This article is a recap of my personal search for my perfect weighted chess pieces. Here’s my story: I just really enjoy solving chess puzzles, and I like to look at a difficult puzzle, then sit for long periods of time while I think. I like to set up a puzzle over the board and just check in on it several times during the day and occasionally move the pieces around and then set the puzzle back.
So I bought a low cost mat chess set like this one:
Honestly, I love the mat boards. I know I’m in the minority, but I actually prefer them to a traditional wooden board. But what I found was the pieces that came with the board just didn’t feel very satisfying to move. It was like picking up a foam packing peanut.
I wanted something that felt more like picking up a piece made out of gold. I mean I wanted these pieces to be so epic that I could see ripples in the glass of water next to my chess board when I set them down. Like T-Rex footsteps from Jurassic Park kind of epic.
Breakdown of Chess Piece Weights
Chess pieces come in five different weight designations:
- Single weighted
- Double weighted
- Triple weighted
- Quadruple weighted
Unfortunately there’s no standard way of measuring the weight of chess pieces. Unweighted pieces consist of a single material, like plastic or wood and their weight is just whatever the weight of that material happens to be.
Single, Double, Triple and Quadruple weighted chess pieces consist of a material like plastic or wood, and some additional heavier material (usually iron or lead) is added to the bottom of the piece to make it heavier.
Quadruple weighted chess pieces are heavier than triple weighted which is heavier than double weighted, and double weighted is heavier than single weighted.
The history of these names is from a number of individual metal slugs were injected into the bottom of the chess pieces. Single weighted meant that one metal slug had been injected, double weighted meant two slugs were injected and so on.
Today only one metal injection is made, but the total weight of that injection is roughly equal to what the total weight of all those metal slugs would have been in the past.
Weight of Different Chess Piece Materials
The added metal is only one piece of the equation. Chess pieces can be made of several different materials. I’m sure you’re familiar with wood and plastic, but there are also ivory, glass, clay, pewter, stone, and several types of metal pieces available as well.
Each of these materials has a different density and thus has a different weight.
Here is a table of the estimated density of many of these materials:
|Wood||1.5 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Plastic||0.9 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Ivory||1.9 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Glass||2.5 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Clay||1.7 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Pewter||7.5 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Stone||1.6 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Copper||9.0 grams per cubic centimeter|
|Brass||8.7 grams per cubic centimeter|
So you can see that pieces made of metal are going to be 3-5 times as heavy as pieces made of other materials. One way to get a weighty set is to just go straight for all metal pieces.
How to Compare the Weight of Different Chess Sets
There are really two primary ways to compare weight between chess sets.
- Compare the total weight of all pieces combined
- Compare the weight of the King in each set
The distribution of the total weight of a chess set between it’s pieces will be different from one set to another, so generally I prefer to compare the total weight of two sets. But you may prefer (many do) to compare a single piece like the King or Queen between to sets.
Best Plastic Weighted Chess Pieces
Let’s start off with pieces of the plastic variety. All of these sets will require the added weight of metal injections.
Bobby Fischer Ultimate Tournament Staunton Chess Pieces (Triple Weighted)
- Made from Plastic, triple weighted pieces
- Total weight of all pieces: 3.85 pounds (1.72 kg)
- King stands 3.75 inches tall and weighs 2.89 oz
- Felt bottoms
This set is triple weighted and incredibly well reviewed. For the most part buyers only have good things to say: beautiful, heavy, durable and feel great to play with. The only negative feedback I could find was that the white pieces sometimes appear more yellow than ivory colored and that the pieces feel crowded on a small board.
The product meets all US Chess Federation and FIDE world standards for tournament chess play, so unless you have a small board you should have no issue with the size of the pieces.
Overall, these are very high quality chess pieces, and because they are made of plastic, they are less expensive than other sets of similar quality.
Quadruple Weighted Silicone Tournament Style Chess Set
- Made from Silicone, quadruple weighted pieces
- Total weight of all pieces: 4 pounds (1.81 kg)
- King stands 4 inches tall and weighs 2.4 oz
- Felt bottoms
Another very high quality plastic set in a similar price range, this set is quadruple weighted and has a slightly higher overall weight than the previous plastic set. Although it’s worth noting that the King in this set is a bit lighter, so other pieces will likely be heavier than the other set.
This set is also incredibly well reviewed by its customers: Attractive, solid, great feel. The main complaint I’m seeing in the reviews is that the silicone board that comes with the set isn’t of the same quality as the pieces. That’s not a problem for me personally because I’m interested only in the pieces, but keep this in mind if you’re planning to use the board that comes with this set.
Overall, this set is very similar to the other plastic set I recommended. The main difference is that this one is a bit heavier overall and the pieces are slightly bigger/taller. I also slightly prefer the look of this set, but that’s just my personal preference.
Best Wood Weighted Chess Pieces
Wood pieces are also incredibly common. They have a very different look from the plastic. I personally prefer the look and feel of plastic pieces, but if you prefer wooden pieces, check out these sets.
High Polymer Weighted Chess Set
- Made from Polymer with a wood design finish
- Total weight of all pieces: 3.5 pounds (1.59 kg)
- King stands 3.75 inches tall
- Felt bottoms
Let me start first and foremost by saying that this set is made of polymer, not wood. Real weighted wood sets cost a lot, so I wanted to present a more affordable option that still looks and feels like a wood set.
These pieces come in as the lightest set on the list at 3.5 pounds (still about twice as heavy as your average unweighted set). This product is another with raving reviews, although much like other products on the list it comes with a board and customers were not impressed with the board.
The big selling point on this set is that it looks and feels like a weighted wood set, but it doesn’t have the high price tag of a real wooden set.
House of Chess Wooden Chess Set (Triple Weighted)
- Made from Ebony Wood and Bud Rose Wood
- Total weight of all pieces: 5.3 pounds (2.4 kg)
- King stands 4.5 inches tall
- Felt bottoms
- Comes with felt covered box for pieces
This is one of the most beautiful chess piece sets I’ve ever seen. They are carved from Ebony wood (black pieces) and Bud Ros Wood (white pieces) and the details on the carvings are truly stunning.
Now like I mentioned before weighted wooden chess pieces do not come cheap. You’ll be spending a pretty penny, but you’ll also have a set of chess pieces that are of the highest quality, triple weighted and you’ll just generally be the envy of every chess player you sit down with.
This set is nearly as heavy as the Janus metal set (up next), but it is far and away the highest quality product on this list.
Best Weighted Chess Pieces (Not Plastic or Wood)
There are some great heavy chess sets made from other materials, namely metal. Let’s take a look at two quality metal sets.
Janus Silver and Bronze Extra Heavy Metal Chess Pieces
- Made from Zinc alloy with bronze and silver finishes
- Total weight of all pieces: 5.34 pounds (2.42 kg)
- King stands 4.5 inches tall and weighs 4.3 oz
- Hollow core (so extra weight can be added)
- Felt bottoms
If you want an extremely heavy set of chess pieces, you’ll probably want to go with a metal set. As mentioned earlier in the article, metal is 3-5 times as dense as wood and plastic, so you don’t even need the added weight to make your pieces feel substantial. And the pieces in this Janus set are hollow which would allow you to add even more weight inside if you felt they needed a little something extra.
The King has a 1.88 inch diameter, so it is a large piece. If you choose to go with this set then you’ll want to ensure that the squares on your board are AT LEAST 2 inches x 2 inches.
This is another high quality set, but it also comes in as the second most expensive one on the list. It doesn’t come with a chess board, so you’ll be spending all your money on these very heavy and quality set.
Odysseus Metal Weighted Chess Pieces
- Made from Zinc allow with silver and bronze finishes
- Total weight of all pieces: 1.95 pounds (0.88 kg)
- King stands 2.5 inches tall and weighs 1.7 oz
- Felt bottoms
This metal set comes in as the smallest of the bunch. If you have a small/travel sized chess board, this may be your best shot at using weighted chess pieces. Generally the King is 3.5-4.5 inches tall with a diameter between 1.5-2 inches. This set is only about 60% of that size.
So that’s why the total weight of all the pieces is lower. For the size, this set is just as heavy as the others on the list.
The main selling point of this product is the price. While metal chess pieces are typically more expensive, the smaller size of the pieces in this set allow you to purchase metal pieces at the price of plastic.
Wrapping It Up
There are quality weighted chess pieces out there of all different kinds. In my opinion, the best weighted chess pieces are those that you can afford and find easily. The most affordable and accessible on the market are plastic pieces with added weight. These are typically labeled single, double, triple or quadruple weighted. This works out quite well for me since I prefer plastic pieces to other varieties.
Metal pieces are also quite affordable and don’t require any additional help to feel heavy, since metal is dense enough to already have a substantial weight.
Weighted wooden pieces are also accessible, but they come at a hefty price tag. Most wooden pieces are unweighted, and the process of adding the extra weight is costly. So if you desire the aesthetic of a wooden piece and value the feel of a weighted piece, prepare to spend some extra money.
And if you take your search for weighted pieces beyond what is affordable and easily accessible, you will find that there are some truly unique weighted chess pieces out there, but I’ll leave that for another article.