Widely used in chess clubs, events, and competitions, tournament chess sets are designed and built based on the standards outlined by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
In this article, we set out to find the best tournament chess set. We’re looking at Chess House’s Championship Chess Set, Quality Regulation Chess Set, and Weigel’s Tournament Chess Set.
Let’s find out what makes these perfect for tournament matches and what you should consider when looking at other sets!
What Is the Standard for Tournament Chess Sets?
Below are the regulation sizes for FIDE-registered tournaments as outlined by FIDE. Keep in mind, however, that standards can vary depending on the country and tournament organizers.
- 8-inch board with an 8×8 grid and 1.9 to 2.3-inch squares
- 7-inch King
Each chess piece has a recommended height, but it can vary up to 10% from the standard set measurements. Still, the King should always be the tallest piece. Staunton is the recommended style for all chessmen.
Possible chessboard materials include wood, plastic, and even card, as long as they follow the suggested measurements.
That being said, wooden boards are the most appropriate for higher-level competitions like the World Chess Championship.
Types of Tournament Chess Sets
Before we dive deep into the options for tournament chess sets, let’s look at the types of sets you might encounter.
Club Chess Sets
As the name implies, club chess sets are used primarily in chess clubs. They’re usually bought in bulk by schools and other institutions.
These sets are typically inexpensive and made of plastic, paper felt, cardboard, and vinyl. They’re great for any type of player, especially beginners who might not be ready to invest in pricier sets yet.
Since tournaments usually involve using more than one chess board, organizers and clubs have to purchase many sets. This is why you’ll find that a lot of manufacturers offer relatively inexpensive sets that fit FIDE’s standards for tournament use.
Some of these club chess sets are also portable. They come with roll-up vinyl boards that fit snugly into any pouch with the plastic chess pieces.
Weighted Chess Sets
Weighted chess sets are pricier as they’re the more premium option. They’re heavier than club chess sets to withstand table movements. They’re used for both high-stakes championships and small tournaments.
These are great options for clubs, organizations, or individuals who want to take the gameplay to another level. Upgrading to weighted tournament chess sets is a great investment since they typically withstand more wear and tear and can last longer than club chess sets.
Choices for Best Tournament Chess Sets
With the market’s wide variety of tournament chess sets, we rounded up three of the best choices to help give you an idea about what you should be looking for.
1. Championship Chess Set Combo
Chess House’s Championship Chess Set Combo is a great example of a weighted tournament chess set. It’s modeled after the traditional European design used in several International chess matches.
The 19-inch chessboard is made of sturdy mahogany wood with a veneer finish. You have a few color options for the board: Mahogany, Walnut, and Black. You can also opt for a board without coordinates and a Padauk board with rounded corners.
This set has a 3.7-inch tall King. Clear-stain boxwood is the stain used for the lighter pieces while ebonized boxwood is the finish for the darker pieces. This makes them look a lot like genuine ebony. However, you can also choose a browner shade—Acacia—for the dark pieces.
Unfortunately, the Championship Chess Set Combo doesn’t come with a box, but Chess House offers a wide selection of wooden treasure boxes sold separately.
2. Quality Regulation Chess Set
This Quality Regulation Chess Set is also from Chess House and is the more affordable option. It’s an excellent choice for any chess event as it complies with current tournament standards.
It has a 20-inch portable roll-up vinyl board and plastic chess pieces with felt paper bases.
This set is perfect for chess clubs that are just getting started or chess tournament organizers on a tight budget, as Chess House offers bigger discounts on this set for bulk purchases.
It retails for around $20, but don’t let that price tag fool you; this set is still quite robust! It has been used as a staple tournament chess set in several championships, including the US Open.
3. Wegiel Tournament Chess Set
Last but not least is the Wegiel Tournament Chess Set. This set is the in-between option in terms of build material and price tag. It also follows tournament recommendations with a 21-inch board and standard-sized wooden chess pieces.
While the Wegiel Tournament Chess Set isn’t as high-end as the Championship Chess Set Combo from Chess House, it does offer weighted pieces at less than half the price. However, expect minor flaws, like visible wood grain and imperfect staining.
In addition, even though the pieces are heavier than your usual club chess sets, they’re not triple-weighted like most premium tournament sets. They can still fall quite easily.
That said, this set still brings unique features that both previous sets don’t have: the board folds in half and acts like a case where you can store all of the pieces after playing.
Ultimately, the best tournament chess set heavily depends on personal preference! As long as the board and pieces follow recommended standards, they can be used in chess events.
To find the perfect one for you, assess what kind of chess set you’re looking for, including the size and the intended function. The beginner-friendly and budget-friendly club chess sets are your best bet for school clubs and smaller organizations.
For a more professional upgrade, you can go for weighted tournament chess sets. These can elevate your match experience with a premium-grade board and pieces.
Either way, you’ve got many options at varying price points to choose from!