How intellectual is chess? -- a reply to Howard

J Biosoc Sci. 2006 May;38(3):419-21. doi: 10.1017/S0021932005001185. Epub 2006 Jan 27.


Howard's (2005) claim that male dominance in chess is 'consistent with the evolutionary psychology view that males predominate at high achievement levels at least partly because of ability differences' (p. 378) is based on the premise that top level chess skill depends on a high level of IQ and visuospatial abilities. This premise is not supported by empirical evidence. In 1927 Djakow et al. first showed that world-class chess players do not have exceptional intellectual abilities. This finding has subsequently been confirmed many times. Different participation rates, or differences in the amount of practice, motivation and interest for chess in male and female chess players, may provide a better explanation for gender differences in chess performance.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Selection Bias
  • Sex Factors
  • Space Perception
  • Visual Perception