Why does Chess have such a High IQ Reputation?

The funny thing about chess is that it’s kind of like a victim of its own success. It really is.

A funny creature

You have to understand that reputation is a funny creature. It really is. When people make all sorts of assumptions about you, they start expecting you to behave a certain way. It’s like you’re walking on eggshells.

You’re trying to play to the crowd. You walk into a room knowing that you’re supposed to stick to some sort of script. Now, if you break that script, then all bets are off and chances are, people would be disappointed and people would not know how to make heads or tails of you.

Is this necessarily bad? Well, it depends on the context. If these people are paying you a lot of money to tell them stuff that they want to hear and for you to put on a show because they’re expecting a certain outcome or a certain result or a certain range of emotions, you might want to do it. After all, they’re paying, right? That’s how reputations work.

But, as you probably already know, it has little to do with who you really are.

Character, on the other hand, is what you are. It’s what you will do constantly. It doesn’t matter whether people are looking, you would do it again and again and again, despite the fact that you may not be getting paid to do it.

It is who you are. It explains what you are about, what you’re capable of, how far you would go, the whole nine yards. And unfortunately, character is not always readily apparent. In fact, it can easily be misconstrued, hidden, co-opted, sabotaged, disguised, you name it.

Reputation, on the other hand, is very easy to figure out until, of course, you do something consistently enough to break it.

I need to highlight this because when people read too much into chess and excellent chess playing, they automatically assume that people who play chess have a high IQ. This is not necessarily true. Maybe you just have great instincts. Maybe you are really refined in a certain form of thinking, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have a high IQ.

Because remember, IQ has many different components. It has a verbal component, it has a spatial component, it has a relational component, it has a sequencing approach. While a lot of these relate to chess, there are also many different parts that have nothing to do with chess. Do you see how this works?

So to say that a person who’s good at chess is automatically a Mensa member is kind of stretching it. In fact, if you were to ask me, that alone is a sign of lazy thinking. So to some people, playing chess involves some sort of high IQ reputation.

But the short answer to the question which forms the title of this blog post is that sadly, it is all reputation. Pick apart the concept of reputation and you will get your answer. It may not be the answer that you’re looking for, but that’s the truth.

IQ has many different parts and chess only speaks to a portion of these parts. So don’t sell yourself short by automatically assuming that people who are good at chess have great IQs. It can easily be the other way around.