In Diplomacy, Mr. Calhamer designed a game that has endured for nearly 55 years. Yesterday, as news spread through the small but rabid Diplomacy community that Mr. Calhamer had passed, our Facebook newsfeeds lit up with tributes to him and testimonials about how the game had changed lives.
One of the knocks on Diplomacy is that it’s a game that ruins friendships. There is an element of betrayal in the game that can bruise feelings. But for me, Diplomacy is a game that has forged friendships.
In North America, we have a circuit of about a dozen Diplomacy tournaments, including two in the Chicago area. As players, we travel to these events for the love of the game and the thrill of the competition but mostly to reconnect with old adversaries who have become true friends, and to make new ones. I’ve traveled to strange places with people I never would have met if not for the game. I’ve opened my home to them. I’ve stood up in their weddings.
Last August, our local club, the Windy City Weasels, hosted the world championship, which rotates among the continents each year. We arranged for Mr. Calhamer to attend the tournament during the third round on Saturday afternoon. There were about 80 people present from all over the world when we announced that Mr. Calhamer had entered the room. That set off a spontaneous ovation that lasted two or three minutes.
I don’t think the game made Mr. Calhamer rich. It requires seven people and six to eight hours to play, and those factors have limited its popularity. But his game has enriched thousands of lives all over the world, including mine.
Thank you, Mr. Calhamer. Now rest in peace, with support from all of us.