I'm buying this set.

It looks expensive, yet it's cheap. So how to determine the value of a set? How much does a first class set usually cost? Does it include a timer or any accessories? Are there famous manufacturers like D&G in clothing? And what are the most expensive sets ever?

  • Apart from value, my advice is to consider the usability of the chess set. Having a chess set that is clumsy and non-practical makes it useless. Unless you are happy to keep it around as a "work of art". Cheers.
    – user2001
    Mar 23, 2014 at 16:25
  • @RauanSagit well if I had a lot of money, I'd buy a set and keep it as work of art as you said, so elegant ;) in fact many businessmen don't know how to play chess, they buy a crystal chess set or whatever
    – Lynob
    Mar 24, 2014 at 11:22

2 Answers 2


The value of a set can be pretty arbitrary. Things that affect the cost of a set include:

  • the materials from which it's made
  • the amount of skilled hand-work
  • the quality of the components
  • its rarity
  • size
  • accessories

The travel set you posted is unremarkable with respect to the attributes above: - it's plastic - none - historically low - not at all - small - magnetic board and carrying case.

Now, the same set coming from, say Germany, would get similar remarks except for the "quality" rating. I'd expect that a set from Germany would be made of better components; thicker plastic, better glue, and more careful assembly.

Now, value is a tricky beast. The hypothetical German set I mentioned might cost $30. The Chinese set could have the same or better value. You won't know until it is in your hand. For $17, you'll probably have a set you can use for a year or two. Who knows, though, it could be amazing and last forever. Or it could arrive broken. Who knows.

I don't know much about travel sets. A webs search should tell you what's out there. Then you can compare features.

I think the most luxurious sets are coming out of the House of Staunton. You'll see some amazing sets there. Be prepared for sticker shock. My personal insane favorite would be the set made from mammoth ivory.

Bigger is not always better, rarer materials are not always more practical, fancy is not always better than simple. HoS has more affordable sets, though many would not consider them so. The Reykjavik set has always been a favorite of mine. Boxwood and ebony are to me the perfect woods and a 3.75" King is the perfect size. The design is clean. It's $350.

What makes these sets a good value is that the wood used is rare, suited for the task, and of high quality. The workmanship is where it needs to be. Skilled people are carving the knights (in some cases), the size is correct, the weights are correct, the styles are correct (don't take your Star Trek themed set to a tournament...), and they simply feel good to touch.

  • Hos sets are so perfect! Wow!
    – Lynob
    Mar 23, 2014 at 18:38
  • Value is NOT arbitrary. But it does depend on many factors. In the end supply and demand will determine the true value. Feb 3, 2020 at 15:54

The value of anything is exactly what a willing buyer is willing to pay to a willing seller. There is no other way to determine value. Value can not be imputed by some authority who says that is what something is worth.

In the end it is supply and demand that sets the value.

When there are multiple sellers and or buyers then the value will depend on how many items are available for sale. Auctions work for scarce items to determine value. Competition by sellers works for plentiful commodity items.

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