For my son's 5th birthday one of his friends gave him a chess set. I thought it was a rather ambitious gift for someone who hadn't even started kindergarten yet, but it turns out I thought wrong. Not only was it one of his favorite gifts, but it was so much fun my husband and I have co-opted it to play by ourselves after dinner some nights. Whether you're new to the game or a seasoned pro, a great chess set can make the game even more fun.
If you have never played before, or if you're introducing young children to the game, I highly recommend Winning Moves' No Stress Chess
set (from $13). It comes with a standard chess board and pieces, but it also includes a deck of chess cards. Each card shows a chess piece as well as a diagram and description of how that piece can move. On your turn, you draw a card from the deck and you must move the piece pictured on the card. It takes some of the strategy and planning out of the game, but it's a simple way to introduce new players to the pieces, moves and rules of chess. It also makes the game go quickly so young learners don't get bored. When you're comfortable with the rules and movements, just play without the cards. If your kids are too young for a chess set, check out some Games for Precocious Preschoolers
Like chess but want to mix it up with other games? This Wooden 3-in-1 Chess Set
($50) includes everything you need for chess, checkers and backgammon. The board folds in half to make a carry case and all the pieces fit inside for complete game night portability. Chess, checkers and backgammon are great games for kids and adults alike. Looking for more family games? Take a look at these games for teens
, games for family game night
, and games for adults
The French Lardy Staunton Chess Set
($152) is a close replica of a popular antique French chess set. The beautiful golden rosewood and boxwood pieces coordinate with the walnut and maple board. A gorgeous soft satin finish lends elegance and the raised, box-style board includes a drawer on each player's side to store the pieces, each of which is like a miniature work of art. This chess set would make a great gift for someone's retirement, milestone anniversary or any other special occasion.
If you really want to mix it up, check out this Giant Chess Set
(on sale for $90). Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, you can really get into the game...literally. A fun novelty for family reunions, school events, park trips and other group events.
For something a little more travel-friendly, this Magnetic Wooden Travel Chess Set
is just the ticket. Planes, trains or automobiles, it goes wherever you go, which is great, since you just might find yourself addicted to playing chess!