Chess has been known for its strategic pleasure and enlightened game play for centuries and is played by millions, including amateurs to seasonal professionals. This enthralling game is the epitome of intellectual curiosity and is absolute, devoured by chess aficionados. It is played at homes, events, tournaments and clubs with chess sets that speak volumes of its maker.
These chess sets don’t really require any fancy bells and whistles but are at times luxuriously elegant to cater to an array of clients. There are a variety of chess sets across the UK and worldwide ranging from various vendors, with designs made in Italy, India, Britain, America, Russia, Spain, and China etc. Some are bespoke and customised especially for a specific player’s interest with high-quality design and decorative elements showcasing an individual’s personal taste.
However, each set is unique in its own way due to its craftsmanship, material, weight and size. Highly skilled craftsman use the best known techniques and materials to create chess sets that are in unison with both chess boards and chess pieces. These finely crafted designs do not, however, impact the number of pieces being used in the game or how it is played. It is purely for decorative reasons, to enhance the psychological eminence of the game, with intricate motifs denoting the value of each piece. Players are known to have set aside favourites as collectables to be revealed only at special events and these can be as expensive as the Jewel Royale Chess Set, or as affordable as a Walnut Wooden Chess Set.
Variety of Chess Sets
With the domination of Jacques of London chess sets in the nineteenth century over the St. George’s design, there was a popular demand for uniformity and ease of use in the chess pieces. While there were extensive customised designs and styles, the decorative elements often broke or were difficult to play with. These included the elegant Northern Upright chess pieces, to the iconic characters of the Isle of Lewis chess sets. Even though the aesthetics were overwhelmingly lauded, the chess pieces were expensive to produce and would often tip over, or not withstand wear and tear. It is due to this that the Staunton design became exceedingly popular after being introduced in 1849.
Chess sets can be of various designs and can have all the pieces and board to meet your requirement. The choice of colour, design and material are purely the choice of the chess player. There are some wooden chess sets that come with a chess box and chess pieces but not a chess board. In this case, chess players often pick a chess board to match chess pieces. Moreover, slightly elaborate chess sets, are often for collectors who pick antique chess sets or luxury chess sets purely for decorative purposes. These are made of various materials including expensive wood, ivory, bone, stone, metal and glass to match the palette of their living room. These sets are not meant for regular play and are of high value. Other sets made of wood or plastic can determine the overall value of the chess set, and are usually for regular play, though these can increase in value if they are hand carved or intricately designed.
Woods used to make chess sets are of various kinds such a walnut, bud rosewood, ebony, maple, boxwood, sycamore, and sheesham, etc. Ebony and Bud rosewood are usually used in high-end chess sets and usually come under luxury collector’s items. They are finely crafted and have a high value in terms of quality and design. Artisans around the world craft these unique pieces either by hand or machine or in moulds if they are of metal. Handcrafted materials often include stone, ivory and high-end or bespoke wooden chess pieces. These are detailed in a fine manner
with motifs carved on each chess piece, exponentially impacting the overall cost of the set. These meticulous designs are made with an eye for detail by famous artisans from Italy and India and are of excellent quality.
How to choose the perfect chess set?
Even though it may seem hard to buy the perfect chess set that fulfils the needs of every player, it is actually doable if done right. Every player has their own requirement and wants a unique set to feature and reflect their nuances. In the paradox of choice, it is ultimately a battle to select one of the finest ones according to the player’s suitability, or one that which serves the short-term purpose. Seeing various vendors and their chess sets, it is often difficult to choose, especially if a player is not aware of the durability of the vendor's sets. For beginners, the price is most certainly a factor that should be looked into, though to trade quality over price, is often not wise. Chess sets can often end up being outrageously expensive, and at times offer no value because the ultimate aim is to play the game. However, a low cost chess set can be invaluable in terms of wear and tear and add to costs, not fulfilling the purpose what so ever. In short, leaving the choice to the chess player.
Functionality is another important aspect that needs to be looked into other than price. This contributes to the use of the chess sets for the purpose of international tournaments or travel or purely as a collector’s item. Aesthetics are important but limited to the overall purpose and usability. Chess sets can also be customised to a player’s liking but usually when one has attained a high level of skill. These are often not practical to use during games as the chess pieces are not recognisable, and the sizes aren’t accurate, causing confusion during play. More factors that a player can look at are the vendor, proportions and material.
How to find the perfect chess set for your skill?
Being an ardent chess player requires the use of a regulation chess set, with a chess board and regulation sized chess pieces. However, if the player is chess traditionalist, the proportions and cost hold very little value, and the aesthetics do come into play. It is essential to choose chess boards that meet the need and are of perfect size. These chess boards can be 20 x 20 inches with 64 squares, of black and white or shades of brown, with each chess piece being at least 75 per cent in base width of the square (2.25 inches).
Chess sets for entry level players or children can be purely ornate and do not have to be expensive. As for children, the chess sets can be themed with chess boards made of vinyl or wood. Chess pieces that depict favourite cartoon characters can also be used to intrigue children into learning the game better, or can also depict favourite books or super heroes. For travellers, the chess sets must be light in weight and must have a sturdy chess box or fold up the board to ensure the pieces stay intact. Magnetic wooden chess boards are often a good choice to carry around so that the pieces aren’t damaged.
Which Chess Sets to Buy
Even though it largely depends on the chess player, the Official Stanton Chess Company has some of the most exquisite chess sets. These include chess sets such as the Classic Walnut Style Chess Set and Walnut Box, Artisan Prestige Fierce Knight Walnut Root Chess Set, Classic Economy Anegre Chess Sets, Deluxe Fierce Knight Walnut Chess Sets, Isle of Lewis Gift Set with Pieces and Board Box Set, and Luxury Hand Made Solid Mahogany Wood Chess Box etc. These are perfect for all kinds of chess enthusiasts and are of high-quality, with simple, elegant and practical designs.