Chess grandmasters are famously known to have relatively high IQ scores. A highly intellectual game like chess requires strategic planning, cognitive flexibility, and solid problem-solving skills. All these skills need high IQ levels to master.
One of the controversial chess grandmasters when it comes to IQ scores is Christopher Hikaru Nakamura — famously known as Hikaru Nakamura.
What is Hikaru Nakamura’s IQ level? The Japanese-American grandmaster has mentioned that he once took an IQ test in the past and scored 102 — which is low for a chess grandmaster.
Before we jump into the details of Nakamura’s test and his current IQ score, let’s go over how IQ is tested and what it indicates.
What IQ Test Did Hikaru Nakamura Use?
The Japanese-American chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura mentioned that he previously took the Mensa online IQ test and scored 102.
Given the fact that Hikari Nakamura became the youngest chess grandmaster in 2002 at the age of 15, his slightly above-average results didn’t seem to fit with many of his fans.
He then explained that many factors had a role in his final scores, including that he didn’t give that IQ test his undivided attention, which is why the final scores may not be accurate.
What Is the Mensa IQ Test?
Mensa is one of the oldest and largest IQ-based societies around the world. Their test is a globally approved standardized test that consists of 35 multiple-choice questions.
The test has a time limit of 25 minutes, which sometimes makes it hard for test-takers to finish their assessment, and consequently, affects their overall scores.
What is Hikaru Nakamura’s Real IQ Score?
Although there isn’t any hard proof about whether Hikaru Nakamura’s IQ score is accurate, experts have estimated his IQ score to reach 190, given his intellectual abilities and extraordinary chess skills.
These estimations are based on his performance compared to other grandmasters of his age.
They all shared the same extraordinary skills in strategic thinking, problem-solving, and pattern recognition. All these skills give a competitive edge to chess players and allow them to improve.
In chess, you could estimate a player’s IQ by using their chess rating. So in Nakamura’s case, his latest rating is 2787, which translates to an IQ score between 180 and 190.
Are IQ Scores a Good Indicator of a Chess Player’s Skills?
IQ scores indicate a person’s cognitive skills and intellect. Most common IQ tests measure around seven intellectual factors of the human’s cognitive skills, six of which are necessary to play chess.
These six factors are Active Memory, Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Nonverbal IQ, Quantitative Reasoning, and Visual-Spatial Processing
So yes, IQ scores may indicate a person’s chess skills—but to a limit. Other factors have an undeniable effect on becoming an excellent chess player, such as talent, hard work, and dedication.
An IQ test can’t assess such factors; however, they significantly contribute to a chess player’s success.
What Are Hikaru Nakamura’s Chess Skills?
Hikaru Nakamura is considered one of the strongest Blitz and Rapid Chess players around the world. He’s exceptionally talented at playing quick games and has an aggressive and tactful playing style.
Nakamura is known to confidently sacrifice a piece as part of an elaborate plan for a strong attack, for instance. He also understands endgame positions and always shows up prepared for the game. Such traits helped him become the world-renowned chess player he is today.
In Nakamura’s opinion, the most important trait for any professional chess player is short-term memory loss. The key to winning a chess game is to completely forget about previous defeats.
That player shouldn’t let the feeling of getting defeated weigh down their spirit, otherwise, they won’t be able to focus entirely on their current game.
In other words, the player’s spirit and psychological state are important factors to winning a chess game.
Hikaru Nakamura’s Most Memorable Games
Hikaru Nakamura’s glorious history in chess is full of victorious games against some of the best chess grandmasters around the world.
We’ve gathered some of the most memorable games for Nakamura in this list:
Hikaru Nakamura VS John W. Loyte
One of the oldest, yet memorable games, for Hikaru Nakamura was when he played against John W. Loyte on August 4, 2001. It was during the second round of Casino de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. He defeated Loyte by using the Agincourt Defense with the black pieces.
Hikaru Nakamura VS Sergey Karjakin
The second oldest game on this list was between Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin on December 13, 2004. This game was during the fifth round of the Nakamura Match in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Nakamura won this game with the Sicilian Defense using his white pieces.
Hikaru Nakamura VS Boris Gelfand
During this game, Hikaru Nakamura was against Boris Gelfand during the fifth round of the World Team Championship, which took place in Bursa Turkey on January 9, 2010. Nakamura defeated Gelfand with the King’s Indian Defense while playing with the black pieces.
Hikaru Nakamura VS Vladimir Kramnik
Back in September 2012, Nakamura played against Kramnik in Istanbul, Turkey during the ninth round of the Istanbul Olympiad tournament. Nakamura was able to win this game by playing Symmetrical Defense with the white pieces.
Hikaru Nakamura VS Wesly So
During round 6 of the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, USA, Hikaru played against Wesly So on August 29, 2015. Nakamura managed to blast So with, once again, the King’s Indian Defense while also playing with the black pieces.
A high IQ score isn’t necessarily the only indicator of a good chess player. It may signal that a person is smart enough to learn skills quickly and apply them perfectly, but that doesn’t rule out the effect of consistent practice, hard work, and dedication to becoming a great chess player.
So, whether Hikaru Nakamura’s IQ score is accurate or not, it doesn’t change that he’s a remarkable player. He worked hard to become the youngest chess grandmaster in the world and has created a glorious history for himself, full of exceptional wins.