Updated: Dec 12, 2021
Chess has seen a recent explosion of interest, in part due to the popularity of “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix and the fact that chess is so easily accessible on the internet. Below is my gift buying guide for those families with a chess hobbyist amongst them:
Although playing chess online is easily accessible, having physical board in your home is a necessity whether they regularly play in person or if they just want to review a game from a book and be able to play out the moves. It comes with pieces, board and a convenient carrying case that will also store a clock, writing instruments and more. This board is vinyl and the pieces plastic making it very durable and easy to clean. This particular set is slightly weighted giving the pieces a nice feel in your hand.
Buy from US Chess for $26.95
2. A regulation chess clock
Chess clocks are essentials for both casual and tournament chess players. The DGT North American chess clock likely gives the most bang for your buck. It is durable, easy to use and can be used for any tournament time control. It is also in the lower price range.
Buy from Wholesale Chess for $49.99
3. Anyone who has played and studied chess over the years will surely have their own chess library. After all, there are more books written about chess than any other subject! Selecting just a few was a difficult task. Note: If your chess player already has their own chess library, there is a fair chance they may already own these titles, so it is worth doing a little snooping before purchasing. Here are some recommendations that would be good fits for players of different levels:
a. Beginners: Logical Chess Move by Move
An absolute classic and necessity for anyone starting off their learning adventure. Available on Amazon before Christmas for $19.76
b. Intermediate: Winning Chess Brilliancies
A collection of games reviewed by GM Yasser Seirawan is sure to delight players of all levels. Available at US Chess for $28.95
c. Advanced: Recognizing Your Opponent’s Resources
Any work by the famous chess trainer Mark Dvoretsky is worth the attention of anyone serious about chess improvement. While he is most famous for his endgame manual, Recognizing Your Opponent’s Resources is another fine work of his that will bring much entertainment and valuable ideas to even the most seasoned veterans of the game. Available at US Chess for $24.95
The popular twitch streaming team at the Chessbrahs has their own line of apparel. Any player’s chess IQ surely will go up while wearing their hoodie! Purchase on their site for $50.00
5. Any seasoned veteran of the game will absolutely appreciate a well-crafted wooden board. Boards range anywhere from $50 to $1,000+.
This olivewood and maple board is appealing to the eyes, elegant and relatively affordable at $169.00 (board only) from The House of Staunton.
I appreciate the black boarders and nice contrast between the squares. If you end up choosing a different style board, be sure to pay attention to the dimensions of the squares (standard is 2.25”). This board will pair nicely with most sets of wooden pieces should your chess player already have some.
When pairing this board with pieces I chose the “Interzonal Series” ($109.00) .
Alternatively the “Players Series” ($189.00) are also quite nice.
Note that the standard sizing of the pieces are based on a king height of 3.75”. This is important to keep in mind if you decide to look for alternatives and want to make sure that the size of the pieces are a good proportion to the size of the board.
6. Gifts for the chess playing family:
a. Four Player Chess: Double your fun (and prepare for headaches) with 4-way chess!
Available from the chess.com store for $19.95
7. Gift an experience of a private chess lesson with a master
RedBandit Chess offers 1-on-1 lessons as well as group classes for players of all ages and abilities. Lessons are conducted online so students can join in from anywhere! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.
8. If your chess player already has it all, do not despair. Here are some unique recommendations that any chess player will appreciate:
These sets make for a unique gift that can become a piece of art in your household and guaranteed conversation starter. Note that this does not include pieces. Pay close attention to the size of the board and pieces when selecting a combination. Prices start at $239.00 at The House of Staunton.
b. The Square Off chess set.
This set is a unique board that will move the pieces for you! You can play against the computer or connect it to your online account when playing against other people. It is currently available on sale for $399 on the Square Off site, but unfortunately out of stock until the end of February, though it may be worth the wait!