What is Magnus Carlsen’s IQ and Why is He Regarded as a Genius

It is not every day that you see a chess player attaining celebrity status, complete with great endorsement deals and the likes, but one guy who has managed to achieve this feat is Magnus Carlsen. Thanks to an unusual mathematical aptitude and a prodigious memory that manifests in the form of a high IQ, Carlsen has gone on to mesmerize the whole world with his dexterity at chess.

The Norwegian is the second-youngest world chess champion ever. He also holds the record for the longest unbeaten run in classical chess. Carlsen now counts several world championships to his name and is involved in exhibitions and tourneys that have further popularised the game all over the globe.

What is Magnus Carlsen’s IQ?

Some sources have it that the Norwegian chess grandmaster has an IQ of 190 (which will be pretty high) but these claims remain unsubstantiated as he has never admitted to having taken an IQ test before. We also do not expect him to take one in the nearest future as his impressive achievements mean that he has nothing to prove to anyone. But if Magnus Carlsen were to take an IQ test ever, you can be assured that he would score pretty high as his achievements are a pointer to above-average cognitive abilities.

Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen as a Teenager Image Source

What is IQ and How is it Measured?

Ever since IQ tests were invented, it has remained controversial with criticisms on several angles. It is something that is not going away anytime soon hence the need to understand it. IQ tests are simply a test of intelligence. It refers to a series of tools that are used to measure a person’s intellectual abilities and reflect a wide range of cognitive skills such as reasoning, logic, and problem-solving.

IQ tests were first developed by French psychologist Alfred Binet to help identify children who needed extra help. The U.S. government would later modify it for use in recruiting personnel during WWI. There are now more than a dozen different tests in the world with each having several subtests. These subtests measure a different aspect of intelligence, such as math, language, reasoning, and memory, etc., and the results are combined into scores and adjusted by age. A score of 116 is above average while that of 130 signals a very high IQ. 70 or below indicates limited intellectual functioning.

When Did He Get into Chess and What are His Achievements?

Despite the fact that we may never know Magnus Carlsen’s exact IQ, there is no arguing the fact that he is simply a genius. As early as the age of two, he could complete a 50-piece jigsaw puzzle and by four, could build elaborate Lego models meant for teenagers. By the age of five, his exceptional memory knew the area, population, flags, and capitals of all the countries of the world. He also memorized the areas, population, coat of arms, and administrative centers of all the 356 municipalities in Norway.

This made his parents know that they had a special child on their hands but they did not pressure him into any gifted programs. They allowed him to enjoy his childhood. Carlsen’s father would later whip out the chessboard but only because it was a passion he wanted to share with his kids. Funny enough, the five-year-old Carlsen did not really find chess interesting. It was only three years down the line that he fell in love with it and spent much of his time practicing and reading up texts on the subject matter. All that hard work would later pay off as he won his first championship and became a chess grandmaster at the age of 13.

Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen and his parents Image Source

This was in 2003 and Magnus Carlsen has since gone on to win several world championships. He is now revered amongst his peers as one that can play every position. The chess engine, Stockfish, also rates him as the best player of all time and many now regard him as the “Mozart of Chess”.

Does a High IQ Automatically Make One a Pro in Chess?

Most ordinary folks believe that having a high IQ automatically makes one a roaring success in life but this is not exactly so. There are other factors such as ambition, persistence, passion, opportunity, and even luck as research has shown. When it comes to chess specifically, the situation is a bit different as research shows that relentless practice alone cannot make one a skilled chess player but rather intelligence and cognitive ability. It, therefore, means that being naturally intelligent is helpful in playing chess.

This study finds some support in Carlsen’s life as one of his earliest chess tutors, Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen, remarked that the young boy understood everything he said so easily. It also gives us the assurance that even if Magnus Carlsen never takes an IQ test, we can safely conclude that he must nonetheless have a high IQ.

Magnus Carlsen and Albert Einstein’s IQ Compared


Just like Carlsen, Albert Einstein never took an IQ test. He became one of the greatest theoretical physicists ever and so several sources automatically assigned to him the high score of 160. Some scholars have questioned this but others believe it is justified. They point to the fact that he showed intellectual development at an early age. There is also the fact that he obtained a Ph.D. in physics which only people that score high in mathematical, verbal, and spatial reasoning ability can do.

So, Einstein has an assigned IQ of 160 and if we go by Magnus Carlsen’s assigned IQ of 190, it means that the chess grandmaster is more intelligent than Einstein.

Comparison of Magnus Carlsen and Stephen Hawking’s IQ


Another personality who is often cited as the world’s smartest person is Stephen Hawking. The British physicist overcame severe health conditions to publish several ground-breaking texts, including A Brief History of Time. He also received several accolades for his lifework. It is not known if Stephen hawking ever took an IQ test but you can be sure that even if he did, then the result would never be made public as the late physicist described people who boast about their IQ scores as losers. Nevertheless, Hawking has been assigned an IQ of 160 which means that Magnus Carlsen is also more intelligent than him.

Magnus Carlsen’s IQ Compared to Fellow Chess Great, Garry Kasparov

Magnus Carlsen
Image Source

Before Magnus Carlsen took the chess world by storm, a trailblazing Russian player named Garry Kasparov held sway in the 80s and 90s, becoming an undisputed world champion as well as setting several records. These qualities would spur Carlsen into appointing Kasparov as his coach and the Russian grandmaster helped him work on his complex positions. That coaching has improved Carlsen’s game and winning percentage impressively and even though Kasparov is no more his coach, they remain good pals.

When it comes to their IQs, several online sources assign 190 to Kasparov but it has not been proven that he has actually taken the test. Nevertheless, his assigned score of 190 means that he has the same IQ as his mentee.

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