- Why play chess?
- Chess trivia!
- Types of chess games
- Best Chess Set for Beginners – Buying Guide
- Best Chess Set for Beginners – Top 7 Picks
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final words
Chess is one of the oldest and most played board games in the whole world. Whether you want to be a grandmaster or you’re contented as a casual player, you need a good board to play at. There’s no better way to learn the ropes of this game than in a board game that will last long. In this post, I reviewed the best chess set for beginners that’s not only budget-friendly but also stylish and aesthetic. See which you’d like to try your chess skills on!
Why play chess?
You don’t have to ask Magnus Carlsen or Vishy Anand just to get an answer for this. Chess is a complex game that involves strategy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. All of these mental processes sharpen your mind.
For young players, chess is an excellent way to hone their cognitive skills. Playing chess will build a child’s IQ, boost their focus, and help them learn to plan.
And for the elderly, this board game is an effective method to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. People of all ages can compete with each other, making chess a fair and inclusive game.
Scientifically speaking, mental activities like chess is believed to contribute to the growth of dendrites, the neuron segments in our brain responsible for the receipt and transfer of information. The longer the dendrites are, the sharper our thought process becomes.
By playing chess, you can increase your memory, spatial skills, and creativity. It’s like a workout for your brain to stay in shape. A German study suggests that a game of chess engages both sides of the brain, which is excellent evidence that chess helps your cognitive abilities.
✔️The longest chess game possible can include up to 5,949 moves.
✔️The longest chess game ever played was between Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic, which lasted for 20 hours and 15 minutes with a total of 269 moves. It was held in Belgrade in 1989.
✔️The term “checkmate” in chess originated in the Arabic words “shah mat”, which, in English, means “the king is dead”.
✔️The first modern chessboard, similar to today’s version, was first introduced in Europe back in the year 1090.
✔️A folding chessboard was actually invented by a priest in 1125. Back then, priests are forbidden to play the board game, so a chess-playing clergyman improvised with a folding board that looks like books on top of each other.
✔️In 1997, IBM developed the Deep Blue computer, which was the first supercomputer ever to beat a grandmaster, which happens to be the legendary Garry Kasparov.
✔️Vishwanathan Anand from India is the first chess master to win the World Chess Championship in all three formats: match, tournament, and knockout.
Types of chess games
Over the years, chess enthusiasts have come up with different variations of the game. This keeps the game more interesting and suitable for a wide range of players. The following are the most common types:
A standard game of chess lasts for about 90 minutes for the first 40 moves. This follows standard chess rules and is the one being played by professional chess players.
This game variation doesn’t start with the standard piece positions. Usually, the position of the King and Queen are interchanged.
Casual players commonly play this chess variation. Since there’s no timer, the players are allowed to consume as much time as they want on every move.
Bughouse is played using two chessboards and teams of two. Each team has two players where captured pieces can be given to a team player who has a different piece color. This makes the game longer and more complex.
This chess variation gives an advantage to the black piece. In the case of a draw, the player with the black piece is the default winner. However, the catch is that the black piece player has less time on each move. It could be five minutes to white and four minutes to black.
The Blitz chess game is a sudden death chess game with a total game time of about 30 minutes. Usually, a player is given a maximum of 15 minutes for all the moves in the game.
Best Chess Set for Beginners – Buying Guide
With all the options in the market, choosing the best chess set for beginners can be very challenging. To help you out, here’s a quick look on the features of a good set:
Foldable or not?
The first thing you have to choose is the configuration of the chessboard. Foldable chess boards are convenient because it allows you to store the pieces inside. It’s also an excellent choice for traveling.
However, if you want some wood pieces that would complement your new dining table or living room, a non-foldable option might be better.
For those on a budget, a soft chessboard would be a good start. However, you have to find a durable and even surface to play on.
Chessboards come in different sizes. This would vary on the size of each square of the board. What matters most is that your board has 64 alternating colored squares. The standard sizing is anywhere between 2 and 2.5 inches per square. Also, the height of the king piece should be 3.3 to 4.5 inches.
However, beginners can go for something smaller. No-notation basic chessboards are one of the smallest, with squares measuring 1 3/8 inches. Most of the time, this is enough for recreational players. You can also look for a larger version for a more comfortable play.
Chessboards are usually made of wood. Fancier ones can even be made out of ivory, marble, and ebony. The choice is yours, depending on your budget and the level of aesthetics you want to have.
For casual games, a plastic or card material would do. But if you want a chess set that can be passed on to generations, we recommend premium wood materials like bud rosewood, ebony, boxwood, Sheesham, maple, walnut, and more.
Quality of pieces
Aside from the board, you should also check the quality of the pieces on the set. There would be a total of 32 pieces, 16 for each player. If possible, look for weighted pieces so your game will not be ruined if the board moves accidentally. Handcrafted pieces are also great options because of their higher quality and premium material.
Best Chess Set for Beginners – Top 7 Picks
MY #1 CHOICE
MY TOP PICK: Umbra Wobble Chess Set
Product Name: Umbra Wobble Chess Set
Product Description: If you're looking for a chess set with weighted pieces, you'll never go wrong with the Umbra Wobble Chess Set. The chessboard of this set has a unique construction that consists of concave squares, which prevents the pieces from getting out of position. Aside from that, the pieces are weighted with chrome metal. Whenever you make a move, the piece wobbles, which is an added motion to a very still game. We also like that it comes in a fancy box which you can send as a gift. It also makes a great coffee table set at home. This set is made of high-quality maple and walnut, polished and detailed for a sophisticated look. With this, the Umbra chess set becomes a decorative display when you're not playing. The board is 16 x 16 x 3 inches, which doesn't get cramped during a match. It also has the right weight at around 8 pounds.
Offer price: $$$
- Material Quality
- Chess Pieces
- Value for Money
The unique design of this chess set has won the 2008 How Magazine’s International Design Award.
As for some niggles, we wished that the dark squares have a darker color, which can be achieved by using darker wood like ebony. But other than that, we really don’t see any major deal-breaker for this set.
Unique wobbling design
Weighted chrome piece base
Made of real walnut and maple wood
We wish the dark squares are darker
The Jarilo Wooden Chess Set
If you’re not sold to the wobbly design of Umbra, we recommend the Jarilo Wooden Chess Set. This is an exquisite choice made of sycamore and hornbeam wood. Also, each piece is hand-carved in Europe, which gives the set a rustic and exotic look.
We really love the handsome look of this chess set, which will be a head-turner as a coffee table décor. Even though it’s made from premium wood, it’s lightly weighted for your convenience. It also comes with felt pads at the bottom to keep it in place while you are playing.
This is a large chessboard at 20 x 20 inches with the King standing tall at 4.33 inches. There are also border decorations on the board for added aesthetics. For its price, this is already a great deal for beginners.
This is a foldable chessboard with a contoured felt interior where each piece fits perfectly. It’s ideal for traveling and playing just about anywhere. It’s also lighter than Umbra for just 5 pounds.
Our only gripe is that the board wood is a little thinner, but it’s not much of a problem if you keep this set properly.
The Regency Chess Company Sheesham Set
If you’re looking for a set with Staunton pieces, you should check out the Regency Chess Company set.
The 16-inch European board is made of rich mahogany and maple with natural colors. These hardwoods make a durable and aesthetic board that is both decorative and functional during a game. The board is 0.5 inches thick with a square size of 1.52 inches.
Meanwhile, the pieces are made of solid Sheesham wood and boxwood. Each one is handcrafted and hand-finished for the best quality. The star of this set is the 3-inch King Down Head piece that weighs 22.2 grams. With this construction, this board is set to last for years.
The set includes one chessboard, 32 chess pieces, one rules booklet, a wooden storage box, and cleaning cloth. This chess set is covered by a two-year warranty to protect your purchase.
Overall, this is a world-class set that will give beginners added confidence for their games. And if you’re looking for a chess gift set for a friend, this one will not disappoint.
The only negative thing is that this set doesn’t come with a spare queen, something we would expect from a premium set. Despite that, we still think that this is a great chess set for the money.
Discovery Kingmaster Chess Set
If you want a modern touch to your chess set, we recommend the Discovery Kingmaster. This is a 12 x 12 x 10 chessboard with a built-in interactive electronic display. The electronic feature has been programmed with different levels of chess so you can up the ante your matches.
The best part here is you can save your games in this high-tech chessboard. This has a sensory chessboard that records all your moves. Also, this board has an audio feature that warns against illegal moves. It also has a built-in timer, so you no longer have to get a separate unit.
You can play with the system since the display flashes the moves of the computer. If you want to play with a friend, you turn off the computer game mode. There’s also a compartment on the board where you can store all the magnetic chess pieces.
Aside from the 72 levels of chess, this board also comes with 16 levels of checkers. This makes the chess set a dual-purpose purchase.
Take note that you need 4 AA batteries to run the computer, which is not included in the package. Aside from the chess pieces, you will also get checker pieces.
House of Chess Wooden Chess Set
For those looking for a solid chessboard, we highly recommend the House of Chess Wooden Chess set. This has a Staunton design made of ringy rosewood and maple. The pieces have added boxwood for a stylish finish. Overall, the board is 15 x 15 inches, and the King piece is 3 inches tall.
Aside from that, this chess set comes with a velvet pouch for the pieces.
Another bonus part here is the polished finish of the board, which gives it a sophisticated look. Although the board isn’t foldable, it’s one of the nicest and finest pieces we’ve ever seen. Besides, it’s made of solid wood, which will last for years and even decades.
Also, the bottom of the board and the pieces have felt layers for added traction. This set is the epitome of workmanship, which is totally for the money.
The only downside we noticed is that the wood has a strong smell of varnish upon unboxing it. But other than that, it has a gorgeous quality. In our opinion, this chess set has craftsmanship and beauty worth more than its price tag.
Husaria European Wooden Chess Set
Another chess and checker set that we like is this one from Husaria. It has a textured design made of birch board and beech wood. What we also like the most about this board is its pyrography design that uses the traditional burning patterns on the wood surface.
The side of the board has numbers and letters so that you can record the coordinates of each move. Overall, the board is 19 x 19 x 1.18 inches, with a square measurement of 1.89 inches.
Moreover, this is a foldable chessboard with felt lining where you can store the pieces. There are decorative metal clasps to keep the board closed when not in use.
Aside from the hornbeam chess pieces, there’s also a set of 12 checker pieces so you can switch to another game whenever you want. It’s also made of high-quality wood and felt bottom hand-carved in Poland.
Overall, this is a very sophisticated set that’s made with excellent craftsmanship and quality materials. Although the board surface is a little thin, it remains a sturdy option for beginners and casual players. It’s also lightweight and convenient to bring around.
Lastly, we got this set for a very low cost, so we have no major complaints considering its quality.
Wegiel Handmade Chess Set
The Wegiel Handmade Chess Set shares some design similarities with the previous set from Husaria. This Ambassador chess set is made with great detail, proof to this are the engravings on the sides, including numbers and letters to define your move coordinates.
Moreover, the board is made of birch and beech wood that provides a classic and rustic look. Everything on this chess set is handmade for the best quality possible. For its low price, that’s something you wouldn’t like to miss.
The chess pieces have felt bottoms with the King being 4.5 inches tall. Every chess piece is carved with painstaking detail paired with a pyrography design that makes each one elegantly looking. All of these pieces are carved in Poland and contained in the felt compartment with individual slots.
Overall, this chessboard is 21 inches wide and 21 inches long, with a thickness of 1.2 inches. It doesn’t come with an extra queen, though, which is a small gripe we have for this set.
This is one of the best chess set for beginners we’ve tried and owned. Although there are tiny issues in this product, we think it’s a reasonable trade-off considering its low price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a junior chessboard?
A: A junior chess board is smaller than the royal set. Its dimensions are 42 cm x 21 cm instead of 54 cm x 27 cm. This is suitable for almost all players, but most especially beginners who are intimidated by large sets.
Q: Does playing chess improve IQ?
A: A Venezuelan study suggests that playing chess can significantly increase the IQ score of players. This study was conducted to 4,000 respondents after four months of chess instruction. So if you want to be smarter, you better learn how to move those rooks and knights.
Q: Which country has the best performance in chess?
A: According to the World Chess Federation, Russia leads the rankings in terms of average player rating in chess. Ukraine, China, Armenia, France, Hungary, United States, India, Israel, and Azerbaijan fill the top 10 list.
Q: Does playing chess make you good in math?
A: Chess makes you more efficient in recognizing patterns, solving problems, and practicing foresight. However, it doesn’t necessarily make you good at math. Still, it will help improve your critical thinking so you can deal with math problems with an additional edge.
Q: Is chess challenging to play?
A: Chess is not the easiest game, but almost anyone can learn it with proper instruction, observation, and actual play. Watching other players on the game will help a lot in grasping the rules, adapting strategy, and learning the game as a whole.
Q: Are wooden chess sets ideal?
A: Wooden chess sets have a classic look and are the most preferred option among players. Since it’s made of wood, minimal maintenance is needed, not to mention that it will last for years. The wood material also adds weight to the pieces so it won’t topple easily.
The best chess set for beginners will give you the right start for the game. You should ensure that you’re getting a durable and long-lasting set so you can play dozens of games with ease. What do you think of the chess sets we reviewed here? Let us know below!