How to Choose a Chess Set

We've used our many years of experience as Australia's Premier Chess Shop (since 1997) at Chess World to put together the most common questions and answers regarding choosing the best Chess Set for your needs. 

The first step in choosing a Chess Set is to ask yourself the following question, “what do you want from it?”.

Whether your answer is to have a nice set for home, a compact set for travel, a set to use at School, a set you can play online or a set as a special gift, we have a range of chess sets to suit your budget, requirements and personal preferences.

Buying as a Gift for a special family member or friend? It mostly comes down to personal preference. Check out our Curated Chess Sets that come packaged with matching chess pieces and board - just choose a style/look and size you like.

Some tips on Chess Board Sizing - please grab a tape measure or ruler to help you visualise the size of the board, the pieces and the space you have available to play or to leave the board set up. 

30 - 35cm = small compact size if space is an issue.

40 - 45cm = a great size for home, office or coffee table etc. Pieces are a nice size to play.

50 cm = Tournament size. These are the size you normally see during competitions and tournaments.

55 cm and Bigger - These are the biggest sets most manufacturers will make due to their large size.


TOURNAMENT CHESS - a typical Club or Tournament Set is used in schools, chess clubs and tournaments. These are perfect for families or for any type of Scholastic use. 

Size: 50cm Board with 55mm squares

Tournament Board Style: 

Vinyl Rollup - a thin vinyl rollup board (needs to be kept flat or rolled in between use).

Folding - a vinyl covered cardboard board that folds in half or in quarters

Silicone Rollup - a soft silicone rubber that will always lay flat no matter how much it is folded or screwed up.

Mousepad Style - a thicker mousepad style rubber mat which will always lay flat.

Wooden - high level tournaments with Master to Grandmaster level players use wooden boards and pieces. 

Tournament Boards also typically include Algebraic Notations (letters and numbers along the side). Algebraic notation is the standard method for recording and describing the moves in a game of chess. It is based on a system of coordinates to uniquely identify each square on the board.

Tournament Chess Pieces:

Staunton style, typically Plastic although can be wooden 

95mm (3.75”) King height to suit 50cm board

Available in Single Weighted or Double Weighted - the heavier the piece the nicer they feel to play.  

Chess World have supplied our Boxed Tournament Chess Sets for the Australian National Interschool Chess Championships for many years. 

SHOP Tournament Chess sets at Chess World




These are for playing Chess “on the go” and are generally smaller folding sets that store the pieces inside while not in use. Magnetic sets are great for moving your set around without your pieces falling off if you are at school or having a picnic etc.

SHOP Travel Chess sets at Chess World




Also known as Computer Chess or Electronic Chess, these sets allow you to play against “the computer” or online. The traditional Digital sets are a stand alone unit with an inbuilt computer interface with whom you can play against at differing levels of competence. 

The more modern units connect to an APP or online via Bluetooth and they have AI (artificial intelligence) software to play against - these are great for learning how to play and for advanced training. With the Bluetooth units you are required to have an internet or data connection and a device to connect to (phone or tablet etc). 

- Providing a chess playing opponent when there’s no one else 

- Play at a level that’s suitable to your skill level

- Practice and improve at chess in a playing environment

- Rather than just playing online using a mouse or finger, there is great benefit in playing and viewing physical chess pieces.

SHOP Digital Chess Sets at Chess World




These typically have Themed pieces and sizing and styles can vary greatly. This is where you can throw the general sizing rules out the window as long as the chess piece base fits within a chess board square and doesn’t crowd the board too much. It comes down to a personal preference on what you like with these sets or pieces. 

SHOP Themed Chess Sets at Chess World - there are also a number of Themed Chess Pieces available that you can match with a suitable sized board.




Historically made in India by master craftsmen there are now many other countries making wooden pieces and boards. 

Rex Noir - Made in India

Dal Rossi - Made in China

Manopoulos - Made in Greece

Wooden sets are generally made from Boxwood (light pieces) and a darker wood (Acacia, Padauk, Rosewood or Ebony).

SHOP Wooden Chess Sets at Chess World



CHESS PIECES (also known as Chessmen)

There are many different types and materials of chessmen. Materials such as: Wood, Plastic, Marble, Glass and Poly Resin are the most common. 

We list our Chess piece sizes by King Height with the King being the tallest piece in a set. eg: 95mm pieces have a King height of 95mm.

A full set of pieces consists of 32 x Chessmen, however many Tournament or Luxury sets include an additional Queen of each colour  which allow for promoted pawns to become queens even when the original queen is still on the board. The sets with Additional Queens include 34 x Chessmen. 

Staunton - The Staunton chess set is the standard style of chess pieces, recommended for use in competition by FIDE, the international chess governing body. These are the most distinguishable and recognisable pieces. The main difference between different Staunton sets are the Knights which can become quite intricately carved.

SHOP all Chess Pieces at Chess World




Chess Boards are available in many colours, materials and sizes.

Consider how and where you will use your chess set in order to determine the right board for you. We have a great range of tournament, outdoor and travel sets to meet all your chess needs!

If you're selecting a chess board to match an existing set of pieces it's important to note the size of the pieces and board.

SHOP all Chess Boards at Chess World




You can easily mix and match a chess board with chess pieces to create your own. Simply make sure that the sizing of the chess board square suits the base of the chess piece using the following rules:

When matching pieces to a chess board, the size must be considered. The chess board should be approximately half (in cm) the height of the King (in mm).

The standard sizes based on King height are: 

  • 70mm chess king suits a 35-40cm chess board

  • 85mm chess king suits a 45-50cm chess board. 

  • 95mm chess king suits a 50-55cm chess board.

  • 100mm-110mm chess king suits a 55cm-60cm chess board.

However, if you can't find a close match, use a larger chessboard square by up to 25%. If you choose a smaller square size you'll risk crowding the pieces.

Many themed pieces may have a taller height with a smaller base. 

If you are unsure please message or call us to ask if the chess pieces will suit the size board you are looking at. 




Giant Chess or Outdoor Chess is one of the most entertaining ways to play and enjoy chess.  

Depending on your space and requirements we offer a number of Giant Chess Sets.

30cm Giant Chess Set with 1.5m Nylon Mat = great for smaller kids and indoor/outdoor play

40cm Giant Chess Set with 1.7m Nylon Mat = a mid sized set for when space is a premium. 

64cm Giant Chess Pieces - with a 24cm base these are great for paved areas or painted squares on concrete etc. (minimum board size = 2.4m or a 30cm square)

Our Giant Chess Extension pieces allow you to take your 64cm set to a height of 90cm or 120cm to make it a GIGANTIC Chess Set.

2.8m Giant Chess Nylon Mat - a quick throw and easy to set up on concrete or grass. This board suits our 64cm+ Giant Pieces. 

2.4m Giant Rubberized Vinyl Chess Board - The giant chess board can be rolled up for fast transportation and storage. It's easily assembled. It's practically indestructible. It works great on hard surfaces.

Giant chess is perfect for almost any environment: backyards, caravan parks, schools, resorts, shopping centres and even breweries or wineries. With several ways to create your playing surface, we make it easy to set up your game - Pave or Paint your own surface - a Quick throw nylon mat for a party or where a quick setup and take down on any surface is required - Snap together rubberized vinyl semi-permanent, all weather option for hard surfaces.

SHOP all Giant Chess Products at Chess World

Replacement Giant Chess pieces are available from our Giant Chess website:



Founded by former Australian Junior Chess Champion David Cordover in 1997, Chess World has been the only dedicated chess shop in Melbourne since its inception. 

We boast a huge range of chess sets & boards. You can choose from themed sets, wood, stone, glass, metal or plastic.

Plus we have chess clocks, storage boxes, score books and just about anything you need to play and enjoy Chess. Something for everyone's taste and budget!

We closed our physical retail store in Jan 2019 and have made the move to a solely online store experience ever since. This allows us to cater to a larger audience and offer more products. We ship Australia wide. 

We have spent many years cultivating and developing our product range to offer not only quality products and brands but also standing behind the products we sell to ensure you can enjoy your chess set for years to come.


Well cared for and regularly used, your chess set should last a lifetime!

If you need any information or help please - contact us!