'Every single Grandmaster in the world has a genius IQ.' Do you have the evidence to support this claim? References, test results, publications?

'An IQ of at least 120 is required to be a grandmaster, and even then you'll struggle.' Possible. However, where is your evidence? Apparently, Garry Kasparov, has a measured IQ of 135 and not the 190 often quoted. Assuming a typical IQ scale this woud leave him only in the top two percent of the population. Borderline gifted but not genius. I think it is safe to assume there are chess players who have higher IQs and will never touch his chess achievements if they lived for 1000 lifetimes. Only Carlsen and Fischer come anywhere near, in my opinion.

I'm quite happy to accept your arguments if they are supported by properly calibrated and corroborated evidence.

Having a higher iq does help for christ sake. People just tend to misinterpret how iq works. Iq helps in the long run, and playing on the "top" in chess may be easier by having a higher iq, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a genius or prodigy to become a grandmaster. It helps, but not that much. Other factors matter more, like how good you actually are, at strategy...

I have the lowest IQ ever but anyway, it doesn't matter that much. I mean, you don't need a strong IQ in order to make lots of blunders.

Here is what Magnus Carlsen said about intelligence in an interview in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Mr Carlsen, what is your IQ?

Carlsen: I have no idea. I wouldn’t want to know it anyway. It might turn out to be a nasty surprise.

SPIEGEL: Why? You are 19 years old and ranked the number one chess player in the world. You must be incredibly clever.

Carlsen: And that’s precisely what would be terrible. Of course it is important for a chess player to be able to concentrate well, but being too intelligent can also be a burden. It can get in your way. I am convinced that the reason the Englishman John Nunn never became world champion is that he is too clever for that.

SPIEGEL: How that?

Carlsen: At the age of 15, Nunn started studying mathematics in Oxford; he was the youngest student in the last 500 years, and at 23 he did a PhD in algebraic topology. He has so incredibly much in his head. Simply too much. His enormous powers of understanding and his constant thirst for knowledge distracted him from chess.

SPIEGEL: Things are different in your case?

Carlsen: Right. I am a totally normal guy. My father is considerably more intelligent than I am.

Now cognitive scientists have been unable to prove that intelligence and chess skill correlate. Fernard Gobet is the leading authority today in cognitive architecture and he studies chess and cognition all his life as he is himself an IM and Swiss Junior champion. Here is the result of his last study:

"The present study investigated the chess skill of 57 young chess players using measures of intelligence (WISC
III), practice, and experience. Although practice had the most influence on chess skill,
intelligence explained some variance even after the inclusion of practice. When an elite
subsample of 23 children was tested, it turned out that intelligence was not a significant factor
in chess skill, and that, if anything, it tended to correlate negatively with chess skill."

In an earlier study (which I can't find right now) he says that chess tends to attract intelligent people and that often is misunderstood as correlation of chess skill with intelligence.

@CreativeThinking I'm guessing your IQ is above average. :)

IQ tends to measure a similar skill set to chess actually, so it's particularly skewed to mathematical types.

Clearly intelligence is a complex thing, and almost certainly includes things not measured by the test.


Not being able to get from 1800 to master level at 30+ is something I doubt for several reasons.

In a serious discussion we would have to define master level first. Then there is my experience of going up from 1820 to 2050 in five years starting with 57 and having two chronical diseases. There were further suboptimal enviromental circumstances.

The data from empirical psychology shows the learning ability of people in the 60th.

In my last two tournament games I won with black against an IM and drew with white against a GM, leaving out a silent move to win.

I admit. This is a case, uncompleted, without proving anything. It is much easier beyond 20 getting stronger. The psychological data about learning of old people are striking against the youth delusion the western culture is filled up with for profit reasons (sex sells).


"First of all, it's not even physically possible to put 10,000 hours into chess."

I'm old school. So I calculate in my head. Let's assume a kid loves chess and spends 20 hours a week with it. So 5 weeks are 100 hours, 50 weeks are 1.000 hours. So this is possible for a kid in 10 years. An adult loving chess and having less time needs 20 years.

"I will say, that pure practice is not indicative of actual skill."

Very true!

With some of your reasoning I disagree. About the necessity of an IQ higher than 100 to become GM exists research. This is mostly about information processing and learning. Having good abilities in memory is helpful, without any doubt. But the idea of every single GM having a genius IQ is empirically rejected since the first study of Djakov & al in 1927. Their results have been confirmed again and again.

The term "dedicated practise" is important. It hints to the phenomenon, that not playing alone is helpful. You have to work over the material you produce and there are still a lot of open questions.

The chess community is interesting or "faszinierend" as Mr. Spock would say in a german translation. I tried to find a group of players for a study of simple training method in my city (several 100 organized chess players, more than 2000 in a range of 75 km around) and online. Not a single one wanted to participate. Chess players want to rant about their strength and background of their strength. But it is hard to find someone doing serious empirical work about training. (I think that's why Kotov's works are still getting more attention, than they deserve today.)

Magnus Carlsen's comments on the IQ measurements are very clever. I do not care what his IQ is, but being able to give such answers to the journalist shows that he is not just some narrow-minded chess grandmaster.