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Teen becomes National Chess Master one year after undergoing fourth brain surgery

Underwent hemispherectomy that disconnected the left side of his brain
Griffin McConnell, National Chess Master
Posted at 8:57 PM, Apr 13, 2022

GOLDEN, Colo. — Chess is already a really hard sport, so now imagine playing it with basically half of your brain.

Griffin McConnell, 17, has undergone four different surgeries to treat severe seizures, including a hemispherectomy that disconnected the left side of his brain.

He had to relearn how to walk and speak, but his biggest passion, chess, was what came back to him the easiest.

"Yeah... it's kind of interesting because I feel like chess is one part of me, and that's why I did so well," Griffin said. "And with the hemispherectomy... when that happened, I don't know. It's interesting because I (wanted to relearn) chess more than I wanted to walk or talk."

In the above video, you can hear about Griffin's journey, from undergoing four brain surgeries to becoming a national chess master and scholastic state champion.

You will also learn about his nonprofit, ChessAbilities Inc, and its upcoming tournament, The North American Chess Cup for Children with Disabilities. For more information, click here.