Archive for the ‘chess gifts’ Category

Chess Chat: Q&A with Shelby Lohrman, Chess Entrepreneur

March 25, 2019

Shelby Lohrman was born into a chess family on August 6th, 1972. His Father initially wanted to name him Tigrin, after Petrosian. However, Shelby’s mother didn’t care for the name Tigrin and instead suggested an alternative chess name. At the time, The Fischer – Spassky match game 4 was wrapping up and Shelby Lyman was doing the commentating. Shelby stuck!

If you’ve attend large chess events regularly you’ve probably met Shelby. Mr Lohrman has been travelling the country selling chess equipment to the masses for over 20+ years! He states that it’s his passion for providing great customer service to fellow chess enthusiasts that is the driving force behind his success.

How old were you when you first learned how to play chess? Who taught you?

I learned young…You have t remember that my dad was a US Amateur Champ in the 60’s. But with him being a type A German engineer (and being my dad), made learning from him stressful. It eventually got to the point where I quit and focused on Ice hockey. I picked it back up later on in life. To this day I think about what my life and rating would have been like studying with a mind such as his.

How has chess effected your decision making process off the board?

Chess affects my life decisions on an every day basis. Since I have delved back into chess, I think of things on a more strategic basis. With the advent of Amazon and Ebay, selling chess equipment has become a totally different ballgame. It’s like being at a chessboard. It is not just your plan, you have to accommodate for what your opponent is thinking too. This is why at American Chess Equipment we focus on bringing new products to market. I always have something new in the hopper. Why play an opening everyone else knows? I would much rather have them scramble and chase me.

What do you hope to achieve professionally during the next couple of years?

What do I hope to achieve professionally over the next couple of years? That is a great question. We have been growing American Chess Equipment organically over the last 25+ years. Looking at my industry, I have noticed a top down philosophy with the other vendors. I think that’s wrong. There is no innovation.

That’s why I love being with Wood Expressions! They are my parent company. They allow me the freedom to develop what I need and the tools to do so.

What are some of the products you are most proud of?

Just in the past couple of years I have helped to develop the VTEK300 chess clock, the wood grain mousepad chess boards, and tons of other chess products. The funny thing is the bigger companies out there are now copying me.

What are you working on developing now?

That’s a secret! All I can tell you is we have a couple of ideas formulating that will really rock the chess world. We need to bring chess to the masses.

What is the biggest challenge to achieving that goal?

What’s my biggest barrier to achieving this goal? That’s easy. The mindset of the people in our industry. Chess is a cutthroat business. Talk to any coach out there. They are worried about keeping their students and their schools. We all need to work together building the pie, making each persons share bigger, rather than bickering with ourselves. I have been working with the groups that are out there in the trenches, building their programs, working night and day to bring chess to the masses. I even have one customer that is now doing Skype classes with a group in Alaska.

How would you relate these goals and challenges to the chessboard?

As to relating my goals and challenges to the chess board…to me it is like sitting across from a higher rated player. When you first sit down everyone thinks you are going to lose. With the right preparation, anyone can get beat. Get an advantage and be able to hold it, they might even offer you a draw. To me, that’s fuel for the fire. It makes me work harder for the win.

Could you please leave us with a favorite piece of chess wisdom to conclude this interview?

My favorite piece of chess wisdom is you never truly lose in chess. There is always something to be learned in the game. Even if the turning point was just a blunder, you can still learn by analyzing what caused you to make that mistake.

Please take a moment to stop by these fine purveyors of chess equipment:

April’s Chess Combination of the Month

April 18, 2014

This month’s chess combination comes from a nice win I had over “Flash,” the number two ranked player on Each Month I will select one combination that I played in a real game to examine in detail for the benefit of my students and readers.

Black to move

Black to move


When it is your turn, the first thing you should do is examine all checks, captures and threats. In this position, we have one check-capture, four checks, three captures and several more threatening moves. If you take the time to identify all these possibilities and run through any automatic or nearly automatic replies, you will automatically begin to spot brilliant tactical combinations. It’s that easy!


I chose to play Nc4+!

I chose to play Nc4+!


This is precisely the kind of move you might miss if you do not force yourself to examine all checks without regard to how silly the move may seem at first glance.


Flash plays dxc4?

Flash plays dxc4?


If this wasn’t a blitz game I am sure Flash would have played something like: Kd2-d1 Qf6xc3 Re1xe8+ Ra8xe8 Ra1-a2 Bh7xd3 c2xd3 Qc3xd3+ Ra2-d2 Qd3-b3+ Rd2-c2 Nc4xa3 Nf3-d2 Re8-d8 Bg2-e4 Qb3xh3 Kd1-e1 Na3xc2+ Qc1xc2 c7-c6 Qc2-d1 Qh3-c3 Qd1-c2 Qc3xc2 Be4xc2 a7-a5 Ke1-d1 b7-b5 Kd1-c1 a5-a4 Nd2-b1 Rd8-e8 Bc2-d3 b5-b4 Nb1-d2 Kg8-f8 Nd2-c4 a4-a3 Kc1-b1 Kf8-e7 Kb1-a2 Ke7-e6 Ka2-b3 c6-c5 Nc4-a5 f7-f6 Bd3-c4+ Ke6-d6 Na5-b7+ Kd6-c6 Nb7-a5+ Kc6-b6

But as you can see, Black is still crushing white. So, in a sense, Flash did us a little favor by simplifying the result into a nice and neat mating attack.


I played Ra-d8+. This develops the unemployed rook with a threat.

I played Ra-d8+. This develops the unemployed rook with a threat.


White's move of Nd4 is forced.

White’s move of Nd4 is forced.


Now examine all of the checks, captures and threats again.


Correct is Rxd4+!

Correct is Rxd4+!


cxd4 is a forced response.

cxd4 is a forced response.


and Qxd4 is mate.

and Qxd4 is mate.


I hope you enjoyed April’s Chess Combination of the Month. If you missed it, feel free to check out March’s Chess Combination of the Month. On a side note, I must say that is evolving into a great online chess site. You can see my original review of Velocity Chess from this link. Right now if you open an account, they will deposit 2,500 vChips in your bank– redeemable for giftcards!

Below is the entire game so that you can see the combination in context:

[Event “Blitz”]
[Site “”]
[Date “2014.04.16”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Flash”]
[Black “Chris.Torres.524596”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1917”]
[ECO “C40”]
[Opening “Elephant Gambit”]
[Variation “Maroczy”]
[WhiteElo “2610”]
[TimeControl “5+0”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 Bd6 4. Qe2 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. d3 h6 7. Be3 Bb4 8.
a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nxd5 10. Bd2 Bg4 11. h3 Bf5 12. g3 Re8 13. g4 Nf4 14. Qd1
Bh7 15. Bxf4 exf4+ 16. Kd2 Nc6 17. Bg2 Qf6 18. Re1 Na5 19. Qc1 Nc4+ 20.
dxc4 Rad8+ 21. Nd4 Rxd4+ 22. cxd4 Qxd4# 0-1


Chris Torres is NorCal's most popular chess coach.

Chris Torres is NorCal’s most popular chess coach.

Chris Torres will be teaching with Susan Polgar and many other great instructors at the 2014 Fremont Summer Chess Camp at Mission San Jose Elementary School. Sign up today!




Perfect Hanukkah Gifts for Young Chess Players

December 6, 2012

200248233-001With Hanukkah right around the corner, a few Jewish chess parents have inquired about chess related gifts for their little tournament players. After answering their questions directly, I thought it might be useful to post my suggestions for everyone to see.

Perfect Hanukkah Gifts for Young Chess Players:

Today’s young chess players are able to access a wealth of information quickly through the use of computers. Far and away the most popular chess title for kids is Chessmaster: The Art of Learning. This program by Ubisoft is available for most video game systems as well as the pc and mac. In Chessmaster: The Art of Learning students will be able to access lessons, practice puzzles, analyze their games and play chess. This program has been on the market for a few years so a used copy can be found relatively cheap (under $30) for all systems.

Apple fans will be pleased to know that there are several very good apps available for young chess players who have an Ipad at home.  The Shredder app hass one thousand tactical puzzles make it worth having and a great chess engine for playing and analyzing for under $8. If your child is more of a beginner you might consider buying them the Chess Camp app. Chess Camp is broken into several volumes which contain puzzles geared toward quick learning of important concepts. Chess Camp is the only chess learning app officially endorsed by the United States Chess Federation. Each volume is a bargain at $3.

Advanced chess players can still find books very helpful. Noted chess Author Eric Schiller has recently revised several of his top selling books. Some recommended titles include, The Encyclopedia of Chess Wisdom, Learn From Bobby Fischer’s Greatest Games and 639 Essential Endgame positions. All of these books are priced under $20 and will captivate young tournament players.

Finally, what can be better than giving your child the gift of training from the country’s best chess coaches. The San Francisco Bay Area features a Winter Chess Camp run by the Torres Chess and Music Academy. TCAMA teachers have instructed several National Champions in the last few years and have turned the Silicon Valley into a chess powerhouse. Information on our winter chess camp can be found here: .

Parents who buy their children the gift of chess for Hanukkah can smile knowing that their children will have fun learning while helping to preserve the Jewish traditions of Hanukkah and great chess.

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