Former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld has taken to game development by releasing a new version of Solitaire on the App Store.
Dubbed "Churchill Solitaire", this new twist on an old classic is allegedly based on a version of Solitaire played by the former prime minister during his time in office.
According to the 83-year-old Rumsfeld, Churchill taught this unique version of Solitaire to Belgian government aide and eventual NATO ambassador André de Staercke. Three decades later, in 1973, Staercke taught Churchill's unique adaptation of the game to Rumsfeld.
"I can remember de Staercke sitting across from me on a plane somewhere over Europe playing the curious game, dizzying columns of miniature cards arrayed on the table between us," Rumsfeld reminisced on Medium. "I asked him what he was playing and he proceeded to tell me the origin of the game he called Churchill Solitaire after the man we both very much admired, and the diabolical rules that make it the hardest game of solitaire  - and probably the most challenging and strategic game of logic or puzzle  -  I've ever played."
Rumsfeld went on to explain that Churchill Solitaire uses two decks of cards, rather than the typical one, and is played across 10 rows instead of seven. "Instead of simply moving cards so that they fit back into single-suited piles from Ace to King, Churchill Solitaire includes an extra row of six cards - the Devil's Six - that a player has to liberate as well," the former US secretary of defense explained.
"Churchill Solitaire is not a game for everyone. It takes patience and perseverance, cunning and concentration, and strategy and sacrifice."
Rumsfeld said that only a dozen or so people in the world knew how to play Churchill Solitaire and he was worried that the late prime minister's game would be lost to the ages. When approached by an app developer, WSC Solitaire, LLC, to turn the clandestine game into a mobile sensation, Rumsfeld quickly checked in with the Churchill estate to seek their input on the matter. After receiving the go-ahead by Winston Churchill's great-grandson, Mr. Randolph Churchill, Rumsfeld went about collaborating with WSC Solitaire to bring this dying art to the masses.
While Rumsfeld isn't a coder, he worked on the project as a consultant and playtester of sorts. "I've put the game through its paces, offering suggestions and ideas to make it as closely resemble the game Churchill played," he explained before noting that the game went through 172 build before it met his standards.
"It's a card game that can frustrate even the most skilled player because a single move can make or break an entire game. A number of hands are simply unwinnable. But the most steadfast players will gamely soldier on to find their way to victory," Rumsfeld said of Churchill Solitaire.
"As my friend Andre de Staercke once put it to me, 'What one needs in life are the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.' Play a couple hands of Churchill Solitaire, and you'll know precisely what he meant."
Churchill Solitaire is a free game on the App Store, though there are micro-transactions for undos and hints. Rumsfeld stated that all proceeds between him and the Churchill estate will go to charities supporting wounded military veterans.