Chess Board Size and Color Guide these chess pieces fit perfectly A nice little chess set that looks balanced is a beautiful thing! Everyday we receive email and phone calls with people asking questions about chess piece & chessboard sizing, as well as color matching issues. We have provided this page as a resource for answering some of these questions. It is to be used as a guideline only, since the final selection of your chess set is a matter of subjective interpretation. Our hope is this guideline will give you a starting point from which to make a proper selection for your particular taste. Of course, you can always give us a call if you have more questions than is covered by the scope of this page. After all, some of us do like to hear ourselves talk! One of the most common questions asked by our customers is "What size chess board should I use for my chess pieces?", or while we answer this question in detail in our "chess piece sizing" guideline below, but we've included a brief synopsis here.  After all, it takes two to tango and the rules that apply to chess pieces invariably also apply for chess boards!  Another common question by our customers is,"What color chess pieces go with this color chessboard?", or visa versa.  Let's examine that question now. Visit our Chess Pieces Sizing Guideline Chess Set Sizing Guide Chess Boards - Color and Contrast

Now we enter a world as vague as the Twilight Zone! We have distilled determining the best color for your chess set down down to two basic - slightly competing - issues. Matching the pieces and chess board aesthetically or the pieces and board having high relative contrast for the ease of playing a game. Let's examine the former first and then return to understand the latter.

Matching the pieces and chessboard together for an aesthetically pleasing look is relatively simple. One usually considers the dark pieces and playing squares of each, and then match them accordingly. Most white side chess pieces, made from wood, are carved from Boxwood. With chessboards, the white square are usually made from MapleAspen or Erable. This should be of little concern. The dark side (no intentional reference here to Darth Vader) can be comprised of many different "flavors" of woods or materials. If you would like, go to our Wonderful Woods pages to learn all about the subject of woods used in manufacture of pieces and chessboards. When aesthetics is the primary concern, we usually recommend to consider where the board will be used. Let's say you have a beautiful Mahogany table that you plan to display and play on. Then obviously a Mahogany chessboard would be a good choice. Then you could choose pieces in a Honey Rosewood, or even a Crimson Rosewood, which would go with it very nicely.

A color match chess set This chess set shows our Brown & Natural chess pieces with one of our large Mahogany chessboards. As you can see the chess pieces and chessboard match nicely, in terms of color. In these sets we match the dark side chess pieces as best as possible - there is little variability with the light size and it's worth remembering the woods used for chess pieces are often not the same as the woods used for chess boards. A high contrast chess set Let's explore the visually high contrast set which provides a clear playing field for serious play. It is sometimes advantageous to have the pieces & chessboard show a characteristically high contrast in color between the pieces and the playing squares. The pieces do not match the colors of the board, but instead contrast. This makes it very easy to see the pieces and positions during a game. Figure 1-8 depicts a good example of this type of high contrast clarity. The black & white lacquered pieces are in good contrast to theWalnut & Aspen Drueke chessboard with 2 3/4" playing squares So how do I choose? Contrast or Color Match?

In summation, there is not a right or wrong way to have your perfect chess set - many folks really appreciate a matching feel, while chess players often appreciate the contrast.  This is why in tournaments they used black and white pieces with a green (!) chess board.  The best way for both worlds might be some out-of-the-box thinking.  Instead of focusing on matching the board and pieces ot each other, try to make sure the chess board matches (or strongly compliments) the room it is going to be displayed in.  This ties everything together convienantly.

If you're looking for a more direct match withtthe woods of chess boards, the closest matches will be honey rosewood with walnut, crimson rosewood (or padouk) with mahogany, ebony or ebonized with wengue, and rosewood with darker browns such as palisander or macassar.

We often sell boards and pieces as combined sets and offer the same pieces on each board so you can see what the contrast (or color-match) looks like.  The following images show the same chess set in two different woods paired with both similar and contrasting colors.

A color match comparison - Ebonized This image shows ebonized legionnaires style chess pieces on a black chess board; a close match! A high contrast comparison - Ebonized This is the same ebonized legionnaires chess set shown on a walnut board. The chess pieces pop! A color match comparison - Honey Rosewood Now see the same style in honey rosewood matching with a walnut board. A high contrast comparison - Honey Rosewood This time the honey rosewood is paired with an unusual Mazel board. Match or Contrast? Now you get to choose your perfect chess set. See our Chess Sets Shop Now See our Chess Pieces Shop Now See our Chess Boards Shop Now Tournament Sizing Standards

The sizing of chess pieces to a chess board is mostly a matter of personal taste. Tournament play is the exception to this, since very clear specifications are given by the governing bodies as to the specific sizes of pieces and boards. For example, the US Chess Federation, the governing body for chess in the United States has specific "Equipment Standards" outlined in their rules. For chess pieces they specify a King that measures 3 3/8" to 4 1/2" with a base diameter of 40-50% of the height.

For chessboard proportions the USCF specifies:

The chess pieces should fit comfortably on the chess board, being neither too crowded nor too isolated on the squares. The king and queen, for example, should be subject to easy placement on a square without touching any edge. Chess boards for standard sets should have squares of approximately 2 - 2 1/2 inches (5.08 - 6.35cm). One convenient test is that the square formed by the bases of four pawns should be about the same size as any square on their board." - The USCF's Official Rules of Chess/compiled and sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation. -4th Ed., ISBN 0-8129-2217-4, David McKay Company, INC., pgs. 165-166

See our Guide specific to chess club and tournament sizing Learn More General Chess Board Sizing Guidelines

Let's examine some options when your chess sets, boards, or your personal taste differs from the tournament standards. We shall attempt to give you specific examples for "Staunton pattern" pieces and "non-Staunton" pieces.

Below are some examples of some "Staunton pattern" sets we carry along with sizes of boards they work with. You can also use this for reference, and comparison, on sizes, colors and dimensions within the selections. Bear in mind, the four pawn guideline may not work in the case of many chessmen available, since each manufacturer makes its pieces with different styles. Consider also your personal sense of the aesthetic.

If you look at our descriptions of chess pieces you will notice that we always include the height and base diameter of the kings. This is because we have found an effective method of choosing a board for a given set of chessmen. This is called"The 75% Guideline". It's a simple little guideline that says the kings base diameter should be 75% of the playing square diameter of your chessboard. Simple! Well not really, there are always exceptions to any rule, but for the most part we find this works fairly well with most "Staunton pattern" chessmen.

In the images below you will see"The 75% Guideline" in application. This king measures 1 3/4" inch base diameter and the chessboard has playing squares measuring 2 1/4" inches. This works out so the kings diameter is about 75% of the size of the square.

See a chart for how different chess pieces 'fit' Learn More An example of the "The 75% Guideline" The king has a comfortable space around the base of the chess piece. The complete view of "The 75% Guideline" All the pieces have a lot of room to breathe - important when in the middle of a game. Too Close! A crowded chessboard. This chess set shows pieces that are larger than the"75% Guideline". As you can see the chessmen seem crowded on the board. The result is it is difficult to play a game. It also impairs anyone viewing the chessmen from having the ability to clearly appreciate the beauty of the pieces. Help! We're lost in a checkerboard sea! Conversely, the opposite is also true. This chess sett depicts much smaller pieces. In this case the pieces seem lost on the chess board. There is so much space between pieces, the positions during game play become unclear, especially during the endgame phase, when there are few pieces on the chessboard. Aesthetically the chess pieces also give the appearence of being not very impressive. CHESS SETS FROM AMERICA'S LARGEST CHESS STORE ChessUSA Your Move Chess & Games Chess USA is America's leading retailer of chess sets, chess pieces, chess boards, and more. In fact, since 1979 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 so many chess sets, chess boards, chess pieces and more, we need to be detailed! No matter what you are looking for, from chess set or tournament chess accessory, our knowledgeable staff is ready to help. Visit our Chess Store Your Move Chess & Games, America's Largest Chess Set Store. It's Your Move! Have a chess set already and just need to freshen up on the rules? We've got them! Chess Rules