Chess Board

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Chess Board Overview

Have you, like so many before you, been bewitched by the enchanting power of chess, but don’t know where to start and what board to choose? Well then, you’re in for a treat. You have come across the ultimate guide for choosing chess boards, so buckle up! There is plenty of good advice coming your way!

For many chess players, the chess board used to play is as significant a factor in the experience of chess as the game itself. The definition of what makes a great chess board changes depending not only on the player but on the context in which the game is to be played. What a player values most in their chess board will determine which board is best for them.

What Makes a Great Chess Board?

When selecting a chess board, the first thing to consider is where you intend to use it and how you intend to do so. If you plan to play at home, the chess board you want will vary greatly from one better suited to bring along with you from place to place. For example, a portable chess board will generally be less visually attractive than an at-home set in exchange for being more functional. It is not uncommon for people to use chess boards as decor, never playing the game at all. In this case, aesthetics take absolute precedence over functionality. Once you’ve decided what you want from your chess board, you can begin to determine what would make a chess board great for you.

While the definition of a great set differs for each player, many hold high-end wooden and marble sets in high regard, especially for at-home play. There are numerous types of wood from which chess sets can be produced, perhaps the most common being European Walnut, known for its durability. Ebony, rosewood, and sandalwood are also popular, durable options. Well-made wooden chess sets typically come with a padded felt bottom to stabilize and protect the board. It’s worth considering that while marble and wood are highly favored materials, they are more easily damaged, scratched, or chipped than their vinyl or plastic counterparts.

Alternatively, chess professionals use vinyl chess boards most frequently, with pieces measuring 3.75 inches. In the same way that there will never be a one-size-fits-all approach to playing chess, there will never be a one-size-fits all chess board.

Often the chess board and pieces are sold as a set, but you may also choose to buy them separately. The relationship in size and material between the board and the pieces can also be a factor in what makes a chess board great. No matter the size of your board, you will want to make sure your pieces are the correct proportions. The base of your king should occupy 75% of the square on your board.

For those who wish to use a chess board as home decor, the emphasis really comes down to style. Chess boards, especially large and weighty ones, can add a tremendous amount of austerity to a room. The materials and finishes are what will matter most.

The Benefits of a Great Chess Board

Though it may seem obvious, the main benefit of finding a great chess board cannot be understated: When you have a board that is best suited to what you value most in playing the game of chess, the board will always be great. Having the right board will give you the best experience possible while playing chess.

How Is a Chess Board Arranged?

Each chess board contains sixty-four squares in alternating colors. Traditionally, the squares are black and white, as are the chess pieces. One player will play with the white pieces, the other with the black ones.

The board is positioned so that a white square is in each player’s lower right corner. Each player will have one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns. Then, each player will arrange the pieces as follows: 

  • Rooks are placed on both the right and left outside corners.
  • Knights are placed directly inside the rooks.
  • Bishops are placed directly inside the knights.
  • The queen is placed on the center square of the same color as the player. This means that the white queen is to be placed on the white center square and the black queen is to be placed on the black center square.
  • The king is placed on the empty space next to the queen.
  • The pawns are placed on the eight spaces directly in front of the other pieces.

When describing positions on the chess board, horizontal rows are referred to as “ranks,” and vertical rows are known as “files”.

A chess board is arranged the same way every time. This setup is designed to make the game as even, entertaining, and beautiful as possible.

What Is the Most Powerful Piece on the Board?

It is universally agreed upon that the queen is the most powerful piece on the chess board. The rules of chess determine that the queen can move any number of unoccupied squares horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, giving her the widest range of movement in the entire game. 

Another way to view the queen’s abilities is that of a rook and bishop combined. The freedom and versatility of the queen ensure her position as the most powerful piece on the board.

How Much Does a Chess Board Cost?

The cost of chess boards runs the gamut, ranging from ten dollars at your local drug store all the way up to millions of dollars for sets made from rare and precious gemstones. Most serious players opt for something in the middle. 

A high-end wooden chess set usually costs several hundred dollars, which may seem expensive until you stop to consider what goes into manufacturing a chess set. The knights alone can account for as much as 50 percent of the cost of a nice wooden set. While the rest of the pieces can be machine-made, the knights are carved by hand to resemble the head of a horse, a tedious process to make sure all four are exactly the same. (1) Serious players often focus solely on the construction of the knight when assessing a chess set. 

The higher end handmade pieces are not only valuable when it comes to aesthetics. When it comes to competitive play, speed matters. The way each piece fits into the player’s hand can impact how long it takes to make each move. If you are an inexperienced player, you may not have the skill to judge if a piece is suitable for play before you buy it. When that is the case, you may want to opt for a more inexpensive option.

Lower cost wooden sets tend to fall within the $100-$200 range and are mass produced by machines, including the knights. These sets are still beautiful to the eye and definitely create a wonderful setting for at-home play. Another important bonus of low-cost wooden sets is that they require minimal maintenance and yet are made to last. Ultimately, a great chess set should be functional and durable in equal measure.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Chess Board

Choosing the right chess board is not always easy, especially if you have never shopped for one before. There are many options including different styles, sizes, materials, traveling capabilities, durability, etc. At Kaoori, we’re confident we have exactly what you’re looking for.

Whether you are a beginner player looking for their very first folding chess board or you are an experienced player hoping to find a new wooden chess board for your collection, we’ll help you on your ambitious quest of choosing just the right board.

How to Pick the Right Chess Board

Choosing the right chess board can be challenging, especially for beginners. There is a wide variety to choose from and limited guidance to help you find your ideal product. Chess boards are available in various shapes and sizes and their material affects the functionality of the board. Some chess boards are designed to not only travel but to take constant abuse from drops, spilled drinks, inclement weather, angry players, etc. Some chess boards aren’t even meant to be played with and are instead used for decoration.

Wooden chess boards are considered to be some of the most luxurious products. Their value depends on the level of craftsmanship and the quality of the wood. They are crafted from walnut, rosewood, sheesham, wenge, and many other types of wood. The quality of the wood and the finish are two of the most important factors in determining quality and price. The level of craftsmanship involved is the most important factor and overlaps the two previously mentioned.

Chess Board Styles

One of the primary things you will want to consider before making a purchase is the style of the chess board. There are many different styles to choose from. Chess is over 1400 years old and has come into the modern age. This means board options range from classic wooden chess boards all the way to electronic boards that have become popular over the last few years. Both these options and everything in between will allow you to play the game, but there is a board out there that fits your needs perfectly.

Let’s take a look at some different options:


Stanton style is one of the oldest and richest designs. It is generally used for wooden chess boards and is used as the standard style for tournaments.

Vinyl & Plastic

Boards can also be made from vinyl plastic for convenience and practicality. They are considered to be more affordable and their size can vary greatly.


Travel chess boards are excellent for aspiring chess students who are required to carry their sets when they travel to class or tournaments. Travel chess boards can be made from different materials and are generally foldable.

Folding Chess Board

This is easily the most popular style for beginners. As the name suggests, folding boards are designed to be folded up and are ideal for travel or casual play. One of the traveling conveniences is that they sometimes include built-in compartments to hold your chess pieces. Folding boards come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so if you plan on taking one with you to travel, make sure that it’s small enough to fit comfortably in your bag or luggage. They are easy to store and usually come with standard-style pieces.

The folding style chess board has an interesting history. The first folding board dates back to 1125, and was invented by a priest. At the time, chess was condemned by the eastern orthodox church, which threatened to excommunicate any member of the clergy caught playing it. So one inventive priest came up with the idea to disguise it. The first folding chess board just looked like two books lying together! Thanks to his ingenuity, nowadays we have a whole variety of folding boards, and they become more and more popular!


Fabric is also used as a material for chess boards. Demo boards are a great example of this. They are commonly used for teaching purposes or for large audiences. The reason they are great for teaching is that they can be stood upright and presented to large gatherings.


E-boards are compatible with digital chess sets. They are considered to be luxury chess sets that connect to a variety of pc softwares. These chess boards are excellent for professional games as they allow the game to be precisely recorded and transferred to a computer. They can also be made from various materials, such as wood to vinyl.


Cardboard is another material used for making chess boards, this is convenient for teaching purposes and is a more affordable option among the rest of the boards. These don’t have the durability of other chess boards and generally don’t last as long.


Whether you choose to spend ten dollars or a thousand, the way to think about purchasing your chess set is to consider it an investment. High-quality chess boards will last more than a lifetime and can be passed down from generation to generation. What makes a chess board great is what it means to the individual player, how it is played, and how it suits your own unique needs.

  1. Sophia June, What Are You Paying For in a $300 Chess Set? Mostly the Knights