Are you smarter than a chimpanzee?

by Arne Kaehler
7/8/2020 – This provoking title has some truth in it. specializes in measuring human brain abilities with games and cognitive tests. One of their exercises states that chimpanzees consistently outperform humans — the Chimpanzee Test. Interestingly enough, some games are strongly related to chess. For pattern recognition, the “Visual Memory Test” is helpful, while for online chess purposes the “Aim Trainer” might do the trick.

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Brain games

The idea for this whole article was born when I was watching the newest video of the most famous YouTuber out there — Pewdiepie.

You don't have to watch this video to understand the purpose of this article

The title of the video is provoking and has clickbait potential (the title isn’t “Are you smarter than a chimp?” any more, I wonder why. Maybe the word “chimp” is considered offensive?).

Anyway, every human wants to be smarter than a chimpanzee. What could this test be about? How smart are chimpanzees? Could I be dumber than a chimpanzee? How serious should I take all of this?

The test is not new and has been around for a while already.

Chimpanzee Ai, doing some tests on the computer in the year 2000!

The chimpanzee test uses the so called “working memory”, a mix of pattern and numerical sequence recognition. I believe that chess players have an easier time with this test than the average human (or chimpanzee).

Start the Chimpanzee Test

A little mind trick is included, from a psychological perspective, when you read the text next to the game on the website:

This is a test of working memory, made famous by a study that found that chimpanzees consistently outperform humans on this task.

In the study, the chimps consistently outperformed humans, and some chimps were able to remember 9 digits over 90% of the time.

This test is a variant of that concept, that gets increasingly difficult every turn, starting at 4 digits, and adding one every turn. If you pass a level, the number increases. If you fail, you get a strike. Three strikes and the test is over.

So now we are aware of the fact that any result under nine points is considered a failure. Not only a failure, but as the test already states, we might be dumber than a chimpanzee. With this in the back of our head, we perform better and achieve stronger results than normal, in my opinion.

Start the Visual Memory Test

This is the test I was referring to earlier. It even has squared shapes to be remembered, like the chessboard we are so familiar with. I am a patzer but was able to move up to level 15 after a couple of tries nonetheless. Once this level is reached, it gets pretty rough.

I would love to see how titled chess players perform in this test. Any volunteers?

The website was kind enough to add some tolerance to mistakes. If you click on three wrong squares, you lose. This is a nice feature, because you tend to “misclick” pretty often if you’re in a hurry!

Talking about misclicking, here is another test to prevent it from happening:

Start the Aim Trainer Test

I doubt this test can improve your mouse aiming and clicking quality, but who knows? One of the fastest clicking chess grandmasters in the world, Andrew Tang a.k.a, "Pengiungim1", recently made a YouTube video on how skilled he is with a similar-looking game called AimBooster.

The “Penguin” showing off some of his insane mouse skills

Andrew Tang is considered one of the best “bullet” chess players out there — but he is even stronger in “hyper-bullet”, the 30-second variation of this game!


Arne Kaehler, a creative mind who is passionate about board games in general, was born in Hamburg and learned to play chess at a young age. By teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess-related videos on YouTube, Arne was able to expand this passion and has even created an online course for anyone who wants to learn how to play chess. Arne writes for the English and German news sites, but focuses mainly on content for the ChessBase media channels.


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