It seems Netflix has done it again. The streaming hit “The Queen’s Gambit” is doing the same for chess as “Stranger Things” did for the ’80s roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. As a result, chess sets are ending up on more holiday shopping lists than perhaps ever before.
But it’s not just the strategy of chess that has drawn in fans of the Netflix show. “The Queen’s Gambit” set and costume design are incredible examples of how a fictional period piece can bring to life the aesthetic from decades past.
If that wasn’t enough, the show’s also inspired many women to take up the traditionally male-dominated game.
Of course, beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive, and these gorgeous chess sets prove it.
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12 Beautiful Chess Sets for Fans of “The Queen’s Gambit”
This holiday season, we’re turning to gifts that are mentally stimulating and don’t require leaving the house. If you ask us (and countless fans of “The Queen’s Gambit”), nothing fits the bill better than a chess set.
1. Pawnson Creations 15″ Wooden Chess Set
If the simple aesthetic of “The Queen’s Gambit” inspires you, then the Pawnson Creations 15-inch Wooden Chess Set is the perfect holiday gift.
This extra-large wooden chess set features a 15-inch board that folds up for easy storage. The board’s built-in magnets hold your chess pieces in place, so you never need to worry about a disrupted game. Inlaid walnut gives the board design a luxurious finish.
Inside the folded board, you’ll find a felt-lined compartment that holds a full set of chess and checkers pieces. The pieces themselves are carved from wood in a Staunton-style with felt bottoms. Both king pieces measure three inches tall.
2. AEVVV Russian Wooden Nesting Dolls Chess Set
For a truly one-of-a-kind chess set that will look great in the middle of a game or as home decor, the AEVVV Russian Wooden Nesting Dolls Chess Set is unmatched.
This wooden chess set measures 12 inches across and folds in half. While it does feature a felt-lined storage compartment for holding all of the pieces, there is no built-in organization system.
Each piece of this chess set is hand-carved and painted in a traditional Russian style. This is easily one of the most colorful chess sets out there. The board’s surface is finely painted to match, and floral details on the top and sides bring the whole look together.
3. Gamie 10″ Glass Chess Game Set
Glass chess sets are quite common, but that doesn’t make them any less aesthetically pleasing. The Gamie 10-inch Glass Chess Game Set is a stylish, compact chess board any player will cherish.
Rather than two colors, the use of clear and frosted glass pieces split the game into different sides. The board spaces feature the same design.
You won’t need to worry about scratching your gorgeous chessboard, thanks to the felt lining on the bottom of every piece. The board also includes soft pads under each corner to protect your tabletop during play.
4. BeldiNest Olive Wood Chess Set
The BeldiNest Olive Wood Chess Set is another gorgeous set that you won’t want to stow away when the game’s done.
Carved from rustic olive wood, this board measures 14 inches across with a play area of about 8.5-by-8.5 inches. Underneath the game board, you’ll find two small storage drawers for holding each player’s chess pieces.
Like the board, each chess piece is hand-carved from wood in Tunisia. The live-edge board is mounted on four legs for an elevated play surface. To keep this one-of-a-kind chessboard looking its best, be sure your giftee routinely treats the surface with olive oil.
5. WE Games Roll-up Travel Chess Set
Perhaps the biggest turning point in “The Queen’s Gambit” is when Beth buys herself a roll-up chess set. The WE Games Roll-up Travel Chess Set might not have the luxurious look and feel of some of the other chess sets on our list, but it’s a faithful nod to the Netflix show’s narrative.
This set comes with a vinyl chessboard, pieces, and a carrying tube with an attached shoulder strap. The roll-up board measures just under 17 inches when laid out. It’s surprisingly durable and easy to wipe clean.
Despite how portable this set is, the chess pieces are still nice and hefty. The kings measure just over three inches tall, comparable to most “traditional” chess sets.
6. DGT Centaur Chess Computer
Not all chess sets are created equal, as proven by the impressive DGT Centaur Chess Computer. With this chessboard, you can play games against a computer while still using a real, hands-on chess set.
The play area of this chessboard measures about 15.75 inches across. It features an e-paper display to eliminate glare and prevent eye strain during intense game sessions. The software scales its difficulty to the player, so this chess computer makes an excellent gift for players of any skill level.
Each plastic chess piece is carefully weighted for a great in-hand feel and maximum responsiveness from the board’s interface. The computer’s moves are shown by LED lights — the user moves their “opponent’s” pieces on the board. Everything is powered by a rechargeable battery.
7. HPL Alice in Wonderland Fantasy Chess Set
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of gaudiness, and the HPL Alice in Wonderland Fantasy Chess Set is a chessboard you and your opponents are sure to never forget.
The chessboard measures an impressive 17 inches across and features an ornate mosaic tile pattern across the entire play surface. While the board itself does not include any storage, the game box comes with a foam organizer for the chess pieces.
Of course, the real star of this chess set is the piece design. Each piece is made of solid resin and features a soft felt bottom. Instead of traditional chess pieces, players control famous characters from “Alice in Wonderland.”
8. Wegiel Handmade European Ambassador Chess Set
If you’re looking for a more elegant version of the standard folding chessboard, the Wegiel Handmade European Ambassador Chess Set is an excellent choice.
Folded open, this extra-large board measures just over 21 inches across. It features a carved border design and brass clasps for folding and locking it shut. On the other side, you’ll find a molded storage compartment lined with green felt.
Like the board, the carved chess pieces are sycamore and hornbeam wood. One set is dark brown, while the other is ivory. The pieces are large enough to match the oversized chessboard — each king is 4.5 inches tall.
9. Home Magnetics Magnetic Chess Set
Some of the most iconic scenes in “The Queen’s Gambit” featured Beth playing chess on the ceiling. With the Home Magnetics Magnetic Chess Set, you can almost do the same.
This wall-mounted 18-inch chess set features a classic frame and magnetic board. You can choose from three color schemes to match your existing home decor. Each chess set includes mounting hardware.
The pieces all feature strong magnets, letting you play a game of chess over a few minutes or the course of days. This set even includes a magnetic turn marker, so you always know when to make your move.
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10. FAO Schwarz Wood Chess, Checkers, and Tic-Tac-Toe Set
For those pining after a simple, no-frill chessboard to practice their newfound hobby, the FAO Schwarz Wood Chess, Checkers, and Tic-Tac-Toe Set is near-perfect.
The wood chessboard measures about 15 inches across with a stylish red and black color scheme. While chess is what we really care about here, the board is reversible for playing checkers or tic-tac-toe.
The included chess pieces feature a matching color scheme and classic shapes. Keep in mind that there’s no built-in storage with this chess set, so you’ll need to keep track of all of the pieces (plus the included checkers) on your own.
11. ChessBazar 12×12″ Chess Set with Bag
The ChessBazar 12x12-inch Chess Set with Bag combines a traditional color scheme and pieces with the convenience of a folding board and built-in storage. The end result is a gorgeous chess set that remains true to the game’s classic aesthetic.
Everything in this chess set is carved from Indian rosewood. The chessboard measures inches across and includes a felt-lined storage compartment. Unlike some other sets with built-in storage, this one features molded slots that are the perfect size for each piece.
The two sets of chess pieces feature light and dark natural wood finishes. They are also magnetic, giving you greater piece-of-mind in the middle of an intense game. To top it off, the ornate latch offers a glamorous touch to this classic chessboard.
12. DakshCraft Game Chess Set in Wood with Marble Pieces
There’s no shortage of beautiful wood chess sets to choose from, but the DakshCraft Game Chess Set in Wood with Marble Pieces steps it up a notch by adding marble to its design.
The 12-inch chessboard opens up with a hinged lid design — not the folded design normally seen. This is great for players who dislike the play area gap created by folding chess sets.
Where this chess set stands out is with the gorgeous black-and-white marble pieces. Unfortunately, these pieces are not as durable as plastic or wood ones. Be careful not to drop any of the pieces on a hard surface.
Complete Your Gift With One of These Chess Strategy Books…
Just owning one of these beautiful chess sets isn’t enough, at least if you want to hone your skills and really master the game.
Pair your giftee’s new chess set with any of these books for the whole package:
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess isn’t just one of the best chess strategy books for beginners. According to the original novel’s author, Bobby Fischer was actually the main inspiration for Beth Harmon’s character in “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Gender differences aside, Bobby Fischer and his fictional prodigy share very similar careers. For example, they both learned Russian in their teenage years in preparation for taking on the Soviet chess scene.
There are other similarities, but we won’t include any spoilers here!
The author of Beginning Chess: Over 300 Elementary Problems for Players New to the... Bruce Pandolfini, is a National Master chess player. He’s also one of the best teachers of chess strategy to beginner and intermediate players.
This book includes a brief overview of chess as a whole. But the real value is in the over 300 chess problems laid out for new players to solve.
Written by renowned chess authors and champions Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld, WINNING CHESS is a great introduction to offensive tactics.
This book uses illustrations and play-by-play descriptions to teach new players how to spot openings in their opponent’s defense. Featured scenarios slowly ramp up in difficulty, so readers’ chess skills will markedly improve by the end.
A First Book of Morphy
In the 1800s, Paul Morphy became the first American chess champion and, according to many preceding Masters, one of the greatest players to ever live. Written by Frisco Del Rosario, A First Book of Morphy describes and analyzes more than 60 games played by Morphy during his life.
Studying other’s games is a classic way for chess players to improve their knowledge and skillsets. “A First Book of Morphy” is, without a doubt, one of the best game collections to start with.
Call “Checkmate” With Beautiful Chess Sets of Your Own
“The Queen’s Gambit” mini-series might be over, but the world of chess isn’t going anywhere. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone on your holiday gift list, these sets are a great introduction to the game of chess.
What style of chessboard was your first? Do you have any favorite chess strategy books you’d recommend to new players? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Last update on 2021-01-24 at 11:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API