A 17-year-old boy has been declared national chess master after undergoing four major brain surgeries, Fox News has reported.
What are the details?
Griffin McConnell was named national chess master in March.
Just one year before his meritorious win, Griffin underwent his latest brain surgery.
The teen began suffering from seizures when he was four years old — around the same time he learned how to play the strategy board game.
His father, Kevin McConnell, told Fox News that during one of the surgeries, doctors effectively disconnected the left side of his son’s brain.
“He had to learn how to talk from scratch,” Kevin told the outlet. “He had to learn how to walk, how to write. … He went from right-handed to left-handed.”
Following his earlier surgeries, Griffin was wheelchair-bound and had to undergo a variety of occupational, physical, and speech therapy.
“It was a long, long recovery,” he explained.
Griffin said that throughout his surgical ordeal, chess remained a part of him.
When he was just 13, Griffin said that he began experiencing even more dangerous episodes preceding his seizures.
According to the report, it was just three years later that Griffin had to undergo a hemispherectomy to remove a portion of the teen’s brain to help control the seizures.
“We let that decision be Griffin’s entirely because he was 16 at the time and knew what all this meant, having gone through it seven or eight years ago,” Kevin said. “And he elected to move forward with it.”
Following the surgery, Griffin became paralyzed on his right side.
“[B]ut he could still move his left side,” Kevin added. “We were playing games of chess a week, 10 days after his brain surgery.”
Griffin began playing chess in tournaments across the country to further his craft.
“I got increasingly better [at chess],” Griffin said of his latest surgery, which took place in 2021. “I don’t know what happened … but something clicked.”
“Griffin started playing chess right away, and he still hovered in that expert rating level,” Kevin recalled. “But starting in October of last year, that’s where he went on this insane run where every tournament he went to, he had positive results.”
By March, Griffin’s determination and love of the game paid off — and he was crowned national chess master.
“Griffin went from expert to national master in like four and a half months,” Kevin said. “For him to go from expert to master in four and a half months is, for anybody, unheard of. It’s certainly unheard of for somebody with a massive brain injury and four brain surgeries.”
Griffin said that he won’t stop there — and would love to become an international master.
“I want to see how far I can really go,” Griffin McConnell said.
Griffin, according to report, has not suffered one seizure since March 2021.