A teenager named Griffin McConnell from Golden, Colorado, has achieved the title of national chess master despite having recently endured his fourth brain surgery.
The young man’s medical history included procedures to help with seizures and an illness that disconnected the left side of his brain, NewsNation reported.
“It’s been a hard process of learning how to walk, learning how to talk, and also learning how to redo chess. And that takes a lot of learning and a lot of patience to do all of that again,” Griffin explained on Sunday.
His father, Kevin McConnell, taught him how to play chess and it became very important when Griffin fell ill.
“Even the doctors at Children’s Hospital said that they felt chess played … a bit of a role in Griffin, relearning functions in the other hemisphere now that he didn’t have the use of his left hemisphere,” he recalled.
Following surgeries between when he was seven and eight-years-old, the seizures returned, thus the brain surgery last year.
“What’s interesting is after the surgery, which was February of last year, the doctor said it’d be about six months until he kind of got back to baseline. And in September of last year, he went from chess expert to literally five months later, national master, which is a super, super fast climb,” Kevin said.
The 17-year-old wanted to help others, so he and his father created a nonprofit that offers young people with disabilities a chance to compete through chess with others.
In January, ChessAbilities Inc. shared a photo of Griffin with a fellow chess player from Uganda:
ChessAbilities planned to host a tournament event in Denver over the summer.
According to its about page, the organization was “dedicated to promoting chess opportunities for people with disabilities, with an emphasis on children.”
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