One question that occurred to me during recent controversies about the ‘female brain’ was whether chess required intelligence in the first place. There is a widespread assumption that it does and there are many players who are very smart. Yet on the other hand I’ve met many excellent players who are not particularly clever at all.
Searching around for studies I came across this one by Merim Bilalic and Peter McLeod. Amongst their surprising findings they discovered a negative correlation between intelligence and rating in their ‘elite group’. On the other hand there was a strongly positive correlation between rating and practice.
This is what I figured, the essence of skill is dedication and practice. This in turn will be most significantly affected by the drop out rate, and it does seem that chess is not always a girl-friendly environment.
Here anyway is a documentary from National Geographic which features Susan Polgar. Interesting: