Allan B. Calhamer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Allan B. Calhamer
Born(1931-12-07)December 7, 1931
DiedFebruary 25, 2013(2013-02-25) (aged 81)
Resting placeParkholm Cemetery (La Grange Park, Illinois)
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationGame Designer, mail carrier, researcher
Known forinventing the board game Diplomacy
ChildrenSelenne, Tatiana

Allan Brian Calhamer (December 7, 1931 – February 25, 2013)[1] was an American board game designer, known for his game Diplomacy.[2]


Calhamer speculated that his original inspiration for Diplomacy was an article in Life magazine about the Congress of Vienna he read in 1945 at age 13.[3] Gordon Leavitt, a childhood friend of Calhamer's recounted how, when they were boys in La Grange Park, Illinois, he and Calhamer "discovered in the attic a geography book that showed a map of Europe before World War I with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the old boundaries."[4] Calhamer received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1953, then began at Harvard Law School. Reading The Origins of the World War by professor Sidney Bradshaw Fay, whose class he attended, finally galvanized Calhamer.[5] In 1954, while still enrolled, he developed a game of strategy and alliances that put seven players in control of the major powers of the pre-World War I era. He quit law school after one year, and Sylvania's Applied Research Laboratory in Waltham, Massachusetts hired him as a systems analyst. He also worked as tour guide for the Statue of Liberty during this period.[3]

In 1959, Calhamer published his game as Diplomacy and printed 500 copies.[5] After selling all of them in six months, he licensed the game to a publisher. Over the years, Diplomacy has been published in North America by Games Research, Avalon Hill, and Hasbro, and has been published in several different languages in other nations by various publishers. Calhamer's original face-to-face board game has also been played by mail since 1963. More recently, there are internet Diplomacy games, games run through email or in online games with a human game master. Calhamer later invented two other games, but neither achieved anything like the success of Diplomacy.[3]

Calhamer wrote a book, Calhamer on Diplomacy: The Boardgame "Diplomacy" and Diplomatic History, but the game did not provide him with a living. In the 1990s he retired from working as a mail carrier and lived his last years in La Grange Park.[5][6]


Calhamer died of heart and kidney failure February 25, 2013, at Adventist-La Grange Memorial Hospital in La Grange, Illinois.[5][7] Mike Webb, vice president of marketing and data services for Alliance Game Distributors, said in a posthumous interview, "In many ways, the hobby-game industry as we know it owes its existence to Allan Calhamer" thanks to Diplomacy's numerous gameplay innovations, specifically the ability to negotiate and deceive other players.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Calhamer met his future wife, Hilda Morales, in New York. The couple were married 45 years and had two daughters together, Tatiana and Selenne.[3]

Articles written by Calhamer[edit]

  • Military Intelligence (1960)
  • On Strengthening the hand of Austria-Hungary (1960)
  • The Tactics of Diplomacy (1961)
  • A Dozen Years of Diplomacy (1966)
  • On the Play of Postal Diplomacy by Allan Calhamer (1966)
  • The Invention of Diplomacy (1974)
  • Across the Whole Board (1974)
  • Objectives Other Than Winning (1974)
  • Introduction to Diplomacy (1975)
  • The Coast of Moscow


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Mar 2013), Allan B Calhamer, 25 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Allan B. Calhamer, inventor of board game Diplomacy, dies at 81". Chicago Sun-Times. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Mailman invented board game Diplomacy". Chicago Sun-Times. March 3, 2013. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  4. ^ "World Domination: the Game". The Washington Post. November 14, 2004. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Kates, Joan Giangrasse (March 3, 2013). "Allan B. Calhamer, 1931-2013". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  6. ^ McClelland, Edward (May 2009). "All in the Game". Chicago magazine. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
  7. ^ Fox, Margalit (March 6, 2013). "Allan Calhamer Dies at 81; Invented Diplomacy Game". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]