A chessboard is a primary component of every chess game necessary for standard play, hence a lot of questions surround this product.
One of such question is the exact sizes of every existing chessboard which I will answer here.
According to the Fide handbook CO2 article 3.2, the standard measure of chessboard tiles should be around 5-6 cm (2 – 2.3 inches), making an entire chessboard 18 – 20.4 inches when including the 2-inch edges.
Size of the edges
I’ve been all around the internet trying my best to seek the exact measurement of a chess board, to my disappointment.
Every resource I’ve found has all the same weakness, which is they didn’t include the size of the edges.
I have a standard (wood) model myself, which I’ve conveniently evaluated to include the side’s length in order to paint a clearer picture.
This is a standard design with 2-inch square tiles, qualifying for the recommended width by fide (international body).
So any calculations that will be produced further will include this variable since it is kinda a part of the board.
Take note that smaller boards will have a lesser edge size, making the actual spectrum around one to two inches.
Different sizes in different federations
The standard I’ve talked about earlier is based from the World Chess Federation (Fide); different countries however follow different guidelines.
Fide is the international body yes, but smaller competitions will follow guidelines from local federations different from what is practiced internationally.
In USCF for example (United States Chess Federation) the chessboard size is actually between 2 – 2.5 inches instead of 2 – 2.3 inches.
Personally I don’t think this matters a lot (it’s just .2 inch), but don’t be surprised if your local federation require different sizes.
Available chessboard sizes
These are all chess board sizes available in the market each having their own specifications.
1 ½ inch square size (Very small)
The smallest chessboard that can possibly be acquired by a player, which has the following total size:
|1.5 inches × 8 Tiles||12 inches|
|Edge Size||1 inch|
|Total.||13×13 inch chessboard|
This is a way smaller model from what is traditionally used enough that experienced players will take notice.
The pieces that can be matched with this type of board is one-of-a-kind, something that cannot be easily purchased individually.
After all almost nobody prefers a custom chess piece at this size, people only normally buy this because of the cheap cost.
I have seen one of my teammates from my university’s tournament bring this in practice and I was shocked, since it feels like playing in a completely different game.
For perspective, here are 13 inches (size of this board) converted to its related sizes:
|Metric (From 13 inches)||Equivalent|
|Feet||1 foot + 1 inches|
As you can see it’s only a little bit larger than a ruler (12 inches) able to fit in most bags, way smaller than the usual one.
Here are the reasons why this may be a fit for you:
- Cost- the cheapest available option in the market, good enough for a couple of games.
- Portability- is very mobile, able to be carried easily due to its very small size.
- Easy Storage- does not require a lot of storing space when not in use.
- Maintenance- easily cleaned, undusted, and the effect of scratches can be visibly minimal.
- Lack of Standard- suitable for an informal environment where the standard model is not necessary ( and sometimes even better).
This is the only board that can fit inside a hand when folded (that’s how small it is) making it transferable to various locations.
I recommend this in street games where you’d have to find a player in a lot of areas (carrying a large board may become a hassle).
1 ¾ inch square size (Small)
Now this is a little larger than the very small one discussed before but still doesn’t fall in the standard category.
It basically has a bit more strength than the one presented above, although at the cost of mobility and storage space.
It has the following total size:
|1.75 inches × 8 tiles||14 inches|
|Edge size||1.5 inches|
This is the middle ground separating the very small size from the standard one offering capabilities unique to both.
It retains some of the mobile qualities discussed before, but still don’t have too small of tiles that you can’t see them.
These are 15.5 inches compared to similar metrics to give a little bit of clarity:
|Metric (From 15.5 inches)||Equivalent|
|Feet||1 foot + 3.5 inches|
Now a little bit larger than a ruler (with 3.5 inches) but is still not too significant to be considered a major change.
Here are the so called “improved” qualities that this chessboard has:
- Cost- on average a little more costly than a very small board, but is still cheaper than other larger options.
- Portability- a little bit larger than a very small board but can still be carried (when folded) if you have very big hands.
- Easy Storage- doesn’t require too much space; although a little bit larger.
- Maintenance- easy to clean, prevent accumulation of residues, although scratches will have a noticeable effect.
As you can see I’ve used all the same qualities as the board from before since they have so many similarities.
I recommend this if you need something that can easily be transported but not too small that it can impair your vision.
2-inch square size (Standard)
The most common chessboard of all since it is the one that is recommended by most federations, the 2-inch square.
If you have seen a chessboard before then it is likely that this is the model before your eyes.
This is its total size:
|2 inches × 8 tiles||16 inches|
|Edge size||2 inches|
In comparison this is the measure of 18 inches unto similar metrics:
|Metric (From 18 inches)||Equivalent|
|Feet||1 foot + 6 inches|
These are the reasons why you would want to opt for this size of a board since this might be what you’re looking for:
- Visual- the most ideal base to board ratio than any other sizes; positions can be identified correctly.
- Standardization- the type of board that will be used in tournaments therefore good in practice.
- Storage space- cannot fit in a bag unlike the other two, although this is still not too large to be worried about.
- Maintenance- not as easily clean and maintained as the other two, but does have the durability to make up for it.
Of all the sizes this is what I’ll choose if I can only have one since it is the one that is generally accepted.
In fact my own chess board is actually at this size as most people do, that is why it becomes the standard.
2 ¼ inch square size (Large)
Now this is still considered a standard but a little bit larger, although not usually practiced in official tournaments.
Some experienced players can actually tell the difference if this is the board in play, which doesn’t make it bad just different.
Here’s the sum of its total size:
|2.25 inches × 8 tiles||18 inches|
|Edge size||2 inches|
Here’s its comparison to the other sizes we’ve featured earlier:
|Metric (From 20 inches)||Equivalent|
|Feet||1 foot + 8 inches|
This almost (but not quite) expands as the size of two rulers, clearly something that is bigger than what is traditionally used.
You may prefer this one for the following reasons:
- Modifications- these kinds of boards can be paired with really special chess pieces making it very customizable.
- Uniqueness- it uses as of distinction partly due to its slightly larger size than normal.
- Visual- this size will have larger tiles the usual making it applicable to people with vision difficulties.
- Design- this is an excellent starting point for an aesthetic view since more things can be applied that would increase its appeal.
I wouldn’t say that this is out of the question, but you would rarely have to buy this kind of size unless it’s for decoration.
You could still do, especially if you are comfortable with larger tiles where pieces can easily be identified.
2 ½ + inch square size
These kinds of boards are the largest in the market I’ve just put a plus in there since some of the sizes can get ridiculous.
Some of these are not even chess boards they can be chess tables or giant sets (outdoors) you name it, these are definitely for fun, not competition.
Here are the calculated size:
|2.5+ inches × 8 tiles||20+ inches|
|Edge size||2 inches|
Here are the conversions in similar metrics:
|Metric (From 22 inches)||Equivalent|
|Feet||1 foot + 10 inches|
Take note that I am mostly referring to boards that go beyond the 22 inches mark, it is just the minimal side so it becomes the benchmark for conversion.
Here are the reasons why you might like this bored (size):
- Uniqueness- this is definitely on light any other board (noticeably) due to its massive size.
- Security- can be displayed outdoors since it is much harder to steal.
- Decorative- the large board can range even of the human size, definitely a very decorative experience.
- Durability- designed to stand the test of time although have to usually stay outdoors where weather can be fickle.
These are the kind of sets usually available in parks or something where it is strategically used to attract visitors.
It is generally used in instances where the public will have a lot of access since smaller boards usually can’t accommodate that.
This will be kinda problematic on indoors though where the space and maintenance can be questionable unlike outdoors.
All chessboard sizes have their respective strengths and weaknesses, proper evaluation is necessary if we want to get what we need.
Purchasing something that turns out to be inappropriate or a mismatch from what you’re looking for is a bad experience, which I don’t want you to have.
That’s why I wrote this article, Sleep well and play chess.