I noticed that a lot of chess experts state or imply that teaching kids to play chess is good for them. I wonder if there have been any reliable studies of this (As in, randomized controlled trials)? I wouldn't be at all surprised if chess-playing kids had higher IQs, but would there be any causation behind this correlation?

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    – David
    Sep 18, 2021 at 21:21
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    @David: Beat me that much :-) (Also note the study merely researches the effect on math scores. The claims are usually much far out, e.g. chess teaching social abilities and other beneficial personality traits.) Sep 20, 2021 at 8:06
  • i missed these comments. from a education / clinical perspective that study is probably the most reasonable and balanced.
    – Dheebs
    Sep 23, 2021 at 13:58
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    While the jury is still out, there's a Stanley Kubrick quote out there (that I discovered via the lichess.org site) that reads - 'Chess teaches you to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good and it trains you to think objectively when you're in trouble'. Not sure if "smart" means different things to different people but I've found the above to be a characteristic of smart people.
    – shivsky
    Sep 24, 2021 at 17:16

3 Answers 3


I believe so. From my personal experience, I found learning chess helped me to concentrate on something for a longer time. It also helped me with my memory specially when it comes to recognizing a pattern. Surprisingly I found chess to be helpful for my math skills, like I can calculate 3-4 lines earlier before I have reached that line while solving a math which I guess the benefit you get from practicing chess calculation. And most of all chess enables me to think clearly for solving any problem,. I believe all these qualities are components of a smart person. But that's also true that it can't be taken for granted.


This is somewhat of a tricky one because this answer is No , Yes and Maybe.

Chess doesn't necessarily make you smarter and there is significant research on the topic. The most clinical being "Your Move: Thee effect of chess on mathematics test scored"

They found that there was an improvement in mathematic scores when one in four weekly mathematic lessons were based on chess learning material.

The theorized reason behind this is due to training of of abilities in reasoning allowing for transference of concepts towards mathematical principals.

Other studies on the topic all generally concluded similar results.

That chess DOESN'T necessarily make you smarter.

I don't believe that chess in of itself makes you inherently smarter. It does however help develop and reinforce skills in Fluid Reasoning, Memory, Problem Solving and Processing Speed. These skills are often used as a determination of cognitive ability / intelligence.

In summary playing chess doesn't make you smarter. It does however re-enforce the required skills for cognitive processing which is often utilized as a measure of intelligence. Training your Brain.

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    Can you precise what your definition of "smarter" would be, if you consider it to be different from "reinforce[d] skills in Fluid Reasoning, Memory, Problem Solving and Processing Speed" ? I find the conclusion you draw a bit confusing... (maybe because I have played too much chess. Or not enough chess. Or maybe it's unrelated ?)
    – Evargalo
    Sep 23, 2021 at 9:11
  • The clinical measurements for intelligence / or cognitive ability. are all derived off attributes of problem solving, speed of solving the problem (processing speed), Reasoning as well a few others. "Smarter" technically speaking is not a clinical term and is subjective.
    – Dheebs
    Sep 23, 2021 at 13:57
  • In that case shouldn't your conclusion be "smarter is subjective and cannot be measured" rather than "playing chess doesn't make you smarter"?
    – Evargalo
    Sep 23, 2021 at 21:44
  • No because they are entirely subjective things. "Smarter" is more of a lay term for intelligence. Intelligence can be measured in a number of ways. Chess doesn't make you more intelligent in and of itself. It does however train the attributes. These are extremely different things from a clinical sense.
    – Dheebs
    Sep 24, 2021 at 0:12
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    OK, but what I find odd with your answer is that you give sources and arguments for the claim that chess develops some skills, you explain in the comments that you don't consider those skills to be intelligence/smartness, and then you conclude that chess doesn't improve intelligence. That's a non sequitur. The sophism is the same as if I said : There is bread in the bakery ; cakes are not bread ; hence there is no cake in the bakery.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 24, 2021 at 7:34

I believe that there are studies coming to both positive and negative conclusions. I suspect that it depends strongly on the manner of teaching. A child who has merely been taught the moves and is able to play a legally correct game may not have have gained very much in other areas, but if the teacher is skilled (at chess and at teaching) then almost any game of chess is full of "teachable moments" in great variety. Although not every child may be equally responsive the possibilities are endless.

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