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Subject: Allan B. Calhamer passed away Monday, Designer of Diplomacy rss

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Jeremiah Lee
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A message forwarded from the family:
Quote:
I'm writing to let you know that Dad passed away Monday morning. He was 81 years old and had been slowing down quite a bit recently, but luckily he didn't suffer any long illness and was able to enjoy his art and his books (and his Diplomacy zines) until the last few days. [...]

Mom has insisted on a private ceremony with no flowers. At the age of 86 she is deeply practical and has little patience for rituals of any kind, I'm afraid. The truth is she would probably be overwhelmed and exhausted by it all, so my sister, Tish, and I are going to let her win this one! However, I know she would welcome any memories/stories about Allan or thoughts on what Diplomacy has meant to you. [...]

If you prefer to email, you are welcome to use my address [note: send a Geekmail for the address, and I'll send it on]; I will print out your message and deliver it to her. [...] Please feel free to forward this notice to others that love the game and the man as much as we do.

Best Regards,
Selenne Calhamer-Boling


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Seth Owen
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Some thoughts from my Blog on Mr. Calhamer's passing:

Word is seeping through the Internet gaming community that Allan B. Calhamer, the inventor and designer of the board game Diplomacy, died Monday at the age of 81.

While Diplomacy didn't bring Mr. Calhamer a fortune, and perhaps not widespread fame, it has, I believe, earned him immortality. Diplomacy is among that select few games that has earned the title of a "timeless classic."

In the adventure gaming hobby's earliest days, Diplomacy was considered of the the three legs of the hobby triad -- which was comprised, back in the 1960s, of board wargaming, miniatures wargaming and Diplomacy.

The hobby evolved over time and role-playing games, collectible games and euros all far outgrew those original trio, but Diplomacy was never truly eclipsed in the genre of game that it spawned. While it's seen many variants and imitators over the years, Diplomacy has still retained its status as the premier game of cutthroat diplomatic competition. It's so cutthroat that friendships have been ended and marriages thrown on the rocks due to game events. It takes a certain kind of gamer to play and enjoy Diplomacy and it's certainly not for everyone.

By today's standards it violates a lot of accepted rules for good game design -- it takes a long time to play and it has player elimination for example. While it's gone through a whole host of editions over the last half century through various publishers and languages, in the end the components are extremely simple -- a map of 1900 Europe divided into land and sea areas, a set of markers divided into armies and fleets for each of the seven nations and the rules -- the basic nature of which can be listed on a single page.

My first exposure to the game was actually from a home-brewed variant while I was in high school. My best friend's older brother had gone off to Yale and been exposed to the game. He didn't have his own copy, but he was able to create a facsimile edition when he got home for the summer and we spent the summer break playing our Yale variant game and having a blast. Naturally, having done the game from memory, our version had some changes from the original, (and not improvements) but before long we got a copy of the actual game -- (this was the Gamescience edition) and kept playing.

Myself, I had too eclectic tastes to settle on playing Diplomacy only -- but many people did and still do. I did take part in some postal Diplomacy for a number of years -- a very popular way to play. Diplomacy was exceptionally well-suited for postal play and later, Internet play.

When Avalon Hill bought the rights the game got access to widespread distribution that increased its popularity and Diplomacy is one of just two of classic Avalon Hill titles that Hasbro has kept in print since it took over AH (The other being the equally classic game Acquire).

I've always been partial to the wooden-block Avalon Hill edition, but the first Hasbro version with its metal cannon and battleships is also quite nice and I like that version as well. The current edition is a very cut-rate edition with die-cut cardboard counters (although the map is nice) but Diplomacy is remarkably independent of the components used to play it. In that way it reminds me more of old abstracts like Go or Chess than most modern games. It's possible to have a really nice, physical game to play on -- but you can still play quite nicely with bare-bones, even hand-made, components as well.

Mr. Calhamer never really followed up with anything nearly as successful. He wasn't a brilliant game designer in the way of his contemporary Sid Sackson or today's Reiner Knizia. But he did design a brilliant game. There may be those inclined to dismiss him as a one-hit wonder, but I think that's a mistake. A one-hit wonder, after all, does have a hit -- which is something the vast majority of artists never have at all. And game design is, at heart, a form of art. Mr. Calhamer designed a game that, I am quite sure, will still be bringing enjoyment to players not yet born. That's success.

From : http://pawnderings.blogspot.com/2013/02/allan-b-calhamer-inv...
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Fabrizio Mattei
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sigh!

I bought the game Diplomacy in 1972 .... I was born with diplomacy!

Ciao Allan!

Fabrizio


P.S. Festival of Diplomay - Rome - October 2010
http://cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic874909_md.jpg
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Grand Prince Poutine Lord High Thrifter
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Please support Juxtatype's fascinating International Diplomacy Repository -- where your donations of Diplomacy games & parts are always happily accepted!
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I am very sorry to hear of this news. Allan Calhamer designed my very favourite game: Diplomacy.

Diplomacy is not the first game I played nor the game I've played most frequently, but it is the most important game in my gaming life. I have played it many times, in person and by email and online. As Seth said above, it is not for everyone -- but, for me, a game of Diplomacy, in person, with seven players is the finest gaming experience possible.

I salute and thank Mr. Calhamer for his gigantic influence on the gaming world and on the pleasure he has brought to my life.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.
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Claus
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R.I.P.
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Larry Doherty
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What a loss. May he rest in peace.
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John Bradshaw
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Sad news indeed.

Diplomacy certainly deserves a very special place in the annals of Board game history. It was very innovative and was developed at a time when there was little more than Monopoly on the scene, so it was a quantum leap forward in game design.

I've never played the game a great deal but I did possess a copy and I do recall with fondness a game that was played in my room at University. Most of the guys in our residential block took part - the board was blue-tacked to the wall - the pieces to the board, and then something like 3 times per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner we would all meet to submit the moves. All of the intervening period was available for negotiation. It was great fun. I recall coming back to the block after one lecture and hearing a very heated debate behind closed doors "YOU GAVE ME YOUR WORD YOU WOULD ATTACK BERLIN!!"

I read Allan's Wiki some months ago and I was sad to hear that his life appears to have drifted career-wise and so on. However, reading that communication from his daughter lifts the mood - it is clear that he was loved, and I daresay that that is the ultimate achievement that any of us can reach in life, so the letter from Selenne gives me a good feeling. To have designed one of the most influential, ahead-of-its-time boardgames in history is obviously mere icing on the cake of a worthwhile life.

Rest in Peace Allan B. Calhamer
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Wendell
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So long, good sir.
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Randall Bart
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RIP ABC
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Rich Uncle Pennybags
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One-hit-wonder is an insult in this case. If the likes of JFK and Kissinger played it, this single game represents a lifetime achievement.
RIP, good sir!
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Jack Dillon
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Requiescant In Pace and thanks for the many hours of enjoyment playing your great game!!!!
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William Blackmar
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Very sorry to hear this. A good game and a good man.

I still remember when Edi Birsan came up from San Francisco to show the three members of my family, a teacher, and 3 high-school students how to play diplomacy.

My son was Russia and his mother was England. In the beginning, she took St. Petersburg from my son. He looked at his mom and said "My own mother took part of Russia from me!!"

She laughed and said, "It's only game, and a good game, -- for fun."

He got it right away and it was played many times in future. It always brought family and friends to the house and laughter.


Special regards to your family

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Calavera Soñando
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Not only has Diplomacy had a significant impact on my life, but an impact on the life of many of my students, since I use the game in class each year. I'd add specifically that his design provided me with not only hours and hours of enjoyment and entertainment, but a profound and permanent understanding of my own nature and the basic elements of human nature of others that are inevitably revealed in the course of play.

Thanks, Mr. Calhamer. You will be missed.
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Claudio
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Mr. Calhamer designed a gem. An absolute gem. Strategic in its deepest sense, yet requiring tactical skills for players to excel. It is social, yet mean. It is the quintessence of deep play stemming from simple rules and mechanisms. The deterministic combat resolution is a perfect complement to the fuzzy strategic and interpersonal issues. Man, I'd love to play more.

RIP, Mr. Calhamer. You gave us a great sandbox, one that will be played in for years to come.
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Brad Johnson
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I had played a number of different games before I found Diplomacy, but Diplomacy is the one that well and truly brought me into boardgaming as a full-fledged hobby. I first saw Diplomacy on the game store shelf sometime around 1980, when I was in high school. It was the blue Avalon Hill box with not much detail about the game showing, but enough to make me think that it might be something new and interesting to introduce to my gaming friends. When I opened the game and first read the rules, I was frankly kind of disappointed -- it seemed way too simple to really be interesting, but we gave it a try anyway. One play was enough to get us all hooked -- it was simple in the way that Chess is simple, which is to say "minutes to learn, a lifetime to master", to use a cliche.

I don't play Diplomacy too much any more, only because our tastes have changed over the years. As adults, it's difficult to devote a whole day to one game, so we tend to favor shorter, more casual, fare. But I've always liked to say that everything I know about gaming I learned from Diplomacy.

My twin sons found my well-worn copy of Diplomacy among my collection and invited their friends over to try it. They were almost exactly the same age I was when I found Diplomacy on the store shelf. Despite all the kids' seeming obsession with video games over all else, guess what game they still pull out to play when they all get together on a break from college? Diplomacy is truly a modern classic.
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Claudio
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tempus42 wrote:
My twin sons found my well-worn copy of Diplomacy among my collection and invited their friends over to try it. They were almost exactly the same age I was when I found Diplomacy on the store shelf. Despite all the kids' seeming obsession with video games over all else, guess what game they still pull out to play when they all get together on a break from college? Diplomacy is truly a modern classic.

This is beautiful. Passing the fraternal backstabbery down through generations. That is a legacy.
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Huzonfirst
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This is indeed sad news, but my feeling is we should celebrate the life of the man and his remarkable creation. Here is my tribute, which I wrote in praise of Diplomacy when BGG users elected it to its "unofficial" Hall of Fame:

"In 1953, when Allan Calhamer began designing the game that became Diplomacy, he had almost no precedents to work from. There were no tabletop wargames, not even something as simple as Risk or Stratego. Unless you count Pit, there really weren't any negotiation games. Monopoly could still legitimately be considered the height of sophistication in board games. And yet, working in such a vacuum, he created a game that has not only thrived after half a century, but which must be regarded as one of the truly iconic designs of all time.

"Diplomacy's mechanical innovations are many--programmed, simultaneous movement; a multiplayer game of conflict; area movement; unit creation; and the wonderfully elegant concept of support--but the essence of the game goes far beyond mere rules. It's a stark battle of wits and negotiation skills in the most ruthless arena in gaming. Positional play is surprisingly deep for a game of such simplicity, but in the end, it all comes down to manipulating your fellow man and choosing the right time for a backstab. The title's renown spreads far beyond normal gaming channels--supposedly, both John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger were fans. PBEM games are more practical (and do a good job of simulating real life diplomacy), but there's nothing quite as intense and exhilarating as an all-day, face-to-face battle with you and six of your former friends. Okay, the title's reputation for ending friendships may be overstated, but even if it were true, I'd still play. Games like Diplomacy only come along once in a generation; I can always find new friends."
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Nick Case
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As a school boy I was persuaded to play Diplomacy at my local wargames club in the 1976. I can remember being bewildered by the lack of dice and players who kept going outside for a chat. I was wiped out very early on by an older member of the club who smiled and apologised everytime he took a territory away from me and at the end (my end) I distinctly remember the feeling that I was never going to be dismantled like that again, and more important I had to play again, very soon.

Diplomacy genuinely taught me incredibly valuable life lessons concerning the importance of strong relationships, trust, the lack of it and the need to look someone in the eye when they talk to you. Allan, your game set the mold for my gaming expectations from the mid 1970's to the present day.

Thank you.
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Bruce Schlickbernd
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I was finally able to track down a copy of Diplomacy in 1973, having heard of it four years previously. As mentioned early, it was it's own independent branch of wargaming. I played postal games in Costaguana, Diplomacy World, Claw & Fang, Runestone, and many others. I ran my own 'zine for four year, Poictesme, and The Slobinpolit Zhurnal (see "Slobbovia" in Wikipedia) as part of APA-Slobbovia for several more.

Allan was a pioneer in the sense he was one of the few game designers at the time who actually had his name prominently attached to the game. Most designers were completely anonymous at the time. Large, multi-player games designed for serious play were very rare in that day, and it helped tie the general gaming hobby together through convention play.

If one has to have a one-hit wonder, having a timeless classic is the way to go. Rest in peace, Allan.
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Kevin McPartland
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A few years back I was working on a project at a synagog, and the congregation's representative was an older gentleman. The conversation came around to my wargame playing and designs. "Oh, we used to play a game like that when I worked in the White House" he said. "Can't remember the name of it, though." Knowing that he had worked for the Kennedy administration, I ventured a guess: "Was it called Diplomacy?"

"That's the one! We had a lot of fun playing that game..." I watched as his old eyes told me that he was thinking back to those days, and his sly smile told me that he certainly did enjoy the game. But all I could think of? "Damn, those old advertisements weren't lying! They really DID play Diplomacy in the White House!"

Kevin
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Marco Piermaria Ferrari
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R.I.P.
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William Ford
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The link below is for Allan Calhamer's obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/18572633-418/allan-b-calh...

Edit: And here is the 2009 Chicago Magazine article referenced in the obituary:

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2009/All-in-t...
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Jim OKelley
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...and here is the link to the Chicago Tribune's obituary: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-calhamer-obi.... Edward McClelland (Ted, as we know him), the author of the Chicago Magazine piece, met Mr. Calhamer at our Weasel Moot tournament in 2008. As the Tribune story mentions, we also welcomed the Calhamers to last August's World Diplomacy Championship in Chicago. The ovation we gave him lasted two or three minutes. It was the coolest moment of the weekend.

Jim
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Jack North
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I have been playing board games for about 60 years, and over that time I have collected dozens and dozens of games. Some go in and out of favor, some sit on the shelf for years, unplayed. Occasionally when we have moved or otherwise decided it was time to "get rid of the clutter" I would sell or give away games, records, books, etc. There is one game, however, I could not ever bring myself to part with. Although I don't play it regularly, Diplomacy still ranks as my favorite game of all time. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was talking about games with some young fellow workers and I mentioned Diplomacy. Simply by describing it's simple premise they were very interested in learning more about this game.

My condolences to your family, and my thanks to your father for creating what I believe to be the Perfect Board Game.
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Scott DeMers
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Words are simply not enough.
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