9 of the Best Chess Set Ideas to Check Your Mate

The chess set is an affordable and effective way of getting your grey matter working. Often seen as a hobby for the elite, the nerds or brainiacs, it gets overlooked by a lot of people for something more exciting. Originally used by royals and monarchs, “the game of kings” was a way to practice strategizing, predicting and out-thinking their opponent’s next move in real wars and challenges. What could possibly be more exciting than that?

For years the question has remained: do brainy people play chess or does playing chess make you a brainy person? It’s like the chicken and the egg dilemma—which came first? Chess has a multitude of benefits for the brain and more and more research is being done to reintroduce the game into schools, either as part of the curriculum or as an extra-mural. It is accessible, affordable and does more for developing our IQ, memory, concentration and reading skills than any smartphone or electronic device could ever do; unless you’re playing chess on it.

Do brainy people play chess or does playing chess make you a brainy person?

It doesn’t discriminate or have any restrictions, it crosses every barrier you can think of: age, race, sex, language, religion and politics. While playing chess all men, women, girls and boys are equal—until someone declares “checkmate”.

Top Chess Set Ideas for Kids and Families

1. No Stress Chess

No Stress Chess
No Stress Chess is exactly that. Even if you’ve never played the game before, you can with this chess set. The deck of cards shows you how to move the pieces according to the pictures; you just set the pieces on the board, shuffle the deck and start playing. The game is played on a regulation board but you don’t need to have previous knowledge or planning experience. What we particularly like about this set is that it can be played at several levels of difficulty and once you feel confident enough to go it alone you just flip the board over and play the “game of kings”.

Best for: Beginners right through to experienced players.

Ages: Manufacturer recommends ages 7–12, but it’s suitable for anyone wanting to learn how to play chess.

2. Heavy Tournament Triple Weighted Chess Set Combo

Heavy Tournament Triple Weighted Chess Set Combo - Forest Green
The Heavy Tournament Chess Set Combo includes 34 chess pieces, with extra queens of each color, a chess board and a very convenient carry bag.  Easy to travel with, the set meets chess tournament standards and it includes a box with tips, basic strategies and a refresher course on moving the pieces around. The sturdy carry bag has space for the pieces, the board, a clock (not included) and any other supplies you might need.

Best for: Beginners, tournament players and can be used as a travel chess set.

Ages: All ages.

3. MegaChess Giant Chess Set and Giant Chess Mat

MegaChess Large Chess Set and Large Chess Mat
An impressive 16 inches tall, this MegaChess Large Chess Pieces set comes with 32 black and white, high-density polyethylene chess pieces, which are rugged, waterproof and UV-resistant. The pieces range in size from 9–16 inches, have a base diameter of 4–5.5 inches and weigh between 10–17 ounces. The mat, 5 feet by 5 feet, is made from heavy-duty nylon and has metal grommets in each corner for the stakes, which secure it to the ground. We love it and it’s perfect for all sorts of occasions and venues: lawn games, weddings, backyard games, pubs, wineries, chess clubs, schools, hotels, resorts and campgrounds.

Best for: Recreational playing.

Ages: All ages.

4. Croove Electronic Chess and Checkers Set with 8-In-1 Board Games

Croove Electronic Chess and Checkers Set with 8-In-1 Board Games
As we’re trying to include something for everyone we thought the Croove’s Electronic Talking Chess 8-in-1 Game would be a good option for anyone wanting to learn chess, not forgetting the more advanced players. There are 12 chess modes, 30 levels and five different computer styles, which keep the challenges new and fresh. There is a built-in teaching voice system that provides verbal instruction for children and beginners—with eight brain challenges, everyone will find a game they want to play. Play with a friend or on your own; the help, explanation and legal buttons will have you playing like a pro in no time at all.

Best for: Beginners and advanced players, for travelling.

Ages: All ages, although the manufacturer recommends 9 years +

5. Best Value Tournament Chess Set

Best Value Tournament Chess Set

This tournament size chess set, which includes a chess board and chessmen, is excellent value. The low price makes it ideal for chess clubs, classrooms and schools that are making the game a part of the curriculum. Each set of chess pieces is made of the best quality plastic and are beautifully crafted. The vinyl roll-up board is black and buff and includes algebraic notation for game analysis. Ideal for younger players with grubby hands, the board can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.

Best for: Schools, chess clubs and recreational centers.

Ages: All ages.

6. Super Mario Chess Collector’s Edition Tin

Super Mario Chess Collector's Edition Tin
Who doesn’t love Super Mario? This collector’s set has Mario and Bowser battling it out for the Mushroom Kingdom, this time using the classic strategy of chess. The 32 hand-painted playing pieces include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Toad, 1-Up Mushroom, Bowser, Bowser Jr, Birdo, Goomba, Hammer Bros and Magikoopa who make learning chess a whole lot more fun. Whether you’re only going to be displaying it or using this one-of-a-kind chess set, it’s the perfect gift.

Best for: Super Mario fans and chess lovers.

Ages: Definitely all ages.

7. Royal 36 European Wood International Chess Set

Royal 36 European Wood International Chess Set

This chess set is a beautifully detailed collectable, carved of solid hornbeam wood. Each chess piece is individually handcrafted and the folding birchwood chess board stores your pieces inside when you’re not playing. This classic 36 piece set is lightweight and compact to store, plus it’s made from renewable plantation wood.

Best for: Older, possibly more experienced players.

Ages: 5 years + but it is suggested that older children and adults will take better care of the set.

8. Chess Junior – Chess Set For Kids

Junior Chess Set For Kids

This Junior Chess Set for Kids was specially developed to make learning the basics easy, fun and relaxed. The chessboard comes as a nine-piece jigsaw puzzle and includes 12 learning games for beginners. Advanced players can also use the many tips included. A huge plus is that a game lasts for 20 minutes maximum, so boredom can’t set in. This is a great gift for children aged between 5–8, with older kids and adults being able to use it too.

Best for: Learning to play the game in a fun and accessible way.

Ages: 5–8 years, but anyone can use it.

9. 7” Round SouvNear Premium Travel Chess Board with Drawer

7” Round SouvNear Premium Travel Chess Board with Drawer

Only seven inches in diameter, the limited stock round chess set is one of the best for travelling with. It’s portable and compact and the chess pieces have their own slots so there’s no rattling or lost chessmen. An excellent gift for chess enthusiasts because of its unique and elegant appearance. It’s handmade using Indian Rosewood, one of the most beautiful natural grain hard woods; if looked after it can become a family heirloom.

Best for: The chess connoisseur and travelling player.

Ages: All ages but probably best for someone who’s going to take good care of it.


Feature image courtesy of Flickr,  CarbonNYC [in SF!].

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