The checkered board and traditional pieces associated with the game of chess are what most of us think of when the board game is mentioned.
However, this doesn’t have to be the way your child first perceives the game.
If you’re curious about how to first introduce your kid to the game in a way that makes it seem more fun and engaging, why not consider an alternative kids chess set to get the ball rolling?
The chances that a child will stick with chess, in the long run, will surely be increased if the set they play with gets them excited about the game.
Since a child’s imagination is such a wondrous thing, why not indulge their creative side and invest in a colorful or characterful chess set that lets this sense of imagination run wild as they pit Batman against the Riddler or have SpongeBob face off against Squidward?
What’s more, if you frame the introduction to chess for kids in the form of gifted chess set for your child that they have a say in, they’re much more likely to want to stick with it and learn the rules so they can challenge friends and family on their unique set.
A Selection of Chess Sets
To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best chess sets you can buy, with the young learner in mind. After several chess lessons for kids or online chess for kids, your child will undoubtedly be keen to get their hands on their own unique set.
With each kid's chess set, there will either be a beginner-friendly setup that helps your child get familiar with the basics, or a visually appealing theme that will make them want to keep coming back for more.
As such, you’ll need to make a judgment call as to what set is most likely to persuade your child to stick to a regular practice and heighten their enjoyment of the board game to give them a chance of staying with it in the long term.
If you don't have resources at your disposal, teaching your kid with a novel chess set is a fun alternative.
To learn chess for kids, it can help if your child has a kid-friendly set to keep motivation at a high.
The first type of chess set we’ll cover is the instructional set.
In our eyes, an instructional set is a chess set that introduces a beginner to the basics of chess in an innovative way.
These types of sets are great if your child has no prior knowledge of chess, or if you yourself are a little fuzzy on the rules and need a helping hand to teach your kid.
No Stress Chess
The first chess set we want to draw your attention to is called No Stress Chess.
While this game isn’t specifically designed for children, it is beginner-friendly as the name would suggest, so it provides a great way to ease into chess without diving straight into a competition-standard set.
This is a bonus for parents who aren’t well-versed in the game of chess themselves, or who want to take a hands-on approach to teach their child to play chess. It's a great alternative to hiring a chess tutor, though both approaches have their merits.
What makes this chess set so great for beginners is the inclusion of cards to explain how every piece moves. With these cards, you can either read them aloud to your child or have them practice their reading skills, so there’s potentially an extra learning element involved for them.
Each card displays the movement available to one particular piece on the chessboard, and the idea is that you pick up a card and then move the corresponding piece according to the illustration of how it can move. The idea behind this is that over time, your child will become more familiar with each individual piece and exactly how it can move.
As far as kids' chess games go, No Stress Chess is up there with the best.
Suitable for children from the ages of 7 and up, the set features 17 charcoal pieces, 17 ivory pieces, 56 action cards, a plastic card tray, and some written instructions.
Story Time Chess
Story Time Chess is a beloved instructional set that many kids and parents alike adore. It’s so highly praised, in fact, that it was nominated and won the Toy of the Year Award from the Toy Association in 2021.
So what makes Story Time Chess such a hit with young chess learners and their parents?
Well, put simply, Story Time Chess creates a whole animated world around the game of chess, complete with an engaging story and cast of memorable characters.
All of the chess pieces come with cutouts of the various characters on the front, and the thorough instruction manual walks you through all of the different moves each of these pieces can make.
One of the best parts about this chess set is that it is one of the only sets that are suitable for children as young as 3 years old, so you can start your kid out on the game from an early age.
Framing the traditional game of chess as a story with its own cast and world is an excellent way of appealing to children’s sense of imagination, and bringing the board and each individual piece to life.
While Wall Chess isn’t instructional per se, as it doesn’t feature an entirely different set of pieces or populate the board with animated characters, it is still an excellent pick for young learners.
If your child is already familiar with the basics of chess, and they are looking to improve their game in a novel way, Wall Chess could be just what they need.
With Wall Chess, the pieces are replaced with blocks and the board is mounted up on the wall.
The main benefit of this is that you can leave the pieces in place, meaning you can pause and pick up your games whenever you want. This is ideal for the young learner who struggles to complete a whole game every time they sit down to play chess, or for someone who is looking to evolve their game by giving more thought to the moves available to them.
This could be a great way to boost your child’s cerebral activity since you can hang it up on their bedroom rule to give them time to think through their next moves even when they aren’t playing. If you’ve watched Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, you’ll know all about the power of visualisation when it comes to chess.
TV and Film Sets
The following sets are all intended to spark a child’s imagination and cater to their creative side, as they can pit their favorite TV and Film characters against each other in epic chess battles.
Batman is a classic DC Universe superhero and one that is admired by both kids and adults.
With the 32 piece Warner Brothers-licensed Batman chess set, you’ll get a one-of-a-kind set that you will be able to appreciate as much as your child.
The quality of the figures is mindblowing, and each piece is completely different, so gone are the boring pawns and in their place are an all-star cast of superheroes and villains. The back row pieces are distinguished by their raised platforms, though, so there shouldn’t be any confusion as to what is what.
If you want a chess set that your child will want to show off to all of their friends and play on all the time, this is a solid option.
Super Mario likely brings back memories of hours spent in the video game world when you were younger, and it’s still an immensely popular franchise today. Even if your child isn’t aware of the cartoon plumber and his all-star cast of friends and foes, the colorful and creative designs of the pieces should be enough to grab their attention.
This set is perfect for the video-game-loving child and adult, and if your child hasn’t heard of the franchise, it’s a great opportunity to educate them on the fun-filled world of Mario, Luigi, and all of the other unique characters.
For an even more exciting game experience, you can put the classic Super Mario soundtrack on as you play the game and reminisce on your old coin-collecting days and the nostalgia that the franchise brings up.
Harry Potter Final Challenge
Harry Potter is a franchise that’s loved all around the world, and if your child has somehow not been exposed to it already, the Harry Potter Final Challenge chess set is an excellent way to introduce them to it.
Either you and your child have already seen the infamous giant chess scene from the first movie, or you haven’t and you need to go watch it now. This chess set is based upon that scene, with large looming figures perched on an ornate chessboard.
What’s fun about this set is that your child can let their imagination run wild as each figure has a large weapon, heavy armor, and a unique pose. Taking the pieces of the opposition player will be pure joy, and the set as a whole is worthy of admiration.
Each of the 32 chess pieces has been crafted to the exact detail and measurements, and this authentic replica has been officially authorized by Warner Brothers so you know it’s the real deal.