Chess tests how hard you've worked, not your IQ
A while ago, I wrote:
Chess is just a game, not an IQ test. It is largely a battle of who has more experience and who is thinking more carefully during the game. If you are thinking carefully, then you will either win or you will be able to learn a good deal from the loss.There have been previous studies that bear this out, and there is yet another one showing that the amount of time put in is the best predictor of chess improvement. Here is the full summary (which can be found here):
So, the upshot? IQ does matter, but practice time is the best predictor of chess performance. It would be interesting to see if the same results hold for adult newbies to the game.
Good chess players are really smart, right? Only up to a point, according to a study that concludes practice is more important than brains.
Merim Bilalić, a psychology doctoral student at Oxford University in the U.K., studied 57 primary and secondary school chess players, giving them chess problems and IQ tests and logging their daily chess practice.
Although years of experience and IQ correlated with chess skills, the researchers found that the highest correlation was with the number of hours a day the children spent playing or studying the game. And among the top 23 players (all boys), the correlation of chess skill with IQ disappeared. Within this high-IQ group (average 133, versus 114 for the other 34 players), it wasn't the brightest but those who practiced the most who did best, the researchers report in the September issue of Intelligence. The smartest ones actually practiced less.
Chess has long pitted proponents of "expertise" theory, which emphasizes the cultivation of specific skills, against those who argue that talent is important. Psychologist Neil Charness of Florida State University in Tallahassee says that the study bears out "the drudge theory of expertise. Once you're about average IQ, the most important predictor is deliberate practice." But Robert Howard of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, points out that chess prodigies "rapidly outpace the average grandmaster" despite much less practice time.