It requires a high level of strategy to defeat an opponent in chess. And that’s exactly what retired journeyman electrician Brian Luoma loves about the game.
“To me, it’s like a lot of miniature little puzzles,” Luoma said. “In chess, I like to see and figure out what you’re doing and answer to it. It’s just the mental aspect of it.”
Luoma first developed a passion for chess during his childhood. When he moved to Niles in the mid-1990s for his electrical career, he returned to the chess scene.
“I saw an ad in the paper for chess club,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s something I’d like to try.’ I went and got kicked around pretty hard. Those guys were pretty good. I just kind of learned and started playing in chess tournaments.”
One particular tournament he will always remember was the Ohio Open in the late 1990s, where he tied for first place.
“After I finished my last round of that tournament, the tournament director told me not to leave because I had money coming to me,” Luoma said. “I won around $120 bucks. It was quite unexpected but I was happy.”
Luoma had to put a hiatus on chess playing in early 2010 when he traveled for work. When the economy picked back up, he returned to playing in chess clubs and on the tournament scene.
Now in his retirement, Luoma enjoys using an electronic chess board with real-time moving pieces that allows him to play different people from around the world based on skill level.
“When we play, it draws attention,” he chuckled. “People will come up and stand over the board to watch. It’s an interesting thing to see work and move.”
When asked if there’s one chess player he’d love to play from the past, Luoma had an interesting response.
“Definitely Humphrey Bogart,” he said. “He used to earn money playing chess before he was famous. I’m a Humphrey Bogart fan as an actor. If I could play anybody in history, that’s who I’d play.”
While in junior high, Luoma knew he wanted to pursue a career in the electrical trade thanks to a curiosity about how circuitry worked.
“Like how a three-way or four-way switch works. It was that kind of thing that got me interested in wanting to learn how to do it.”
After starting with a non-union electrician shop, Luoma became a commercial electrician apprentice through the Warren Electrical JATC in 1996.
Throughout his 23 years as a journeyman electrician, Luoma worked on many interesting projects, though none greater than a nuclear power plant in Beaver, Pa.
“That was just awe inspiring. It’s so neat, it’s just beyond words.”
Looking back on his career, Luoma reflected on what he enjoyed most about the electrical trade.
“One of the greatest things is you’re not stuck working in the same place every day for 40 years,” he said. “You work a month here, a month there or spend a year on a project. You’re constantly moving and dealing with different types of electrical.”