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And the contrary claims – like the one that Bobby Fischer’s IQ was in the 180s – are less well-sourced (although Fischer was the son of a Hungarian-Jewish mathematician, so who knows? If it were possible to be a chess world champion with an IQ of 135, then maybe it’s possible to be a “mere” grandmaster with IQs in the high 120s and low 130s.And it’s just barely plausible that some sufficiently smart people might have three kids who all have IQs in the high 120s and low 130s. 2% of people have IQs in the high 120s or low 130s, but 2% of people aren’t the top-ranked female chess player in the world. “Practice” seems like an obvious part of the picture.[EDIT: Thanks to a few people who pointed out some problems with my math here (1, 2, 3).

(all of this is confounded by them being women and almost all the other equally-good chess masters being men.

That’s not bad – it’s top 1% of the population – but it’s not amazing either.

This is what we should expect given the correlation of about r = 0.24 between IQ and chess ability (see also this analysis, although I disagree with the details).

He points out that there are many chess masters who have practiced much less than the Polgar sisters but are better than they are.

He also points out that even though the sisters themselves have all practiced similar amounts, youngest sister Judit is clearly better than the other two in a way that practice alone cannot explain.

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