Chess.com Presents Griffin’s Gambit
Chess.com presents "Griffin's Gambit," a film by Chandler Toffa.

Chess.com Presents Griffin’s Gambit

CHESScom
CHESScom
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61 | Chess.com News

For many, chess is a fun hobby that allows them to have a good time with their friends. However, to Griffin McConnell, it's much more than that—chess helped him recover from brain surgery.

Chess.com is proud to present "Griffin's Gambit," a 15-minute documentary produced by Chandler Toffa. The film tells the inspiring story of Griffin, a 15-year-old chess expert with epilepsy. Learn about his struggles and his triumphs while he counts on chess and the love of his family to overcome his difficulties. Keep your eyes peeled for a special appearance by GM Hikaru Nakamura

You can watch "Griffin's Gambit" here or below: 

About "Griffin's Gambit"

"The idea behind this project came about after realizing how much time I was spending on the [Chess.com] app during the pandemic," said Toffa. "Even though it wasn't over-the-board chess, it was comforting to know I was playing another human while being stuck at home."

Griffin's Gambit: Chandler Toffa.
Chandler Toffa, producer of "Griffin's Gambit." Photo: Chandler Toffa/chandlertoffa.com.

Toffa then started reflecting on how the pandemic affected the lives of other chess players: "After hearing about Griffin, I was immediately drawn to his story."

"I hope this film resonates with chess players from all walks of life and encourages the world to view chess as an opportunity to understand new perspectives on a leveled board—everyone is equal when playing chess online or in person. What matters is the respect that comes before and after," Toffa concluded.

About Griffin McConnell

Griffin started playing chess when he was four-years-old after begging his father to teach him. He was a healthy boy who loved to read and play chess until he started showing his first signs of epilepsy.

After struggling with his health condition for five years, Griffin's parents made the difficult decision of having their son undergo a left functional hemispherectomy. Doctors surgically removed part of his brain's left side and permanently disconnected the brain's two hemispheres.

Griffin's Gambit: Griffin and his mother at the hospital.
Griffin and his mother at the hospital.

Griffin had to relearn how to do everything, including talking and using his body. During this process, two things helped him recover: the support from his loved ones and his passion for chess.

Griffin is now a talented chess player who has participated in many tournaments. He was the Colorado State Co-Champion (K-8) alongside his brother, Sullivan, in 2017. Griffin earned his expert rating of 2000 in early 2018 and was the best player at the 2019 FIDE Confederation Cup For The Disabled People, where he scored a perfect 4/4.

Griffin also had an excellent performance on board two of the first FIDE Online Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities in 2020, where he represented the United States.

Regarding everything that has happened to him and the new short film telling his story, Griffin told Chess.com: "I only want to say thank you to everyone for all of the support and love."

Griffin's Gambit
Griffin at the 2019 FIDE Confederation Cup For The Disabled People. Photo: Dora L Martinez/FIDE.

The young expert is now chasing his dream of achieving his master title and making chess more inclusive for all.

Support Griffin

If Griffin's story has inspired you and you want to support him, you can help fund his trip to the 2021 Chess Olympiad. You can also get updates on Griffin's life through this Facebook Group.

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