Can Chess Increase IQ? +7 Other Benefits of Playing Chess

The correlation between intelligence and chess is obvious, but can chess increase IQ score? Read on to learn more about the game’s benefits.

Can Chess Increase IQ? +7 Other Benefits of Playing Chess main image

Chess may not seem like the type of game that would still gather interest today. After all, its calm, reflective nature clashes intensely with the fast-paced digital world of the 21st century and its focus on speed and quick pleasures.

Yet, the number of players who regularly play chess—both online and offline—isn’t significantly decreasing. If anything, chess is seeing a bit of a renaissance right now after the popular Netflix show Queen’s Gambit and the pandemic gave the game a second wind.

With the influx of new players, the old questions arise once again: Is there a correlation between chess and intelligence? Can chess increase IQ, and if so, by how much? If you’re curious to find the answers, keep reading!

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Can Playing Chess Increase Your IQ?

The correlation between chess and intelligence seems obvious even without doing any research. After all, it’s a game of strategy that challenges players to plan, predict, and solve problems on the spot if they hope to win.

But what does science say? Can chess increase IQ when it’s played regularly? Much research has been done on this topic, and the answer is a resounding yes.

For instance, a study that observed the performance of school-aged children noticed a significant improvement in their IQ scores after a year of attending chess classes. When they were tested initially, 12% of children had superior intelligence. However, on the final IQ test, that percentage grew to as much as 25%, providing indisputable proof of the game’s beneficial effect.

Do Chess Players Have a High IQ Score?

Can chess increase IQ?

Can chess increase IQ?

When you think of a chess player, what kind of image comes to mind? It’s likely that of a nerdy kid with glasses and an IQ of over 200, so commonly encountered in movies. And while this is just a stereotype, it’s not entirely divorced from reality.

In fact, the average IQ of chess players is at least 10 points higher than the non-players’ average. And if we speak only of chess grandmasters, the difference becomes even greater. Typically, a grandmaster has an IQ of 130–135 or higher, falling into the gifted and genius range.

To illustrate, here are the IQ scores of some of the top chess grandmasters:

  • Magnus Carlsen: IQ of 190
  • Bobby Fischer: IQ of 181
  • Mikhail Tal: IQ of 175
  • Garry Kasparov: IQ of 135

Of course, many famous grandmasters don’t belong to this gifted category. Still, even Nigel Short, considered a grandmaster with the lowest IQ, scores around 110. And that’s on the higher end of the average scale!

How Much Can Chess Increase IQ?

As you can see, taking up chess is an excellent idea if you hope to increase your IQ. But what exactly does that mean? Can chess increase IQ by ten points if you practice every day for six months? Could you become a certified genius in a few years?

Well, not exactly. While it’s clear that chess benefits the brain, it’s not as easy to measure its impact on IQ points. In fact, the change in your score might only amount to a few points—nothing drastic at all. That shouldn’t disappoint you, though. The positive effects of playing chess will be obvious even if the IQ test doesn’t fully reflect them.

Pro tip: If you want to try other methods of increasing your IQ, reading books is always a good option!

Top 7 Benefits of Playing Chess

Can chess increase IQ?

Can chess increase IQ?

Not only can chess increase IQ, but playing this game comes with several additional benefits. In the following section, we will explore seven of those in more detail, so stick around!

#1. Chess Can Enhance Concentration

As a game that punishes you for every wrong move, chess requires patience and laser focus. After all, you can’t hope to win against a serious opponent if you’re thinking about what you should eat for dinner. So, as a result of frequent playing, your ability to concentrate will visibly improve.

Moreover, considering how overwhelmed everyone is with daily distractions, chess may be just the remedy you need. Once your concentration improves, you’ll have an easier time focusing on tasks at hand—both at work and outside of it. This will lead to better performance and a more satisfying life.

#2. Playing Chess Can Improve Memory

Did you know that grandmaster Magnus Carlsen memorized up to 10,000 chess openings and moves? Of course, he is one of a kind, but even a regular chess player will tell you that memorization is a key aspect of the game.

So, it comes as no surprise that chess players tend to have better memories than average. Similarly to training a muscle, memory grows stronger the more you use it. In a way, playing chess is like taking your brain to the gym, where each new opening you memorize acts as exercise.

Eventually, you’ll notice the difference in your daily life, too, especially when it comes to auditory memory and pattern recognition.

#3. Chess Leads to Higher Levels of Creativity

Clogs in different colors everywhere

Clogs in different colors everywhere

Although memorizing is an important aspect of chess, the game doesn’t come down to just remembering positions and openings. On the contrary, chess frequently requires out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem-solving that can easily seep into your life outside of chess.

In fact, Indian researchers proved that chess players were more creative with a simple test. Two groups, one of players and the other of non-players, were asked to think of alternate uses for various common items. As it turned out, those who played chess regularly had more original ideas and greater flexibility of mind.

#4. Chess Can Prevent Dementia

While enhanced creativity or improved memory are wonderful to have, they alone may not be a strong enough motivator to pick up chess. However, the fact that chess can potentially prevent or slow down the onset of dementia might be.

As a mentally stimulating game, chess helps you preserve neuroplasticity and boosts your cognitive functions. A brain that isn’t kept active may “atrophy,” which makes it more susceptible to forgetfulness, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s.

That’s precisely why chess, along with sudoku, puzzles, crosswords, and language learning, are recommended activities for the older population. However, you shouldn’t wait until you’re old to start playing chess. In fact, the earlier you take it up, the greater its effects!

#5. Playing Chess Utilizes Both Sides of the Brain

Can chess increase IQ?

Can chess increase IQ?

For a long time, people and researchers alike believed that playing chess activated only the left side of the brain. This hemisphere, which is in charge of logic, speech, language, and recognition of letters and numbers, seemed perfectly suited to a game such as chess.

But lately, new information has emerged—it turns out that the right hemisphere is just as involved in playing chess as the left one. As mentioned before, chess is a fantastic tool for enhancing creativity, which falls under the right brain’s domain. So, if you want to boost your brain power as a whole, find a good partner and start playing!

#6. Chess Improves Problem-Solving Skills

To solve problems effectively, you need to be able to analyze the situation from several angles, brainstorm solutions, and select the appropriate path to move forward. Sounds familiar? That’s because the process of playing chess is essentially the same.

So, are we saying you’ll be problem-free once you start playing chess? Sadly, no, as real-world problems tend to be more complex than the ones encountered in chess.

Still, once your brain gets adjusted to the problem-solving process in chess, you’ll be more likely to apply it in real life. You won’t feel stumped or panic if the solution isn’t immediately obvious—after all, you’re already equipped with the kind of thinking you need.

#7. Chess Helps With Strategic Thinking & Planning Skills

Think of a game between two experienced chess players and the long, contemplative pauses between each move. That is where the majority of the game plays out—in the players’ minds. The masters will plan, strategize, and then plan some more until they are confident in the next few moves they want to make.

That being said, playing chess won’t transform you into a mastermind who’s ten steps ahead of everyone. However, it will improve your planning and strategic thinking, giving you a firmer grasp on your future and a better understanding of the potential obstacles life may throw at you.

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Can Chess Help Children Boost Their IQ?

Can Chess Help Children Boost Their IQ?

Can Chess Help Children Boost Their IQ?

While the benefits of playing chess are evident at any age, no group enjoys as many advantages as children. Previously, we mentioned research that showed the impact of chess on children’s IQ over the course of a year. Now, we also want to introduce you to other benefits children who play chess may experience.

Let’s make it clear, though—all the benefits you’ve read about so far apply to both adults and children. However, through playing chess, children can also pick up social skills and learn how to build relationships with others. Additionally, healthy competition instills a sense of ambition and determination in them while simultaneously teaching them how to lose gracefully.

On top of that, chess invites the players to put themselves in their opponent’s shoes, understand their perspective, and figure out their next move. That, of course, encourages the development of empathy and interpersonal intelligence, which are crucial skills for a child at any age.

Finally, studies have shown that chess can serve as part of ADHD treatment for children. Regular chess sessions improve concentration, reduce inattentiveness, and resolve issues with hyperactivity.

Key takeaways

Key Takeaways

So, can chess increase IQ, or is that just a myth? As you have seen, regularly playing chess can indeed boost your brain power and raise your IQ score by a few points. However, its benefits hardly end there. In fact, chess also:

  • Enhances concentration, memory, and creativity
  • Activates both hemispheres of the brain
  • Prevents and slows down dementia
  • Improves strategic thinking, planning, and problem-solving skills
  • Helps children develop empathy, people skills, and a competitive spirit

In other words, regardless of its impact on IQ, your brain will be grateful if you take up chess as a hobby!

Can Chess Increase IQ? FAQ

#1. Can chess raise IQ in adults?

Yes, studies have shown that chess increases IQ in both adults and children. However, it’s important to practice regularly to see improvement.

#2. How much can chess increase IQ?

It’s unclear exactly how much chess increases IQ, but the difference in the actual score likely isn’t too big. Still, your overall cognition, memory, planning, and mental agility will improve significantly.

#3. Does chess make you smarter?

Chess does make you smarter by improving your thinking processes and strategic skills, as well as activating both hemispheres of your brain.

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