For many, chess is more than a game. It’s an expression of intellectual prowess and a symbol of intelligence itself. Naturally, this belief has led to the assumption that all grand masters are geniuses with high IQs.
While there are a few famous chess grandmasters that have high IQs, there are also others that don’t have high IQs. This means that you don’t necessarily have to have a high IQ to be a chess grandmaster.
Do Chess Grandmasters Have a High IQ
Chess Grandmasters don’t need a higher IQ to achieve the title or become good at Chess. There are Grandmasters with Higher IQ’s and Grandmasters with lower IQ’s
5 Chess Grandmasters That Have High IQs
#1 Magnus Carlsen
In 2009, Magnus Carlsen became the new world chess champion, and he held this title for six years. His peak rating was 2847, the highest in history. His high IQ has been widely documented and he has scored at least a few hundred points higher than the average in standardized tests. He has an IQ of 190. In 2003, he was even invited to take an IQ test at Cambridge University after being recognized as one of Norway’s most exceptional 13-year-old schoolchildren.
#2 Sergey Karjakin
In 2016, Sergey Karjakin became the first grandmaster born in the 1990s. He has an IQ of around 160 and is a former chess prodigy. He was a child chess prodigy, and he achieved his first grandmaster norm before the age of 12. He earned more norms by the time he turned 18 and at 19 he was Russia’s youngest grandmaster. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the world with an ELO rating of 2554. 1
#3 Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal, or “The Marshall” as he was nicknamed, was the first Soviet grandmaster. He won his first grandmaster norm at age 13 and went on to become one of the leading Russian chess players during the Cold War era. By 1965, Tal earned his first of three world championships in rapid chess. At times, he was hailed as one of the strongest chess players ever to play the game. Mikhail Tal’s IQ is 175.
#4. Gary Kasparov
Gary Kasparov is considered to be one of the most talented, strongest and most creative chess players ever. He was considered a master of strategy, and he played against the world’s top chess players for 20 years. By the 1990s he was recognized as the best chess player in the world, and by 2007, he was considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. He’s still considered one of the strongest ever. He has a 190 IQ score.
#5 Bobby Fischer
During the late 1960s, Bobby Fischer was arguably the best chess player in the world. He had an amazing record in international competitions, and he won several world championships. By 1972, he became World Chess Champion after playing a world championship tournament against Boris Spassky in Iceland. Although Fischer declined to defend his title, he continued to play competitive chess up to 1987. He has an IQ score of 181
5 Chess Grandmasters With Lower IQs
#1 Nigel Short
Nigel Short is a chess grandmaster, but he only has an IQ of 110. He came in at No. 3 in the list of chess players with the lowest IQs on record. In 2010, he was one of Europe’s highest-rated chess players and achieved a career rating of 2860, the third-highest ever.
#2 Hikaru Nakamura (But Not Really)
Hikaru Nakamura earned his grandmaster title in 2004, and he has since competed in the FIDE World Chess Championship and the Candidates Tournament to name a couple. He is currently the world’s No. 3 ranked player with an ELO rating of 2787. He has joked about scoring an IQ of 102 on a test before, but it’s not exactly accurate because he ran out of time in the test. If you listen to him speak for more than two seconds, it’s obvious he’s incredibly smart and has a much higher IQ than 102.
#3 Peter Leko
Peter Leko is a Hungarian-born Hungarian chess grandmaster, and he has one of the highest Elo ratings in history. He is one of the youngest grandmasters ever and was awarded the title at age 14. He has an IQ of 125.
#4 Vladimir Kramnik
Vladimir Kramnik is arguably one of the best chess players of all time. Throughout his career, he earned several world titles and won a total of 20 championships in different competitions. By 2007, he was ranked the No. 2 player in the world with an ELO rating of 2801. His peak rating was 2851. His IQ score is about 120.
#5 Vassily Ivanchuk
Vassily Ivanchuk is a Ukrainian super grandmaster, and he has been ranked No. 3 in the world by FIDE from October 2008 to January 2010. He has an IQ of 119.
As you can see, the myth that you need a high IQ to become great at chess is just that, a myth. You do not need an above average IQ to become a grandmaster chess player. Does it help? Sure it does, you may learn the game and excel at a more rapid rate, but it’s really not something to become concerned and dwell on. If you find yourself dwelling on it, you can always improve your IQ.