Chess and the Flynn Effect
By Bryan Caplan
I’m not a chess geek – I prefer games where people laugh. But I suspect that my many chess geek friends will be interested in this paper that uses chess data to argue for the real-world importance of the Flynn effect. From the abstract:
Average IQ score has been rising for several decades but researchers dispute whether population intelligence really is increasing. Clear real-world evidence of a rise may settle the issue. I first examined the domain of chess, where performance can be readily measured and tracked over decades and people of all ages compete. The young increasingly have dominated the game since the 1970’s, outperforming older players at progressively earlier ages. The median age of the top 50 players dropped from 38 years old in the 1970’s to 29 in 1995, and the proportion aged under 25 more than doubled. The median age of the top 10 dropped from the late-30’s in the 1970’s to the mid-20’s in the 1990s. The median age of world championship contenders dropped from 37 in 1971 to just 26 in 1994. The Soviet team which won the 1970 Chess Olympiad had a median age of 40 and the Russian team which won the 1998 Olympiad had a median age of 22.5. The longstanding record for youngest grandmaster, set in 1958, has been broken four times since 1991.
Do any chess geeks (or IQ geeks) care to comment?