimsy build
New Fischer Spassky Series
Best For Seasoned Players
House of Staunton brings us yet another epic chess set. Made for those with a love of the game and designed to model the set used by grandmaster Bobby Fischer to win the 1972 World Chess Championship.
If you know anything about chess, you know that the best sets come from House of Staunton, and the New Fischer Spassky Series set is no different.
This full, tournament-sized set is an exact reproduction of the set that chess legend and grandmaster Bobby Fischer used to win the 1972 World Chess Championship, ending the decades-long winning streak by Soviet players.
The board is made up of mahogany and maple wood in a perfect combination of beauty and functionality. The pieces are made from ebonized and natural boxwood, giving them a luxurious look and sturdy, weighted feel.
The set includes two extra queens for pawn promotion and a premium branded House of Staunton chess box.
It’s lined in billiard cloth and comes with a brass lock and key.
- 2 extra queens for pawn promotion
- Premium chess box included
- Extra cost for a board bag
House of Staunton Wooden Magnetic Travel Chess Set
Another great option from the House of Staunton, the Wooden Magnetic Travel Set is one of the best chess sets around for portable play.
It has all the features we look for in a travel set: size, weight, and portability.
Travel sets are usually smaller than others to avoid traveling with a bulky chessboard without proper storage in tow.
The Wooden Magnetic Travel Set is 10 inches across, making it the ideal size to balance between having something small enough to take on the road and something large enough that you don’t have to ask “Is that a queen or a bishop?”
The House of Staunton magnetic set has a drawer on either side of the board, with foam inserts to keep your chessmen secure.
The magnetic board and pieces make for the ideal travel set. You can easily play a chess game on a bus or train without the worry of your pieces slipping and sliding all over the place. No more digging under your seat to find that missing knight.
- Easy chessmen storage
- Smaller than conventional sets
Final Challenge Harry Potter Themed Chess Set
Harry Potter fans rejoice. This unique set is the perfect blend of a unique chess experience and a great collectible for any fan of the franchise.
The Harry Potter themed set is a scale replica of the magical wizard’s chess board seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone outside of the U.S).
This is a sturdy set that is made to last, with a plexiglass board 20-inches across. The die-cast zinc pieces are highly detailed and imitate the stonework of the original.
It takes a while to adjust to the new design of some of the pieces, but each is distinct and there’s little confusion of what’s what during your chess game. We do worry that some of the thinner appendages, like the bishops’ staves, could snap off if not handled carefully.
- Durable pieces and board
- Novel chess experience
- No storage bag included
- Not standard pieces
Umbra Wobble Chess Set
The Wobble Chess Set by Umbra makes for a conversation starter no matter where you place it. It’s a great way to add equal measures of class and flair to your office.
This modern, eye-catching chessboard design flaunts a concave board of 16 inches and pieces with a rounded bottom that makes them wobble when moved. The pieces are weighted at the bottom to stop them from rolling around the board, and each piece nestles comfortably into a sunken square on each check.
We’re not the only ones to take notice of this design. Umbra received an Award of Merit from HOW Magazine’s 2008 International Design Award competition for its eccentric design.
This set makes for the perfect decorative statement to spice up your office or gift for any enthusiast.
- Award-winning design
- Decorative and functional
- Not standard chessmen
- Moving pieces could make play cumbersome
Heavy Club Chess Set by Chess House
This tournament-standard set is a favorite for schools and clubs, and it’s our top pick for anyone looking to get their hands on a quality plastic set.
Plastic chessmen are known for their all-around durability. Each piece is weighted with a paper felt base and they have a nice weight to them so they don’t have the flimsy, cheap feel that some plastic ones have.
The 34-piece set comes with 2 extra queens for pawn promotion.
Both the roll-up vinyl board and chessmen come in a variety of colors. The pieces are offered in half-sets in the classic white and black, or you can jazz up your set and choose from silver, pink, or blue.
The set includes algebraic coordinates for learners and for players who incorporate notation coordinates into their play style.
- Regulation tournament set
- 2 extra queens
- Algebraic notations
- Paper felt base
- Protective bag sold separately
Chess House 2 in 1 Chess and Checkers Game Set
When it comes to buying a set, nothing offers better value than a dual-purpose set.
This 2-in-1 wooden set comes with chess and checkers pieces handcrafted in Poland.
The board folds in half and includes a felted interior which lets you store all your pieces inside.
It includes notational coordinates, making it perfect for beginners as well as avid players.
- Dual-purpose board
- Felted pieces
- In-board storage
- Notational coordinates
- No extra queens
The Brown Senator Chess Set by House of Staunton
The Brown Senator is a traditional chess set with a beautiful Eastern European design. While this set may look luxurious and expensive, this budget-friendly pick is actually under $200.
The beautiful board is made from a mix of birchwood, beechwood, and natural and stained hornbeam. It has a full 32-piece chessman set and a folding board with included storage.
Both the board’s interior and the bottom of the game pieces are felted to keep your pieces safe and your board free from scratches.
This handy standard-sized set is ideal for home use or travel and includes algebraic notations for beginners.
- Storage built into board
- Good for travel
- Algebraic notations
- Protective bag/case not included
The Golden Collector Series Luxury Wood Chess Set, Box, & Board Combination by House of Staunton
For the traditional chess players, this board from The House of Staunton is for you. Hand-carved pieces, a stunning board, and a beautiful storage box show that you are a serious player.
This opulent set was created by The House of Staunton for the discerning player who demands quality.
Each piece is hand-carved and turned from high-quality antique boxwood and durable ebony. These stunning chessmen come on a unique House of Staunton embossed leather pad, making a nice change from the typical felt.
The board is made from red amboyna burl and bird’s eye maple. These colors are nicely complemented by the spalted maple inlays and genuine ebony frame.
The set includes a handcrafted, Italian box that is lined with a red velour felt interior which holds all 34 game pieces, including the 2 extra queens.
- Handcrafted by master artisans
- Includes storage option
- Made from high-quality wood
Whether you’re an absolute beginner, or you’ve worked your way up to a grandmaster title, a good chess set is one of the most important assets for any player.
With that in mind, the great thing about chess is that the game is the same no matter what kind of board you use. You spend $10 on a second-hand board, or you drop $1,000 on gilded chess pieces, but the game remains as it has been for the last thousand years.