There has been some discussion among my friends and I as to what true chess set needs are. Understand that we are talking about what the Chess Player would need. The collector is a different story.
So, just what are the minimum needs here? And please note that I am talking about wood sets, not plastic or metal or anything else.
First, I would like to point out that there are a number of places to buy Chess sets. When talking about Staunton designed sets there are 2 sellers that stand out as the best and most consistent. Those two are The House of Staunton based in Alabama, USA and The Official Staunton Company based in London, England. Now that Official Staunton is offering free shipping they can supply a person with all his needs.
1. First we want a set that can take a bit of a beating when playing blitz or skittles. This set should not have any points or parts that can easily be chipped. Official Staunton has three sets that are great in this category. They are the British Sheesham & Boxwood Chess Pieces, the British Boxwood & Ebonized Pieces, and the Classic Golden Rosewood Chess Pieces 3.75" King.
2. Next we come to play in slower but still relatively quick time control games like Game in 45 minutes with a small increment or delay. This set still needs to be able to take the occasional tougher treatment but certainly not as much as the blitz ones. So, these pieces can have more detail to them than the others above. In this category I see a good number of sets offered by Official Staunton. The one that has my attention is the Atlantic Series. Of course the 1925 Edition, Leningrad and a few others will fill the bill nicely.
3. Then we come to what I like to use for slower or more standard time control tournament play. Of course there are a great number of sets offered, but my current favourite is the Leuchars Boxwood Edition set offered by Official Staunton. In this category you really cannot go wrong by choosing what you prefer. And there are a good number of sets available that work in this category.
4. At times we want a set that will still be legal and worthy for tournament play but not take up too much room on the table. For this I have found the smaller sets that use a 2.0" square board to be perfect. In fact I own the Official Staunton Morphy Series sets in both Ebonized and Sheesham for use on different wood colour boards. The design of this set is exquisite, in my opinion. Once again there are a large number of sets available that will work for this. Just get what you like.
5. I am not a fan of the larger sized sets and boards, and that's my personal preference. However I do realise there are those that like the larger sets. In fact I also own 2 sets for this category. My favourite is a set that Carl of Official Staunton has created as an improved reproduction. That set is the Piatigorsky set. I use that set on either a 2.375" or 2.5" square sized board.
6. As an extra, I find I like and use an analysis set with smaller pieces and board size. For this I find the 3 Inch Classic Ebonised Chess Pieces to be just about perfect. I can take this set and a much smaller board to look over games and analyse with otherwise.
Please note that I have listed what I consider a minimum number of sets. I own and use a good number more than listed above. And the reason is that I like to use different looking pieces and boards because I play Chess for pleasure and enjoyment. But my friends and I actually agree that the above list is a real or true minimum for the Player.
( Author) Ron Suarez