What Is Magnus Carlsen’s IQ?

This article is about Magnus Carlsen's IQ.

The IQ of Magnus Carlsen is an intriguing subject for many. Since he has never taken an IQ test, we have no official Magnus Carlsen IQ score available.

If you were to estimate Magnus Carlsen’s IQ, a figure of 190 would be a good estimation. What is the reason for choosing 190?

Looking at other chess greats and what we know of their IQs gives us a good idea of a probable Magnus Carlsen IQ score.

Bobby Fischer scored around 180, and Judit Polgar scored 170. Another chess legend, Garry Kasparov, scored 135, but many people still feel a better reflection of his score is closer to 180 or 190.

There are many factors besides the IQ score which make for a great chess player. The will to win and competitive spirit counts for a lot when you sit down at the board.

Bobby Fischer certainly knew how vital a fighting spirit and self-confidence are to chess success. He once said, “I’m the best player in the world, and I am here to prove it.”

Another important factor in chess success is undoubtedly an excellent long-term memory. Magnus proved he had one as a young child when he memorized all the countries in the world.

Magnus Carlsen is an outstanding chess player with extraordinary achievements throughout his young career. Many chess enthusiasts call him the “Mozart of chess”.

Without any doubt, Magnus Carlsen’s chess career is impressive. In 2004, he earned his grandmaster title aged just 13.

Just five years later, in 2009, Magnus Carlsen became one of the few players in history to achieve an Elo rating of over 2800 and, just a year later, he became the youngest player ever to reach No. 1 in the FIDE rankings.

In 2013, Carlsen defeated the reigning World Chess Champion Vishy Anand in a planned 12-game match (the match was decided after just 10 games with Magnus Carlsen already having 6½ points) and became the new World Chess Champion. In the following year, Magnus Carlsen successfully defended his title in a World Chess Championship rematch against Vishy Anand. Carlsen has since defended his title twice more, defeating Sergei Karjakin in the 2016 World Chess Championship, and beating Fabiano Caruana in the 2018 World Chess Championship.

On top of that, Magnus Carlsen holds the record for the highest ever Elo rating. In May 2014, he reached a peak rating of 2882 –only 18 points away from the magic 2900 barrier which no human chess player in history has ever crossed.

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But what are the reasons behind his success? Some chess players claim that he is a complete chess player who can handle both, tactical and positional positions. Others, however, refer to his impressive psychological and physical form. Finally, many people wonder what Magnus Carlsen’s IQ (intelligence quotient) might be.

But what do we know about Magnus Carlsen’s intelligence? What do we know about intelligence in general? And is there a correlation between his intelligence and his chess skills?

The following article is devoted to Magnus Carlsen’s IQ and its significance for his results in the game of chess.

Here are a few of Magnus’ chess miniatures from 2107, presented by GM Ron W Henley. There can be little doubt it takes considerable chess genius to beat a strong player like Wesley So in only 15 moves!

A quick introduction to the concept of intelligence Magnus Carlsens IQ and how Chess affects IQ

„Intelligence is a bankrupt concept. Whatever it might mean – and nobody really knows even how to define it – intelligence is so ephemeral that no one can measure it accurately.” (Herrnstein and Murray 1994)

Research on the field of human intelligence started with the studies of the French scientist Alfred Binet in 1904.

Alfred Binet got the assignment to develop a test with which one can identify children who weren’t good enough to be sent to school. This objective tool should optimize and complement the advice of teachers.

The definition of intelligence is an issue with which science is concerned to the present day.

A variety of different assertions exist to this matter. However, most experts found common ground about three significant indicators for intelligence:
1. The ability to cope with abstractions, ideas, symbols, concepts, and principles.
2. The ability to solve problems and to manage new situations.
3. The ability to acquire and use verbal as well as symbolic abstractions.

However, there is still no precise definition of this concept. Intelligence also includes things such as logic, abstract thinking, understanding, learning, and a dozen more components.

The above-mentioned definition might cause considerable problems, due to those essential components which are not of intellectual manner are missing. These components are, for instance, emotional and social competencies, sensory competences, achievement motivation, the visual perceptivity and many more.

Measuring Intelligence – IQ Tests What is Magnus Carlsen's IQ?

While the first procedure to identify the intelligence quotient was developed by Binet in 1904, William Stern coined the term “intelligence quotient” (IQ) 8 years later.

Intelligence is regarded as normally distributed and mostly indicated as the IQ (intelligence quotient).  The average IQ is 100.  So, if someone reaches an IQ of 100, the probability that a person is more or less intelligent than you is 50% in each case.

About 68% of the IQ scores are between a standard deviation of -1 and + 1 – so in the middle range. 68% of all IQ scores are between 85 and 115,15 points, within this standard deviation of -1 to +1. That’s the case if it is really true that 100 is the concrete mean value.

Thus, when you go one standard deviation up from the mean value (+1), the IQ score is 115. With an IQ of 115, the probability to meet one who is more intelligent than you is only 16%. In consequence, 84% of all people are equally or less intelligent than you.

95% of the population has IQ between 70 and 130.

If one has an intelligence quotient of 145, the probability to meet anyone ever who is even more intelligent is extremely small. Only 0,13% of the whole world population reaches an even higher IQ.

What Is Magnus Carlsen’s IQ? 

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Surely, it is extremely interesting to get to know how high the IQ of the “Mozart of chess”, of a unique chess player is. Unfortunately, he has never taken an IQ test yet. So, his intelligence hasn’t been measured until today.

However, an exact measurement of human intelligence cannot be provided by a test or by a mathematical formula. Hence, the result of such a test will depend on the design of it.

Another chess giant, Garry Kasparov, decided for a test and the results are highly controversial. Some sources give Garry Kasparov an IQ between 185 and 190 so that he was included in the list of ten smartest people in the world by the American organization Super Scholar.

The result over 140 points is considered a genius level. According to scientists, only 0,5% people on Earth have this high IQ. Kasparov, former World Champion, is 50 points above the genius level according to Super Scholar.

However, the German magazine “Der Spiegel“ attempted to find out Kasparov’s IQ in 1987-88. Kasparov was given numerous tests to measure his memory, spatial ability, and abstract reasoning under the supervision of international psychologists. The team measures his IQ “only” as 135.

Another strong chess player from Budapest, Judit Polgár, the undoubtedly best female chess player in history was reported an IQ of 170, as we mentioned before.

However, there are doubts about the connection between intelligence and chess strength. Surely, one has to be pretty intelligent to be successful in chess, but there are plenty of more factors that are important for success in chess. To have an outstanding memory, emotional stability or a long span of attention are important skills in chess as well!

Nonetheless, Magnus Carlsen who earned number one in the FIDE list must be extraordinarily intelligent! No doubt, that if he made a test, Magnus Carlsen’s IQ would be really high! However, why put his undeniable intelligence in numbers? It is known that the IQs of the greatest chess players are the highest in the chart. You can read about the correlation of IQ and Elo rating here in more detail.

Conclusion – What can we say about Magnus Carlsen’s IQ?

No doubt, Magnus Carlsen’s IQ must be extremely high! The particular intelligence of the best chess player in the world is undeniable – without any tests and numbers!

If you like to remark something or add any important clue, feel free to leave a comment about the speculative topic of Magnus Carlsen’s IQ.

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