Choosing the right chess - guide to size, woods and lacquering
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Guide to Choosing a chess set and matching pieces and board
Guide to Choosing a Chess Set



How to combine chess pieces and boards of the correct size

Though we do have some splendid pre-selected chess sets available, most of our customers want to individually choose the pieces and the board from the many options we have. We have made this process as easy as it gets.

The most important factor in matching pieces and a board is the correlation of the square size of the board and the base diameter of the pieces. There should be enough space around the pieces, but not so much as to make it look too sparse. The largest piece is the king and its base should cover 72-86 % of the square.

Each product page of our chess pieces and chess boards has a tab called “Combine with…”. On desktop, it is located under the product images. On mobile screens it can be found under the “Add to Basket” button.

Opening this tab shows you all the pieces/boards that are compatible with the pieces/board you’re looking at. Then it is only a matter of taste which one(s) you decide to choose!

In our current selection, the Earl, the New York, the Viking and the Vulcan series go with a board that has 5 cm (≈ 2.0 inches) per square.

All the other sets (which have a king height of at least 10 cm (≈ 4.0 inches) and a base diameter of ca. 4,7 cm (≈1.85 inches) look best when combined with a board that has 6 cm (≈ 2.36 inches) per square.


Compared to many other chess stores, we offer relatively large amount of lacquered sets. This is in part because of our concept, according to which we concentrate on high-end, best quality chess.

Lacquering makes the sets a little bit more expensive than non-lacquered, traditional versions. One obvious advantage of it is that it protects the wood from changing the color, which is a natural process happening over time in all woods. The other, obvious effect is the luxurious, glossy feel it brings.

This is not to say that non-lacquered pieces can’t be equally luxurious. It is, after all, a matter of taste and also a matter of the design of the pieces. In our opinion, the lacquered pieces suit perfectly many modern designs, whereas the non-lacquered, polished pieces often suit more traditional designs. Our goal is to have different options available for every taste!



Ebony is a world-famous wood, used in manufacturing the world’s most valuable stringed instruments: guitars and grand pianos. It is famous for its unique black colour, hence our use of it for the most valuable black chess pieces.

Many chess companies sell “ebonized” chess pieces. It is important to know that this term simply means less valuable wood that is stained black. All chess pieces sold by Design Chess marketed as ebony are made of genuine ebony.


Like ebony, the African padauk is a very valuable wood, and it can be used as an alternative to both white and black chess pieces.

The chess sets made of padauk benefit greatly from a well-lit playing environment. The more light there is, the more striking its red tones look.


Boxwood is the most common wood for white chess pieces, owing to its fine grain and high density. It can be also painted in any colour.

Antiqued boxwood means boxwood that has gone through a chemical process, where the wood is given a darker, antique tone. At the moment, we offer this option in the 1849 Staunton series, where it fits perfectly.