As a follow up to my original question What are the characteristics of a good chess board? I was wondering what companies are the most reputable for chessboard construction. Since I am just a beginner I am curious at lower cost beginner boards, but also in other boards that I might want to splurge on one day if I really get into chess.
The standard vinyl board is hard to beat for everything except showing off a chess set. You can get them for cheap from the USCF or from any other purveyor of chess gear.
Here's one from Cajun chess for $4. I bought a few sets from them. I like them.
Looks like tournament-sized wooden boards begin at $50.
UK and Europe based can order chess board from Discover Handicrafts
Their chess boards are made from wood and very artistics.
A lot of the chess sets out there look pretty nice, but frankly most of the manufacturers invest all their effort into attractive molds and durable plastic. Very few of them offer even the most basic features that you would expect in this day and age - the features that would most enhance your game.
I just spent over $50 for a tournament set for my son. Yes, it has hefty, triple-weighted pieces for stability and an attractive Staunton design, and the pieces seem very durable. The set even came with extra queens - a nice touch for those four-queen positions you get every once in a while. But look at what it doesn't have:
Undo. This feature has been in cheap word processors since the '80's, but is totally missing from the set.
Syntax Checking. The set allows illegal moves without so much as a warning. This has been a feature of programming editors since the '90s.
Speed Regulation. The set allows me to make moves as hastily as I want, even though my game always suffers as a result. For goodness sake, the escapement has been a part of clocks since the 13th Century!
Drink Holders. Ok, this one is just a personal preference, but my minivan comes with about 16. You would think that a chess set would have space for at least two.
The upshot: It doesn't seem to matter how much you spend, you aren't going to get these sorts of features. So if you ask me, all the companies out there are ripping us off. The USCF has been doing it the longest - I suppose there is some merit to the thought that if you are going to be swindled, get swindled by someone who has been at it for a long time and has swindled lots of others. It's less embarrassing.