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About Travel Chess Sets:
Travel chess sets are a handy way to have a game in the car, at work, while you wait in line or anywhere else that a traditional chess set just will not work. There are several sizes and styles available, and some are even electronic.
The function of a travel chess set is to provide access to a chess game anywhere at any time. They are compact in size and usually fold up to prevent the loss of tiny chess pieces. They are great companions for long road trips and can be handed back and forth between you and a friend as you wait in line or eat at a restaurant. Some models of travel chess sets are even small enough to fold up and stick in a pocket, making them a very ready and available form of entertainment no matter where you are.
Several types of travel chess sets are available, but the two most common are peg sets and magnetic sets. Pegged sets have holes in the middle of each square, and a "peg" sticking out of the bottom of each piece so that they stay where you put them. This is a very handy feature to have when being jostled around in a car or airplane. The other type is magnetic, and feature either flat square magnets with the pieces identified on the top, or actual small chess pieces with magnets in the bases and a metal board. Electronic varieties exist and usually come with an engine so you can even play by yourself against the computer.
A travel chess set can be identified quickly by its small size and peg or magnetic pieces, something you won't find in traditional sets. A travel chess set can range in size from just a few inches across to a 12-by-12-inch board, depending on the style. Most travel chess sets either fold up or have a lid, another feature not found on a full-size set. The manufacturer usually denotes these sets as "travel sets," so there is no mistaking what you are purchasing.
When considering purchase of a travel-style chess set, keep in mind that the pieces are often very small and hard to handle. If you have bigger hands, make sure you are getting a larger travel set, or the possibility of knocking over pieces when trying to make moves is very high. Consider also where you will be playing. Peg sets are fine for most road trips; but if the going gets bumpy, a magnetic set may best suit your needs. Do you need it to fold up in a hard case, or is a pliable vinyl board acceptable?
The benefits of a travel chess set go beyond simply having one available for a game any time you wish. Tournament players often use these little sets to study with when they are on the move. The set-up time is minimal, if at all, and in seconds a complete chess set can be ready for analyzing games or going over certain opening lines. They are also inexpensive.