There is this test going around in Facebook that promises to assess your “Chess Personality” and even suggests which openings would suit you. It also shows which great chess players match your personality. I was a bit reluctant at first, but when I saw that no Fb login was required, I thought to give it a go.
I am not going to give any spoilers about the test here, I am just going to… completely and utterly spoil it, because well… I know what the inspiration and the mechanics behind it is and I feel like telling you all!
Before completely spoiling it though, I have to say that the idea to apply psychology on chess and create a test out of it, is great! I love it! However, the test seems to have been adapted more for entertainment purposes and less for scientific ones, hence the humble number of 20 for the questions and a limit of two possible answers. That does not make for a great statistic in itself to begin with. But lets start from the beginning.
This test assesses the two sides of four aspects of your personality. That is four pairs of opposite qualities: 1) Attacking-Positional, 2) Aggressive-Solid 3) Intuitive-Calculating 4) Emotional-Calm.
Reminds you of anything? It surely does remind me of something… the Myers-Briggs Personality test!!!
This test is based on the typology of Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology. Jung assessed people through examining three kinds of behavioral patterns: 1) Extroversion-Introversion, 2) Sensing-Intuition, 3) Thinking-Feeling. Isabel Briggs Myers, an American author, added a fourth criterion: 4) Judging-Perceiving. So each person will have a tendency towards one end of these pairs, for example some people score high in introversion and thus low in extroversion, high in intuition and automatically low in sensing etc. The Meyers-Briggs Test (widely known as MBTI) consists of 75 questions that measure these 4 pairs of opposite qualities and in the end produce a result according to which qualities are most dominant in these pairs.
I did this test more than a decade ago and for a long time, I was absolutely thrilled by it. My type is that of the INTP (Introvert iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving) and the results were extremely accurate. The test fits people into one of the 16 possible personality types and offers detailed descriptions on the way each type behaves, what are the most suitable professions and it also gave examples of famous people having those types. As someone coming from an esoteric background, I had studied various methods that examine the self. This test though, was so surprisingly accurate that made me become a fan. Maybe one important reason that made me love the test, was that my type is extremely rare. Only 4% of the population has this type and finally belonging to some kind of “type”, no matter how weird that type is, gave me a sense of peace.
So lets see, is there any real correlation between the MBTI and the Chess Personality test? Lets have a look at the criteria:
This criterion corresponds to Extroversion-Introversion. Extroverted people would be more prone to attack while introverts assume a more defensive thus positional posture. Here I scored attacking even though in MBTI I had scored Introvert. Age and experience would play an important role, for in my youth and when I did the test I was 100% introvert. Nowadays this has changed to an extend. The other possibility is that the test could not assess the fact that I am rather positional than attacking, due to the limited number of questions (20) compared to the 75 of the MBTI.
Let us examine if that corresponds to the second MBTI criterion: Sensing-Intuition. This one is not so obvious to understand. What this pair assesses is the source of the information we believe in, whether it comes from the outer (outside the person) or inner environment (inside the mind of the person). An aggressive style would be more obvious thus corresponding to the stimuli of the outside world- a player would attack the other persons King as information available from the outside environment, outside the players own piece. When a solid style produces play from the belief of a player in the power of his own position. I scored here Aggressive, while in MBTI I had scored iNtuition.
Corresponds to Thinking-Feeling in reversed order. Do you calculate, thus think about your variations? Or do play the move that “feels” right? Here I scored calculating in sync with Thinking in INTP.
This could be the respective Judging-Perceiving criterion. Judging shows a more fixated person while Perceiving shows a person that goes with the flow. An emotional person would have difficulty adjusting to new parameters while a calm person more easily overcomes unplanned obstacles. Here I scored Calm, like Perceiving in INTP.
The conclusion is that the Chess Personality test may 😛 have used the mechanics and some of Jung’s Criteria adjusted for the life on the chessboard. It got two out four correct in my case and surely it would need refinement and adding many more questions and answer choices to make it more scientific. Was MBTI truly the inspiration behind it? Only the founders can tell us ;). For sure, what I would like to see is a more elaborate Chess Psychology test with more questions, specifically designed to assess the Chess Personality. Is the test accurate? Doubtful. Is the test fun? Fun factor confirmed.
My Chess Personality: The Assassin
Take the MBTI Test: Humanmetrics.com
(PS: it looks like Humanmetrics has modified its test to include only 64 questions from the past 75 )