Chess IQ And Math: Debunking Myths And Facts

Chess is a game that has long been associated with intelligence, IQ and deep mathematical calculations. But is it true that chess is all about IQ and math? Can only smart people excel at chess?

Well some of the things said about chess are true but mostly they are myths and lies.

In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more, and try to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the relationship between chess, IQ and math.

Is Chess All About IQ?

First of all, it’s important to note that intelligence is a complex and multifaceted concept, and IQ is just one measure of it.

While it is true that chess can be a challenging game that requires analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, it is not the case that chess is solely about IQ.

There are many other factors that contribute to a person’s ability to play chess well, including practice, experience, and overall cognitive abilities.

Below is a video featuring the thoughts of renowned chess players on the relationship between IQ and chess proficiency:

Can Chess Improve Your IQ?

No, chess can not improve IQ but it sure can improve many other useful skills like cognitive abilities such as pattern recognition, problem-solving, and planning.

There is no evidence that suggest that playing chess can increase IQ.

Chess can improve other parts of your life for example it improves your social life. You meet people from different walks of life at chess tournaments and become part of a diverse community.

Chess also improves your focus, patience, and teaches you sportsmanship. It also has many health benefits.

Another interesting point is that chess can be beneficial for elderly people, as it can help improve memory and cognitive function.

Studies have shown that elderly adults who engage in mentally stimulating activities such as chess have a lower risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia.

Do Chess Grandmasters Have High IQ And Math Skills?

No, it’s a common misconception that chess grandmasters have high IQ and math skills.

Many grandmasters excel at chess due to their ability to think strategically, make intuitive decisions, and recognize patterns on the board, rather than because of their mathematical abilities.

They have developed their skills through years of practice and study, rather than innate talent or a strong mathematical background.

Do Chess Players Have Good Memory?

Yes, chess players tend to have good memory skills when it comes to memorizing chess positions and patterns, but their memory skills are generally similar to those of the general population in other areas. They use their ability to memorize chess positions and patterns as an advantage in their games.

Even that skill is typically found in titled chess players, and lower-rated players may not be as good at memorizing chess positions.

High rated players can remember their games and study old games, and they may be able to memorize certain positions.

Outside of chess, the memory skills of chess players are similar to those of the general population. Some chess players may have good memory in general, while others may not.

Can Low IQ Play Chess?

Absolutely. While a high IQ might give someone an advantage in certain aspects of the game, it is not a requirement for success in chess.

In fact, there have been many successful chess players throughout history who were not necessarily considered to have high IQs.

Take example of one of Aron Nimzowitsch’s stories:

A GM named Aron Nimzowitsch was about to lose a game against a player named Friedrich Fritz Samisch. In frustration, Aron stood up on the table and shouted, ‘Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!’ which means “That I should lose to this idiot!”

It seems that Samisch was not very intelligent, according to Aron’s comment.

What Is The Average IQ Of A Chess Player?

It’s difficult to say, as there is no specific data on the IQs of chess players.

However, it is likely that the average IQ of a chess player falls within the normal range of IQ scores, which is generally considered to be between 90 and 110.

Are Smart People Better At Chess?

Yes, smart people are better at chess but that advantage is particularly more prominent among young chess players and those at lower levels of skill.

Individuals who are just starting to learn chess or are at lower skill levels, having a higher level of intelligence may give them an advantage in understanding and applying the mathematical and strategic concepts involved in the game.

However, as players progress to higher levels of skill, other factors such as practice, experience, and intuition become more important in determining chess proficiency, regardless of intelligence.

So, it can be said that smart people tend to have an advantage in chess when they are young and at lower levels of skill, but as they progress to higher levels of skill and gain experience, other factors become more important.

Why All Chess Prodigies Don’t Become Top Players?

The reason behind many young chess prodigies not becoming top players is that as players mature, there are multiple other factors that become equally important in determining a player’s chess proficiency, such as their dedication, focus, and cognitive skills.

These factors, in addition to intelligence, play a crucial role in shaping a player’s chess ability as they progress through the game and encounter higher level of competition.

Which Chess Player Has Highest IQ?

It is difficult to say for certain, as IQ scores are not generally made public.

However, there have been a few well-known chess players who are rumored to have had high IQs, including Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen.

It is not possible to accurately determine the IQ of chess players through online lists, as these sources are not reliable.

Reputable organizations such as Mensa, which has members in over 90 countries and encompasses individuals of all ages, do not have any publicly available data on the IQs of chess players. Therefore, it’s not possible to declare any chess player highest in IQ.

Does Chess Require Math?

Being good at math can help with calculating different tactical positions and variations that can occur in the game but it is not necessary to be a math genius to be good at chess.

A basic level of mathematical proficiency is enough to be good at chess.

Many successful chess players are not particularly strong in math.

To improve at chess, it is important to practice and study different strategies and techniques. This can involve memorizing and understanding different openings, endgames, and tactics, as well as understanding how the pieces move and interact with each other.

By practicing and studying, you can learn how to analyze and evaluate different positions, and develop your chess skills, even if math is not your strongest subject.

In short, math can be helpful in chess, but it is not required. What is most important is developing your chess skills through practice and study.


While IQ and chess are often thought to be closely related, the truth is more complex.

While a high IQ might give someone an advantage in certain aspects of the game, it is not the sole determining factor in a person’s ability to play chess well.

Other factors, including practice, experience, and overall cognitive abilities, also play a role. So, it is important to remember that IQ is just one aspect of intelligence, and that there are many other factors that contribute to a person’s ability to play chess.

Before you go…

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to learn more about the exciting world of chess, be sure to check out our next article “Why is Chess So Popular?

In this article, we delve deeper into the popularity of chess and explore the top five reasons why this timeless game continues to capture the hearts and minds of players around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned chess player or just getting started, this article is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and future of chess.

Related Articles:

Leave a Comment