17-Year-Old Earns Master Title After Four Brain Surgeries.

NM Griffin McConnell earned the national master title on March 19, 2022, at the age of 17, after undergoing four brain surgeries. Despite having seizures since childhood and undergoing several operations—after various medications failed to help—he nevertheless became a chess expert (U.S. national rating: 2000) at age 13, was the best player at the 2019 FIDE Confederation Cup For The Disabled People with a score of 4/4 the following year, and is currently in the top 99.3 percentile for juniors (under 21 years old) in the United States.

After the teenager from Colorado himself defied expectations, he and his family now work to inspire and offer opportunities to other chess players with disabilities.

One of the major challenges to McConnell’s chess development, as Fox News reported recently, was having to “re-learn nearly everything, including how to play chess—something he was adamant about accomplishing.” Despite the hardships, his love for chess never receded, and he was able to achieve one of the highest titles offered by the US Chess Federation.

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