Are Chess players especially intelligent?

Judit Polgar, (Child prodigy, Best Female Chess player in the World ever, Super GM and a Mum to boot) tweeted this website yesterday. Now, I’m not denying that she’s very intelligent. I haven’t met her yet but noticing the list of “The 10 Smartest People Alive Today”, to my knowledge 3 of them are “proper” chess players. Not the kind who play at home and know bits and bobs of the games but Garry Kasparov, Judith and Terence Tao who’s brother is the Australian IM Trevor Tao.


Having just googled “chess intelligence”, I’ve come up with this blog post from He points out rightly, that chess has this exeptionally intelligent outlook to the rest of the world but chess skills does not always translate to the outside world. Of course, chess players are such a broad term but I love how the world thinks what “we” are like. We just spent the weekend with Gawain’s Aunt who is an avid board gamer. I thought Gawain was bad (we have about 7 games at home) but when I first visited her house she had bookshelves full of various board games. She had her annual boardgame party  last weekend and it was quite interesting to hear the other gamers talk about chess. “Can’t play that, he’ll be too good. He’s a chess player! Duh.” Was some of the comments I overheard. Yes, Gawain is a grandmaster and yes he’s fond of boardgames but that doesn’t mean he’ll win them every time. Chess is not the same as your average boardgame.

So if intelligence alone doesn’t translate into being a fantastic chess player, what does? Well, isn’t that the million dollar question. If I knew that, I’m sure I’d be rich.



2 Responses to “Are Chess players especially intelligent?”

  1. rolpol
    August 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I don’t know about intelligence making for a good chess player, but playing chess badly can make one feel bloody stupid!

    On the other hand I remember Stephen Fry’s comment on QI that he wouldn’t trust some of the GMs he’d met to sit the right way on a toilet!

    • Sue
      August 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Yes, Very true. There are times where you think, why on earth did I play that? Gawain adores Stephen Fry but they’ve never met. I hope if they did meet he’d realize Ga’s one of those who would sit the right way on a toilet. 🙂

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