Many think there is a strong connection between chess and IQ. They think that chess players are human beings that have a high IQ level. This may be true, but does playing chess increase your IQ? Are there any studies to back this up? If chess does increase IQ, then how much does chess increase IQ? Is it enough to play chess if you want a high IQ level?
Let’s discuss the connection between chess and IQ in detail.
What is IQ?
The IQ or Intelligence Quotient is a standardized test that is developed to measure a person’s cognitive abilities or intelligence. These tests are given in relation to their age group. Many people in the world today use these tests to measure their intelligence.
But there are also some who reject this system of measuring intelligence through a test. High IQ points just mean an ability to solve IQ tests and is not a measure of intelligence. A person who has studied how to solve IQ problems will be able to score higher on the test than someone who is seeing the test for the first time.
The IQ test attempts to measure our intelligence by testing cognitive skills like
- Fluid reasoning-ability to solve new problems and identify new patterns
- Comprehension knowledge-this tests our knowledge so far, like the rules of a certain game or our vocabulary
- Short-term memory- this tests how fast we can retain information over a short space of time
- Processing speeds-how quickly, we can comprehend and understand information
Do chess players have a high IQ score?
Yes. Many professional chess players and chess grandmasters were found to have high IQ levels. For example, Magnus Carlson had an IQ of 190. Similarly, many other chess players to have an IQ of over 100. The former chess champion Bobby Fischer has an IQ of 187, and Judit Polgar of 170.
So you must think there is a correlation between chess and high IQ? There is. In May 2016, a team of researchers from the Michigan state university found that high intelligence was strongly associated with chess skills.
But of course, there are chess coaches out there who can make good players of those without high IQ levels too. Not having a good IQ does not mean you cannot play chess well. As with all other games, practice makes perfect. A person can become excellent at chess through constant practice. But at the same time, chess grandmasters like Bobby Fischer were naturally very intelligent.
So you can become very good at chess by practicing, but if you want to become a title winner or a grandmaster, you need to have an exceptional level of intelligence. And intelligence does not necessarily mean a high IQ score.
However, does it work vice versa? Does playing chess increase our IQ? How much does chess increase IQ?
Yes, playing chess does really increase your IQ. In 1973, a study by Dr. Albert Frank showed that introducing chess to teenage players increased their IQ. These players were taught an additional two hours of chess instead of mathematics and portrayed spatial, numerical, administrative, and paperwork abilities more than students who were not introduced to chess.
Further, a study in 1975 by David Feldman conducted research with fifth-grade students in Belgium. Students who had the 42 one-hour chess classes began showing better academic results than students who did not. A study in 1977-79 by Dr. Yee Wang Fung in Hong Kong showed that chess players had a 15% improvement in science and math scores.
In a ‘learning to think’ project in 1979-1984 in Venezuela. Children in this study proved higher IQ scores after a year of systemic playing of chess. Likewise, there are many more studies in which students who were required to play chess displayed much better academically than students who didn’t.
Why chess helps to improve IQ could be due to various reasons. Firstly, chess exercises the brain. Anything that makes us think hard and devises smart and strategic moves will help to boost our brain’s cognitive skills. Chess improves problem-solving skills, planning, memory, and fluid reasoning, which is essential for IQ tests.
So yes, chess can help increase your IQ, but how much does chess increase IQ?
How much does chess increase IQ?
Unfortunately, there is no direct answer to this question. And there are no conclusive studies as to how much IQ is increased. Studies show that students performed 15% better at math and science after a year of playing chess, but these could be affected by multiple factors.
How much chess increases the IQ of a person may really depend on how much they play chess, their scores, and even how interested they are in performing well in other subjects.
This does not, in any way, mean that a person who is bad at chess will be bad academically. Or that they are not very intelligent. A person who constantly plays chess will improve in chess, for sure. But whether they improve in other aspects of life or in their performance in other academic subjects really depends on that individual.
And although chess has been proven to increase IQ through various studies, chances are that the number of points increased is very small. If you want a high IQ score, you could do better learning how to take IQ exams, improving your memory power and knowledge rather than spending your time playing chess.
So in summary
Yes, playing chess does increase your IQ. There are studies to prove it. But a high IQ does not necessarily mean high intelligence, and being able to play chess well also does not mean high intelligence either.
Chess grandmasters have proven to have an exceptional level of intelligence and IQ, and being intelligent does mean that you will be good at chess too. But if you ask for my opinion, I think IQ tests seriously lack in some aspects, and I am not sure if they can be taken as a real measure of how intelligent we are.
And there is emotional intelligence too. Are we giving that less importance? How will chess players score on the Emotional Intelligence test?
How much do professional chess players make? Read this to know.
*All pics are from Unsplash.com