Diplomacy board-game inventor Allan Calhamer dies

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CHICAGO -- As a kid rooting around in the attic of his home, Allan Calhamer stumbled across an old book of maps and became entranced by faraway places that no longer existed, such as the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires.

That discovery and a fascination with world politics and international affairs were the genesis of Diplomacy, the board game he would create years later as a history student at Harvard University in the 1950s. After its commercial release in 1959, the game earned a legion of fans that reportedly included President John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger and Walter Cronkite.

Calhamer died Monday at a hospital in the western Chicago, his daughter Selenne Calhamer-Boling said. He was 81.

Calhamer tested early versions of the game on Harvard classmates before perfecting it. After its commercial release, Avalon Hill bought the rights and helped make it an international hit. Players represent seven European powers at the beginning of the 20th century and vie for dominance by strategically forging and breaking alliances. -- AP

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