Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Churchill Solitaire: Why Donald Rumsfeld Made an iPhone App

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Churchill Solitaire: Why Donald Rumsfeld Made an iPhone App

Article excerpt

Unknown unknowns, indeed. A new app based on a version of Solitaire played by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill heavily invokes his spirit -- it's promoted as "the most diabolical version of Solitaire ever devised," and is promoted with the tagline "never give in" from a speech he gave in 1941.

But the app's driving force is a more controversial figure: former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, often described as a key architect of the Bush Administration's strategy in Iraq.

In a Medium post, Mr. Rumsfeld straightforwardly lays out how he came to learn the game from Belgian diplomat Andre de Staercke, describing his foray into app developing as, "I've done business, politics, and war. Now I'm trying my hand at mobile gaming."

Mr. De Staercke, who Rumsfeld met in the 1970s while serving as US Ambassador to NATO, learned the "uniquely challenging game," which uses 10 rows of cards instead of the usual seven, spread across two decks, from Churchill, who played it during the London Blitz beginning in 1940.

"As they plotted to turn back the Fascist tide, De Staercke came to know Churchill under incomprehensible stress: the Luftwaffe's nightly bombing raids of London, an America reluctant to be dragged into another world war, and an entire world that looked to be on fire," Rumsfeld writes. "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. 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."

The app - which is initially free, then costs $1 per 25 levels - is laced with references to Churchill, including allowing a player to begin playing as a classmate of Churchill's at the British military academy Sandhurst, and dramatic music. …

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