How IQ does or doesn't correlate to Go skill

I won’t do the test, but I would think there are some obvious problems with it :

  • Relevance of the IQ test ( usually they have been proven to evaluate skills in given kinds of (logical) problems rather than “intelligence”.

  • Obvious correlation between a taste for mathematical problems/ mathematical skills and the taste for the game of go (were it only for the structure of the population that plays go)

  • Reverse causality : having studied go may help with this logical things and not the other way around
    So i think at the best you are testing the correlation (and not causality) between being able to solve logical/vocabulary problems and playing a strategy game.


Correcto. There are some even more fundamental problems with this approach which renders any such endeavour meaningless. But I’ll wait for some more responses before I lay waste to it. :wine_glass:



This test does not even stand strong when comparing it to other intelligence tests:

The part about vocabulary is quite ridiculous; it doesn’t measure intelligence, as you could easily be very intelligent but never encounter the word “Tribulation” in your life (and as a non-native speaker I hadn’t encountered most of the words that were presented).

The logical syllogisms, arithmetic exercises and the weird question about reading graphs all have to do with skills that are elementary to learn. Someone with a little exercise in these kind of tasks can easily get good at those exercises.

Finally, where is the time component in this? If I finish the test in 3 hours, surely I should get a worse score than if I do it in 15 minutes, right?


Well, for one the concept “intelligence” is not well-defined, as there is not really a majority of psychologists / philosophers agreeing on what it means. This automatically makes measuring it impossible

Isn’t that exactly what the OP said that he was interested in - the correlation between IQ and Go ability?

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I do not mean any disrespect or to critically criticize your curiosity of the subject. I guess what I am getting at is that this exercise in comparing players requires that you have a system for measuring them accurately. Given how vast intelligence tests are (when considering serious efforts to done by serious experts), it first seems that you need to figure out what kind of intelligence you are trying to rate. Giving 500 players a test when you are uncertain of exactly what part of human intelligence the test is trying to measure (like the test you shared above) will not tell you much.

What are you really learning from that? How can you look at the scores and feel that they represent anything concrete or definitive? I enjoy a good spreadsheet. Data can be and often is very sexy. But it doesn’t represent reality in any way if the foundations of how it is measuring things are not strong. If you were to state that 3,000 Go players were compared with a crappy IQ test, nobody would care.

And if you left the “crappy” part out of that description and people were interested, but later found out it was a crappy test, they would feel deceived and likely be upset. Because the test only matters if you understand what you are testing and why. How you test and what you are trying to measure are two very important questions. That paper I linked to you shows that Go professionals are exceptional in several different areas. You could use a paper like that, and I’ve heard on /r/baduk, where I heard about the test I linked above, that there are others doing such work in Japan.

An actual Go IQ test should measure Go skills & aptitude, and perhaps knowledge. Things like (spit-balling, list not meant to be complete):

  1. pattern recognition

  2. proficiency of combating certain situations on the board

  3. capacity of reading (distance and quality)

  4. speed of solving different tsumego
    And if you wanted to approach the academia side of things (learned knowledge vs individual capability with the game itself)

  5. Go vocabulary

  6. Go history (past, present, of the game’s evolution and important matches)

  7. Different Go ruleset knowledge

  8. Showcasing understanding of specific topics like PSK vs SSK vs Natural SSK vs Fixed Ko

  9. Ability to build examples of rare shapes (triple ko, moonlight ko, molasses ko)

At least then every Go player would become equalized. Go players looking at this test would understand how they all compared to one another and why each score was relevant. I too wouldn’t mind seeing Go players compared, but if you don’t take the comparing seriously, then what are the results of your testing really even reflecting?

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It’s just fun curiosity as far as I can see. I think the emphasis on accuracy and drawing scientific conclusions appears way out of proportion… it seems that a system for measuring them even approximately is good enough for this :slight_smile:


Yes , just saying that it shouldn’t be interpreted as “you need to be intelligent to learn go quickly” because it would be nonsense.

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An IQ is a scientifically derived conclusion, well known to flawed. I took the suggestion seriously because Neuroscience, Go, teaching, learning, and data analysis are all passions of mine. I’m not trying to spoil the party. I find the idea interesting and would love to see a serious attempt made. My remarks come form a place of passion and interest, nothing more.

Frankly I love where @ehomba was going with this and would love to see even more data collected on Go players. For example, that study revealed, that in all of the known history of Go, not a single player has ever had a degenerative brain disease like Alzheimer’s or Dementia. I would love to see a consensus performed. I want to know basic stats but also personal interests too. Do Go champions prefer Dogs or Cats as pets? Do they marry younger than average, manage money well, or share a preference for a favorite color? Stats are fun :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I saw some articles on Chess ratings vs. IQ a while back. In general, top chess players tend to be intelligent, but not absurdly so. Kasparov, for example, had an IQ around 135.

I suspect that Go is similar: pretty much all of the top players are above average in terms of intelligence, but few have top 1% genius level IQs. Generalized intelligence certainly helps pick up games, but they’re mostly predicated on things like ability to visualize and ability to calculate out long variations, at least at top levels. 99% of what an IQ test measures is irrelevant for Go players, and likely unstudied for someone who spends a huge amount of time focused on Go.


Ok, Let us get something straight:

A) We do not have a clear definition of intelligence
b) IQ tests only measure how good you are at IQ tests … for crying out loud, you can study and practice and get better at them within a span of a day, that does NOT mean that you became more intelligent within the day! :stuck_out_tongue:

I do not understand this modern fascination with IQ tests and quantifying things that should be qualitative …

And before anyone says “you do not like IQ tests because you suck at them” I’ll say that I took the test provided in the other thread and even though it is after midnight and I am tired, I still got 127 … that does not make me intelligent though.

Similar tests - and much harder with a stricter timelimit - used to be administered for grading candidates for jobs at the European Union bureaucracy … first time I did and say a test with those patterns and the timelimits, I was flustered and scored an overall 54 out of 70 (missed 5 question by timing out) … next time I came across such a test, I finished it with time to spare and scored a 67 out of 70 … had I suddenly become a super intelligent fellow ? Nope … I just knew the format of the tests and I practiced at home by solving five of them … just five of them took me from a 77% to a 96%.

These tests do not measure intelligence … it is as simple as it gets … So, considering that these tests have little to nothing to do with Go, the scores one gets to the tests, are totally irrelevant with the game …


Since the discussion inflated quite fast, I will comply to the general desire, and I will answer to the questions.

This is part of something more complex, on the subject of promoting Go in schools on the basis that is useful for the intellectual development.

I KNOW, that IQ has a direct correlation with the results of Go activity as with any other results in any intellectual activity. But I want to understand more. One example given in promoting Go is the success in life of Go players, with examples of CEOs who play Go. But, are they successful because practiced Go?, Or they practiced Go because they are competitive? which is a required quality to be successful?

And I know this because I see that mostly the smart ones are involved in this activity. And I would like to see some figures. One example is a guy with whom I played chess on snailmail some 30 years ago. Later I met him briefly and played some Go. I was playing then for a year or two, so I was maybe on my way to SDK, but he crushed me mercilessly even he swore that just learned to play. I thought that he was messing with me. But later I learned that he flew to some tough to get universities and ended working at NASA. Later he quit NASA for some other activities more satifying for him. Anyway, his trajectory proved to me that he is really the owner of a brilliant brain.

And I know too that IQ is not the key ingredient for success. One recent study proved that the most common ingredient among successful people is not an high IQ, but grit.

And since I talked about that guy, googled him to see what is he up these days, and found this.

I will return to this thread with other answers at the issues that was raised.

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Tangential only, perhaps, but I always thought, “intelligence tests” are for people who doubt their intelligence :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Obviously, It is like going to the doctor, you do not when you are sure that you are healthy, ar like being poor, you do not count your money when you are rich. :slight_smile:


I believe when it comes to proficiency in any field, experience trumps intelligence almost every time.

IQ represents a somewhat narrow scope in the whole spectrum of human intelligence, and if it contributes to proficiency in Go, the contribution is limited to aptitude only. Aptitude itself will yield little without dedication and experience, though aptitude in conjunction with the other two is a likely recipe for success.

So I would venture to guess that better players tend to have somewhat higher-than-averge IQ test scores. But I would also guess that those same players often have a very strong work ethic and a prodigious amount of experience with the game as well.

On the high end, I also doubt that IQ scores above the 99th percentile (135+) are over-represented among the best players worldwide. For a lot of reasons that might become an entirely separate discussion on their own.

My main point is that I think there is a much more pronounced correlation between skills and hard work, than between skills and IQ.

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Most people think they’re better than average. :face_with_monocle:


Most people have more legs than average, though.




I do not grasp the meaning of this. IntelligengeQuotent is an assesment of that whole spectrum… Ideally. Now, if tests are not so exhaustive we go back to the discussion about accuracy.

Yep, me too, but I would like some confirmation too.

And as a matter of fact, I am less interested in that narrow segment of top players. First, because there is an extreme thing, is not representative for majority. And for sure there may be the case of overdeveloped sections of brain useful in Go, in detriment of other sections useful for general intelligence. Kind of related with the idea of idiot savant. You may be dyslexic, what ruins your IQ score and social interactions, but extremely sharp at spatial visualization. It is kind of my case. I struggled i school, I even was considered retarded, but my skills if few areas including logical games are more than satisfactory.

@smurph :beers: