We have been serving the chess community from our New York chess store since 1978.

How to buy chess sets - options and considerations

 At ChessUSA, we have over 2,000 products – from chess sets and chess boards to chess computers and other games, such as backgammon, dominos, and mah-jong. 

Sometimes, that makes it just a little bit difficult to find the perfect gift. Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to buy a chess set for a friend or loved one and find that there are over a hundred different options. It certainly does not help when the person buying the chess set has little or no knowledge about chess or chess sets. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to help making your chess game (or other game) purchase a little bit easier.  We have created a list of many of the types of chess sets, chess equipment, or other games that people are often looking for. Not only do we give some background in to how to start your search for the perfect gift, but we also give tips on how to find the perfect chess gift.

If you're looking for a chess board, we have a full guide for helping you choose the right one. You can see the whole guide here:

Our Chess Board Buying Guide (no chess pieces)


I Want to Buy Chess Sets!
Traditional Chess Sets (chess pieces and chess board)
Portable Chess Sets (small and magnetic chess sets)
Tournament Chess Sets (vinyl Chess board and plastic chess pieces)
Teaching Chess Sets (great chess sets for those new to the game)
Folding Chess Sets (portable chess sets with storage for chess pieces)
Theme Chess Sets (chess pieces for display and conversation pieces)

I Want to Buy Chess Computers or Chess Software!
Hand-held Chess Computers (travel electronic chess sets)
Tabletop Chess Computers (larger electronic chess sets for use at home)
Chess Playing Software (play chess against the best chess programs around)
Chess Teaching Software (learn hot to play chess on your laptop or PC)

I want to buy Chess Tournament Supplies!
Chess Clocks (analog and digital chess timers)
Tournament Chess Sets (vinyl chess board and plastic chess pieces)

I Want to buy Something Else!
Multi-Game Chess Sets (chess, backgammon, and more all in one)
Backgammon Sets (attache style backgammon sets)


Traditional Chess Sets (Chess Pieces and Chess Board)

Traditional Chess Sets (also known as Staunton Chess Sets) are one of the most popular types of chess set that people are looking for. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more difficult to find the correct set. Often, the chess pieces and chess boards are bought separately. To make it easier to match the correct chess board with a set of chess pieces, we offer the chess boards as “options” with any of the set of chess pieces. This saves time in that it puts all of the chess board options in one place.  Further, we have already matched up the appropriate size chess boards for the chess pieces.

Staunton Chess Sets come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.  While they often come as a flat chess board and chess pieces, they also sometimes come as a folding chess set that includes storage. Both of these are popular options, but you will often find the quality of the pieces are better in flat sets.  You can find out more about the folding staunton sets further down on this page, but we have included a few that have more unique or high quality chess pieces in this section of our guide.

Still, buying a Staunton chess set may still seem confusing and overwhelming. Chess pieces come in a variety of sizes and woods, with prices ranging from thirty dollars to several hundred dollars. To this end we have created a number of introductory Staunton chess sets – they are the same weighted, hand-carved chess pieces that we sell, but already matched up with a suitable chess board for one price.

Buy a Chess Set - Traditional


If you would like to try your hand at buying a traditional style chess set, click the link below. The chess pieces are categorized both by the type of wood as well as the size of the king.

Browse our Staunton Chess Sets
Browse out Folding Staunton Chess Sets

We have several pre-packaged chess sets in our Best Sellers sections, sorted by price.

Portable Chess Sets (small and magnetic chess sets)

Portable or Magnetic Chess Sets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Some of the most important issues to consider would be: Will this chess set be an adequate size? Will there be storage for the chess pieces?  Can I save my position and come back to the game later without removing all of the chess pieces?  

One of our most popular magnetic chess sets is the Drueke Magnetic Chess Set. What makes this chess set special is that not only do the magnetic chess pieces hold particularly well, but the chess set comes with a lid so that you can save your position. Most chess sets are folding, meaning that if you wish to pause your game, you may have to take all of the chess pieces off the chess board.

Another popular choice is our deluxe wallet chess set. This chess set features chess pieces that are flat as opposed to 3-dimensional. The chessboard itself is similar to a folding checkbook in size, meaning that it easily be stored in a coat pocket. Once again, because of the style of chess pieces you can also save your position.   

Buy a Chess Set - Travel or Magnetic


If you would like to see all of our small portable and magnetic chess sets, click below:

Browse our Portable Chess Sets

Tournament Chess Sets (vinyl chess board and plastic chess pieces - often used for chess clubs and schools)

If you are looking for a chess set to use for a chess club or chess tournament, look no further than our tournament chess sets. Traditionally, chess players do not use wood chess pieces or a wood chess board when playing in a tournament or chess club. There are two reasons for this. First, a tournament sized chessboard is quite large and unwieldy. Second, you do not know who you will be playing with. No one would want to risk that their opponent may not respect their nice, hand carved wood chess pieces!

Instead, proper tournament supplies consist of a roll-up chess board and plastic chess pieces. Our most popular tournament chess set is our PTCS. This is an affordable chess set that includes solid plastic chess pieces and a roll-up vinyl chessboard that is available in several colors. Our second most popular chess set is our WTCS. This chess set looks exactly the same as the PTCS, but the chess pieces have metal weights in their bases for a heavier feel.

There are several other tournament chess sets available. These sets may be slightly larger, or have a different mold to have more of the look and feel of an expensive chess set while still being affordable. To see all of our tournament chess sets, click below:

Browse our Tournament Chess Sets

Teaching Chess Sets (great chess sets for those new to the game)

If you are looking to get a chess set for someone who is new to the game, there are several instructional chess sets available. These chess sets are helpful in that they are not only a fully functional chess set, but they also have aids to remind you how the chess pieces move.

If the new chess player is younger, you may want to consider the Kids Book of Chess. This chess set includes a visual description of how the pieces move on either side of the chessboard as a reference. In addition, it comes with a chess book that colorfully explains the game and how the pieces move.

If the new chess player is older, the Chess Teacher may be right for you. This chess set is larger, with no written out descriptions. However, it has all the moves shown directly on the base of the chess pieces themselves. It is a good reference for players who are aware of the rules for chess but need a reminder on what chess piece does what.

Buy a Chess Set - Instructional and Teaching


To see our entire selection of teaching chess sets, click below:

Browse our Instructional Chess Sets

Folding Chess Sets (portable chess sets with storage for the chess pieces)

Folding Chess Sets are one of the most popular styles of chess sets used as gifts. These chess sets include their own chess pieces and have compartments to store the chess pieces when not in use. This makes folding chess sets ideal for people who may not have the space to leave a chess set out on display.

Folding chess sets come in a large variety of sizes, usually from as small as 10” to as large as 21”. They also come in a number of woods and styles. Due to their variety we recommend you browse our complete selection if you are interested in a folding chess set, however, we have chosen some of our more popular and unique folding chess sets to highlight.

The Senator is a popular folding chess set due to its nice size added to its unique styling. Unlike many folding chess sets with relatively simple style chess pieces, the Senator has a unique eastern European style in the design of both of the chess pieces and the chess board itself. If you are looking for a folding chess set that is also a bit unusal or unique, the Senator may be for you.

Another popular style of chess set are the folding book chess sets. These close with a strong magnet, and when stored up right give the appearance of the bindings of a book, and is the perfect size to be stored on a bookshelf.  Also, these chess sets are very affordable, making them a favorite every year.

Buy a Chess Set - Folding and Portable


These are only some examples of many folding chess sets.  Take the time to browse our entire selection to find the chess set right for you.

Browse our Folding Chess Sets

Figurine Chess Sets (chess pieces for display and conversation chess sets)

Choosing a theme chess set is probably the most difficult of all. Unfortunately, they are also the most difficult chess sets to offer a recommendation for. Figurine chess sets come in virtually every theme, from Crusaders and the American Civil War to Aliens and Dinosaurs. Often these sets are for the chess pieces only with the chess board as an option. Some of these chess boards provide storage for the chess pieces, and others carry a theme, such as a medieval fortress.  It all comes down to personal preference.

Another consideration is the material. Most figurine chess pieces are made out of polystone, which is a stone and resin mix. However, there are also figurine chess pieces made from pewter, crushed marble, alloy metals, and occasionally even wood. While metal chess sets will be the most durable, the popular polystone chess pieces are generally affordable and extremely well detailed that hold up to handling remarkably well.

If you do not know what theme chess set to go with, t/hink about the interests of the person outside of chess. Do they like Animals? History? Fantasy? Sports ? We have categorized our theme chess sets to make the hunt a little bit easier.

Alternately, sometimes people are looking at theme chess pieces to accurately represent traditional chess pieces but in a figurine form. The most popular option for this would be the medieval theme chess pieces. Here you will find knights, crusaders, and more, where the king is a king, the bishop is a bishop, and the knight is a knight.

Buy a Chess Set - Theme and Figurine


Of course, these are just a few options among many. Your best bet may be to browse all your options. To see them, click below:

Browse our Theme Chess Sets

Hand-held Chess Computers (travel electronic chess sets with an LCD display or peg chess pieces)

Purchasing a hand-held chess computer can be a daunting task. There are many different styles and brands, with a wide range of pricing. First, you must decide between LCD and peg style chess computers.

The LCD style chess computers are generally smaller. There are no chess pieces and the chessboard is on screen.   The chess pieces are moved by either a touch pad or a stylus pen.  The advantage of this style is that it is small and easily portable, and there are no small chess pieces to lose.  The disadvantage is that you lose the three-dimensional feel of chess, and the screen can be difficult to see, especially after playing for a long period of time.  

The peg style chess computers maintain the three dimensional feel of chess.  There are small peg chess pieces are moved around the board in the same manner of the larger, pressure sensory chess boards.  While still portable, these chess sets are generally slightly larger than the LCD chess computers, and although there is storage, there is the risk of losing a chess piece.

For an LCD style chess computer, we would recommend the Saitek Maestro.  It is a chess computer that can play both novices and experts, and has a blue blacklight that can aid in contrasting the chess set and take some of the strain off of your eyes.

For a peg style chess computer, the recommendation is the Saitek Expert Travel.  This chess computer is the most powerful portable electronic chess game available, but can also be set to play beginners as well.  Also, the chess pieces are larger than those found in other peg chess computers.

Of course, there are many other handheld chess computers available. Click below to see them all:

Browse our Hand-Held Chess Computers

Tabletop Chess Computers (larger electronic chess sets to be used at home)

Like hand-held chess computers, finding the right tabletop chess computer can be difficult.  In general, tabletop chess computers have more similarities than differences.  Many of them have the same size and style of chess pieces and chessboard. All have the ability to take back moves, or receive a hint.  All chess computers have many levels and can play novices and experts alike.  While there are many gimmicks that made chess computers different from each other, the main difference is the speed of the processor.  Although all computers can play at an expert level, a $40.00 chess computer may take several minutes to make the same move that takes a $100.00 chess computer a few seconds.

There are two types of tabletop electronic chess sets.  The most common are pressure sensory chess computers.  In these chess computers, in order to move your chess pieces you push down on the piece you are moving, and then push down again on the square you are moving to.  A display screen will show your computer opponents move, which you will carry out in the same manner as how you move your own.

The second type of tabletop electronic chess set are autosensory chess computers.  These are much less common and generally more expensive than pressure sensory models.  Instead of pushing the chess piece down, you can simply lift up your piece and put it down on the square you would like to move it to.  A sensor records the move automatically, so no pushing is necessary.  Just be careful not to slide the chess pieces across the chessboard!

While there are a number of minor differences between different models, In general, the rule of thumb is to get the strongest and fastest chess computer for your budget.  If you get a chess computer that is too weak, you may find that you will outgrow it and that it is no longer able to challenge you in a game that takes a reasonable amount of time.  The more powerful the chess computer, the more room there is for you to continue to be challenged as you improve.

If you are looking for an entry level chess computer, we would recommend the Talking Chess Trainer.  This is an affordable chess set that is good for a casual game of chess or for someone who is not sure how they will like to play against a computer opponent.  Not only does it give you hints, but it can warn you when your chess pieces are in danger.  It also talks, so you do not have to rely on the small display screen.

A stronger chess computer is the Novag Obsidian.  This is one of the fastest chess computers available, meaning that nomatter how much you improve, it will always be able to provide a challenge.  It also has coordinate lights on the rank and file of the chessboard to guide which chess piece needs to be moved and where.

There are many other chess computers available with a number of specialized features, such as additional display screen, the ability to play checkers as well as chess, oversized chess pieces, and more.  You can see all of the chess computers below:

Browse all of our Tabletop Chess Computers

 Chess Playing Software (play chess against the best chess programs around)

While there are many types of chess software out there, the reality is they are all so strong that they can beat practically anyone.  To this end, although there are several different chess programs available, you very well may not need every one, or even the best one.

The strength of the chess playing software varies depending upon the computer you are using.  They are virtually always vastly more powerful than chess computers.  The strongest programs are known as “Deep” programs, and are usually more expensive.  These are only for dual core computers and are often not necessary unless you are looking to analyze games you have already played.

One of the most popular pieces of chess software is Fritz.  This is the flagship chess program from chessbase.  It is easy to use, and most other chess playing programs either share the same interface or can be loaded in to fritz.  It also has some extra added features that some of the other chess playing programs do not have.

Browse all of our Playing Chess Software

 Chess Teaching Software (learn how to play chess on your laptop or PC)

It is often very difficult to find the right chess training software.  There are dozens of titles, many of which are very specific in scope.  Generally, they consist of lessons on that topic and then a number of exercises to test your knowledge.  If you know what type of chess opening or strategy you would like to practice, there is likely a specific program for it.

If you are looking for something more generalized, you may be interested in chess mentor.  This is a no frills chess training software that covers a wide variety of techniques.  It also has a number of modules that can be added for additional lessons.  These programs are particularly effective because it not only tells you what whether your move is right or wrong, but why.  These are a number of different types of chess mentor collections from basic to advanced, but the most popular is the comprehensive chess course, that will teach you a bit of everything.

For children, the choice is much easier. There are a few great chess training programs for kids. These chess programs use metaphors and analogies to help teach the game. These programs are much more interactive and fun than some of the more dry training software, and are often used by chess coach’s as a supplement to regular chess lessons. The two most popular are Fritz & Chesster, and Dinosaur Chess.

To view all of the chess training software,  click below

Browse all of our Chess Training Software

 Chess Clocks (both analog and digital chess timers)

Buying Chess Clocks is not as difficult as you may think. Although many people are unfamiliar with chess clocks, that are important aspect of a tournament game (or a game where you have a really slow chess partner!).

In chess, you time by total game time, not by move. Therefore, you may spend 1 minute on one move, then 15 minutes on the next.  You can use up your time any way you want, but if you run out before your opponent – you lose.

There are two types of chess timers.  Analog Chess Clocks are the traditional style that have been used for decades.  These clocks have two faces with a standard 12 hour clock on them.  You simply divide the total playing time in half between the two players.  As the time runs towards the hour, a red flag will raise.  When time is up, the red flag falls, and you have lost on time.  These chess clocks can be either wind-up or battery operated.

Digital Chess clocks have been growing in popularity in recent years.  They offer all the advantages of the analog clocks, but allow for many more different timing options.  In addition, digital chess timers have large LCD displays that make it easier to see the amount of time remaining.  If you plan to play a lot of fast-paced games, a digital chess clock is a must.  While some digital chess clocks can be very expensive, many are not much more than analog chess timers.

If you are looking for an analog chess clock, we would recommend the battery operated chess timer.  The face is somewhat larger than the wind-up, and more importantly it has a second hand that will better show those last seconds tick away.

If you are looking for a digital chess clock, the Saitek Competition Game Clock is a good choice.  This electronic timer gives you everything you need in a sturdy design.  It is ideal for both tournaments and blitz games.  While it does not have some of the additional timer functions of other clocks, the vast majority of these are unlikely to be used by most causal chess players.

See all of our chess clocks below:

Browse all of our Chess Timers

Multi-Game Chess Sets (chess, backgammon, and more - all in one)

Sometimes a chess set isn’t enough. When you want more than just a chess set, you look to the multigame chess sets. These will include other games such as checkers, backgammon, Chinese checkers, cribbage, dominos, and more. These are ideal as a gift for someone who likes more than just chess, or someone where you feel a chess set alone is not enough.

Although there are sometimes some very unusual game combinations, the most common combination chess sets include chess, checkers, and backgammon. One of the most popular of these is our 45-024 Aluminum Chess and Backgammon Chess Set. It has very strong magnets, so the chess pieces sit tightly on the chess board. This chess set also has individual slot storage for all the backgammon and chess pieces.

Some of the multigame chess sets have many more games. One such of these is the 45-004 Walnut 7 in 1 Chess Set. This chess set has wood chess pieces on a nicely sized chessboard. It also includes backgammon, checkers, dominos, cards, poker dice, and cribbage.

There are many multi-game chess sets as well as multigame chess tables, with a wide variety of game combinations.  Click below and see them all!

Browse our Multi-Game Chess Sets
Browse our Multi-Game Chess Tables

Backgammon Sets (attache style backgammon sets)

Here at ChessUSA, we sell much more than just chess sets. While the chess sets may be most popular, we carry a wide range of other games including dominos, cribbage, mah-jong, poker supplies, Go, and much more. One of the most popular of these other games are backgammon sets.

Like chess sets, buying a backgammon set can be tricky. There are many backgammon sets in many different styles and most come in both 15” and 18” sizes. Luckily, each backgammon set comes with everything you need – the backgammon pieces, cups & die, and board itself are all included.

Many backgammon sets are made of vinyl, but we also carry several other materials. Popular among them are backgammon sets made from suede, leather, wood, or aluminum. The most popular is wood, because unlike vinyl, suede, or leather there is no stitching involved. Our most recent additions are backgammon sets with a cork playing surface. This is the traditional playing surface for tournament backgammon.

Of couse, there are so many different sets it ultimately becomes a choice of personal preference. Click below to see all of our backgammon sets.

Browse all of our Backgammon Sets

CHESS SETS FROM AMERICA'S LARGEST CHESS STORE
Chess USA is America's leading retailer of chess sets, chess pieces, chess boards, and more. In fact, for 30 years Your Move Chess & Games has been the leading retailer of all things chess! Not everyone can view the hundreds of chess sets we have on display in our New York Chess Store, which is why we strive to have the most detailed chess website anywhere on the internet. After All, with over 2,000 chess sets, chess boards, chess pieces, chess computers and more, we need to be detailed! No matter what you are looking for, from chess set or chess program, our knowledgable staff is ready to help.

Have a Chess Set already, and just need to freshen up on the rules? We've got them - just click here


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