Forget fancy wood and hefty price tags, a decent chess set doesn’t have to break the bank.
In this guide, I’ll tell you the best chess sets you can buy that blend affordability, quality, and practicality.
The best cheap option is a Quiver chess set with triple-weighted plastic pieces and a vinyl board.
It’s lightweight, portable, and durable. The triple-weighted pieces ensure stability, and the quiver bag has more than enough room to store the entire set.
However, there are also great options other than plastic that are very affordable. I encourage you to read on to find out my top picks.
The Best Cheap Option
The most affordable set you can get is a Quiver chess set with triple-weighted plastic pieces and a vinyl board.
As you can see from the image, the pieces are Staunton-style, and the set comes with a pair of extra queens for promotion.
This set is very practical as it’s lightweight, portable, and will last a very long time. The triple-weighted pieces ensure stability and offer a much better tactile playing experience.
The Quiver chess bag has more than enough room to store the roll-up vinyl board as well as the full set of plastic pieces.
It’s manufactured by the United States Chess Federation (USCF), so it satisfies all FIDE requirements for official tournament use at such a low price.
Cheapest Place to Buy
I’ve done thorough research, and I can confidently tell you that your best bet is to buy this set from Amazon.
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I searched many of the most prominent online chess stores like the House of Staunton, Royal Chess Mall, Wholesale Chess, The Chess Store, and US Chess Sales, and found that you can get such a set for around $20.
However, for a cheap chess set like this, shipping fees will be very expensive — they can take your total up to around $70 or $80 depending on where you’re living. This would defeat the entire purpose.
These chess stores do have free shipping options, but the problem is that they’re usually only applicable for orders above $100.
On Amazon, on the other hand, you will find this set for around $30. Shipping fees may take it up to around $50, but overall, it will still be much cheaper than if you get it from an online chess store like those I mentioned.
And the nice thing is, the set on Amazon is actually sold by none other than the House of Staunton itself, so there’s no difference in quality!
The set comes in different colors that are easy on the eye: black, blue, green and red. Choose your preference.
Green seems to be the standard, and is actually $2 more expensive than the other colors. However, they’re all easy on the eye so feel free to choose black, blue, or red if you like.
The vinyl board lays flat and resists wear. Sure, it might not have the warmth of wood, but for its value and practicality, it’s definitely hard to beat.
Silicone is more durable, but pricier.
Mousepad may fold better, but it’s less grippy and pieces may sometimes slide off.
All in all, I’d recommend vinyl since it’s cheaper, but if you’re willing spend some more, do keep the better durability of silicone in mind.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Plastic
An affordable chess set doesn’t necessarily have to be plastic.
If you’re seeking a touch of warmth and elegance on your chessboard, there’s definitely room to explore the charm of wood in the budget-friendly arena.
A wooden chess set feels smooth and adds a touch of character to each game. Pieces crafted from boxwood or rosewood are very satisfying to play with.
Forget luxury and intricate carvings. We’re talking about travel-friendly wood sets designed for the budget-conscious chess enthusiast.
I’m going to give you 3 very affordable options. Sure, these sets might not scream grandmaster, but they offer a unique playing experience.
A beautiful blend between minimalist and classic, this foldable travel chess set is a great budget-friendly option.
Its exact price before shipping depends on the type of inlay you choose. The one in the picture above, Maple Inlay, costs $16.99, but there are two other inlay options:
Whichever one you choose, the total inclusive of shipping costs will be around $30. This is an exceptionally good price for a wooden chess set of this quality.
This foldable chess set features Staunton-style chess pieces and an inlaid walnut chess board.
The great thing about this set is that it comes with a free online course taught by an expert!
Its price before shipping is $27.99, so the total inclusive of shipping costs will be well under $50.
This travel chess set boasts great craftsmanship, as the pieces are hand-carved from birch and the wooden board is inlaid with walnut.
Its price before shipping is $29.98, so the total inclusive of shipping costs will be well under $50.
We’ve seen in this guide that a chess set of good quality doesn’t need to cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
I’ve picked the best after extensive research, taking into account elements of practicality, quality, and of course, cost.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me, go ahead and leave me a comment down below. I’d be more than happy to have a chat with you.
Now, if you’re someone seeking a collector’s item or a luxurious chess set that can become a family heirloom, I highly recommend you check out the reviews I wrote on the most prominent online chess stores.