Magnus Carlsen’s IQ: How Smart Is the Famous Chess Prodigy?

by Rosemarie Hardison
Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess grandmaster was born in 1990. He’s known to be extremely smart. So much so that there has always been speculation about his IQ score.

Although Magnus Carlsen has never taken an IQ test, nor is there any official IQ score available under his name, his IQ score is estimated to be around 190.

So, how smart is Magnus Carlsen? And why is he thought to have such a high IQ score?

Keep reading to find out.

What Is Magnus Carlsen’s IQ?

Magnus Carlsen is considered a genius and a chess prodigy. He earned the chess grandmaster title at only the age of 13. That’s why he caught the attention of everyone in the world of chess since he first started playing.

Magnus Carlsen has never declared taking an IQ test, which allowed some room for hypotheses. Similar to other top chess players, like Garry Kasparov, Carlsen’s hypothetical IQ score is probably 190, which is really high.

Garry Kasparov, though hadn’t taken the test either, was assigned a score between 185–190. Consequently, he was included by the American organization Super Scholar among the top ten smartest people in the world. In fact, Garry Kasparov personally trained Magnus Carlsen until 2010.

According to scientists, only 0.5% of the world’s population has an IQ score of over 140, let alone 190. It proves that Magnus Carlsen, as well as Garry Kasparov, are one of the very few individuals on our planet.

Why Is Magnus Carlsen a Great Chess Player?

Basically, Magnus Carlsen is kind of the have-it-all chess player, who can handle both positional and tactical positions. That’s why he’s the strongest chess player out there, making everybody wonder what his IQ score could possibly be.

Of course, being great at chess isn’t all about the IQ of a person. Having a good memory, a long attention span, competitiveness, confidence, and the will to win are all factors contributing to forming the perfect chess player.

Magnus Carlsen’s incredible memory performs greatly when put to the test, as he’s known to play chess brilliantly while being blindfolded. In fact, in one setting, he can memorize the pieces of ten different board positions.

Additionally, he can easily defeat ten players at once during exhibition matches, while also being blindfolded.

Magnus Carlsen’s Early Life

Magnus Carlsen showed an early interest in intellectual challenges. Surprisingly, he could solve a fifty-piece puzzle by the age of two. According to his parents, when he was just four years old, he used to assemble Lego sets that were meant for ages 10–14.

His father was an amateur chess player and he was the one who taught Carlsen how to play chess back when he was five. However, Magnus didn’t show much interest in the game at first. What later motivated him to play chess was the desire to beat his elder sisters.

When it comes to having a good memory, Magnus Carlsen is exceptional. When he was only five years old, he could recall all the world’s countries, their population, Capitals, flags, and locations.

So, as a child, he showed a high level of intelligence and had many advantages. Those traits later qualified him to become a brilliant chess player.

What Are Magnus Carlsen’s Achievements?


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Although still young, Magnus Carlsen has an impressive chess career, which proves that he definitely must have a high IQ.

He played his first tournament when he was only eight years old. Not so long after, in 2004, he earned the grandmaster title at the age of 13. This makes him the second youngest person to earn this title in the history of chess.

Magnus Carlsen was called “the Mozart of chess.” In addition, he’s considered the best chess player to ever exist on the face of the earth. In 2013, he defeated Vishy Anand, the reigning World Chess Champion, and became the new World Chess Champion himself.

Furthermore, in 2014, he defended his World Chess Champion title with a rematch against Vishy Anand. Additionally, he defended the title twice more, beating Sergei Karjakin in 2016, and Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

Here’s a list of some more of Magnus Carlsen’s achievements:

  • He won seven chess Oscars, an annual international award given to the best chess player.
  • He became one of the few players to achieve an Elo rating of over 2800 in the history of chess, with a score of 2882.
  • He became the youngest player to ever reach No. 1 in the FIDE rankings.
  • In 2014, he won the World Blitz Championship and the World Rapid Championship.
  • In 2015, he won the Inaugural Grand Chess Tour.

What Are IQ Tests?

The IQ test is a test of intelligence, that utilizes a series of tools to measure an individual’s intellectual abilities and reflect his cognitive skills, like logic, reasoning, and problem-solving.

IQ tests were and still are, controversial, and ever since they were invented, they faced many criticisms. That’s because many refuse to believe that it’s possible to measure a person’s intelligence with just a test.

About 68% of people have an IQ of 85–115. Only a small fraction of people have an IQ score of below 70, which is lower than average. Similarly, a small percentage of people have an above-average IQ, which is usually above 130.

That should give you a wide perspective of where Magnus Carlsen stands among the people of the world.

Does Chess Affect IQ?

So, are all chess players that smart? Does being a good chess player automatically translate to having a high IQ?

IQ analytical experts claim that any normal chess player has better cognitive abilities than any other person and consequently, a higher IQ score. So, you can only imagine how incredible the grandmaster’s abilities are.


Magnus Carlsen is a world-famous chess player who achieved huge success in his domain. He showed early signs of intelligence and it’s undeniable the role of his parents working with him to realize his dreams.

There’s no doubt that Magnus Carlsen’s IQ is rather high. He doesn’t need to take an IQ exam to prove that he’s one of the smartest people on earth. His brilliance is simply unquestionable.

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