Theophilus Augustus Thompson (April 21, 1855 - after 1874) is considered the first African-American chess player recognized in the United States. In addition to competing in tournaments, he wrote a book Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate published in 1873.
In April 1872, John K. Hanshew, the publisher of The Maryland Chess Review, gave Thompson a chessboard and some chess problems to solve. He showed an immediate ability to learn the game and master its rules. Thompson's fame grew and he competed in a number of tournaments.
He gained lasting fame for his book of endgame positions: Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate (1873). It was published by Orestes Brownson Jr., the editor of the Dubuque Chess Journal for whom Thompson also worked as a servant.
Thompson faded into obscurity soon after gaining prominence with his book and there is some uncertainty about the remainder of his life. The Dubuque Chess Journal closed in 1875 and Brownson Jr. died soon after, leaving Thompson without a job. There were rumors that he may have been the victim of a racial lynching, but the 1880 U.S. Census shows him back in his home state of Maryland working as an oysterman. Later on the 1920 census[dubious ] has him still alive, married with two children at 64 years of age. The date of his death is unknown.
- Thomas-Lester, Avis (2007-03-11). "Kings of a Different Game". Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- Barnes, Denise (1996-01-25). "Not-so-famous halls of fame honor men and women who were the best in diverse fields". Washington Times. p. M4.
- Brennen, Neil R. (2006). "The Caged Bird: The Story of T.A. Thompson". Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- "Theophilus Thompson: Master Emeritus". The Chess Drum. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
- Shabazz, Daaim. "The Rising of the Black Star". United States Chess Federation. Retrieved 2007-03-14.[dead link]
- White, Alexander S. (1995-07-28). "Making the Move From Pawn to King". Washington Post. p. N51.
- The Caged Bird: The Story of T.A. Thompson, in The Chess Drum
- Theophilus Thompson: Master Emeritus, in The Chess Drum
- Chess Problems by Theophilus A. Thompson at Google Books
- the games of Thompson at ChessGames.com
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