Chess psychometrics – Ashkenazi grit

In earlier posts we have shown that Ashkenazi Jews have higher average Elo than other chess players in the US. This corresponds to the well-established IQ advantage of roughly 10 points enjoyed by the Ashkenazim.

However, in many areas Ashkenazi Jews are even more over represented than can be explained by IQ alone. This is not surprising, if the reason for the IQ advantage is evolutionary selection for success in white collar jobs. Evolution doesn’t act on IQ-tests, so the higher proficiency of Ashkenazim in cognitive occupations should only partly be explained by IQ.

According to Richard Lynn, a big part of the remaining gap between Ashkenazim and Gentiles is explained by „will to succeed“ or „grit“. In chess, grit should be measurable by examining the length of games. The stronger your will to succeed, the longer you will try to win, or try to avoid defeat.

In this post we do a little foray into Ashkenazi grit in chess. Instead of trying to connect the identities of US players that we peg as Ashkenazim with the names in our games database, we just do a quick and dirty look for games of players with very typical Ashkenazi names: Names that start with „Fine“, „Gold“, „Rubin“ or the name „Cohen“.

While this should guarantee a very Ashkenazi set of players, we still come up empty this time around. While the average game in our database has a length of 38.89 moves, the Golds, Cohens, Fines and Rubins come in at 39.23, 38.26, 38.00, 40.94 calculated from 3210, 379, 1621 and 2071 games.

Along the same vein, the number of draws should be lower among people more driven to succeed. After all, if you are very peacefully inclined you cannot be too driven. Also here we see no significant deviation in our small sample with the average percentage of draws being 31.4 and the Ashkenazi values varying with 29.9, 16.6, 31.8, 33.4 with the 16.6 value being of the very small sample of Cohen games.

This is somewhat surprising, but could be due to the small sample size. After all these few thousand games only correspond to a couple of dozen players. So it seems like we will have to bring the entire power of my chess database trickery to bear on this question in some post in the future.

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