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One of the oldest and most cherished pastimes comes courtesy of a checkered wooden board and 16 unique, elegantly designed pieces. We are, obviously, referring to the game of chess  — something that will never get old, despite technology’s increasing prevalence on our day-to-day lives. Still, there’s no denying the impact chess can have on its users, whether it’s to pass the time, get your competitive juices flowing, stimulate the mind, or as a simple piece of home decor that is both elegant and distinguished. Of course, you don’t have to go out and purchase an expensive, luxury set just to show all your friends that you’re a chess wiz or an aspiring interior decorator — you can opt for an inexpensive, yet still aesthetically pleasing set that can serve its purpose quite masterfully. In fact, you’d be quite surprised at just how elegantly designed some of the more inexpensive sets are. Well, so long as you do enough digging. Fortunately, we have that part covered. We found some of the best bang-for-your-buck chess boards — under a few different categories — that could make a great gift this holiday season. Let’s take a look.

Best Chess Set for Storage

For those who actually want a chess set to, well, play chess, getting one with adequate storage and travel capacities is a must. This Chess Armory 15″ Wooden Chess Set with Felted Game Board Interior for Storage certainly checks those boxes and many more. Here, we have a generously sized 15″ x 15″ chessboard when fully opened. However, the board itself folds up and contains a unique, felt-lined storage area for all the pieces, essentially allowing you to store this board anywhere after use, whether it be on a bookshelf, desk drawer, or simply off to the side or underneath the couch. Really, the options are endless. It’s also small enough to take on the go — you can either swiftly pack it into a bag or carry it by hand. Either way, it’s light, easy-to-carry, and completely non-intrusive. When in its full form, this chess set is also quite luxurious, as it contains fine, hand-crafted, Staunton-style wooden chess pieces, including a sizable 3″ king piece. The chess set itself is wooden with inlaid walnut, giving it a classic, professional look. And from a storage standpoint, each piece can be placed into the straps for stability and the soft felt material provides extra protection for your beloved new pieces.

Chess Armory 15" Wooden Chess Set with Felted Game Board Interior for Storage Chess Armory 15" Wooden Chess Set with Felted Game Board Interior for Storage $28.99 Available from Amazon
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Best Decorative Chess Set

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a set that would look great in any living room while still providing you with a means of playing the classic battle of wits, the Classic Game Collection Metal Chess Set with Deluxe Wood Board is a great option. This option is a bit smaller — it’s a 12″ x 12″ set with a 2.5″ king. However, what it might lack for in size it makes up for in sheer aesthetics. This finely crafted wooden inlaid chess board is both elegant and effective, as it also features its own storage within the board. However, unlike the aforementioned chess set, which condenses to store easy and effectively, this board doesn’t fold up. Rather, it opens up like a container to store your metal chess pieces when you’re not playing. You could also use it for general storage as well, as we suggest to keep the board’s setup intact for decoration purposes. If you do want to store the pieces when not in use, however, the set does come with two velour pull-string pouches to hold each side’s men separately.

Classic Game Collection Metal Chess Set with Deluxe Wood Board and Storage - 2.5" King Classic Game Collection Metal Chess Set with Deluxe Wood Board and Storage - 2.5" King $62.75 Available from Amazon
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Best Chess Set for Kids

If you’re planning on getting a chess set for a child, you should probably start them off with something that teaches them the nuances of the game— especially if they’ve never played before. Luckily, the Winning Moves Games No Stress Chess is the perfect way for any kid (or novice chess player, at that) to dip their toes in the water, so to speak. This chess set is made of plastic and contains 16 Staunton chess pieces in the classic ivory and black color scheme. The board itself is 10.7″ x 12.3″ and is double-sided, with one side containing hints and the other side normal. If it’s intended for someone who has never played before, the side with hints might be the best way for them to get their feet wet. Additionally, the set comes with a deck of cards that shows you how to properly move the piece in pictures. This is a great way to learn the classic game of chess on the fly. So for those whose children always wanted to learn the game of chess but never had the attention span, patience, or confidence to do so, this is the perfect gift.

Winning Moves Games Winning Moves No Stress Chess, Natural (1091) Winning Moves Games Winning Moves No Stress Chess, Natural (1091) $13.49 Available from Amazon
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