Stefan and I try to meet for lunch several times a month, and we usually play chess while we do. I have a couple of different small magnetic sets that we’ve used. I got lucky several years ago and found a nice portable Drueke set for a good price because one of the plastic bishops looked as though it had melted a little. We used it for a while, and it’s pretty easy to find online:
It’s 8 inches square and a bit over an inch high. All the pieces fit under a removable lid, and you can keep a game in progress if you’re only moderately careful as you carry it. Overall, a nice portable chess experience, but it’s got some issues we don’t like – it’s too big for a pocket, and we don’t like the size of the pieces. They’re kind of squat to fit under the lid, and it’s too easy to confuse bishops and pawns in the heat of an endgame, especially the very dark black pieces. It’s more than usable, but not ideal.
Some years later, leading up to the holidays, I saw a nice portable set at K-Mart that closes like a book but with a unique feature: drawers under the board for the pieces. There are others like this one I’ve found at various sites, but they’re either made with poorly shaped wooden pieces or they’re just too big. This set folds up to roughly the size of a trade paperback, and it can fit in a pocket in my pants (slacks, not jeans) or jacket. The pieces are nicely formed, fit the size of the little board well, and the drawers give us a safe place to put the pieces as the game progresses.
I’ve tried to find this set again, to have a backup in case I lose some pieces and to give as gifts, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. I haven’t seen it at K-Mart in years – hell, it’s the only reason I’ve had to go to K-Mart in years. Web searches have been futile, until tonight.
But it’s not all good news. The bad news is that link goes to a page set up to contact the manufacturer about importing or distribution. Chess set Model J340 comes 48 sets to a carton, and they can make up to 50,000 sets per month. Nice and impressive, but I do not want to buy this chess set by the case. I’ve used that page to contact them: Where can I buy just one or two sets?