Perhaps the best overall statement on the psychology of the chess player is found in a small book published in Moscow in 1926: The Psychology of Chess Play by D’yakov, Petrovsky and Rudik.
A summary is provided in the 1965 book Soviet Chess by D.J. Richards.
The object of a study cited in both books was the extraordinary group of grandmasters – including Jose Capablanca, Emanuel Lasker, Akiba Rubinstein, Carlos Torre, Richard Reti, Savielly Tartakower, Frank Marshall and Efim Bogoljubov – competing in the 1925 Moscow International Tournament.
The findings, using a battery of tests, didn’t discover a special chess aptitude per se. Surprisingly, the ability to calculate wasn’t mentioned. Equally surprising, the study observed that “The masters’ memories were generally not exceptional.”
But the psychologists found that “The master must possess a considerable number of abilities and qualities rarely found in one individual.”
Among the 16 qualities listed were the ability to distribute attention over many factors, a contemplative mind, powers of synthetic thought and imagination, the ability to think concretely and objectively and an active intellect.
Sign up for my free email chess course for Beginners and Club Players. In this free course, I focus on helping beginner chess players see the entire board. You will learn how to attack your opponent from move 1 and create a new threat with every single move! I’ve created this series of lessons designed to help beginner and club level players understand the game at a deeper level so that you can start beating higher rated players immediately. Start getting free tips from me directly to your inbox!
– GM Susan Polgar