Best Size Chess Board: Official Dimensions

It’s vitally important when you are buying a chess board and a set of chess pieces to get the size correct. You need to ensure that the pieces not only fit on the board, but also look pleasing and uncluttered. You also need to ensure that the chess board will fit on your chosen table or playing surface.

There are three key measurements you must consider when selecting the right size for your chess board and pieces:

  • Base diameter of the King
  • Size of the squares on the board
  • The overall size of the board

There is an official tournament guideline pivoting chess pieces to a chess board and vice versa. It states that the base diameter of the king should be no more than 75% of the size of a square on the chess board.

For example A king with a 1.5 inch base size should have a square size of 2 inches. There is an element of personal preference and not every one needs to meet tournament standard. Hence, it’s very much up to the individual test.

In a set of chess pieces the king always have the widest base diameter. Therefore as a bare minimum, the squares on the chess board must accommodate the King.

So what is the best size chess board? The best size chess board measures 21 inches long by 21 inches wide by 0.75 inches in thickness. The ideal size of the individual squares on the chess board measures 2 by 2 inches.

While 21″ x 21″ boards are the best and most popular choice for many chess players, you should also note that the 19″ x 19″ chess board is an appropriate alternative for those looking for a smaller chess board.  

Best recommendation for buying a chess board:

If you are interested in buying a chess board, then our top recommendation to you is this 21″ Hardwood Chess Board made in the U.S.A for $329 USD.

Here is a photo of the board that I currently own

best size chess board

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As you can see, it is a very beautiful board. The dimensions of this chess board fall within the official tournament standard where the square size ranges from 2-2.5 inches. This design has been played by world champion Magnus Carlsen in several events and has been gaining significant attention among collectors and any players who are seeking a superb chessboard that will last for years. Get this beautiful board on Chess House

Best Size Chess Board – Tournament Standard

The chess board is made up of an 8 by 8 grid. In total there are 64 identical squares alternating in white and black (32 dark squares and 32 light squares). The chess board should measure the same on all four sides.


When the chess pieces are placed on the board, half of them occupy the board while the middle 32 squares are left open for play. The diagram below shows how the chess board is setup. 


Chess board and piece standards

Keep in mind the different specification for Over The Board tournaments. The United States Chess Federation (USCF) declares that square size should measure anywhere from 2 inches to 2.5 inches, while the king’s height should measure 3.375 inches to 4.5 inches.

The standard USCF tournament set has 2.25 inch squares and a king’s height of 3.75 inches.

Standard USCF Tournament Set

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The tournament standards for chess board may differ from country to country but not might by much. For example, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) states that the size of each square for tournament play should be between 5 cm to 6 cm that is equivalent to 1.97 inches to 2.36 inches. The recommended height of the King should be 9.5 cm tall (3.74 inches).

Below is the official FIDE World Championship Chess set used in the recent FIDE World championship matches. The chessboard has 2 inch squares with a 3.75 inch king.


Note that there are many more examples of chessboard and set combinations and these are only two of the standard USCF and FIDE World Championship Chess sets shown above.

For a complete chess set (including pieces) similar to the one above, we recommend the grandmaster chess set combo. It’s a comfortable 21″ board size with 4″ pieces. The pieces are heavily weighted for a superb chess playing experience and beautifully finished complete with a luxurious billiard felt base. Just click here to check it out

Guidelines For Chess Board and Pieces 

The last dimensions we shall unravel is the king’s base diameter, which is simply the measurement of the bottom of the king.  Both FIDE and USCF state similar guideline that the diameter of the Kings’s base should be between 40-50% of the total height of the King.

The king’s base diameter and the square size have a peculiar relationship: the very important guideline that the base diameter of the king should be roughly 75-80% of the size of the square as we previously mentioned.  It is this ratio that dictates whether a board and set combination has the proper piece spacing.

Board and Set Spacing Test