Bobby Fischer was one of the most famous chess players of all time, having won the World Chess Championship in 1972. He hailed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. However, some people might be surprised to learn that Bobby Fischer’s IQ score may have been as high as 195 – a whopping 35 points higher than Albert Einstein’s IQ but at the same time placing him on the same level of Magnus Carlsen’s IQ score – the current chess world champion.
Fischer’s IQ score may at first appear to be a controversial topic. This is because, for one thing, Fischer did not really have any documented or concrete IQ test scores – perhaps he did not take any, but this is only speculation. Furthermore, it has always been tricky to get an accurate IQ score reading of someone who is already a genius at a young age, since no two IQ tests are exactly alike.
However, through various sources that have been able to keep track of Bobby Fischer over the years, there is some information that can be used to suggest his IQ score. For example, in Frank Brady’s book “Profile of a Prodigy”, it is said that Bobby Fischer’s IQ score was 189. On the other hand, in David Lawson’s book “Bobby Fischer: The Career and Complete Games of Bobby Fischer”, it is said that Bobby Fischer scored a whopping 195 on an IQ test when he was just 9 years old.
Even if we were to go with the lower IQ test score of 189, that would still make Bobby Fischer’s IQ score 45 points higher than the average adult, and 55 points higher than Einstein’s. In any case, it is certain that Bobby Fischer was a genius in multiple ways, from chess to mathematics to physics.
About Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American chess prodigy and the eleventh World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time, with a peak ranking of number 1 on the Elo rating list from July 1970 to January 1974.
Born at what was then the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., to a Jewish family, Fischer was the only child of Regina Wender Fischer and Gerhardt H.
Fischer, an electrical engineer working for the U.S. Navy in his career as a civilian employee at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in NoMa.
Bobby had learned to play chess at the age of 6 on a neighbor’s chess set that belonged to his grandfather. At the age of 13, he defeated Donald Byrne in an unofficial US Amateur Championship.
In 1956, Fischer became both U.S. Junior Chess Champion and the youngest Grandmaster up until that time, at the age of 14. At the 1960 Chess Olympiad in London, Fischer narrowly missed winning the World Championship when he tied with Boris Spassky for first place and won the two-game playoff.
In 1970, Fischer won the US Championship by scoring 11/11 (ten wins and one draw), a perfect score. Perhaps more impressive, he won his first eight games (the first seven by sealed move draw and the last one as White), before drawing in the final round with Robert Byrne.
In 1971, Fischer started a 16-game match with Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland for the world championship. In the tenth game of that match, Fischer made a queen-and-a-half move (moving a queen and a knight in one move) for what would subsequently become known as the “Game of the Century”.
In 1975, Fischer defeated Viktor Korchnoi in Sveti Stefan for his re-match with Spassky to regain the title of World Chess Champion.
Fischer was ill at ease with the outside world and generated suspicion whenever he left the protective environment of the game. He violated international law by refusing to appear for his match with Karpov in 1975, thereby defaulting the match. During this time, Fischer’s engagement to Wanda Wasilewska ended in acrimony, and he transmitted antisemitic messages to his friends. After this episode Fischer was permanently banned from representing the United States in international competition until 1992 when the ban was rescinded by James E. Calandra, after which Fischer played three more matches for a world championship: two against Spassky and one against Korchnoi.
Fischer made an unexpected comeback in 1992, when he reemerged on the international chess scene by winning a $3 million 8-game match against Spassky played in Sveti Stefan and Belgrade, after which Fischer demanded approximately $5 million to play Kasparov. When that demand was turned down, Fischer instead gained the recognition of a “Class B” player by FIDE, but dropped out of sight again in Yugoslavia.
After the US government pressured Yugoslavia to expel Fischer, he spent the rest of his life traveling between Hungary (where he married Polgár’s former second wife), the Philippines (where he had invested money with local businessmen), and Japan, where he played matches against retired champion Viswanathan Anand.
On January 17, 2008, Fischer died at a hospital in Reykjavík of a renal failure, while suffering from degenerative cardiovascular disease and severe liver damage. His body was cremated at the Laugardælir Church on July 12, 2008.
IQ Scores: What They Mean
People who score in the ‘very superior’ range (between 125 and 130) are usually in the top 2% of people who take that same form of an IQ test.
People who score between 110 and 115 usually have very good reasoning skills, but there is some doubt as to how useful these abilities will be when they do not involve clear rules or patterns. These people could still go on to achieve success.
People who score between 90 and 110 have average reasoning skills, similar to most people. These scores are not considered problematic as even though these people may need a lot of help learning new facts and rules, they can still learn what they need with some extra effort.
People who score between 70 and 90 have below-average intelligence. They have difficulties learning new facts and rules, but they can learn some things with regular teaching.
People who score between 60 and 70 have significantly below average intelligence. These people usually only have the capacity to do very basic tasks, which means they may need a lot of help learning even simple things. It is still possible for them to learn even things that seem obvious to other people, but it will take a lot of patience and effort from the person they are learning from.
People who score between 40 and 60 have very low intelligence. These people can be taught some basic skills though it may require lots of repetition and encouragement.
People who score between 20 and 40 have extremely low intelligence. These people need a lot of help from other people just to do things that most other people can do without any extra effort. They may not have the skills necessary to even be able to take care of themselves, which means they’ll need lots of support and encouragement.
People who score under 20 usually don’t speak, read or write and often can’t take care of themselves. These people may need constant supervision to do even the most basic tasks and will need help with everything they can’t do on their own.
IQ Scores: What They Don’t Mean
Just because someone’s IQ score is high or low doesn’t mean they’ll be good at certain things or bad at others. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, some people with very low IQ scores excel at art or music or physics even though they don’t do well on mathematics tests. Just because someone has a high IQ does not mean that they are ‘intelligent’ in the more general sense – some people who have average scores may still be extremely intelligent in other ways.
People who score higher than average on an IQ test may still not be as sharp as people who were given the same test but scored lower than they did. This is because everyone’s IQ scores vary from day to day and some days we’re more on top of things than others. The problems with this idea though, is that there is no way to measure ‘IQ’ on a regular basis and so we don’t actually know how high or low someone’s IQ score is.
The results of an IQ test give us some information about what a person can do, but it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know. For example, we may know that a person has good reasoning skills, but that doesn’t mean they will be able to think through a complicated math problem. This is why we usually use IQ tests in groups – the more information we have about someone’s specific strengths and weaknesses, the better we can help them learn and grow.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-76052-0335 / Kohls, Ulrich / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons