This is part three of my first annual Christmas chess player’s wish list. In this article, I’m reviewing chess equipment and related products (chess boards, chess sets, chess clocks, and so on). If you want to see suggestions for chess books, check out part 1 (recently published books) and part 2 (older chess literature).
I’m making this list in the hopes of helping out the non-chess-player who is doing Christmas shopping for his/her favorite chess player. If you’re really not familiar with chess, but you want to know what would be a fun and interesting gift for a chess player you know, take a look at my recommendations below. Just click on one or more of the links to finish your Christmas shopping.
I make these recommendations based on my own interests. I’ve been playing chess for over fifty years, and these are all things I would love to receive in my stocking this Christmas.
You should know that most of the links in this article are affiliate links, that is, the links are either links to my chess store (links to my Amazon product pages) or are affiliate links to other web pages. If you click on those links and make a purchase, I’ll make a commission. Unless otherwise noted, you should assume I’ll get paid a commission if you click the link and buy something. It’s a great way to support Chess Strategies Blog! 🙂
This category just includes chess pieces without a board. If you want a board and set combination, I have some recommendations further down the page.
- The Championship Series Chess Set – 3.75-inch King
- For a really nice set of pieces, check out the selection available at the House of Staunton. The set I’m recommending is a very nice wood set at a reasonable price. I’ve paid more money for lower quality sets, so I can highly recommend this set as a great bargain. The pattern for these pieces is the one that has been used for international chess tournaments for years, including World Championship events. The King is 3-3/4 inches tall, (perfect size) the pieces are heavily weighted, and have billiard cloth bottoms.
- The London Series Timeless Chess Set – 4.0″ King
This next set is for the chess player with a budget to match his discerning tastes. It’s my personal favorite because I have a nearly identical set that was purchased by my grandfather back in the 1940’s. I still use it regularly. This set has a 4-inch king, with a 1-3/4 inch base. As such it is slightly larger than most ordinary sets. It will play nicely on a standard size board with 2-1/4 inch squares, but will also work well on a larger board with 2-1/2 inch squares. If you want the highest quality, click here. This set is for you.
If your favorite chess player has a set but needs a board, I have some recommendations for you.
- Chess Board – Standard Vinyl Roll-up in Green
- For young players and someone who needs a board to take to the club or her next chess tournament, check out the roll-up vinyl boards available in my chess store. Inexpensive but very durable, these boards will go anywhere and last nearly forever. Very inexpensive … would make a great stocking-stuffer.
- Mahogany and Maple Wooden Tournament Chessboard
- For a high-quality gift, get a nice wood board. The board I’m recommending is made of mahogany and maple, with algebraic notation rank and file labels. This board is great for use in your den or home office. You have a choice of sizes for this board; I recommend the 2.25-inch squares, which is the standard used for the vast majority of tournament and club boards. http://www.houseofstaunton.com/product_p/brdwtrnmh.htm&Click=13363
- Folding Mahogany and Maple Wooden Tournament Chessboard
- I’ve always preferred a folding board for taking to tournaments and the club. It used to be that you could get a very nice, durable, screen-printed linen folding board made by Dreuke that was perfect. I still have one I got in the 1970’s and that I use regularly. Alas, the linen folding board is no longer available. But House of Staunton has a great alternative, a folding wood board. folding wooden boards with notation labels along the side, or here for a selection of wooden folding boards without the notation labels.
Chess board and set combinations
These sets have both the chess pieces and a chess board included in one package.
- Drueke Magnetic Travel Chess Set
- If you want a travel set, I would recommend the Dreuke magnetic set. I’ve used one for nearly my whole life. It’s still the best choice available for playing chess while traveling. Especially great for keeping the youngsters occupied on a long car trip. The pieces are less than an inch tall, and the board measures under 8 inches square. The magnets hold the pieces in place very securely, so you can even put the lid on a game in progress, and unless you shake it quite a bit, the position will still be there the next time you take off the top. I highly recommend this travel set!
- The Championship Series Chess Set and Board Combination
- If you want a very nice set of chess pieces with board, you can’t do better than this great combination. High quality at a very reasonable price. The chess board is mahogany and maple with a mahogany border. The squares are the standard 2.25 inches. The Kings stand 3-3/4 inches tall, made of hand-carved boxwood.
Every chess player needs a chess clock. If for no other reason, learning how to play speed chess is a lot of fun! But you need a clock for tournaments and at the chess club too.
- DGT Easy Timer Digital Chess Clock
- It has become standard these days to use a digital clock for tournament play. One of the big reasons is the ability to program these clocks with delay and increment time controls. That being the case, you or your favorite chess player will certainly want one of these inexpensive digital clocks with the rocker buttons. This is the style of clock that you will see at the most major chess tournaments.
- INSA Wooden Mechanical Chess Clock
- If you’re a traditionalist, like me, you will appreciate the accuracy and beauty of this mechanical analog wood clock. Beauty, simplicity, and practicality … but no time increments.
Here are a few recommended items that don’t fit in any of the categories above, but I think you’d find useful and would make a great gift for a chess lover!
- Chess Score Book – Keep a Record of Your Games!
- For a nice little stocking stuffer, you might consider getting a chess score book. I recommend the spiral-bound books, as they are much easier to use. Avoid hard bound books. When you’re under time pressure, you don’t want to be struggling with your score book.
- The Ultimate Chess Bag
- This chess bag is great for carrying all your chess stuff … set, board, clock, and books. It will even accommodate both a roll-up board and a folding board. Extremely useful for chess tournaments, travel, and convenient for taking to the chess club.
- ChessBase database of 5 million chess games
- For the serious chess player, check out the new ChessBase12, and get access to 5 million chess games.
U.S. Chess Federation
For my final recommendations, I want to highlight the good work of the U.S. Chess Federation. You should know that I am not associated with the U.S. Chess Federation, and I won’t receive any money or other compensation for the suggestions below. Second, if you live outside the U.S., check out your local chess federation for access to information about tournaments and local chess happenings.
Here are two items I recommend from the USCF:
- Membership in the USCF
- If you’re interested in taking your chess to the next level, you’ll want to get a USCF membership. USCF membership is required for most rated chess tournaments. Membership also entitles you to Chess Life, their award-winning monthly magazine. I’ve been a life member of the USCF for 30 years, and highly recommend it.
- Sponsor your child in a chess tournament
- Take your chess youngster to a local chess tournament. Click the headline link to find lists of tournaments available near you. You can find very inexpensive scholastic tournaments. And even if you can’t find one of those, most tournaments are not too expensive, and will make a great experience for your budding chess star!