Calhamer’s Gift

spring1901

Allan Calhamer, who has just passed away, is someone of whom you may not have heard, but he certainly enriched my life and that of millions of other people. He was a postman by trade, but should be remembered for his invention of the game Diplomacy.

From early teen years, how I loved this game. No chance involved, no dice on which risk your fortune, just negotiation and interaction. The feelings the game could generate were intense: I am still rather irritated with my freshman college roommate for stabbing me in the Spring of 1906 by slipping a navy into Hol, the swine.

At some point the game maker converted the fabulous wooden pieces to cheap, yucky plastic. But a fellow in state prison started carving pieces on his own for disappointed players — we wrote him for re-supply and passed his details on to those who had just purchased the game.

The Internet was made for Diplomacy. It is hard to get 7 people together for the 5-10 hours a full game would take. Play by postal mail was too slow and many people would lose interest and drop out. But email solved those problems, a perfect match of new technology with an older pasttime. That was a new joy, especially because the first time I played on line I won with Italy (Italy!).

Thank you Mr. Calhamer, from me and all the other fans of your fantastic game.