Derek was introduced to chess by his grandfather, Joe, at the age of six. By the age of ten, he went on to play his first rated tournament at UW-Milwaukee and he joined the Southwest Chess Club. At seventeen, his rating was twenty points below reaching Expert, but it took three more years to get there. A woman from the chess club approached him about teaching at an elementary school she worked at and he obliged to help teach a class of kids there for a semester. Now at the age of thirty-five, Derek has played one-hundred and eighty-two tournaments over his career and knocking on the door of Master. He is also the co-founder of King's March Chess Educators, a coaching company composed of himself and a fellow chess player, Johnathan Ireland, who specialize in private, custom-tailored lessons for players of all ages.