D.T. Brock – Chicago Problemist

             D.T. BrockChicago Tribune 1900-02-11 p20

While researching the action in 1900 I can across this chess personality. The Tribune article describes his origins, and how he came to be interested in chess (Morphy). He also served as the chess editor for the Chicago Tribune for a couple of years in the late 1800’s. But he is best known as a problemist/composer, especially for this often cited problem:

Literary Digest v26 N20 (May 16, 1903) p738


Because of this problem being awarded the 2nd-Prize, it’s this 1903 reference which is almost universally used when citing the problem. It’s not correct though, as the problem actually was first published the year before, as a candidate problem.

Literary Digest v25 N8 (Aug. 23, 1902) p238

FEN: 2N5/4p1B1/4P1n1/1p1k3K/2R1Rp2/b2N1p2/3p1P2/3Q1B2 w – – 0 1

So, the correct citation should follow the earliest publication date, placing the problem from 1902. Here’s an example of a 1903 citation, from Barden in the Financial Times:

No 1578

White mates in two moves, against any defence (by D.T. Brock, 1903). White is five pieces up and the black king has no legal moves, but this is an interesting test of your solving skills, with an imaginative key. Solution, back page.

—  Financial Times (Feb 15, 2005) link  (may not be accessible)

The BCM also found it worth mentioning, even preferring it over the 1st-Prize winner:

“Literary Digest.”—The subjoined position, which strikes us as an admirable problem of its kind, was awarded second prize. We feel sure that there are not a few who prefer it to the two-er by J. Van Dyk, which took premier honours.

By D. T. Brock, Winnetka.— White: K at K R 5, Q at Q sq, Rs at K 4 and Q B 4, Bs at K Kt 7 and B sq, Kts at Q 3 and Q B 8, Ps at K B 2 and K 6. Black: K at Q 4, B at Q R 6, Kt at K Kt 3, Ps at K B s, 6, K 2, Q 7 and Q Kt 4. Mate in two.

                                                                                 — BCM v23 (Oct 1903) p437

I have yet to find much more additional information about the man himself, but I did find his dob:

D.T. Brock dob = Aug. 6 1839
Checkmate Monthly v2 N11 (Aug 1903) p241

I’m fairly confident his first name was David:

Problem No. 834, by W. A. Shlnkman. Has no solution. This claim was made by David T. Brock, the dean of our solving corps, and we are backing him
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1913-03-09 p34

Maybe later in life he relocated to Evanston, IL.:

To Mr. David T. Brock of Evanston. III.. — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1912-05-12 p39

Perhaps D.T. = David Thurston?   http://www.bstephen.me.uk/meson/listsrc.pl?sid=268&base=40&total=234

That lead made it easy to find this: http://chesscomposers.blogspot.com/2012/08/august-6th.html, wherein his dob is given as 1918 (but I’ve see 1918?? also). But note, they also use the 1903 date for the problem citation (which again, is the prize date, not the composition’s date).

(His name definitely is David Thurston Brock, which I originally missed in the first Chicago Tribune issue, i.e. the one with his portrait. But I was unable to find any notice of his death online, so I’ll leave it there. I do have at least two of his games, which I’ll hopefully add at some point in the future – stay tuned.)



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