Folding chessboards are always handy in a pinch. If you’re short on space, it helps to have something you can fold up and pack away.
With the increasing demand for foldable boards, the market has been flooded with items that aim to scratch that itch, but they’re not all viable, quality products.
Some boards’ hinges break, or they don’t fold correctly, which means you end up spending your hard-earned money on two useless pieces of wood.
We decided to nip this problem in the bud by reviewing some of our favorite folding boards so you won’t be led astray by bad-faith manufacturers and dishonest marketing.
Enjoy your read of the best chess sets available. The results will leave you pleasantly surprised.
The 5 Best Folding Chessboards (Our Review)
11″ Polish King’s Folding Chess Set (ChessUSA)
This quality 11″ Polish King’s Folding Chess Set set is imported from Poland, one of the historical centers of chess.
The chess pieces are made from quality hornbeam wood while the board is made from beech, for the dark squares, and birch for the light squares.
This is the smaller version of the 15” King’s Chess set but still carries the same unique design. The smaller size means that it makes for a good travel companion.
The design is traditional but has an added Eastern European touch to it. The king and queen chess pieces, for example, have opposite color designs for their crowns which makes them easy to recognize and stand out from the rest of the chess pieces, too.
As for storage, the board has insert trays for both armies. It’s lined with green felt which protects the pieces as you carry them around. Sadly, the trays don’t have special cut-outs for the pieces, so they’ll be rolling around inside as you move.
The height of the king piece is roughly 3 inches tall and weighs less than an ounce. The board is about an inch thick when opened and twice that when folded over, so you’ll be able to fit it into your bag or suitcase with ease.
For $40 more or less, you’re more than likely paying for the luxury hand-crafted design and the types of wood used. Throw in an extra $10 and you can have it gift-wrapped as a surprise for someone else. It’s a fair amount of money to pay for a humble chessboard, but it’s worth it for what you get.
- Handcrafted design
- Quality wood
- Small, portable size
- Insert trays for storage
- No individual fittings
Smart Planet 15″ Folding Wood Travel Set (House Of Staunton)
House of Staunton is the kind of brand where you can typically find what you’re looking for. Their products can be sorted into different categories, each of them providing you with the same amount of quality.
The Smart Planet chess set from House of Staunton emphasizes that it’s built to move around with you, no matter where your travels may lead to.
The size of the folding chessboard is around 15 by 15 inches when opened and folds down to 15 by 7. The chess pieces are, of course, Staunton-styled, with the king standing at 3 inches tall. The chessboard squares are a standard 1.25 inches.
The chess pieces are handcrafted while the board is built from composite wood materials. It’s not the luxury wood that other wooden chess boards are made of, but it’s a sturdy enough material that you don’t have to worry too much about it getting warped or damaged.
It makes up for the faux wood in storage. The inside of the chessboard has foam inserts to hold individual pieces of the chess set, making it safe to store them when traveling.
The chess set will only cost you around $10 which is a steal considering you get a built-in storage box and pieces included.
- Low price
- Staunton-style pieces
- Foam fittings on the inside
- Fair quality
- Fit for travel
- Composite wood
Magnetic Folding Walnut Wood Chessboard (American Chess Equipment)
There’s something about walnut boards that give us a warm feeling inside. It’s probably because wooden chess sets have been around a lot longer than their plastic counterparts so it feels more natural.
This set from American Chess Equipment is 11 inches on all sides with beveled edges for a bit of texture. Since it can fold and store your armies, it also has some fair quality material lined along the inside.
Though, there’s no wall separating the two armies or special fittings to hold the individual pieces, so they’ll be rolling around a lot while you move them.
The chessmen are modeled after the standard Staunton design and feature magnetic bottoms. This makes it handy for travel, as you can play a game in the car or plane and fold it away when you’re done.
The set includes 32 chessmen, with no additional pieces for pawn promotion. Once you play a few games, you’ll notice how convenient it is to have two extra queens.
This set will cost you around $40 which means it’s not one of the cheapest options you’ll find. While the wood is welcoming and familiar it doesn’t exactly feel like you’re buying art.
- Walnut wood
- Fit for travel
- Can store chessmen
- Small size
- No individual fittings
9″ Wooden Folding Chessboard (ChessBazaar)
The unique feature of this folding chess set is its circular shape. While many conventional folding chess sets often stick to the square look, this one from ChessBazaar is a little different.
The 9-inch wooden magnetic chess set is made from Sheesham, otherwise known as golden rosewood. The smooth finish of the wood’s surface is thanks to a coat of lacquer which makes it shine.
The board is fitted with an iron sheet that’s cleverly hidden under the wood, while the chess pieces have small magnets in their bases. When folded, the two halves are hinged in the center while the upper ends have magnets that keep the board tightly closed.
At only 9 inches in diameter, it’s by far the smallest board included in our list. When opened, the board measures 0.7 inches in height. The king is only 1.2 inches tall, which is a good fit for the demure board.
At a steep $75, this folding chess set is certainly a luxury item that needs a lot of care. It would also be convenient if they could add an extra pair of queens, at least.
- High quality
- Small and travel-ready
- Staunton chess set
- Steep price for little
Gold & Silver Magnetic Folding Chessboard (The Chess Store)
The silver and gold pieces are a welcome color change to the usual black and white that’s the norm in other chess sets. It makes for a clear contrast against the grey and black board.
It’s among some of the best travel sets that The Chess Store has to offer and allows you to play virtually anywhere.
The pieces are finely detailed, giving the set a luxurious quality. They’re also fitted with strong magnets which are slightly recessed so that they don’t scratch the board over time which is a neat detail.
The Chess Store Gold & Silver Magnetic Folding board has algebraic notations on each side so you can annotate your games and study them later.
Once you’re done with your game you can store it, keeping in mind that the box has to snap shut and is incredibly secure.
The board is made of plastic and screen-printed metal.
Going for a fair price of $20, this set will keep you playing for a few years. Although, the pieces may leave you wondering what they could’ve looked like on a wooden surface.
- Detailed pieces
- Strong magnets
- High-quality plastic
- Box closes securely
- No other color options