Chess Box/Case Buyer’s Guide (Carrying, Storage, Display)

A Chess box is foundational for anyone wanting to get into chess; it is a chessboard box that can serve as a compartment where pieces can be stored. This is especially useful if you have a chessboard that have no compartment for the pieces.

Sometimes a chess box is also used for decorative purposes as it just looks really interesting m

Similarly, someone who looks for a proper way to store pieces can also go for a chess case, what are they exactly?

A chess box/case is a commodity product used to store chess pieces that could have an engraved chessboard on its own, some even have designs similar to a briefcase.

The innings can be embossed with individual channels for each chess piece, a divider to distribute black and white separately, or none at all where the pieces will be mixed.

This article will be a full guide for anyone trying to learn about chess boxes/cases. I find that there aren’t ablot of articles online about this so I just decided to create one.

You will learn a lot from this article. With all of that in mind, let’s begin.

Chess case

First thing that comes to mind is why buy a chess case at all? We can just use separate
containers without spending much.

That is actually ok , but a case can grant several functionalities that may interest a buyer.

Such includes:

● Intricate design- Visual representation used for appeal and display.
● Mobility- easy to carry storage when moving in different places.
● Durability- hard to tear, therefore less likely to spew pieces all over the place.
● Multifunction- Chess box offers the perk of being a chessboard, meaning you get to
carry the board and pieces at the same time.

With all this extra feature, opting for purchase is actually more appropriate for the user in some conditions.

What to look for when opting for a chess box?


Choosing any prduct requires determining several factors that affect its viability.

These considerations vary from product to product, a chess box is different from a chess case for example.

What are the characteristics to look for and decide with exactly?


Size is the amount of space a thing takes in order to be stored and used.

A proper size makes it more likely to apply the expected use and have decent storage capacity.

Too big of a size will encounter issues to storage while a smaller one may only host pieces that are not that visible

The size can either be too big or too small and since most of the time we don’t want both, then it’s better to stick with the average.

Necessary fact: a chess board is between 16 to 20 inches.

The standard size of a chessboard is a good guideline to identify whether we have the right chess box, since well, it has a chessboard.

Now there are cases where you want something that is really small below the 16 to 20 inches, especially if the intended use is for trips where there is not much room for the thing to get stored.

The same can be said for those larger, there are rare occasions where people are having a hard time identifying the pieces, therefore a larger one may be preferred.

The box has two sizes:

a.) Inner Size

This pertains to the storage area inside the case where the pieces will get stored.

The compartment type primarily determines how much surface area it can offer.

It’s important to pick something that has a reasonable compartment area which would ensure that pieces can actually be tucked away respectively.

b.) Outer Size

The next one is the outer size, which relates to well, the actual size determining how the box is going to be carried.

Storing the box is one of the primary issue why it’s important to mind the sizes.

A larger chess box would have a hard time finding an area that will accommodate the sizes.

This is why it is recommended to choose between the standard 16 to 18 inches since that can easily be stored without getting too big or too small.

Chess box vs. Case only

I kept talking about chess box and cases, but are there really any difference between the two?

They are after all almost indistinguishable, I mean the case and a box sounds almost the same, and you would actually be right.

The distinction only exists to separate the container with the chessboard and those without.

By definition, a chess box is a chessboard that can be folded or arranged in a way that store the pieces, while a chess case is exclusive for storing purposes.

That is actually one of the most important factor when deciding what to buy, to choose a case or not!

Chess Box

Most chess board is a chess box, but not all of them!

There are certain models where you can’t really put the pieces anywhere and therefore warrant a different case for storing.

Such boards are usually custom designs that have unique features which makes them look good, but sometimes at the cost of a compartment.

These boards (no compartment) of course have traits that would make up for that.

Advantages of chess boards that is a chess box includes:
● Mobility- Chess boxes provide a useful way of carrying the chessboard and pieces at the same time.
● Good Organization- Keeping everything together makes it easier to supervise and
prevent loss of pieces for example.
● Low storage space- the separation also means that the board and pieces get stored in one place at the same time, in contrast of having to keep two separate things.

Chess boxes can either be purchased as the following:

Chess box only

Selecting an only chess box buy is still an option to consider.

Especially if you have prefer customization and display, a set (all in one buy) locks you into several things that may not be desirable.

The following are the advantages of only buying a box without pieces:

  1. Cheaper price- Since you are just buying one item rather than two, then the price should be significantly lower.
  2. Customizability- you can get creative with pieces since there aren’t any other specific item that comes into the bargain like a set.
  3. More choices- there are just more options to choose from if you’re only looking for a chess box, most brands are offering more chessboard than sets.

Except for the cheaper price, the other advantages can actually be nullified if you can buy the right set.

Since well, you can still customize a chess box set in a way by just getting the right size for the pieces, and there are still a lot to choose from in different stores.

However, if you already have the pieces and only looking for a box then this would be fine.

Let’s talk about the set.

Chess box set (with pieces, or even clocks)

Chess stores have special bundles for multiple purchases called sets.

Chess bundles are obviously more expensive but offer more items at once.

It’s very interesting that some even offer clocks along with the box, meaning if you purchase the box then you get the pieces, board, and clock altogether.

Buying a set in contrast to an individual box gives the following:

  1. Compatibility- it’s likely that the pieces would have corresponding sizes that fit in the box/board.
  2. Convenience- you get everything you need from a single buy, which include items you would think of getting anyway.
  3. Speed- any time spent in getting information to match the size and use of each product.

(chessboard, chess piece, just clock) is not necessary with a set, since everything is already prepared for you.This is the benefit of buying sets in general.

Although it technically is more expensive than only purchasing a single product for example, but well, you’re only having a chessboard for the cheaper price!

Overall, you are more likely to save if you go for the bundles since we will have discounts.

Of course, if you can’t handle the cost then it is ok to go for the single buys.

Which brings us to the next step of discussion, what about buying a sole case?

Sole Case

Chess cases are specifically designed to store pieces that have components not available to boxes, but doesn’t have a chessboard with them.

These are specially designed to perform functions lacking from all-in-one chessboard storage style, specifically:

  1. Safety- chess cases come with several locking mechanism options making it unlikely for the pieces to spill over (but anyone can open them).
  2. Piece-friendly- compartments are specifically designed to prevent pieces from scrambling during movement, therefore less likely to get pierced or damaged
  3. Space- Usually more spacious than an actual chess box.

Chess cases in my opinion is a good product if you’re constantly on the move as an active chess player.

You don’t necessarily need to carry a large board when entering the chess club, tournaments, and parks for example where they have boards of their own, just the pieces. Along with its appeal for display, it is potential by for any chess enthusiast


The next thing to consider is the color, which may surprise some people.

This is actually not as important as the size but is worth mentioning.

Darker colors may have a contrast dark enough to make the black pieces a little bit harder to spot.

Lighter colors can also face the same issue, it makes the white pieces less observable.

Darker colors are harder to see than their light counterparts.

This becomes even more important when the chess box is also used as a board since it’s annoying to play when you can see the thing!

And I know what you wanted to say, aren’t the dark square green not black?

Not necessarily, there are times where the tile is an actual black, plus the outside might
actually be black which makes it distracting.

So, color think about it.

Closing Mechanics

Both the chess case and box have adopted various locking systems that well, make the thing close.

Here are all of them

a.) Locking

First is the lock, a single closed system that can be opened with a single push of a button, or sometimes a slider.

It is a common design in any treasure box-like products such as this one and has the following benefits:

Simplicity- the way to open the thing is not complicated and easily applicable.

Durability- the material is made of metal, which are known for lasting longer periods of

Tightness- unlike a hook or the sliding panel, storage of the box will make it unlikely for
the cover to be opened, preventing spillage of the pieces.

Opting for this kind is definitely a great choice especially if you’re looking for something that will last. Obviously, other closings can still last on the right hand, but the extra resilience is not that bad at all.

b.) Briefcase

This is an interesting design that is not only good for the functionality, but also for its visual appeal.

It’s a briefcase! It makes carrying the chess case much awesome.

It is actually an improved version of the single lock, where it’s basically the same except there are two locks.

Instead of the center, it is placed on both sides of the box that makes all the perks of the single lock but double the usefulness.

Such includes:

  • Still simple- I mean there are two locks now, but the mechanics are not that complicated and still easy to understand.
  • More Durability- since there are two locks, the stress are distributed evenly making it last longer.
  • Extra Tight- now there is no way the pieces can be spilled from loose locks (since there are two of them).

This kind of lock is just better but comes at a cost.

This model is usually more expensive than their single counterparts but is occasionally worthy given the functionalities.

Not only does it has more tolerance on the test of time, but it just looks good to carry around.

c.) Hooked

This is more popular in chess boxes than in cases.

This is actually the lock that’s embedded in my own chess box.

It is usually the cheapest, lightweight, and most simple as well.

This model is what to look out for if you’re only seeking something to play, you got a lock on the cheapest board however, expect some subpar quality.

It has the following disadvantages based on the experience:

  1. Easy to open, too easy- there are certain occasions where I’m carrying the thing and it just pops open! Throwing the pieces all over the place.
  2. Storage issue- the popping thing doesn’t just occur when I’m carrying it, it can even open when I just stored it!
  3. Weak Lock- the thing can be bent and crooked easily and sometimes even unexpected! Plus you can’t turn it back to normal as easily as damaging it.

That’s really something you should respect for its low price, still a good option if you’re looking to just start playing.

d.) Sliding Panel

This actually looks old in my opinion but is surprisingly becoming popular and you can basically find everywhere.

It gives you the feeling of having a treasure box from some random Japanese land, that’s maybe why I think it’s something old.

This is also somewhat cheap, that may perhaps come with some drawbacks:

  1. Sliding weakness- sliders are infamous for its reputation of being hard to open, there are exceptions to this however when buying from reliable brands.
  2. Easily opened- similar to the hook, grabbing the case wrong enough would cause the contents to spill over.
  3. Stucked- on the other end, being unable to open the panel would require you to destroy the thing altogether since the lock is basically its main part.

All these disadvantages may seem scary, but all of them can be avoided by choosing
reasonable providers!

You will rarely encounter these things today, and if you do, some would even give your money back guaranteed!

Now let’s talk about the other thing, the inner design.


The compartments are the spaces within the box/case where the pieces are kept.

The actual interiors of these products are surprisingly different from one another, and I’m talking vastly different.

This variety of different characteristics are preferable from one individual to the other, let’s talk about it!

a.) Engraved

This is the first type of storage option you’ll likely encounter when starting to roam around for products.

Basically the idea is there are specialized areas within the compartment assigned to each piece.

There is the “Knight” pocket where only the Knight can go, and the “king” pocket where only the king can reside and so on.

It is an important consideration, which I say is even more important than the lock, so pay attention.

There are actually two types of an engraved set up you’ll find in the market.

1.) Leather

The inside of the box or case is made of leather, animal skin.

The skin is organized in a way that there are clumps where specific pieces can fit inside.

Just like any product that is made of leather it has its own inherent advantages.

Leather is stronger, more durable, resistant to dry abrasion, fire-resistant if treated, and somewhat waterproof than most alternatives.

Choosing leather definitely is a viable option and sometimes even more favorable than the next one.

But bear in mind that this is a little bit more expensive depending on the retailer, but at least gives some quality.

2.) Standard (Tray)

The next one is basically everything else, either regular cloth, some even have plastics, or light wood.

They are all cut and also arranged to have only specific pieces on them.

These are your everyday materials, is lightweight, cheap, and still handy.

Might not be as reliable as something made of leather, but can still be a great option for people wanting an inexpensive price.

Why the engraved compartment?

As you can imagine this type of innings has advantages.

  1. Appeal- this is more decorative than just a bland hole to store the pieces.
  2. Number count- putting all the pieces together makes you able to identify whether something is missing, you could count as you arrange.
  3. Piece Safety- the most important; holds the pieces in place making it less likely to get chipped or damaged when moving around.

This in my opinion is the highest quality a compartment can get, but other choices might be worth looking for as well.

b.) Hole

It is what it is described, a hole.

There is a large place inside the case where you could just fall the pieces without putting them on specific places, unlike the engraved one.

There are two types of holes in chess cases:

1.) One area

This is the simple type, there is a large big hole in the case where the pieces get stored.
As for advantages, it has

  1. More space- there are models large enough to fit two different chess pieces if you can separate them.
  2. Speed- it’s faster to store the pieces since you just kinda chuck it in.

This is actually the most common design for chess case compartments and relatively easy to find.

There is a more optimal version you can opt for, the two area.

2.) Two Area

This is basically just the hole, with a divider in place to keep things separated.

The perks include:

  1. Separator- the divider separates the pieces making it more organized.
  2. Stability- the pieces are more tightly placed together making it less likely to rumble and pierce each other.

This is again a good option if you’re looking for this type of setup, but is slightly harder to find.

Last but not the least, all that we talked about so far only applies to chess cases
, the next one is basically all of the chess boxes.

c.) Surface Storage

This is something that is featured in every chess box, a hole but not deep enough to be like that of a chess case.

The picture is my own chess box, and I believe you’ve seen something similar before.

All the pieces are clamped together inside the chess box where they can be mixed, but only at the surface level where they’ll just the right fit.

Expect this if you’ve purchased a chess box over a chess case, as this is the only design available to that.

Lastly, we need to talk about what are these things made of.


If you’ve shopped enough in any store online, you may notice that most are made in different materials.

They may be similar, but still be different in characteristics.

Most common you’ll see is wood and metal.


Wood is basically used everywhere, and what you’ll see in regular chess boards for example.

This also applies to chess boxes and cases!

It’s just that much useful.

You can actually see the type of material the chess case/box is made of usually on the product title.

Wood can either be softwood or hardwood.

a.) Softwood

Softwood has a very descriptive name, which is a wood softer than hardwood.

This type of course offers some perks not available to hardwood, and can easily be available in cases for example.

This kind of wood produce products that are:
● Cost-efficient- it is the cheapest option when it comes to woodwork; best output for its price.
● Pliability- is slightly more elastic quality compared to the hardwood; used to make
designs that are more unique and appealing.

This is the main offering the softwood can propose and is something you should expect from products made from it.

That of course includes the chess box and case.

b.) Hardwood

Hardwood is also very descriptive, a wood that is harder than softwood, giving it durability.

It has the following edge over the softwood:
● Resilience- again, the reliability of the wood to last a long time.
● Easy restoration- Dents and scratches are usually more fixable than the softwood.

There are actually several types of hardwood used in chess cases that have their own


Is a very reliable hardwood, good in handling rot, mold, or any type of decay that could damage the product.

This degenerative quality exists in every type of wood, it’s just that mahogany has a little bit resistance to it.

This material is very good against cases of drying too, studies demonstrate that mahogany has a lower shrinkage ratio than other woods.


This is a fine-grained wood that is particularly shock-resistant, which may not be useful in this case, but the other qualities are.

It is heavier than the mahogany making it carry a little more weight; getting the product a little more tough from being knocked away.

This thing also comes with great finishes which adds to the appeal and intricate design.

Overall, an ok wood that is somewhat durable.

Walnut Maple Hardwood

Maple hardwood is usually used for flooring due to its light natural and clean looking surface.

It is great work for things that need consistency, along with the walnut, it makes a very strong material!

And yes, you can buy a chess case that is a combination of walnut and maple.

It is kinda resistant to scratches and very smooth, it is commonly used for flooring after all.

Now, let’s talk about the other material, the metal!


There actually exist chess case and boxes made of metal, which of course offer exclusive qualities not available to wood.

Metals are sturdy, more resistant to temperature, and unlikely to get severely damaged which makes it pretty reliable.

Metal is pretty tough.

The only thing that could possibly steer people away from metal is its tendency to rust, which could actually be prevented.

As long as the case/box gets the proper maintenance that it needs, this shouldn’t be a problem.

And that’s it! Everything you need to consider before buying a chess case/box.

Closing Statement

Organizing chess material requires a proper way in handling pieces since there’s so many of them.

Having the appropriate box or case solves this problem, along with the function to actually to take care of what’s inside.

Having one in my opinion is necessary, the hassle of having bad storage would be more
problematic than the cost, but maybe that’s just me.

Sleep well and play chess.