What Is The Best Chess Board Color? [Hint: It Depends]

Looking for a new board and wondering if there’s a specific color you should buy to give your game a little extra magic? Or are you concerned that there might be specific colors that you have to avoid in order to avoid headaches or to prevent you from disrupting your opponent’s game. Well, here’s what you need to know about board color.

What is the best chess board color? Green and white, as standardized by some chess federations, works very well though it is not mandatory. Red and black is another popular choice but this color combination seems to cause some people headaches, perhaps due to color blindness issues. The best chess board color combination for you is one that you’re happy to play on!

Let’s explore chess board colors in more detail and what really matters when choosing a chess board.

What is the best chess board color? - ChessPulse.com
What is the best chess board color? – ChessPulse.com

What Is The Bess Chess Board Color?

The best color is always the one you are happiest with. The rules of chess say that you should have one set of squares that are “dark” and one that is “light” and that’s about it.

Traditionally, we refer to the light and dark squares as white and black and, in fact, many traditional sets including the famous Staunton set are black and white. But they don’t have to be. In the American chess association and in America in general, green and white is the staple choice. This is, some say, because it’s easier to see the black pieces on green squares but we’ve seen no evidence that makes this true, either.

In fact, there are chess sets of nearly every color combination and people are happy with them all.

We’d advise avoiding sets where the colors are very similar or that employ red and black (it’s hard on the eyes and for color blind people, red can be a real problem) but other than that? You should take any color that you like and that makes you feel good about it.

How Do You Choose A Chess Board The Works For You?

Well, once you’ve decided on the color of the board that you want there are some other things to consider before you splash out on a new chess board.

Where Will You Use The Board?

Most chess players have a couple of boards. One that they keep at home on a permanent basis. In general, this tends to be a high-quality board with ornate pieces. That’s because it doesn’t have to be carried around and a player can invest more into this kind of board because there’s less risk of losing pieces or dropping the board.

The other kind of board is a travel board. It’s meant to be played anywhere. The kind of set that you can dump into your luggage and then just go. These are lighter, may involve a roll up or folding board and are meant to endure a bit of a beating. They tend to be plainer looking so that they won’t show scuff marks, etc.

We like a folding board that acts as a container for pieces when you pack it away, but many players enjoy a bag for the pieces and rolled away board. It’s a personal taste issue. Magnetic pieces can be handy for travel chess, particularly if you want to play whilst in or on a moving vehicle.

Are You Playing Or Preening?

Let’s be fair, a lot of home chess sets never see any use at all and that’s perfectly OK. They’re bought as ornaments to suggest a certain intellectual rigor within the home rather than as a statement of chess playing brilliance.

These sets “for preening” can be as ornate and as unusual as you like, heck, it doesn’t even really matter if the pieces are recognizable and the squares comfortable for playing the game on as that’s not the purpose of the set.

However, if you’re buying a set for playing on – it’s always best to get pieces that resemble a standard Staunton chess set and to have clearly demarked light and dark squares. You can, of course, go for something fancier but you may find it harder to get used to the Staunton set when you switch back in chess tournaments.

What Size Board Do You Want?

Probably the biggest cost factor in chess boards is that the bigger they are, the more they cost. However, that doesn’t mean that the board size is irrelevant. People who have visual issues may need a much larger set in order to be able to effectively distinguish the pieces and where they are on the board.

Those with larger hands may struggle when it comes to moving pieces around on a smaller board.

One thing that it’s a good idea to do is buy pieces that match the squares. Tiny pieces in huge squares look lost and uncomfortable. The rule of thumb is that the largest base of any piece (the king or queen) ought to cover 75% of the available space in a square.

This is why most people tend to buy a set rather than a separate board and pieces because the two tend to be properly tailored to each other in a set.

What Materials Do You Favor?

Plastic is cheap and cheerful for sure, but it’s also durable. It’s not much fun to hold in the hand though and if you intend to play at home on a board on a regular basis, you can and should do better than plastic – you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nicer chess set but you will appreciate it when you use the set a lot.

Please note that while there are sets that involve ebony and ivory settings and pieces – the ivory trade is illegal now and buying one might get you into a lot of trouble.

Instead, you should consider wood, marble, glass or even metal sets and boards. Be warned though, wood will often scratch as you play as will glass. Marble can be chipped if your moves are too energetic. Glass can shatter too. Metal sets can be tarnished and may need fairly regular polishing to keep them looking good.

Do You Want The Notation Letters And Numbers On The Board?

If you intend to play competitive chess as opposed to playing for fun at home, it can be really beneficial to learn to write down ever chess game that you play. This not only helps in tournaments to allow for scoring and ensuring that everyone plays an honest game but it’s also useful to you as a player because it means you can analyze your play at leisure when the game is done.

The easiest way to learn to do this is to have the numbers and letters on the board and, in fact, many tournament boards kindly supply these. Sure, it might feel a bit like chess kindergarten if you are a more experience player but for beginners this can be invaluable.

What Can You Spend?

There is no limit to how much you can spend on a chess set and, in fact, a basic chess set is pretty cheap – you can easily buy one for under $100 (substantially less if you opt for plastic) and when you compare this to most other hobbies, that’s pretty good. You won’t get much in the way of golf equipment for $100 for example.

But it’s always a good idea to set a budget and if this is your first ever board, don’t spend a fortune make sure that you’ll actually use the set on a regular basis before investing large sums in it.


What is the best chess board color? Any combination you like can work, really. The old standard of black and white works pretty well but you might prefer any light wood combined with any dark wood, you might defer to the American standard of green and white, some people like black and a blonde piece and others prefer a range of other colors. They’re all fine as long as both players are happy with the colors of the board – it shouldn’t interfere with the game.

There are, in fact, other more important considerations when buying a chess board than the color. These include how the set will be used, what size it should be, how much you want to spend, what you want it to be made out of and the need for notation around the board. Buying a chess set is very much a personal decision, though, the only person that can choose the right one for you is you.

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