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By: Michiel Van Kets, Wed Mar 2nd, 2011
The game of chess has been played all over the world for centuries and remains just as popular today as ever, dads play it with their kids, people join clubs and compete in tournaments, and you can even play it online. It is a game where you can make new friends, and build on improving relations with family and friends.
Chess sets are often highly decorative and can be displayed as a beautiful ornamental piece in the home as well as having a practical and entertaining use. You can easily buy boards for just a few pounds, or pay a lot of money for an exquisite set and keep it as an heirloom. The most important thing you need to do before buying your board and pieces should be to identify its purpose.
Consider whether you just like the look of chess sets and would like one as a decorative piece for the study or to fill up that empty space in the dining room, or will it actually be used for games. If it's to be used on a regular basis then invest in a set that is practical and durable, and easy enough to carry around if needs be.
Next set yourself a budget, once you start looking it's very easy to get carried away as there are some really beautiful and interesting sets available. Unless you budget yourself to a certain figure you may end up coming home with a really expensive item that doesn't fit your needs. Saying that it is essential to invest in a quality product as it can last a lifetime and a beautifully crafted set will be admired and even encourage you to play more than a cheaper version might.
Look carefully at what the board and pieces are made from - if you intend on taking it to tournaments or chess groups then you need something substantial that won't show the wear and tear too much, but not too heavy as you will get fed up carrying such a weight around! There are plenty of good quality plastic and wooden chess sets available online that are reasonably priced too. A portable set is advisable for trips and whilst travelling around as they're compact, manufactured from lightweight materials and often magnetic so you can play in the car, on the plane or practically anywhere you like.
The online market has an extensive range of chess board and pieces that can be bought separately or as a set, and the ability to open many websites at one time means you can compare prices and quality very simply and quickly. Boards can be made from rubber, plastic, glass or wood, or even finer materials like stone or metal casting, be aware that the finer crafted they are the more fragile they'll be.
Glass options are beautiful but not particularly practical; generally they're not used in real game play and are just for decorative purposes. If you're trying to get the kids interested in the game then check out novelty sets, they're a fun way to encourage the younger generation to learn this ancient game. You can find pieces carved and moulded into the Simpsons, characters from Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, even Sherlock Holmes.
There are pros and cons to wood and plastic sets, plastic is usually the most affordable but can also be the plainest. A wooden chess set can be folded in half safely storing the pieces inside where they can't get lost which is handy for travelling, get one with a handle and you can even carry it around like a bag.
If you decide to go for wood then the better the quality the longer it will last and the more beautiful it looks! They are particularly solid and wood always improves with age. Best suited for your home there are lots of variety in price, size and quality. Pine, oak and walnut are generally the lowest-priced whilst you'll pay more for ebony, rosewood, and boxwood and pieces that have been intricately carved. A set backgammon is another possibility and just as much fun to play.Michiel Van Kets writes articles for Regency Chess, a supplier of top chess set, matched for the perfect combination of chess boards and pieces. They provide an extensive range of good looking, high quality chess products and set backgammon at reasonable prices that reflects the materials and craftsmanship used to make them. Regency Chess has invested lots of time while working closely with the world's best chess set designers to create some unique and original design for luxury sets.