The reasons are many. This game was first played (in a different form) in India, as far back as the 6th Century AD. Since then, it found its way to Persia and later on to Europe and the Russian Empire. But why? Chess gave people a chance to play at war without actually fighting it!
From a psychological point of view, this makes so much sense. Chess gave a perfect outlet to the thrill of a battle, without the danger! It has everything: strategy, thrill, and the possibility to overthrow kings and queens while having so much fun! It engages people on so many levels, and it’s quite addictive too!
The times have changed, but human nature hasn’t. We still crave that feeling and still have a game that can fulfil it. Look at how it can bring generations together, as its equally interesting for school children and their grandparents. Chess is a unique way to bond and learn from each other. The scale of that popularity is enormous too.
This game is played recreationally at home, on the school level in chess clubs, little inter-school competitions, and on the big scale, during international tournaments with thousands in prize money. In other words: chess is an extremely popular game, and whether you are a beginner at chess or an old pro, it is not unusual to want to add a new set to your collection.
Trends come and go, while chess checkmates the ever-changing trends for over a millennium, unlike many other similar competitive board games that have become a part of history long ago. And one of the reasons why over the years the popularity of chess has only grown is that chess is often fairly referred to as one of the most intellectual board games out there, which enhances mental ability, cognitive skills and greatly stimulates logical thinking.
Where to start?
Chess is addictive, so we are not surprised that after trying your luck a few times, you want to purchase a set for yourself or your loved ones. But where do you start? How to choose just the right one? There are many things to consider, for example, the material, the size, the style, the purpose, etc.
If you are diving into chess-set-hunting for the first time, you will be surprised how wide your choice actually is. It doesn’t matter if you are shopping for an amateur or a professional, there are plenty of chess sets
at our store for you to choose from. To make this process easier for you, we put together this overview of the chess sets out there, so you can take your pick. We divided them by style and material for your convenience. So sit back, relax, and let’s start!
Wooden chess set
Wooden chess sets are probably the largest category out there. They can be in different styles, like luxury chess sets, or kids chess sets - no matter the use, this material has become a classic in the industry. But it wasn’t always the case. Initially, the most popular material for chess was ivory.
The oldest partial ivory chess set was discovered during a dig in Uzbekistan and was dated around 750 AD. To this day, there is a lot of debate over which material fits chess better, but wood is definitely the most popular one. It’s warm, has positive energy, and, somehow, feels like home!
As we mentioned before, the rules to this game and even the pieces have changed throughout time, and this transformation was paused in the 15th century when the rules were finalised, and only six chess pieces survived: Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, and King.
It wasn’t long until the carving of chess pieces became an outlet for lots of craftsmen to release their creative energy and come up with something original. Now, originality is supposed to be good, isn’t it? Nevertheless, all this creativity had an interesting side effect. There were so many different chess sets around that often players refused to have a match on the opponent’s board, as it was difficult and confusing to tell the pieces apart!
This madness was stopped in 1849 when the first Staunton chess set
was created, and quickly gained popularity among players. It was designed by a journalist Nathaniel Cook and named after a British chess master Howard Staunton. Staunton chess set is traditionally wooden and has quite a simplistic design. That's probably the reason it became so universal. Nowadays, it is the only design accepted at any official tournaments.
There are a few kinds of trees, most commonly used for a wooden chess set. Maple, walnut, and mahogany are definitely in the list, as they create a nice contrast of colour to differentiate opposing squares on the board.
A wooden chess set is perfect for both beginners and professionals, as it comes in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices.
Travel chess set
It is another super popular style, and it’s obvious why. There are so many different situations in life, where chess sets come in handy, not only in cosy evenings around the fireplace. Regardless of whether you are travelling by plane, or maybe enjoying an adventurous train ride, having a travel chess set with you might add some colour to your trip, and make the journey more enjoyable. Especially if you are with your family and friends. A travel chess set will entertain children and adults alike, training your brain in the process.
These chess sets come in many different shapes and forms, so let’s go over them.
The most efficient board for a travel chess set is the folding board. It can be a wooden chess set, resembling a box, where you store your pieces, or it can be a soft, vinyl board, which comes with a special pouch carrying the pieces separately.
Either way, the material can be very different. Wood, plastic, and vinyl are among the definite favourites. They have all the features you would need in a travel chess set, being lightweight, relatively small in size, and durable.
By the way, folding chess boards had an interesting beginning. It all started, believe it or not, with a priest, who refused to follow the rules. At the time, the Orthodox church frowned upon chess and took it to an extreme, threatening to excommunicate any priest caught with a chessboard. So our hero of the day concealed his board, by passing it off as two books carried together!
Another popular choice is a magnetic chess set. As you guessed already, they have small magnets in the pieces, which makes these chess sets extremely practical for children (not advisable to play around toddlers under three years of age) and for the elderly, as well as being travel-friendly.
Luxury chess sets
Now, these are the kind of cool chess sets that are definitely not for everybody. Luxury chess sets are—as the name suggests—a luxury. They are typically made with very high-quality materials, including precious materials; subsequently, these chess sets tend to be on the more expensive side, but if you are looking for something truly high quality that would last, this would be it.
The idea for “chess sets for the select few” is not new at all. Especially in Europe, after the game was first introduced, chess was considered a game for the Royals, which was rarely played by general population until later in time.
So, naturally, they used the most expensive materials and the most extravagant designs for both the chess pieces and the boards. Marble chess sets, fox example, were very common. It was very seldom to come about a wooden chess set among the luxury league. Nowadays, the mainstream has shifted. A modern chess set in the luxury category can feature any kind of high-quality material, including wood, glass, metal, and stone.
What unites all of them, though, is highly intricate work, world-class design, and extreme quality in material. These chess sets are made both for play and show. Imagine having one in your living room! They instantly become an art piece, intended to display your exquisite taste and make a lasting impression.
Take your pick at Kaoori store, which offers different types of luxury chess sets.
Antique chess sets
These chess sets are worth discussing separately from all other categories, just because they are so unique and different. As we said earlier before simplified Staunton design came along in the mid 18th century, the characters differed so much, and they were real works of art! The sets were typically made of ivory, stone, or wood, and featured detailed and intricately carved pieces. Lots of serious players around the world would very much appreciate the value of genuine antique chess sets, but the problem is, they cost a fortune! Most of them are kept in museums or sold at private auctions. Basically, they are out of reach for us, ordinary people.
What can we do about it? Produce modern chess sets inspired by the high esthetic value of truly antique chess sets. The modern counterparts are still made using high-quality materials, but the price is so much more accessible. These chess sets are definite winners if you are looking for unusual chess sets UK has to offer. They are such an interesting way to introduce history to modern times!
Themed chess sets
Well, these cool chess sets are among the most unique on the market. Their history is fascinating too. As we mentioned before, personalized chess sets are no news, and when it comes to design, the possibilities are truly infinite. For example, themed chess sets were the hit even during the French revolution. And chess sets that were created at the time, featuring pieces like King Louis the XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
The imagination that goes into these unusual chess sets UK is insatiable; thus, the theme can be anything, from animal kingdom to ancient Rome. But how to choose the right one? Well, first of all, don’t go buying the first set you see. They are all fascinating, so we get your temptation to sweep all of them off the shelf. Pick something that truly interests you or the person you are buying for. Consider the material, as well. It can be a wooden chess set, or maybe a marble chess set, depending on how much you are ready to spend. Stone tends to be on the more expensive side.
DGT chess sets
DGT chess sets are probably the farthest you can get from themes sets, both in design and in purpose. This modern chess set can be such a valuable addition to your collection if you are genuinely interested in improving your skills and learning more efficiently. But what does it do exactly, and how is it different from regular chess sets?
First and foremost, e-boards give you a unique opportunity to record your game as you play it and transfer the information to your computer. You will get a chance to go over your mistakes, in order to correct them, or admire your victories! And the effect these chess sets have differs from the result of playing via an app or other software.
Digital chess sets actually have a unique history! For a long time, there had been a problem with broadcasting chess tournaments. So the first prototype of an e-board was born as a tool for resolving this issue. When the 1998 chess olympiad was coming up, the organizers called out companies to produce a device for a live broadcast on the internet. That’s how the grandfather of the modern smart board came along!
Three player sets
Nowadays, the market of chess is so wide open, and with so many cool chess sets around, we think we have seen it all, but three-player sets are indeed something else entirely! These sets are best for chess players who are interested in taking the game to an entirely new level. Three-player chess is exciting, complex, fun—everything that a chess player could ask for! These chess sets come in a few different styles, so be sure to research the type of three-player chess that the board can be used for before purchasing. The most popular ones are, again, wooden chess sets.
Three-player chess sets are not a modern invention, as you might have thought. They were first introduced in China about a thousand years ago! Although they fell out of the mainstream for a long while, they managed to make a comeback in the 19th century.
Demo chess sets
Imagine that you have a classroom full of students, and you want to discuss a chess problem with them. Well, what you can do is gather everyone around the board, but you might have just started a fight, because all of them can’t possibly fit around it, naturally. Demo sets are such an elegant way out of the situation! It can be considered a kids chess set, but it’s not entirely correct.
A kids chess set usually just has lettering and number markings on the board for more comfortable training, which works both for children and adults, but a demo set is a 2D variation of the game. It is typically oversized and hung on the wall or propped against something. Demo sets have flat 2D pieces that are put in special pockets, or hung on to the board with magnets. It can be a wooden chess set or a vinyl one, but the important part is, it’s designed perfectly for a more simple demonstration. Demo sets have been around for a long time since chess clubs started forming in schools and universities around the world.
There are many different types of chess sets out there, but the above are truly “must-have” for anyone serious about chess.
For those of us, who love intellectual battles, new chess sets of unique design are typically the most desired gifts - for any occasion, in any location - from the UK to Australia. The fact is, over one and a half thousand years, masters have tested dozens of materials to make chess from - including stone, wood, glass, plastic, ivory, etc. So, thankfully, we have plenty of wonderful materials to choose from, in tune with our mood, taste, and pocket.
Chess is a symbol of the triumph of intelligence and self-confidence; this is a miniature embodiment of tactics and strategy. So take your time to go over all of them and pick the chess set that will make you want to play again and again!