What Chess Set Is Used In the World Chess Championship Match
Obsessed chess fans probably noticed that come World Chess Championship, Magnus Carlsen always uses the same chess pieces, no matter who is sitting in the chair in front of him — Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, or, as this year, Ian Nepo. Opponents change, the chess pieces stay the same.
The chess set (the official name — World Chess Championship Set) was designed in 2012 by Daniel Weil of Pentagram for World Chess, the company that organized the Championship cycle and went on a self-assigned mission to reassemble the way chess looks both online and offline. Pentagram, a renowned design powerhouse responsible for some of the most iconic modern designs, developed the way chess tournaments look today, but their most impactful contribution was the chess set.
Daniel Weil enlisted Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, and other chess stars’ expertise and tested the numerous versions of the set on whether it would be comfortable to lift the pieces with two fingers or with a grip. Following numerous painstaking revisions that involved flying the pieces back and forth between India and the UK, the set premiered at the Candidates Tournament in London in 2013. Carlsen has won the tournament and has not used a different chess set in any of his Championship matches.
The set immediately caught the attention of the media and was featured in the influential design magazines. Limited edition of the set went on sale in selected Paul Smith stores and was sold out in days.
Before the World Chess Championship set was used in the Matches, it required the sport’s governing body, FIDE’s approval. The set was studied in detail by the panel of experts from FIDE and unanimously approved for Championship use.
The set is manufactured exclusively for World Chess in India. It’s hand-carved from premium wood: white pieces are made of rosewood and black — from ebonized boxwood. Each set takes approximately three days to make. Once produced, each set is inspected for quality and packaged in a bespoke storage and shipping box designed by Pentagram. It’s then dispatched to World Chess facilities in London and Berlin and following additional inspection, shipped to buyers. A film about manufacturing of the sets by Business Insider gained over 6 million views on YouTube.
The sets are sold exclusively by World Chess and are available on the official online shop as well as at the select group of partners, including Chess and Bridge, Harrods and other shops around the world. Members of the FIDE Online Arena have priority access to the set.
As of 2021, World Chess releases limited editions of the sets to commemorate special events, like the Championship matches and collaborations. Its inaugural limited edition with Algorand was sold out in minutes.
You can find details on the set at the World Chess official online shop.