On February 25, 2013, Allan B. Calhamer, inventor of the game of Diplomacy, passed away at the age of 81. I met Mr Calhamer twice, and stabbed him once. He was a fine man. We exchanged holiday greeting cards over the past decade and a half, and he would occasionally send me mathematical observations, his mind ever keen and looking to be challenged with puzzles and games.
Mr Calhamer developed Diplomacy in the 1950's, taking cues for good game-play mechanics from, of all things, the playing card game Hearts. The resulting game system he developed is simple, beautiful, and has been acclaimed as both brilliant and a stroke of genius as an adaptation of game theory.
He marketed the game privately, and then sold the rights to Games Research, Inc., which later sold them to Avalon Hill, now a subsidiary of Hasbro. Calhamer never got wealthy from his creation, but he earned fame and respect in the world of game designers and players.
Calhamer made his career with the U.S. Postal Service. He invented many games in his lifetime, but none apart from Diplomacy achieved much recognition. Diplomacy is widely regarded (as by GAMES Magazine, etc.) as one of the five greatest games ever invented, rivaled only by such games as chess.
I ask all Diplomacy players everywhere to lift a glass with me today to my dear departed friend ABC, whose creation has had such a profound impact on my life and has taken me around the world and brought me friendship and kinship with hundreds if not thousands of people. Rest in peace, Al.
Should you wish to donate in remembrance of Allan B. Calhamer, on behalf of his family we ask you to give to the Nature Conservancy charity, of which he was a long-time supporter.