Standard Chess Board Size for Tournaments

One important aspect of chess tournaments is the standardization of the board size. This ensures fairness and consistency across different matches.

But what’s the standard chess board size for tournaments?

The United States Chess Federation (USCF) requires a square size of 2 to 2.5 inches (5.08 to 6.35 cm). For World Chess Federation (FIDE) tournaments, each board square should be 5 to 6 cm.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into all things related to chess board dimensions in tournaments, so let’s get to it!

Standard Chess Board Dimensions and Basics

The chess board is made up of 64 squares in an 8×8 grid. Each square is either black or white, creating a distinctive checkerboard pattern.

The pieces are set up at the beginning of the game in a specific arrangement. The white pieces are placed on the first and second ranks and the black pieces on the seventh and eighth ranks.

The dimensions of a standard chess board are 20 inches by 20 inches, but it varies depending on the region and type of tournament.

Standard Chess Board Size for Tournaments

The USCF and FIDE are two of the most prominent organizations that govern the rules and regulations of chess tournaments. Both share a common goal of promoting and organizing chess events.

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However, there are slight but significant differences in their standards for the board size.


The USCF requires a square size of 2.25 inches. The board is approximately 18 by 18 inches.


FIDE tournaments mandate a square size of 1.97 to 2.36 inches for regular tournaments and 2 inches for World Championship play. The FIDE-approved board is approximately 15.75 by 15.75 inches.

The difference in size may be small, but it can have a significant impact on the overall feel and look of the board.

The European Chess Union

Like the FIDE, the European Chess Union also requires a chess board size of 15.75 by 15.75 inches.

In other words, the square size can be anywhere from 5 to 6 cm.

The English Chess Federation

When it comes to the English Chess Federation, you’ll find that it follows FIDE measurements, too.

Each square needs to be 5 to 6 cm, with an overall chess board size of 40 x 40 cm.

The Old Soviet Union Tournament

Before the Soviet Union became Russia, chess tournaments that were played there also had a chess board size requirement.

6 cm was the standard size for squares to enable players to compete in chess games.

Chess Board and Piece Tournament Guidelines

You can’t choose chess pieces randomly for tournaments. Each piece should be proportioned with the board to maintain consistency and balance.

Here are some guidelines for the chess board and piece dimensions:

1. Chess Pieces

The height of the king should typically be between 3.74 inches to 4.25 inches. The height of the other pieces should be proportional to the king’s height.

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Another way to check if your pieces have the right dimensions is to measure their bases. The base of a king has to be 1.5 inches to 1.7 inches in diameter, while that of a pawn should be about two-thirds the diameter of the king’s base.

2. Proportions

If you’re not good with proportions and can’t tell from a glance, there’s a surefire way to know whether or not your chess pieces match the size of your board.

As a general rule, the diameter of the king’s base should be about 75% to 80% of the width of a square on the chess board.

For example, if the square is 2 inches long and wide, the king’s base should be about 1.5 inches in diameter. Since all the other pieces are automatically proportionate to the king’s size, they’ll all follow suit in being suitable for the size of the board.

3. Material

Chess pieces and boards can be made from different materials, including wood, plastic, metal, and glass. Your choice can affect the weight, durability, and appearance of the pieces and board.

However, it’s best to play it safe and check out your specific tournament’s guidelines before buying a chess set.

For example, the FIDE requires all players in World or Continental top-level competitions to bring wooden chess boards. Furthermore, they must be made of good-quality wood to be sturdy enough.

On the other hand, it’s okay to use plastic or even card boards in other FIDE-registered tournaments, although wood is still preferable. In all cases, the material of your chess board should be strong enough to ensure the pieces don’t get knocked over easily.

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As for magnetic chess boards, these are highly unlikely to be featured in competitions and tournaments.

Should You Bring Your Chess Board to Tournaments?

Tournament organizers often require players to bring their own chess sets and clocks. So, before you buy a chess set, especially if it’s a rather expensive one, make sure that it meets the standards and regulations.

You don’t want your hard-earned money to go to waste, not to mention that it’ll be such a hassle to start looking for a new one once again. This might stress you out if the date of your tournament is quickly approaching and you still haven’t purchased a suitable chess set.

So, it’s best to get in touch with the tournament’s organizers to get the specific requirements. Or, you may find those if you visit the contest’s official website.

There’s also the option to visit chess forums online and ask experienced chess players for advice on the best chess set to buy for a specific tournament.


Knowing the standard chess board size for tournaments is an important piece of information for any serious chess player.

To summarize, you need a chess board with squares that are 2 to 2.5 inches in width and length to compete in most tournaments.

We advise you to double-check your tournament’s requirements for the chess board’s dimensions to compete with confidence!