Chess Sets Recommended For Tournament Level Play

Beginners and casual or occasional players of the game of Chess will typically make do with Chess sets that are inexpensive, undersized, light, and flimsy. But serious players, accustomed to the more demanding environment of tournament level play, invariably feel the need to invest in tournament level sets that conform to certain minimum design standards and dimensional specifications - even when they are merely practicing.

The playing experience

There is little doubt that much of the pleasure derived from the Chess-playing experience, comes from the feel of the Chessmen and how they glide across the Chessboard. Once a player has experienced the feel of playing with a tournament-level set, it becomes exceedingly difficult for him or her to compromise on that experience.

But for tournament players, whether they are playing at club, city, district, state, national or international level, there’s a lot more that rides on the quality of the Chess set being used, than just their playing experience.

Tournaments: high-stakes environments

After all, beginners or casuals playing with their flimsy Chessmen on low-quality boards often have pieces topple over at the slightest touch or waft of breeze, which can destroy an entire game. Typically, they don’t even bat an eyelid before gathering up the pieces and restarting the game.

But such a scenario would be unimaginable during the course of serious tournaments, which are typically held in a high-pressure, high-stakes environment, where a lot more rides on not just every game played, but literally, every move made.

Prescribed dimensional specifications

It is therefore absolutely imperative that the sets used during these occasions be of a certain minimum size and possess an adequate degree of heft and stability. While different tournaments have different standards, the prescribed range of dimensions of Chess sets for tournament level play is as follows:

A. The dimensions of the Chessboard should be anywhere between 18” x 18” and 24” x 24”
B. The dimensions of each square on the board should be between 1.75” x 1.75” and 2.4” x 2.4”
C. The height of the King should be between 3.5” and 4.5”
D. The base diameter of the King should be between 1.35” to 1.85”

The base diameter of the King should ideally be 78% of any one side of a single square on the board, though a range of 75-80% is acceptable.

Finally, all tournament-level chessmen should be weighted, double-weighted, or even triple weighted for added stability.

Establishment of a global design standard

The game of Chess has been a global phenomenon since medieval times and International Chess tournaments became commonplace as early as the 17th century.

However, given that Chessmen designs varied widely from region to region, there was a felt need to standardize Chessmen designs globally to ensure all players could easily recognize the different pieces.

The 1850s saw the emergence of the Staunton line of Chessmen, which quickly became established as the global design standard for Chessmen around the world.

While a large number of design variants still prevail around the world, almost all the variants used in tournament- level play are loosely based on the Staunton design.

Get your own tournament-level Chess Set

We offer faithful reproductions of a wide range of globally famous tournament-level Chess sets. Our sets adhere to the highest quality of material and craftsmanship, available at incredibly reasonable price points. Some of these include

3.6" Professional Staunton Chess Pieces in Golden Rosewood/ Boxwood 3.6" Professional Staunton Chess Pieces in Ebonised Boxwood/ Boxwood
3.9" Tournament Wooden Chess Pieces in Golden Rosewood/ Boxwood 3.9" Tournament Wooden Chess Pieces in Ebonised Boxwood/ Boxwood
3.8” Reproduction of The W.T. Pinney Staunton Chess Pieces in Weighted Boxwood or Rosewood