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Customer Review of the Official World Chess Academy Set

Below we feature a World Chess Shop customer Piotr Zbierajewski review of the official World Chess Academy Set.

Hi,

I would like to present you my little review of the World Chess Official Academy Chess Set which I recently have purchased for outdoor gaming.

©World Chess

Below you can find the table of contents, so you can skip to the point that you are most interested in.

  1. Unboxing.
  2. The chess set.
  3. Final conclusion.

1. Unboxing.

So the box has been delivered by the courier in fairly good condition.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

The box is made from good-quality cardboard. Personally, I don’t like the screaming label with „Legalize your skills” with the information about FIDE Arena, especially where this is misleading due to the fact that FIDE Arena ratings are not the same as normal FIDE rankings (and this is a physical chess set, not a digital one)

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

The box is being open by pulling one of the sides up. It uses quite strong magnets to keep everything inside in place. Although I would probably not risk it in a „let’s really shake that thing – test”.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

I was really afraid of the cardboard chessboard but actually, it is done from quite good quality of cardboard, much better than those really cheap ones on the market. But still, it is cardboard, so it should not be put to extreme tests.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

Personally, I like the colors and that specific grey color that they used around the squares. Also, the notation is very subtle. Visible enough for the new players and discreet enough for experienced players, to the point, where you really forget that it is there. I think that this should be a standard style for all the current boards which are using notation.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

The chess pieces are packed in one big plastic zip-ish bag, which contains two other, smaller bags with white and black pieces.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

Unfortunately, the thin cardboard inside the box is very fragile and, as you can see, the chess pieces already have made a few scratches and bumps during the transport, visible in the box.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

2. The chess set.

Let’s talk about the whole chess set now.

As a regular player, playing on the wooden chess board with wooden chess pieces (Timeless German Knight 3,75”), I was very skeptical about this chess set. I mean, those are plastic chess pieces, right? How much you can expect from this kind of chess set. After all, I just wanted to have the possibility to play outdoors and not carry too much about the weather or the environment.

And I am surprised. This is the most comfortable plastic chess set I have ever played.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

The pieces are really well-weighted (not that far from the wooden ones – comparison in a second). Very comfortable to hold. I mean ergonomically they are really great. Amazing actually.

Just to be clear – I have never played with the Official World Chess Pieces before. However, since this is a plastic copy of the original wooden OWCP, those who already own or played with the wooden set will probably recognize the same comfort of play with plastic figures. For me, those plastic pieces made me think about buying the wooden ones as well (but currently they are unavailable…).

But let’s talk about the details.

So the chessboard has 435mm x 435mm with a single square size of 48mm. The King’s height is 86mm. The information, which is not given in the official description of the product is that the king has a base diameter of 37mm. So the ratio, of the king to the square is 77%, which is a sweet spot for most recommended ratios, both for a tournament and casual gaming.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

Under the chess pieces, you will find a thin layer of paper-ish coating-pad. It actually does its job pretty well, but it would probably easily peel off when playing outdoors in dripping rain.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

Let’s compare now those World Chess Official Academy Chess pieces to the Timeless German Knight 3,75” set that I have. I was surprised to see that actually almost all of the pieces from this plastic set match, in height the wooden set.

©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski
©Zbieraj – Piotr Zbierajewski

The difference, however, is in the width. The wooden set, beside the king (and slightly the queen), has a smaller diameter by 5-10%. Another difference is in weight, which should not surprise, although, from a plastic chess set one would expect a bigger difference – again World Chess Official Academy Chess vs. wooden Timeless German Knight 3,75” chess.

Piece Plastic Wood
Pawn 12g 17g
Rook 20g 24g
Knight 25g 27g
Bishop 20g 28g
Queen 26g 46g
King 28g 57g

As you can see only the queen and king have a significant difference of nearly half the weight, whereas the other pieces have between 8% and 30%.

3. Final conclusion.

World Chess Official Academy Chess, in my opinion, has unnecessary information on the box saying: „Starter chess set”. Why? This set is so comfortable to play with that many experienced and very experienced players might really use it in many cases, instead of the wooden sets. I think that this label unnecessarily scares many advanced chess players away just because of those words.

The chess pieces are very ergonomic and well-weighted, taking into the consideration fact, that this is a plastic set. I think this might be one of the best plastic sets right now on the market.

As for the negatives, I think that there is always a place for improvements when it comes to the chessboard (there are some better cardboard and plastic options on the market if you really want to search for them). I would like to see World Chess experimenting more with vinyl chess boards as well (I would love to see one with the graphical design taken from this cardboard chessboard in the set). Another improvement would be to change the bottom protective pads. I don’t think that it has to be a felt pad, but still, something that could maybe stand slightly rainy weather as well. Last but not least – the chess could be even slightly heavier to really mimic the feeling of moving the wooden chess pieces. But the last sentence needs to be taken with a grain of salt because chess sets always have additional weight added artificially, so one will find the lighter setup more comfortable and other people will be happy with heavier chess pieces.

In conclusion, this is a very good set with a cardboard chess board and box, as well as those iconic (but plastic) World Chess pieces.

In my opinion, the purchase was absolutely worth those $32.00, if you want to buy a really well-made plastic set. If you play with a not-the-best-in-the-world wooden set, you might find yourself actually switching to this one instead, probably due to the ergonomics and design of the WC pieces.

However, when it comes to the chess clubs I think that the World Chess offer for clubs is much more interesting due to the fact that you can (or could – currently unavailable) buy, as a club, 10 sets of those for $150.00, so for $15 per set. When taking into the account quality of the World Chess Official Academy Chess, I think it is a bargain.

Piotr “Zbieraj” Zbierajewski

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