Allan Calhamer dies

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Allan Calhamer dies, The origins of the board game Diplomacy can be traced to an old geography book Allan B. Calhamer discovered while rummaging around with a friend in the attic of his boyhood home in La Grange Park.

Mr. Calhamer was fascinated by the exotic countries and old boundaries laid out in the book, places like the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.......chicagotribune

"That was the seed of the game," recalled his childhood friend Gordon Leavitt, who was with Mr. Calhamer in the attic that long-ago day. "Allan picked up that book, and something just grabbed his imagination. Before long he was drawing his own maps and creating his own board games.

The final inspiration came when Mr. Calhamer was at Harvard and, in a class on 19th century Europe, taught by Sidney Bradshaw Fay, he read his professor's book, "The Origins of the World War."
"That brought everything together," Mr. Calhamer told Chicago magazine in 2009. "I thought, 'What a board game that would make!'"

After being rejected by several game companies, Mr. Calhamer in 1959 published on his own 500 copies of Diplomacy, and the game came to develop a relatively small but extremely devoted following.
"He was such a character, brilliant, but never in an arrogant way," said his daughter Selenne Calhamer-Boling. "He just had his own way of doing things."

Mr. Calhamer, 81, died of natural causes Monday, Feb. 25, at Adventist-La Grange Memorial Hospital, his family said. He lived in La Grange Park.

Since Diplomacy's inception, hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold, with games also being played on the Internet. The game involves not rolls of the dice, but actual interaction between players, who have to cajole rivals in a push for world domination.

John F. Kennedy reportedly played it in the White House, and Henry Kissinger was a fan as well, according to newspaper accounts. Games magazine named it to its Hall of Fame alongside such classics as Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Yahtzee and Sorry!

"You are the master (or mistress) of your own fate, but unlike chess it is not simply about being the smartest tactical player," said Christopher Davis, vice provost at Colorado Technical University and a member of the Windy City Weasels, a club for Diplomacy players. "It's also about negotiation and persuasion and the ability to read the other players."
The son of an engineer and a schoolteacher, Mr. Calhamer graduated from Lyons Township High School and received a scholarship to Harvard University, where he played on the chess team.

After graduating from Harvard in 1953, Mr. Calhamer was classified 4-F and ineligible for military service because of diabetes. While at Harvard Law School, he tested a prototype of what would become Diplomacy on fellow law students who gathered at his apartment.

Mr. Calhamer dropped out of law school after a year and a half, then took the foreign-service exam and spent three months on a temporary assignment in Africa. When he returned, he continued to work on perfecting the game and joined Sylvania's Applied Research Laboratory in Waltham, Mass., where he did operations research, a scientific approach to military problem-solving.

"He was hired because of the game," Richard Turyn, a mathematician who worked at Sylvania, told the Washington Post in a 2004 feature on Diplomacy.

In 1959, Mr. Calhamer printed 500 copies of Diplomacy and got them on the shelves of toy stores in New York, Chicago and Boston. The games sold out within six months. The board game company Avalon Hill then bought the rights to the game, and it became known internationally.

Described as a "thinking man's" version of the popular game Risk, Diplomacy is a seven-player game based on the balance of power in pre-World War I Europe. Players are free to bluff and back-stab one another to attain dominance.

"One of the knocks on Diplomacy is that it's a game that ruins friendships," said Jim O'Kelley, director of the Elks National Foundation, who founded the Windy City Weasels in 2005. "There is an element of betrayal in the game that can bruise feelings. But for me, Diplomacy is a game that has forged friendships."

Each of seven major powers — Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey — begins the game with three or four pieces in its home country. To win, one player must occupy 18 of 34 supply centers. Pieces represent entities such as naval fleets and armies.

It's "something like poker without the cards," Davis said. "I find it keeps me humble, because it is not just about having a great plan, but also finding a way to convince others to act in your interest."
- See more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-calhamer-obit-

20130303,0,2174217.story#sthash.OpNCTpXA.dpufThe origins of the board game Diplomacy can be traced to an old geography book Allan B. Calhamer discovered while rummaging around with a friend in the attic of his boyhood home in La Grange Park.

Mr. Calhamer was fascinated by the exotic countries and old boundaries laid out in the book, places like the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

"That was the seed of the game," recalled his childhood friend Gordon Leavitt, who was with Mr. Calhamer in the attic that long-ago day. "Allan picked up that book, and something just grabbed his imagination. Before long he was drawing his own maps and creating his own board games."

The final inspiration came when Mr. Calhamer was at Harvard and, in a class on 19th century Europe, taught by Sidney Bradshaw Fay, he read his professor's book, "The Origins of the World War."

"That brought everything together," Mr. Calhamer told Chicago magazine in 2009. "I thought, 'What a board game that would make!'"

After being rejected by several game companies, Mr. Calhamer in 1959 published on his own 500 copies of Diplomacy, and the game came to develop a relatively small but extremely devoted following.

"He was such a character, brilliant, but never in an arrogant way," said his daughter Selenne Calhamer-Boling. "He just had his own way of doing things."

Mr. Calhamer, 81, died of natural causes Monday, Feb. 25, at Adventist-La Grange Memorial Hospital, his family said. He lived in La Grange Park.

Since Diplomacy's inception, hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold, with games also being played on the Internet. The game involves not rolls of the dice, but actual interaction between players, who have to cajole rivals in a push for world domination.

John F. Kennedy reportedly played it in the White House, and Henry Kissinger was a fan as well, according to newspaper accounts. Games magazine named it to its Hall of Fame alongside such classics as Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Yahtzee and Sorry!

"You are the master (or mistress) of your own fate, but unlike chess it is not simply about being the smartest tactical player," said Christopher Davis, vice provost at Colorado Technical University and a member of the Windy City Weasels, a club for Diplomacy players. "It's also about negotiation and persuasion and the ability to read the other players."

The son of an engineer and a schoolteacher, Mr. Calhamer graduated from Lyons Township High School and received a scholarship to Harvard University, where he played on the chess team.

After graduating from Harvard in 1953, Mr. Calhamer was classified 4-F and ineligible for military service because of diabetes. While at Harvard Law School, he tested a prototype of what would become Diplomacy on fellow law students who gathered at his apartment.

Mr. Calhamer dropped out of law school after a year and a half, then took the foreign-service exam and spent three months on a temporary assignment in Africa. When he returned, he continued to work on perfecting the game and joined Sylvania's Applied Research Laboratory in Waltham, Mass., where he did operations research, a scientific approach to military problem-solving.

"He was hired because of the game," Richard Turyn, a mathematician who worked at Sylvania, told the Washington Post in a 2004 feature on Diplomacy.

In 1959, Mr. Calhamer printed 500 copies of Diplomacy and got them on the shelves of toy stores in New York, Chicago and Boston. The games sold out within six months. The board game company Avalon Hill then bought the rights to the game, and it became known internationally.

Described as a "thinking man's" version of the popular game Risk, Diplomacy is a seven-player game based on the balance of power in pre-World War I Europe. Players are free to bluff and back-stab one another to attain dominance.

"One of the knocks on Diplomacy is that it's a game that ruins friendships," said Jim O'Kelley, director of the Elks National Foundation, who founded the Windy City Weasels in 2005. "There is an element of betrayal in the game that can bruise feelings. But for me, Diplomacy is a game that has forged friendships."

Each of seven major powers — Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey — begins the game with three or four pieces in its home country. To win, one player must occupy 18 of 34 supply centers. Pieces represent entities such as naval fleets and armies.

It's "something like poker without the cards," Davis said. "I find it keeps me humble, because it is not just about having a great plan, but also finding a way to convince others to act in your interest."

Most of the action takes place away from the board in intense and sometimes secretive negotiations between players. Quick games can take six hours; marathon sessions can stretch for days. And much like real diplomacy, there often isn't a clear-cut winner because people just give up.

"Given that each game lasts hours, it is amazing to think about how many years have been spent playing Diplomacy in person, by post and via email and the Web," Davis said.

Mr. Calhamer left Sylvania after six years, and while looking for work in New York as a computer programmer, he took a job as a guard at the Statue of Liberty. It was during that time he met his future wife, Hilda, a Dominican immigrant. They were married in 1967.

"My mother, who was drop-dead gorgeous, had worked as a model for Oscar de la Renta," Calhamer-Boling said. "She came to this country hoping to marry a tall, handsome American, and that was my father."

Mr. Calhamer returned to La Grange Park in the early 1970s with his wife, who fell in love with the tree-lined suburb. He began a 21-year career as a letter carrier.

"That proved to be pretty worthwhile," Mr. Calhamer told Chicago magazine in 2009. "It doesn't sound like a high-level job, but it was completely reliable, and it paid. I was pretty good at sorting mail. You have to be accurate."

Mr. Calhamer retired from his job at the post office in the early 1990s but looked back fondly on his days delivering mail.

"The biggest appeal may have been that it wasn't an all-consuming corporate kind of job," Calhamer-Boling said. "It gave him the chance to pursue other hobbies, such as reading, painting and sculpting, and more importantly, time to be a doting dad. He never missed a single T-ball game or school play."

Chicago hosted both the World Diplomacy Championship and the North American Grand Prix in August at the Congress Hotel. Arrangements were made for a car to bring Mr. Calhamer to the event, where he signed autographs, posed for photos and was given a standing ovation after briefly addressing his audience.

"I don't think the game ever made Mr. Calhamer rich," O'Kelley said. "But it has enriched thousands of lives all over the world, including mine."

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Calhamer is survived by another daughter, Tatiana.

Services were private. Tolong Share ya ^^
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