Does everyone use the recommended boardsize for your king base?


So as I've researched boards and pieces I see that it is recommended that the kings base be no more than 78% of the square. This puts most of the 4 inch broadbased sets onto a 2.5" square. Now I've never actually used a nice 4 inch set of chessmen before. But when I look at pictures online I DECIDEDLY don't like most of the pictures I see in action and I'm assuming those are 2.5" boards. They look very "airy" to me, with too much space between the pieces. Of course, that's just looking at pictures though.

So I messed around and cut out a 1.875" circle and placed it on a 2.25" square, just to see how it looks. By recommendations, this square is too small. But to my eye, it looks much better than it sitting on a 2.5" square.

So, does anyone use a 2.25" square board for their larger pieces at home? If so, does it feel cramped or have you been happy with it?



Aesthetics are absolutely in the eye of the beholder and if you "grew up" using a slightly crowded board, then naturally it is what you would prefer.  Unless you are planning to take the set to a tournament (where your opponent would have every right to protest a violation of standards), it really doesn't matter, does it?  That said, the recommended board size for a set with a 1.875" king base is neither 2.25 nor 2.5"; it is 2.375".  There is another thread "My swell chess set" that shows a 1.875 on a 2.25 board.  I think it is too crowded, but everyone one else who posted loved it.  


Thanks baddogno, I'll go look for that thread and check out the photo. And yeah, I realize its an individual taste thing (with the exception of tournament regulations). Like I said though, having never handled one in person all I have to go by are photos. In those the big boards looks spacey to me, but I didn't really have a 2.25 pic to judge the other side by. I'll check that one out now.

I also realize that it tehcnically requires a 2.375" board but I'm not finding those as common in shopping. Thanks again, you've been a big help in my search!


I know what you mean by "airy". I went shopping for a set in person and even though I wanted the larger size, just couldn't find a 4-inch set that looked right to me, so I wound up wimping out and getting a pretty standard 3.75. But I'm still happy with it. It's all about what looks right to you, as far as I'm concerned.


4" set on 3 boards (2-1/4". 2-3/8", 2.5")




and again

and finally a wide-based 3.5" set on the 2-1/4" board

Comments to follow.


Thanks for the pics, that's a great comparison. I definitely like the 2 3/8 for the 4" in those photos.


BTW, is that a HOS Collectors? Looks really nice!


from the images by goldendog, it is a little too crowded on the 2 1/4, looks better on the 2 3/8,


It seems to me that there are a few aspects of a normal Staunton set that make it "fit" on a particular board. You can't just cite base diameter or king height.

1) King height and piece height generally

2) base width

3) piece width

4) base height

Lastly, consider not just how the pieces look in the starting position but how the center looks with a bunch of pieces in it. Refer to the pictures above. The 4" set on the 2-1/4" is pretty tight for me with the pieces in the center. Compare the same position with the 3.5" set. Quite a different feel.

Even how fat the pieces are (bases and stems) makes a diference. My fat Collector II presents a little differently that my much more elegant (low, wide bases, narrow stemmed) Collector.

For me, I think I need a 2-5/8" board to get the same feel as the 4" Collector attains on this 2.5" board.

So that prototypical USCF 3-3/4" plastic set won't fill the board the same way another same-height set but with fat, wide bases and stout stems will.

The look with the latter set will just be less airy and perhaps even claustraphobic.

That would depend, of course, on what the set purchaser intends for his set.

A set you alone will be using? Naturally as per your taste.

One you wish to use at USCF tourneys? As a matter of utility and politeness, I'd like to see a very standard set, such as the USCF Special on a 2-1/4" board.

As for the general rule that 4 pawns ought to fit into a square, I don't pay much attention to it. If the set is harmoniously designed and the pieces look good on the board, the pawns won't ruin anything.


The 4" King is a too tall? I have a 3 3/4" and a 3 7/8" set,


4" sets are plenty big for my eyes. Bigger sets mean bigger boards means more reaching to get to the eighth rank during analysis.

Of course, someone else's mileage may vary.

Suit yourself. Let the buyer beware. Etcetera.


Thanks for the pictures goldendog, it helped me decide on a board size. I went with 2.5'' board for my 4'' Marshall pieces, imo the board is sized perfectly. Hope these pics help anyone else.



I like best the 4" set on the 2.5 board.By the way it is an absolutely beautiful board.


So if I have a 2.25" board and my king base is 1.875, that's illegal? Is someone really going to call that out?

I'm talking about this board with these pieces:

I also have these, which would fit within the written guidelines with a 1.75" King base on my 2.25" square board:


I will admit that the collector's are *slightly* crowded on the 2.25" board but they look impressive. Again, do I really have to use the Hastings or the Reykjavik's?




Then we have these, which specifically state that they're HIGHLY recommended for official USCF Tournament play. Yet, they don't fall within the specified guidelines. That's a 4" king with a 1.875" diameter base and they have 2.25" squares as the recommended board size. So, they're actually recommending something that falls outside the written rules.



That's the Collector's pieces with the 2.25" Silicone board. Next investment is a wooden tournament set because indeed, some of the ones you guys are posting are absolutely gorgeous. Works of art.


mileage does indeed vary, but I think we have collectively covered the major variables.

FWIW, I think the collector's pieces on 2.25 in post 18 looks about right. I like the solidity of the Rs. In post 5, I think the 2 1/4 inch and 2 3/8 inch boards both look fine, but the 2 1/2 is far too airy. Part of that is the narrow stem of the pieces, but part of it is that there is simply too much empty space.

I can't believe for a moment that "4 pawns on a square" is a rule of any kind. More like an overblown declaration of an absurd proposition. How many pawns get played onto the same square at the same time during the course of a game?  As far as I know, one square holds but one piece, so that should be the rule for size. Yes, sometimes its hard to see who is doing what when you get a crowded, complicated, traffic-jammed game. I believe that a crowded, complicated, traffic-jammed game is just that. Why try to pretend its something that its not?


The 4 pawns on a square is a rule of thumb to determine the correct square size you need in a board. Others will say this & that but, the 4 pawns rule of thumb has never failed me yet to get the correct size board.