Chess has always been a relatively popular game, hobby, and form of mental stimulation. It’s a game particularly favored by intellectuals and it teaches cognitive skills like planning, strategy, memory retention, and awareness so it’s also a game that is great for child development.
With the increased popularity in recent years, partly down to the success of the Netflix hit show “The Queen’s Gambit”, there’s never been a better time to take up chess and get your kid a good and engaging set to learn the game (or for the already avid player) can be tricky.
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In this article, we’ve put together the ultimate buying guide and will review the best kid’s chess set to ensure that you get a set that your kid will enjoy for years to come.
What to Look for in a Kids Chess Set
Before getting into the best chess sets on the market, we first want to cover what you should be looking for when buying a kid’s chess set. There are some factors that you need to take into consideration that you’ve likely not even thought about when looking into this.
An age rating for the set will be applicable if you are starting your children with the game from a young age. Chess is not an easy game to learn or master (though it will enhance cognitive abilities and reasoning) so a kid-specific chess set will usually factor in their age.
Age is also important for some of the following reasons:
Size of Pieces
A chess set for kids needs to have pieces big enough that they will not be a choking hazard (unless they only play during supervised games) but they also need to allow for dexterity.
Children have not fully mastered fine motor skills for grasping objects, therefore, you want the pieces to be as easy to handle and move around the board as possible.
While a heavy, weighted piece is satisfying to move for experienced older players, this can be difficult for children. You will want the pieces to have some form of bottom weight so that they are not constantly being knocked over but not so heavy that they are difficult to move.
It’s also a good idea to avoid glass boards or heavy wooden sets that a child can drop and either break or injure themselves with.
Fun and Visual
Most importantly, you want a chess set to be fun, engaging, and visual. Attention spans can be hard to keep but an engaging set (perhaps with a specific theme that they like) will keep the child’s attention for longer and make them more enthusiastic about learning and playing chess.
This is something we’ve paid particular attention to in this article, there can be a lot of good “educational” chess sets but if the kids are not engaged and having fun, the set will ultimately serve no purpose.
The Best Chess Sets for Children
Toy Story Collector’s Chess Set
Best chess set for 7 years old and above
What better way to introduce your child to chess than through one of the most popular animated franchises in tv history in Toy Story? This visually engaging and detailed set will get kids hooked on chess as they move around some of their favorite characters from the film.
Toy Story has a widespread appeal and a lot of the buyers for this particular set take equal enjoyment in playing chess with their kids as a result of the detail and character selection in this set. Buzz, Woody, Rex, Forky, and Bullseye are just a few of the well-known characters that have plenty of detail on their sculpted PVC pieces.
The pieces are marked on the base to help kids learn and identify the pieces but as no two pieces are alike (besides the pawns), it may take some learning to grasp what each piece is and where it can move.
- Collectible chess set featuring Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 characters in custom sculpted pieces
- Blue team features Jessie and Buzz Lightyear as queen and king, Trixie and Rex a s rooks, Dolly and Bullseye as knights, Slinky Dog and Mr. Pricklepants as bishops, and Little Green Aliens as pawns
- Gold team features Bo Peep and Woody as queen and king, Forky and Hamm as rooks, Duke and Buttercup as knights, Bunny and Ducky as bishops, and Army Men as pawns
- Celebrate the Toy Story movies with the classic game of chess with this collector's chess set of pieces and decorative chess board
- Ages 7+ | 2 Players | 60+ Min Play Time
- Detailed and sculpted pieces that feature the most popular characters in Toy Story including Buzz, Woody, Forky, and the little green aliens.
- The detail on the pieces is high-quality and a lot of people like this set purely for the collectible appeal and value.
- It includes characters right the way through to Toy Story 4 so your child will definitely have a few favorites in this set.
- You’ll need to memorize each piece as no two pieces are the same (except for pawns) and while they are displayed on the base, you’d still be best memorizing them for play.
- Not suitable for young children due to the small pawns.
Winning Moves No Stress Chess Set
Best chess set for 7 – 12 years old
The No Stress chess set is the ideal starter set for a kid wanting to learn the game of chess. This unique set comes with a double-sided board and allows kids to progress from the beginner level (learning side of the board) to someone that understands the game and can play it on a regular board (reverse side).
The incremental improvements are made through the use of visual playing cards and an annotated playing board that instructs and develops the child’s understanding of the game and allows them to progress at their own pace.
In terms of product quality, the set is quite basic but the great thing about this product is that the price point is very affordable and no different from a basic chess set despite having the educational element included.
- CHESS IN SMALL STEPS: Finally, learn chess without stress! The secret? An innovative deck of action cards with moves determined by random draws.
- LET'S PLAY: Player with white pieces begins the game by drawing a card. Move the piece indicated by the card any way you want - as long as it's within that pieces abilities.
- LET'S MOVE: Can your opponent's card play his rook and take your queen? Beginners learn rules and movements of chess, yet fun for advanced players too.
- WHAT WE INCLUDE: 2 sided chess board, 16 black pieces and 16 ivory pieces, 56 action cards, black plastic card tray and instructions. Age 7+
- STANDARD CHESS: Once you're comfortable with the moves and powers of each chess piece, you can flip the two-sided board over and play standard chess.
- The educational set features a 2-in-1 functionality so as players learn and progress, they can flip the board over and use it as a regular chess set.
- The progressional style used is incremental and teaches the game of chess through action and actually playing the game rather than through theory.
- The price is very inexpensive when you consider the fact that it’s a learning tool as well as a standard chess set.
- The cards dictate what moves each piece should make; it doesn’t go as far as teaching the child why each move is part of a “strategy”.
Marvel Collector’s Chess Set
Best chess set for 8 years old and above
The Marvel Collector’s chess set is perfect for combining the game of chess with notable kids' favorites, action figures, and superheroes.
This particular chess set has a great level of detail for the characters and there are some undeniable characters that your kids will love, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man all feature and you can guarantee that the characters alone will be enough to get you kids addicted to chess.
This set has the highest age rating from our recommendations but the reason for this is that it’s a collectors edition with hand-painted sculptures. This will not only be of interest to kids but also to teens and adults that are fans of the Marvel universe.
If you have a kid that wants to play chess, this is arguably the best set to catch their attention and keep them engaged for hours at a time.
- Collectible chess set featuring custom sculpted, hand-painted pieces of Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes and villains
- S.H.I.E.L.D side characters include Iron Man as King, Captain Marvel as Queen, Black Widow & Captain America as Bishops, Spider-Man & Black Panther as Knights, Hulk & Thor as Rooks, and S.H.I.E.L.D as Pawns
- HYDRA side characters include Thanos as King, Hella as Queen, Kingpin & Red Skull as Bishops, Kill monger & Venom as Knights, Loki & Ultron as Rooks, and HYDRA as Pawns
- Includes 32 Custom Movers, 1 Game Board, 1 Chess Mover Reference Sheet, Rules
- 2 Players | Ages 8+ | 60 Min Play Time
- The high-quality pieces are hand sculpted and a great level of detail has gone into some of the fan-favorite characters.
- This set has a universal appeal and therefore a child is less likely to “grow out” of this as they are with some of the other child-themed sets.
- This particular set has the highest age rating of 8+ years which could be limiting depending on the age of your children or those that you are buying it for.
Amerous Magnetic Set
Best chess set for 9 years old and above
The Amerous chess set is different from others on this list in that it’s a more traditional chess set and not a child-specific set. With that said, it does have a certain appeal as a kids chess set which is why it has an inclusion on this list.
Firstly, it’s a magnetic set that keeps the pieces in position and keeps them there firmly. A common issue with chess sets for kids is the plastic pieces are lightweight and easily knocked over which can either be frustrating or a large distraction for kids.
The magnetic pieces, therefore, prevent accidental knocks and ruined games. This set also doubles as a foldable and portable chess set keeping all pieces firmly secure in a case. While apps and video games are good distractions on trips, this is an ideal travel solution for your young chess addicts.
- INTELLIGENT ENLIGHTENMENT - Not only suitable for adults playing with fun, this magnetic chess set could be a useful tool to enlighten your kids and stimulate their intelligence. Chess learning is no longer boring, but with joy and interest. Perfect for beginners and those indulged in electronic gadgets
- MAGNETIC CHESSMEN - The hand carved wood chess pieces are magnetically attached to the board and won’t fall off during the game, which allows you to play the board game on the road, in car, airplane or any mobile vehicles
- EASY TO CARRY - Lightweight and folding board design makes it portable to carry around and easy to travel with. Compact board size fits your luggage or bag when travelling while chess pieces are large enough to handle, playing with comfort
- PREMIUM QUALITY - Handmade with high quality wooden material, the smooth surface of the entire chess board ensures optimal touch comfort while playing chess and checkers game. 2 extra queens are added to the board as free accessories at your disposal
- PERFECT GIFT - Promote the relationship between children and friends or parents, sharing board game, suitable for indoor and outdoor, widely used in schools, families, camping and travel, is the most popular board game, can be used as a gift at Christmas , Children’s Day, birthday, New Year gift for children or adults
- Hand-carved wooden pieces are large, nicely weighted, and of really good quality which should last decades of use.
- The magnetic board holds pieces firmly in position and doubles up as a lightweight carry case for added portability.
- The product is highly rated and widely considered an ideal gift for chess players of all ages.
- There is not any notation on the board for the grid layout (1-8, A-H) which will make it difficult as the players progress and look to use moves learned through chess notations. We haven’t mentioned this on other products but that is because they have a board designed for fun or with a theme.
Super Mario Chess Set
Best chess set for 5 years old and above
The Super Mario chess set is a timeless addition that utilizes the fun concept of colorful and animated characters. Mario, Luigi, and Bowser are all present and the vibrant and colorful theme is sure to get your children visually stimulated and engaged.
When it comes to kids’ chess sets, this is one of the most purchased options on the market with 1,300+ happy customers through Amazon alone! This can only be a testament to the widespread appeal and product quality.
If you need a chess set to get children engaged as well as having a convenient storage solution when not in use, this could be the ideal set.
- 32 custom, hand-painted Super Mario brothers figurine chess pieces
- Custom Super Mario Bros. Game board
- Packaged in a collectible tin
- This collectible edition comes with a lightweight carry tin for storage and also has a clear display making it an all-in-one type of product.
- One of the most bought, reviewed, and popular chess sets on Amazon and not just in the kid’s category.
- The pieces are far from heavy-duty and therefore care needs to be taken when handling and storing them. While the pieces are engaging, it may not be best for younger children.
It’s a tough decision but our choice for the best kids chess set is the Toy Story Chess Set. We’ve opted for this product for a few reasons. Firstly, Toy Story is universally loved and it’s bound to be a set that your kids will enjoy.
The choice of characters is great and the level of detail is impressive. We also think that adults and teens can also enjoy this set allowing for a better bonding session with your child and shared enjoyment. The price is also very reasonable for this product considering it’s a licensed product in terms of usage rights.
Overall, this would be a good option for a kid that already enjoys chess or for one that wants to get into it and just needs that slight novelty of a theme to get them hooked.
Choosing the right chess set for a kid can be the difference between them becoming engaged and learning/playing the game of chess or losing all interest and opting for something else more stimulating.
The chess sets we’ve covered either offer a learning aspect to keep them engaged, a particular theme that they’ll enjoy, or one that is easy to use. We’re sure after looking through the above they’ll be a set to suit every child’s preference and even some that an adult can enjoy too!