Theophilus Thompson is recognized by most as the first Black player of note in the U.S. Born in 1855 in Frederick, Maryland, Thompson took to chess after seeing two gentlemen playing. He learned the moves from observing and was soon kibitzing in the games. It was interesting to note this interaction was possible when slavery was still practiced.
After noticing Thompson’s interest John Hanshew, the publisher of The Maryland Chess Review, loaned the 17-year old Thompson a board and several chess problems to solve. Thompson duly solved these and then made some of his own for good measure!
Thompson played in a few tournaments and has several interesting games, notably his dashing win over C.H. Blood. In a June 1986 article in U.S. Chess Life, Larry Parr reported that Thompson played correspondence chess and scored 7-2 in one tournament. Neil Brennan also wrote a very comprehensive essay on Thompson. Thompson is famously known for his book on chess problems called “Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate”. Below is a link to this historic document!
by Theophilus Thompson