Basic Chess Sets

Many gifted children are attracted to chess because of the nature of the game. It is challenging and requires a great deal of strategy. After learning the moves of the various pieces and a few rules, kids can begin to play the game. But the learning doesn't stop there. It takes years to master the game of chess. Every family should have at least one chess set (and maybe another one for travel). While some chess sets are quite expensive (over $1000 range), others are quite inexpensive. You can find undoubtedly find one at your local drug store for under $10. Various ages are given as recommended ages for chess sets, but all you really need to know is whether your child is interested in learning the game, ready to learn it, and isn't going to put the pieces in his mouth.

ThinkFun Solitaire Chess

Solitaire Chess
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Some people find learning the game of chess frustrating, there there are ways to make that learning fun. One way is by starting out with this game. It's based on chess pieces and the way the pieces move so in order to play this game, kids (and adults) will need to learn how to move the pieces. There are fewer pieces to work with too - just ten: two knights, two rooks, two pawns, two bishops, one king, and one queen. Instead of playing a game with an opponent, players work their way through 40 challenges set out on challenge cards. Each challenge has the player set up pieces on the 4-square-by-4-square board. The player then has to capture each piece using moves allowed in chess. The game is great fun for beginners, who can play without a partner. Players will be more easily able to move on to chess because they will know all the moves of the pieces quite well. And...they'll probably come back to this game for some solitaire fun.

Ages 8 and up

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No Stress Chess

No Stress Chess
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This game is another good way to begin learning the game of chess. It uses a standard size board and two full sets of chess pieces, one for each player. Unlike the standard chess game, though, this one comes with a set of "action" cards. Players pick an action card when it's their turn and then have to move the piece on the card as directed, if possible. In this way beginners learn how to move the pieces. There is more "luck of the draw" to the game than there is strategy, but that's good for beginners. It makes the game go faster and gives them a chance to learn how the pieces move. They also learn some of the game play. The board has two sides to it, too. One side shows where the pieces go and the other is the standard board. Once players have learned how the pieces move, they can use the standard side of the board and play without the cards. For a quick game, they can always go back to using the cards.

Ages 7 to 12

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Chess Teacher

Chess Teacher
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The cool thing about this set is that the name of the piece, its value, and its legal moves are written on the base of each piece. They serve as great reminders to those just learning the game of chess. The plastic pieces are hollow so they are lightweight, and the bases are wide so they provide some stability - both great for little hands and fingers.

Ages 6 and up

Classic Wood Folding Chess Set

Classic Wood Folding Chess Set
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This is a fairly basic chess set. It's unique in that the case is also the chess board. The inside of the wooden case is padded and covered in felt to protect the wooded chess pieces. The case unfolds to lay flat, allowing the outside of the case to be used as the chess board. When the game is over, just flip the board over, put pieces away, and close the case!

Ages 8 and up

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Royal 36 European Wood International Chess Set

Royal 36 European Wood International Chess Set 
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This is another chess set in which the board also functions as a case. The chess pieces, handcrafted in Poland, are made from hornbeam wood and are quite attractive. The inside of the folding Birch wood case, is covered in felt and has individual slots to hold each chess piece. The outside of the case functions as the chess board when it's laid flat. What's nice about the board is that it has both letters and numbers to help newbies learn what each cell on the board is called (i.e. D3). The set is attractive enough to leave out or you can put the pieces away in the case.

Ages 5 and up

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Travel Magnetic Chess Set - 9.7"

Travel Magnetic Chess Set - 9.7
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If you'd like a chess set to take to the beach or park to play with your child or one your child can take to school or to friends' houses, then a small, magnetic set is what you want. The pieces look nice, even though they are made of plastic, and have strong magnets on their bases to hold the pieces firmly on the metal board. The kids can even play a game of chess in the car without worrying about the pieces falling off the board or moving around the board when the car hits a bump. When the players are done playing, they can put them inside the case (which also functions as the chessboard).

Ages 5 and up

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Magnetic Wooden Tournament Travel Chess Set

Magnetic Wooden Tournament Travel Chess Set
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If you're looking for a more attractive magnetic travel chess set, you might like this one. It's a little larger than the metal and plastic set, but it's still small. You can't throw it around and expect the pieces to stay firmly on the board, but sometimes some of the pieces won't stay put well, if the board is jostled too hard. Still, it's a beautiful set and quite nice to have around as a travel set.

Ages 5 and up

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