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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2007 Mar;124(3):398-420. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

Individual differences in chess expertise: a psychometric investigation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitaetsplatz 2/III, A-8010 Graz, Austria.


Starting from controversies over the role of general individual characteristics (especially intelligence) for the attainment of expert performance levels, a comprehensive psychometric investigation of individual differences in chess expertise is presented. A sample of 90 adult tournament chess players of varying playing strengths (1311-2387 ELO) was screened with tests on intelligence and personality variables; in addition, experience in chess play, tournament participation, and practice activities were assessed. Correlation and regression analyses revealed a clear-cut moderate relationship between general (and in particular numerical) intelligence and the participants' playing strengths, suggesting that expert chess play does not stand in isolation from superior mental abilities. The strongest predictor of the attained expertise level, however, was the participants' chess experience which highlights the relevance of long-term engagement for the development of expertise. Among all analysed personality dimensions, only domain-specific performance motivation and emotion expression control incrementally contributed to the prediction of playing strength. In total, measures of chess experience, current tournament activity, intelligence, and personality accounted for about 55% of variance in chess expertise. The present results suggest that individual differences in chess expertise are multifaceted and cannot be reduced to differences in domain experience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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