Q: What Chess Products are Best for Children?

Steve Schwartz

Good question. Many people don't know what to get for a young person just starting out in chess.

And, unfortunately, there is no one answer. I will, however, do my best to discuss some of the many options available and what their advantages and disadvantages may be.

Your first decision has to be what you wish to spend on the project. There are chess sets ranging from under ten dollars to many hundreds (and even thousands!). Obviously for children, the focus is generally on what is affordable and durable. Sometimes you know if a child is going to keep playing chess, and other times it is just something they are trying out. Don't break the bank before they are ready to commit!
Certainly, one of the most popular options for kids would be a nice tournament chess set with plastic pieces, a roll-up vinyl chess board, and, maybe, a carry bag. This can be a great gift because they are regulation sized - making the pieces nice and large (and often weighted!) for the sometimes clumsy hands of a youngster. Further, the entire package would cost anywhere from ten dollars to forty or fifty at most. Finally, it's the type of set used at competitions, clubs, and even most schools - so it is great practice in getting used to the proper equipment.

The truth is, while we have literally hundreds of chess sets that you could choose, there are some special options we have available.

If you think that a combination set is starting out too strongly, or if the child does not yet know how to play chess, there are also several sets made especially for young children, including the popular "Kids Book of Chess" and "Chess Teacher"

The Kids book of Chess includes a colorful, easy to read book explaining the moves, as well as pieces and a board. The board itself lists how the pieces move to serve as a reminder mid-game.

The Chess Teacher is a larger set for smaller fingers. In this set, the base of each piece has a graphical representation of how that piece can move, once again serving a great reminder to someone who is just starting.

Browse our wide selection of Instructional Chess Sets

There are other instructional chess piece sets available - some include how the pieces move right on them, others include books - all are affordable and great options for introducing someone to the game.
Then there are the dedicated chess computers that always intrigue children. Some even speak or have sound effects. Here is an opponent that is available anytime the boy or girl wants to play, and they all have many levels of play to satisfy most kids. If they are just beginning, many will have 'fun levels' where the computer will make simple mistakes in order to help the child practice. These are great options for kids who do not have a playing partner on hand.

Browse our wide selection of chess computers

Additionally, there are smaller folding chess piece sets that allow them to carry them to and from a friend's house or school, and they can easy store away in a closet and be less likely to make a mess. These are probably the other most popular choice. They are durable and easy to store, and some look fantastic to. Many people do not want something as large as one of the tournament options, and these store in a similar way to most board games.

Browse our wide selection of chessmen of all styles

For entertainment, there are many, many figurine chess pieces that will dazzle them and make them more eager to sit down and play game after game. This is tricky because some of these chessmen are quite fragile, and further if they are just starting it is best to have them learn on traditional pieces first to help avoid confusion with how the different pieces move.

Browse our wide selection of chess pieces

With children, you really cannot go wrong. There are really no terrible options, so the number one requirement is knowing what they would like and what they would appreciate. Sure, they will love and appreciate any set they receive, but get an understanding of how much they know about chess before determining if they need an instructional chess board or something more traditional. In the end, there is no better gift because it will take them away from the world of TV and video games and into one where they are forced to think. What better gift is there?

Of course, buying a gift is always difficult. If the items are not to your total satisfaction, you may return it.
View our return policy

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? Freshen up on your chess rules then!

Your Move Chess & Games, America's Largest Chess Set Store. It's Your Move!