Chess is a fun game which can be played by people of all skill levels. The one thing common to all players is that they all need a chess set. When looking over the options, there can be what seems to be a baffling array of different types and designs of these sets. To help clear things up, here is a guide to how to choose a chess game set.
First, decide on the purpose of the set. Obviously, the main purpose of most chess sets is to be used to play chess. Many, however, have secondary purposes: to show off the expense of the set, to catch the eye, or just to let visitors know that a person is into chess.
For serious playing of the game of chess, a Staunton-style chess game set is an absolute must. Most, if not all, chess competitions—at every skill level—will mandate the use of the Staunton style. The size and color of the pieces is also mandated by competitions. Even if you're a rank beginner, you should play on a "competition legal" chess game set so you get used to using it. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to find a qualifying Staunton-style chess set. They are the ones with pieces that are instantly recognizable as being “chess” pieces. Information found on or in the set will also give details like the size of the King.
Staunton-style chess game sets come in every conceivable price range. You can buy them for under $10, or spend well over $1,000. The difference in price is due to the differences in the construction and craftsmanship involved; a molded plastic set is far cheaper then one of fine hand-carved ebony and boxwood.
Novelty chess game sets have two main subcategories: sets made of unusual materials, and sets whose pieces have unusual shapes. Glass is a common alternative material, but there are also ones made of granite or other such materials. The important thing to look for in these chess sets is high contrast. To avoid frustration, it must be easy to tell which pieces belong to which player.
Unusually-shaped chess game sets are fun to look at, but may be hard to play with. The difficulty comes from the fact that none of the pieces look like what chess players expect to see. Novelty sets are a good conversation piece, but any serious chess player will be running for his or her Staunton-style set after just a few games. Still, they are interesting; therefore, people who like to collect chess sets will usually have at least one of this type.