A comprehensive review of the most popular chess sets

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As chess players, there is one product that we absolutely want to get right, which is the set to be used while playing. I’ve experienced both the bad and the worse when it comes to chess sets, and I don’t want my readers to be able to experience the same thing, so I made this article.

I took the most popular chess sets on famous e-commerce and paired them with the expectation/reality for you guys.

Here are the most popular sets for chess players:

  • 15 Inch Magnetic Tournament Staunton Wooden Chess Board Game Set with Crafted Chesspiece & Storage Slots for Kids and Adult 2 Extra Queen -(1,879 global ratings on Amazon, 512 on Ebay).
  • ASNEY Upgraded Magnetic Chess Set, 15” Tournament Staunton Wooden Chess Board Game Set with Crafted Chesspiece & Storage Slots for Kids Adult, Includes Extra Kings Queens & Carry Bag -(1,873 global ratings on Amazon)
  • Chess Armory 15″ Wooden Chess Set with felted game board -(1,054 global reviews on Amazon).
  • ZCQS 12.6” Square Black/White Chess Set Magnet Chess Pieces Folding Kids Chess Board Travel Board Games Gifts for Children Educational Toys and Adults -(61 global ratings on Amazon)
  • Gamie 12 Inch Glass Chess Set, Elegant Design – Durable Build – Fully Functional – 32 Frosted and Clear Pieces – Felted Bottoms – Easy to Carry – Reassuringly Stable -(55 global ratings on Amazon)

Take note that I haven’t purchased any of these products yet (maybe in the future) but I have read every customer review on the internet to make factual claims, so there should be some grain of truth in this.

Table of Contents

What are the most popular chess sets?

15 Inch Magnetic Tournament Staunton Wooden Chess Board Game Set with Crafted Chesspiece & Storage Slots for Kids and Adult 2 Extra Queen

This one is the most popular on the list (click to check current price/reviews on Amazon), it’s surprising that a chess set would be discussed this much. So it immediately piqued my attention in order to find out if the popularity comes with the quality.

It has 1,879 global ratings on Amazon, 512 on Ebay, having a total of 2,391.

It is rare that a product is both available on Amazon and eBay, usually sellers will prefer one over the other, so this visibility is already a mark of its credibility.

Claimed features and details

According to the seller, the products should have the following qualities, and later I will talk about if this expectation matched the reality from real customers. Here are the claimed feature in details:

LARGE – 15″ x 15″ folding chess board for easy gameplay
STORAGE – Felted interior with straps for storing pieces
QUALITY – Wooden chess set with New Zealand Pine
PIECE SIZE – 3″ King Piece
STAUNTON – Handcrafted Staunton style chess pieces

This is a pretty simple description from the seller, I reckon that this will likely meet the expectation of the buyers. 

Reviews of the product

Here are the reviews, I took both the bad and the good comments in order to provide a clear picture of this product. I’ve pounded the search results in order to find every customer reviews that exist on the internet.

Good reviews

Here are the good feedbacks from real customers and the volume to which I see it in descending order. Meaning the most common concern is at the top, and the least is at the bottom.

There are big clear algebraic notations on the side to help the players train with notations
The magnets are strong enough to hold the pieces in a normal playing game (until 45 degrees)
The two sides of the board are attached securely (right in the center)
The board sit completely flat after you open it
The board layout is sufficiently printed
There is an inside foam where the pieces are held tightly so it doesn’t rattle during travels

I think the clear algebraic notations will help beginners in mastering it (since most people struggle with that). Most things seem to be going just fine (the two sections are attached, it is flat when laid, and it meets some of the expectation).

Bad reviews

Here are the negative comments in descending order from the most common to the least common:

Some deliveries have small issues like an unusual excess paint, the colors of the pieces are slightly different, missing magnets, or there were stint of dirt at the edges of the board
The magnets are not “too strong” (you cannot flip the board 180 degrees without five to ten pieces falling)
The board is somewhat thin
The pieces are cheaply made (amateurish finish)
The negative comments seem mostly to be isolated even though it’s common (the negative comments are rare in the first place). There are some attacks on the quality but the price is not exactly expensive either (and not too cheap) therefore it should be fitting.

Actual features and details

Is the board large? It is fine but the board is somewhat thin.

Does the board store the pieces appropriately? The foam inside held the pieces tightly and prevented rattling while being carried.

Are the pieces of higher quality? The pieces are amateurishly made but are recognizable so it should be ok.

Personal rating

For me personally, I think this got a seven out of ten, where it made some of the expectations some may not, but ultimately is a decent set for the dollars. Don’t expect too much on this (it’s not exactly expensive) but it should get the work done.

ASNEY Upgraded Magnetic Chess Set, 15” Tournament Staunton Wooden Chess Board Game Set with Crafted Chesspiece & Storage Slots for Kids Adult, Includes Extra Kings Queens & Carry Bag

This is another popular set (click here to check current price/reviews on Amazon) but is not available on eBay (amazon only product), it has a lot of ratings so I included it here (1,873 global ratings on Amazon).

Claimed features and details

Here are the features and details according to the manufacturer, which we will see if it matches in the testimonials:

Strong magnetic: 15” big magnetic chess board set is made of premium quality wood, strong magnetism embedded. This unique magnetic design of this Chess set, make it different from others with weak magnetism. Even you turn the board upside-down, the chess pieces will still stick in the place where they should be. 
Foldable: chess table with a clear pattern on the surface, folding the wooden board whenever you like, convenient for indoor-outdoor use and keep in place. 
Extra Kings Queens & storage slots: each Staunton chess piece is handcrafted from elaborately selected Dutch wood, by artisans with high preciseness. Chessmen will be stored in each individual slot, no rattling, no lost pieces, No more mess after your chess game. Extra Kings and Queens will be sent together with in case any missing from improper use
Anti-scratching: smooth processing for each chess piece could lower the moving noise effectively, make sure no scratching on the chessboard. Provides a quiet environment for your logical thinking of further moving. 
Our promise: our 100% full refund guarantee should assure you to purchase without any concerns. 

Reviews of the product

Hovering over the internet this combination is what I’ve got from both the good and bad reviews:

Good reviews

The following are arranged in descending order (from most common to least common) of the positive comments:

They also have excellent customer service (some even says that the reply for at least five minutes even on minor issues)
It is visually appealing
Strong magnets that keep the pieces in place
The woods which these things are made from are pretty solid
There are extra queens and pieces in case some goes missing
The playing area is on the outside meaning the storage space will be unlikely damaged over time
It has a cleaner look with pretty majestic pieces
It has a carry bag (for chess-related materials)
Bad reviews

Here are all the bad reviews I’ve found in descending order (from most common to the least common):

When you pick it up it automatically folds
The magnets cannot stand a 180 degree turn (though 50 degrees below should be just fine)

I know what you’re thinking, the bad reviews have been completely outnumbered by the good ones which may provide a lack of data. Believe me, I have tried to look for more bad comments but couldn’t see anything, it is actually quite impressive how this product has performed (customer-wise).

Actual features and description

Are the magnets of the product good? The magnets are pretty strong in keeping the pieces in place.

Is the foldable aspect of the product functional? Most customers are satisfied by the secured folding of the board.

Does the set come with extra queens and kings? The set comes with extra queens and kings and some say even with pawns (though may change in the future) making it pretty convenient.

Will the pieces really feel smooth when moving? The movement of the pieces is fine, not too rough which causes loud noise.

Is the 100% refund real? A lot of the customers have claimed that they really did receive a 100% refund from defective items

Personal review

I give this an outstanding 9 out of 10, just looking for reviews online and you would see why. A lot of the comments are extremely satisfied describing their experience with this product, even more than other sets I have reviewed here (though I will still talk about the others).

Chess Armory 15″ Wooden Chess Set with felted game board

This is another popular set (click here to view current price/reviews on Amazon) that receives a lot of traction from e-commerce like amazon, having a total of 1,054 global reviews on its platform. I primarily chose this one because it is really cheap and something I imagine would buy myself.

Claimed features and details

The seller claims the following about this product:

Secure- All folding sets come with hinges or magnetic clasps for easy and secure closing and storage of chess sets.
Quality Craftsmanship-Wooden chess set with inlaid walnut
Felted bottoms-All pieces have felted bottoms to prevent scratching of the boards surface
Chess Piece Storage-Folding wooden sets come with elastic straps or foam inserts to safely store and account for every piece

Reviews of the product

From surfing all over the internet, I’ve compiled all the feedbacks here:

Good reviews

These are all the positive feedbacks in descending order (the most common to the least common):

It is cheap
It is made with real wood with great design-considered classy
The pieces are reportedly durable
The customer service is superb (from the manufacturer) many claimed to be called and sent a manual
The seller will contact you stating that they will replace any pieces that go missing
Bad reviews
It does not sit flat, the hinge in the middle gets in the way so the ends of the board sort of sag and cause the pieces to want to move slightly
The cuts in the middle are misaligned In the middle where the two halves should meet up nice and square they are off by a good 1/8th inch if not a little more.
There were missing parts, the head of the pawn, edge of the board is chipped, etc.
Some nails/screws are not fully embedded
The quality of the finish is amateurish

There’s a lot of bad reviews here and frankly I’m quite disappointed with this product (since I initially thought it is good). 

Actual features and details

Is it secure? It does not sit flat and have a misaligned cut in the middle (which is not secure).

Is it a wooden chess set with an inlaid walnut? The set is made from real wood, though the quality of the finish (not the design) is quite cheap-looking.

Does it have good storage space? It does have a storage space though may not be as satisfying since the cuts in the middle are misaligned.

Personal review

I give this one a horrible 4 out of 10, the overall product seems to be mass-produced with little care about quality unlike other sets. I certainly don’t recommend this one to the readers of this website since I don’t want you to waste money.

ZCQS 12.6” Square Black/White Chess Set Magnetic Chess Pieces Folding Kids Chess Board Travel Board Games Gifts for Children Educational Toys and Adults

This one is not as popular as the others (click to view current price/reviews on Amazon) (61 global ratings on amazon) but is famous nonetheless, enough to take my interest to review this.

Claimed features and details

Here are the claimed feature and descriptions of the product from the seller themselves:

Chess Board Size Description-The size of chessboard is 12.59 inches*12.59 inches*0.78 inches.
Chess Pieces Size Description- The size of vertical and bottom diameter about different chess pieces.
Chess Magnetic Description-The chess board every individual pieces have a light magnetic attraction to the 64-square playing field; light magnetism would make it stable to play while not hard to move the piece
Chess Box Description-The internal details of the chessboard are fine,and the pieces are stored in the chess box and are not easy to lose.
Chess Folding Case Size Description-The size of folded box is 12.59 inches*6.5 inches*1.60 inches. After playing chess, close the box for easy carrying. This chess set is made of durable HIPS plastic, gives you smooth hand-feel and is portable. Black and silver(Color) grid, well-crafted chess pieces make it much more deluxe
Chess Pieces Bottom Description-The bottom of the chess pieces is flocking technology, which will not scratch the board when playing chess
Chess Board Waterproof Description-The chessboard is waterproof, so it can be used at ease
Latch box design Description– Latch box design,It has Chessboard Support feet and Chessboard Buckle, After playing chess, close the box for easy carrying.
30-day return policy: we want you to be satisfied with your purchase; you are backed by our 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee so you can buy with confidence

Reviews of the product

From all the customer reviews that I’ve found in the web, I’ve compiled everything I saw here:

Good reviews

The following are the good reviews of this product:

Is cheap without being cheap-looking
The pieces have good weight in them
The size of the pieces are not too small nor too large
The magnets are reasonably decent (making the pieces in place)
The storage of the pieces have been secured and fitting based on the testimonials
Bad reviews

The following are the bad reviews of this product:

It is only covered in plastic during shipping (making it’s likely to be damaged on delivery)
There are isolated cases here and there (chipped board, missing pieces, etc.) but the customer service is quick in resolving the situation.

Actual features and description

Can the set be folded for storage? There aren’t seem to be any problem with the foldable aspect of the set.

Are the size of the pieces fitting? The sizes of the pieces or not too small nor too large.

Are the magnets of the pieces good? The magnets are reasonably decent for the price.

Is the customer support good (especially the 30-day policy)? The customer support is excellent according to the testimonials, and the 30-day policy is practiced.

Personal review

I gave this one an excellent eight out of ten for all the positive feedback that it has, I don’t see a lot of negative issues with it. The only reason why it only has an eight instead of nine or ten are because of the isolated cases, but it is a good cheap magnetic set overall.

Gamie 12 Inch Glass Chess Set, Elegant Design – Durable Build – Fully Functional – 32 Frosted and Clear Pieces – Felted Bottoms – Easy to Carry – Reassuringly Stable

This is the least popular of all the chess sets listed here (click to check current price/reviews on Amazon) (55 global ratings), though this is still famous for a set. I find this interesting since it is a glass set (of course I know there are other glass sets) but this one looks promising. 

Claimed features and details

The seller claimed to have the following functionalities for the product:

FUNCTIONAL SIZE: Gamie 12” glass chess game set features a glass game board with 32 glass and frosted chessmen.
ELEGANT DESIGN: The beauty of the chess set glass construction will add a bit of flare to every game.
DURABLE BUILD: Our chess glass design sports painstaking finishing and quality craftsmanship, ensuring nothing but longevity.
EASY MANEUVERING: All the chess pieces glass bottoms are fitted with top-notch felt for effortless movement on the board.

Reviews of the product

Upon scouring the internet I’ve found the following reviews:

Good reviews

Here are the positive feedbacks for this particular item:

It is cheap (reportedly gives the best quality for the price)
The etching (layout of the board) was put under the glass so it’s unlikely to wear off over time
The manufacturer has decent customer service (some reportedly got their missing pieces replaced)
The glass are of good thickness and quality
The design looks classy
Bad reviews

Here are the bad feedbacks for this particular item:

The pieces are hollow and not skillfully finish (rough edges)
You are required to attach the felt to the bottom of the pieces (may change in the future)
Some sets have missing pieces (you have to contact the manufacturer to replace it)
Some sets have missing cushions that unbalanced the board (you have to contact the manufacturer to replace it)
There is a small minority saying that theirs came with chipped and damaged pieces (glass)

Actual features and details

Does the glass set have functional size? There seem to not have any problem with the size.

Does the product have an elegant design? The design is actually pretty good (in my opinion) but also to the others that have bought it

Is the product durable? The item is pretty durable since it has thick glass, though some items sold have damages so it might become a factor.

Are the pieces easy to move when playing? As long as you attach the felt decently then the pieces should move smoothly.

Personal rating

I give this a total of seven out of ten since the product is actually good, though it is massed-produced and sometimes has issues (customer service can fix this).

Which is the best chess set the money can buy?

Judging this is not exactly hard, just from the score we can easily see who stands out from the others. Of course, it is the “ASNEY Upgraded Magnetic Chess Set, 15” Tournament Staunton Wooden Chess Board Game Set with Crafted Chesspiece & Storage Slots for Kids Adult, Includes Extra Kings Queens & Carry Bag” garnering a total of nine out of 10 delivering on most of its featured qualities. 

It’s not even close, just looking at the feedbacks and you would easily something in the line of “this is what I have been looking for all along”, which prove its quality. The only thing that can drive you away from this one was the price, which may be more expensive than usual (but still delivers on its promise).

Which cheap chess set proves to be the best quality?

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative than the one stated above, “ZCQS 12.6” Square Black/White Chess Set Magnetic Chess Pieces Folding Kids Chess Board Travel Board Games Gifts for Children Educational Toys and Adults” is definitely the way to go garnering a total of 8 out of 10 from my personal ratings above. 

If we’re talking about the best out of these sets the dollar can buy then definitely the Asney one, though this will save you a couple of bucks since it is priced less. The design is much simple with fewer specifications but should still be functional if you’re just playing for fun.

Is the Gamie 12 Inch Glass Chess Set a good glass set?

I know this looks out of place since everything in here is non-glass then I suddenly pulled out a set that is glass, but I am definitely satisfied with this product. Frankly, there might be other products out there, though this product having a personal rating of 7 out of 10 is decent, and I can verify that I personally reviewed this one.

If you cannot find anything better than the specifications I have stated above then it might be good for you to stick to this one. There are a lot of defective items out there with sellers increasing more and more over time, decent products are actually precious.

Do you now know which of these popular chess sets are the best?

There really are a lot of options out there just from visiting several websites for chess sets, though nothing the one we’re looking for is rare. This review serves that purpose, in order for you readers to be informed when making the decision to buy a set.

It is especially annoying if you have spent all this time looking for the right one and not getting it in the end. Take note that everything works in the context of when I have reviewed the sets, the quality of the products may change in the future (I will update it though if that happens).

This experience is pretty interesting to me and maybe to you, hope you learn something valuable, sleep well and play chess.

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