The noble pastime that is chess has been played all around the world for centuries and has been traced back as far as 600 AD. Ancient chess sets have been found in many far-flung locations around the world and the history books cite references of chess being played in India, China, and Persia before eventually spreading around the world.
Chess is something that transcends the idea of being simply a ‘game’, as it is a way to pit your own strategic wits against your adversary via a medium that is worlds apart from the digital forms of entertainment that exist today. The feel of each individual chess set-piece between your fingers provides an aesthetic quality that just can’t be matched by a smartphone or a mouse on a PC.
Chess Has Universal Appeal
Perhaps it is the accessibility of chess that makes it such a popular global pastime and with basic chess sets available these days for under £10, it’s a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. Chess may at one time in history have been the preserve of the elite, but that’s no longer the case, meaning that skill and guile is now the only prerequisite.
In this blog, we look at all of the equipment you can use to add even more enjoyment to what is already hugely fulfilling experience. From chess sets to clocks to boards, we’ll be looking at everything you can purchase to add an extra dimension to your gameplay. Sure, we might be talking about wants rather than needs, but who says you can’t indulge once in a while?
“So, What Kind of Board Do I Need?”
As we mentioned before, chess sets come in all shapes and sizes and the pastime doesn’t have to cost much at all. Chess sets with boards made from cardboard are the most basic type available and as such, you don’t need to spend much at all to get playing. If all you’re after is just getting to know the basics of the game, a chess set like this is perfectly adequate. However, if you want to add some prestige to proceedings, there are lots of ways you can do so and without spending a fortune!
For a very reasonable cost, you could get yourself a walnut and maple chess board or perhaps one made from mahogany. Spend as little as £40 or £50 and you could have a chess board that wouldn’t look out of place in palatial surroundings. Further up the scale, if you were willing to spend a little more, you could have a deluxe, high gloss Anegre, and Maple board. Your options are endless and the investment you make will last you a lifetime.
“And What About Chess Pieces? Does Quality Really Matter?”
In the same way, as we talked about the benefits of owning a high-quality chess board, good chess pieces are an integral part of quality chess sets wherever they’re found. When you spend a little extra on a well -made mahogany or maple chess board, you get to understand the true value of doing so, as you move each well-crafted piece around.
Chess pieces come in an even bigger variety than chess boards do, meaning that the world is oyster when it comes to those that match your own individual taste and style. Of course, you’ll need to buy pieces that match your board to create a fully-functioning chess set, but there are so many types to choose from that the only limit is that of your own imagination!
“So, What are Chess Pieces Made From?”
Some of the very earliest pieces found in chess sets were made from ivory, however, in the modern era, they’ve tended to be made from either plastic, metal, or more commonly, wood. They often follow the traditional white and black colouring, although that does depend very much on the chess set they belong to. There are some truly amazing wooden chess pieces in existence that really illustrate the craftsmanship it took to create them. Infact, our company along with the likes of the Regency Chess Company, are renown for the abundance of sheer quality chess sets that we retail.
There are wondrous creations like Artisan St Petersburg or King Arthur Limited Edition Sandalwood chess pieces available at the luxury end of the market. However, you don’t necessarily have to pay a King’s ransom to own chess pieces to be proud of. For example, you could adorn your chess set with a fantastic set of British Staunton Acacia & Boxwood chess pieces for a very reasonable price.
Illustrating just how differently interpreted chess pieces can be, there are unique choices available like the Lotus Series Padauk range or the Bulgarian Varna Olympiad Antique and black variety. With a natural feel between the fingers and a pleasing weight in the hand, chess pieces are just as important as any other aspect when it comes to chess sets, so whatever you choose to invest will pay you back in enjoyment every time you get it out and play.
“I’ve Seen Clocks Used in Chess. Is it Something I Need?”
In all honesty, no one actually needs a chess clock as part of their chess set, but it does add an element of excitement to the game. Chess clocks are most often used in chess competitions and leagues to ensure that each player’s moves are taken without too much delay, with all moves required to be taken within a set amount of time. Of course, for the rest of us that just play chess solely for enjoyment, this is just an optional thing, but it can add an extra dimension to how the game is played.
Having a chess clock opens up the possibility of playing ‘Blitz’ or ‘Speed Chess’ - a game that requires each player to get all of the moves carried out within a specific set time. Usually set at either three or five minutes, it’s a much faster game that calls for players to strategize much more quickly than the standard form of chess. A chess clock is also something that allows players to define their overall strategy of the game, as there are certain general rules that players should try to stick to as they’re developing their game. The 20/40/40 rule is one example of this.
For any novice chess players out there who are looking to improve their game, the rule states that you should spend 20% of your time on your opening moves, 40% of your time on your middle game, and the last 40% of your time on your end game. This basic structure is something to base your chess play on, regardless of what your overall strategy is and a chess clock will enable to you accurately track how much time you’re spending on each part of your game.
“So, How Do You Actually Use A Chess Clock?”
Ok, so when you buy a chess clock as an addition to your chess set, you’ll notice that it has two clock faces, usually encased in a wooden box (something you should try to match to the colouring of the chess set you’re buying it for) and with two buttons on the top. As the game progresses, each person pushes down the button, stopping the clock on their side.
Depending on the amount of time you set at the outset of the game, you’ll have that amount of time to fully complete the game. If one of the players then runs out of time before the game is over, the player with time left wins. The only way that this is not the case is if the opposing player does not have sufficient ‘mating material’ (an official way of saying that checkmate cannot be achieved), then the game is declared a draw.
What shouldn’t be forgotten is the added aesthetic that’s provided to chess set by a well-made chess clock. Some people use high-quality chess set as a decoration for their home, as a chess clock contributes much to the timeless feel of this most popular of non-digital pastimes.
“Do I Need a Travel Bag for My Chess Set?”
If you’re someone who’s perhaps looking to play some serious chess in organised tournaments or leagues, another item you’ll need is a good quality travel bag for your chess set. Typically speaking, chess sets are provided by tournament organisers in Europe, however, this is not always the case, so having your own is sometimes a necessity.
Another reason you might need a chess set travel bag is if you meet up with someone regularly for a game or two. Sure, you could just put it in any bag or container, but travel bags for chess sets are created for that very purpose and as such are designed to keep your pride and joy safe whilst in transit. Again, not an absolute necessity, but still a very nice complementing addition to a high-quality set.
“Is There Anything Else That Might Help?”
People live very busy lives these days, with 350,000 people commuting into London alone each and every day. One thing that could help you to enhance your love of the game is a travel chess set, which is something that allows you to enjoy the game whilst on the move. Sure, you could play on your smartphone, but we think even with a travel chess set, playing with something that allows you to feel each piece between your fingers offers a completely different chess experience.
A travel chess set is not an addition to your collection that will cost you too much either, as most types and brands are priced between £10 and £50. Once you’ve bought yours, you can place it in your briefcase or bag and make good use of the downtime you have whilst travelling. Got a train that’s delayed at Paddington? No problem, let’s have a game of chess!
Official Staunton - The World’s Finest Chess Sets
So, as you can see, the levels at which you can enjoy the timeless game of chess are many and varied and the great thing is that you can go very much at your own pace. You could learn the fundamentals of the game on a basic chess set before investing in one with a bit more quality or you could just invest in an expertly crafted, stunning-looking set for decorative purposes.
In fact, there are no rules that you are limited to just one chess set, so you can indulge to your heart’s content. So long as you enjoy the game, it doesn’t matter which path you take, as we welcome any kind of appreciation for a game that stayed with us through the ages.
At Official Staunton, we offer the finest chess sets anywhere in the world and we’re very proud of the services we provide to chess lovers everywhere. Amongst our range, you will find some of the most innovative collections available online or otherwise and our products set the benchmark in the industry for craftsmanship and quality.
If you would like to see our extensive range of premium chess sets, chess pieces, and chess boards, we recommend you visit our website www.officialstaunton.com and take a look around. Whilst there you will see why it is that Staunton Chess products are the most trusted and revered on the market. If after browsing through our wonderful collection, you require some advice or guidance, our friendly team is available on 01948 880 060 and will be delighted to help in any way they can.
We appreciate you taking the time out to read our blog. We hope that you enjoyed doing so and that it highlighted the world of possibility that exists to enhance your love of chess.
Until next time!