Is Chess An Expensive Game?

Chess is a sophisticated game that lures people from all levels and intellectual skills. However, some people have concerns about how expensive it is to play this fancy-looking game. Is it that expensive, though?

Chess is not commonly known as an expensive game in the same way that some other hobbies or sports can be. It is often regarded as an accessible and affordable game. Some costs, however, might be associated with equipment, training, and tournaments.  

Keep reading to learn more about how expensive chess is and what you’re expected to pay in this article!

Is chess an expensive game?

Chess is not commonly known as an expensive game. In fact, it is often considered one of the more affordable and accessible hobbies or sports. 

There are several reasons for this perception:

  1. Basic Equipment: A chessboard and a set of chess pieces are the two essential components of chess equipment. Simple chess sets are typically affordable and widely accessible. Although certain expensive luxury or collectible chess sets exist, they are not required for everyday play.
  2. Online Play: It is simple for people to play and practice chess without having to spend any money because many online platforms provide free chess games. These platforms frequently include analytical tools and resources for learning.
  3. Learning Resources: Chess players can learn the game from a variety of free or inexpensive sources, including books, websites, videos, and tutorials. All skill levels of gamers can use these resources.
  4. Affordable Clubs: Local chess clubs and communities frequently have reasonable membership dues and offer a location where players may congregate, train, and compete without having to spend a lot of money.
  5. Inclusive Tournaments: Many local and community-level tournaments are economical and open to a wide range of players in addition to chess competitions with admission fees and possibly travel expenses.
  6. Non-Material Costs: Chess is mostly a mental game that relies more on knowledge, talent, and strategy than on expensive tools or equipment. The sum of money spent does not determine chess success.

Even while there are options for people to spend money on chess-related products, such as deluxe chess sets, expensive chess software, or expert coaching, these costs are often optional and not necessary to enjoy and participate in the game. Chess is well known for being affordable and accessible, making it available to people of all financial levels.

How much does chess equipment typically cost?

It’s important to note that the cost of chess equipment can vary significantly depending on the brand, design, and where you purchase it. Additionally, there are often affordable options available for those who want to start playing chess without investing heavily in equipment. 

Beginners and casual players can find reasonably priced sets that are suitable for their needs, while more serious players may choose to invest in higher-quality equipment as they progress in their chess journey. Here’s a general overview of the typical cost of chess equipment:

  1. Basic Chess Sets: Among the least expensive options are basic chess sets, which come with a set of plastic chess pieces and a standard-sized chessboard. These kits can be purchased for between $10 and $20. Beginners and casual players can both use them.
  2. Wooden Chess Sets: The aesthetics and quality of wooden chess sets are improved. Depending on the quality of the wood and the craftsmanship, a nice wooden chess set can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 or more. Sets that cost more could contain hand-carved or complex decorations.
  3. Collector’s Sets: Collector’s chess sets can cost a lot more money because they are frequently crafted from expensive materials like exquisite wood or metals. These sets can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, and enthusiasts and collectors frequently buy them for exhibition purposes rather than for everyday use.
  4. Magnetic Chess Sets: The price range for portable magnetic chess sets is from $15 to $50. These sets are great for playing while on the go because the magnetic pieces hold their position on the board.
  5. Electronic Chess Boards: Depending on their features and capabilities, electronic or digital chess boards with integrated chess processors can cost anywhere from $50 and several hundred dollars.
  6. Chess Clocks: Chess clocks, which are used during tournament play, normally cost between $20 and $100, with digital clocks frequently costing more.

If you are looking to buy chess board, check out the blog 5 Best Chess Sets For Beginners and Professional Players

How do the materials used in chess equipment affect their prices?

The cost of chess pieces is significantly influenced by the materials used to make them. The type and quality of materials a chess set or piece of equipment is made with can affect its appearance, usefulness, and cost. 

Players should consider their preferences, budget, and intended use when choosing chess equipment, as there are options available at various price points to suit different needs. Here is how various materials impact chess equipment costs:

  1. Plastic

Plastic chess setsOpens in a new tab. are among the least expensive options. They are great for newcomers and casual players because they are affordable and generally accessible. While not as long-lasting as some other materials, plastic sets are nonetheless quite robust and can sustain frequent use.

  1. Wood

Wooden chess setsOpens in a new tab. are highly regarded for their visual appeal. They often have a classic and elegant appearance that appeals to many players. The type of wood used can significantly affect the price. Common woods like birch or pine are more affordable, while exotic or premium woods like rosewood or ebony can raise the cost considerably.

I’d be stating the obvious if I mentioned that handcrafted wooden sets with intricate carving or detailing tend to be more expensive. This is due to the labor and skill involved.

  1. Metal

Chess sets made of expensive metals like pewter or brass are quite common. They are solid in weight and have a chic appearance. Metal setsOpens in a new tab. could come with handcrafted components with intricate detailing, raising their price even more.

  1. Glass

Glass chess setsOpens in a new tab. are renowned for their sleek, contemporary appearance. They frequently include glass boards and parts that are clear or frosted. These sets may need careful handling because they can be more delicate than other materials.

  1. Stone

Chess sets made from stone, such as marble or onyx, are prized for their unique patterns and colors. Stone setsOpens in a new tab. are typically heavier and more substantial than other materials, which can affect shipping costs and overall price.

  1. Electronic Components

Don’t even get me started on those fancy electronic chess boardsOpens in a new tab. and clocks such as digital chess boards or clocks – they must cost a fortune with all that technology involved! They offer a nice experience that might be worth the money for some people.

  1. Magnetic Features

Chess sets with maOpens in a new tab.gOpens in a new tab.netic piecesOpens in a new tab., which are frequently brought on trips, may cost a little more than non-magnetic sets.

Of course, the appearance and usefulness of a chess set would be completely unaffected by the materials it’s made with. Who cares if it’s made of cheap plastic or luxurious marble? It’s all about the game, right?

What are the costs of playing chess?

Casual players can enjoy the game without significant expenses, while those pursuing competitive play or extensive learning may incur higher costs. Ultimately, the cost of playing chess depends on your individual preferences, goals, and budget. But how?

There are some factors to consider when estimating the cost of playing chess:

  1. Basic Equipment: A chessboard and several chess pieces are necessary for beginners. Simple setups are often priced between $10 and $50, making them relatively accessible. You may find more affordable sets for people who prefer higher-quality materials and more affordable options for casual gaming.
  2. Online Play: Free access to chess games is available on several online chess platforms. However, others could charge a small amount, up to $10 or more per month, for premium memberships or features that are available on a monthly or annual basis.
  3. Chess Software: The price of chess analysis, openings study, and performance-enhancing software varies. Although there are solutions that are free and open-source, premium software with cutting-edge capabilities may cost $30 to $200 or more.
  4. Learning Resources: Learning to play chess can range greatly in price. There are many freely accessible resources, such as books, websites, and tutorials. Costs can run from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars if you decide to buy chess books or sign up for chess instruction websites or courses.
  5. Tournaments: There could be admission costs if you choose to play in chess tournaments; these prices can range from a few dollars for regional events to hundreds of dollars for more prominent competitions. If the tournament is not nearby, you should additionally consider probable travel and lodging expenses.
  6. Chess Clock: You might require a chess clock if you intend to participate in chess tournaments. Simple analog chess clocks can be found for roughly $20, while more feature-rich digital clocks can cost $50 or more.
  7. Membership Fees: Joining a chess club or organization may involve membership fees, which can vary widely. Some clubs offer free or very low-cost memberships, while others may charge more for access to club events and facilities.
  8. Coaching: The cost of working with a chess coach for individualized teaching might change depending on the coach’s level of experience and reputation. The hourly rate may range from $20 to $100 or more.
  9. Travel and Accommodation: You will need to budget for travel, hotel, and food if you participate in tournaments that require travel, which can greatly increase the overall cost.

Is professional chess coaching expensive?

Chess coaching can be expensive or cheap based on many factors including the coach’s qualifications, experience, reputation, and location. There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s do it!

  1. Online Coaching

While some high-end coaches command higher rates due to their expertise and reputation, there are also many qualified and affordable coaches available online. If you’re looking for one, you must understand how they price their services:

  • Affordable Options: Online trainers can be found charging as little as $20 to $50 an hour, especially if they are just starting out in the field or come from places where the cost of living is cheaper.
  • Mid-Range Rates: Several seasoned online chess instructors charge $50 to $100 per hour. These instructors frequently have impressive credentials and a history of assisting learners to advance.
  • High-End Coaches: These top-tier coaches, who frequently hold grandmaster titles and have years of coaching expertise, may bill between $100 and $200 per hour. Serious competitive players frequently seek out these coaches.

Find your online chess coach at various prices if you’re looking to excel in chess from the comfort of your home.

  1. In-Person Coaching

In-person coaching rates can vary significantly depending on the cost of living in your region. Coaches in major cities with higher living costs may charge more than coaches in less expensive areas.

In-person coaching rates often start at $50 to $100 per hour for experienced coaches. Rates can go higher, especially for coaches with notable achievements or a strong reputation.

  1. Package Deals

Some coaches offer package deals where you purchase a set number of lessons in advance. These packages can provide cost savings compared to paying for individual hourly sessions.

  1. Group Lessons

Coaches may offer group lessons, which can be more affordable than one-on-one coaching. Group rates can vary but are typically lower per student than individual rates.

  1. Specialized Training

Rates may vary based on the type of coaching you’re seeking. For example, opening preparation, endgame studies, or tournament preparation sessions may have different pricing structures.

  1. Duration of Lessons

The length of the coaching session can affect the cost. While one-hour sessions are common, some coaches offer longer or shorter sessions with corresponding price adjustments.

It’s a good idea to do your homework on potential coaches, read reviews or testimonials, and think about setting up a trial class to see whether their methods and teaching style suit your requirements and preferences. Professional chess instruction can ultimately be expensive, but there are solutions available at various price ranges to fit your budget and chess objectives.

Are chess clubs accessible to players of all income levels?

Chess clubs and communities are frequently designed to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment for game enthusiasts, and they are typically open to players of all financial levels. There could be some exclusions, and the cost varies depending on the club or organization.

To ensure that you can play regardless of your financial situation, it is always a good idea to contact your local chess club or community to find out about membership costs, events, and any financial help or scholarship programs they may have.

Can you make money from chess?

You can earn money from chess, but it’s primarily achievable through a few avenues. Professional chess players can earn income by participating in tournaments, securing sponsorships, and teaching chess. Top players can earn substantial prize money, while coaching and providing lessons to enthusiasts can also generate revenue.

In addition, some chess players start producing content, streaming it, or publishing chess-related books, which can make profits from advertisements, subscriptions, and book sales. Although there are ways to make money playing chess, it is still a specialized career, and only a chosen few achieve the highest levels of financial success in the industry.


Playing chess as a hobby doesn’t cost a lot of money. For those who are ready to spend money on luxury chess sets, courses, chess clocks, memberships, etc., the game can be expensive and one can easily lose $500. Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives to expensive training and playing.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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