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The Best Plastic Chess Set Ever Designed

The Official Plastic Academy Set

Just as it has changed the way we work and socialize, the pandemic has likely made you change the way we play chess. You, just like us, probably ditched the open tournaments and club events (even if they are happening in your area) for some online chess action.

With more time at home, you are possibly playing chess a bit more than before, and using your chessboard to set up positions to be able to analyze them in 3D. If you don’t have a chess set at home, there are lots of options out there, so we aimed to create the ultimate chessboard and set for home and club use that should cover all types of chess play.

The classic official World Chess Championship set design

Back in 2013, noted architect and Pentagram partner Daniel Weil designed the World Chess chess pieces that became the standard for the world chess championship cycle events and have been exclusively used in the Championship cycle ever since.

World champions Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik gave advice and feedback to Weil who worked through hundreds of prototypes and designed the set that is both ergonomically perfect and visually stunning. The sets carved by hand from ebonized boxwood and rosewood are produced in limited quantity for top events and exclusive retail partners. They cost over $400 per unit — a fair price for a custom-made limited edition luxury item that is likely to stay in the family for generations.

The new set that is called ‘Academy’ is made from high-quality plastic, is weighted, and repeats the iconic World Chess Championship set design. But it costs just a fraction of the original set — only $32.


In Daniel Weil’s Pentagram studio in London’s Notting Hill, there are hundreds of chess prototypes of chess pieces, all done in the search of a perfect size. It has to feel substantial, important, and noticeable. It has to dominate the table, but on the other hand, it has to be subtle, and portable, and go well with smaller tables. The King height of the Academy World chess set is 86mm, perfect for tournament play but also good for a coffee shop table.

The chessboard that comes with the set is a high-quality laminated foldable board with a classic square size of 50mm. The board stays flat on the surface and has been tested to hold pieces well.

Color palette

Weil used the color palette that makes the chess set a conversation piece. Gray and white chessboard and pieces have a warm shade: black has a slight brown tone (RAL8002) and white has a very slight gray tone (RAL9002). The pieces feel special.

Storage box

The box with a magnetic latch comfortably stores the pieces and the foldable board. Designed by Shuka, the firm that is behind the famous 2018 World Chess Championship logo, the box is small enough to easily fit in your overnight bag, but will also look amazing on your bookshelf or on the tabletop.

The set is only available for pre-order in the World Chess shop, and come Christmas, it will be available in major retailers outlets. It’s also likely to be used in some of the bigger chess events around the world.

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