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Donald Rumsfeld – yes, that Rumsfeld – has a video game

by Eric Frederiksen | April 17, 2016April 17, 2016 5:00 pm PST

Donald Rumsfeld has quite a list of accomplishments behind him. Born in 1932, he spent two separate terms as the United States secretary of Defense, four terms in congress, an appointment to President Ford’s chief of staff, and even a stint as CEO of a pharmaceutical corporation. Perhaps his crowning achievement, though, at age 83, is that of game developer.

I’m not kidding. About the game developer part, I mean. Available on the iOS App Store is Churchill Solitaire, a game based on a Solitaire variant played by Winston Churchill.

The Wall Street Journal had an excellent piece that reveals a few interesting facts about the game, linked below. Rumsfeld himself learned the game in the early 1970s from André de Staercke, a Belgian ambassador and protégé of Churchill. Churchill played the game to hone his strategic thinking, according to Rumsfeld. The apparently quite difficult card game involves two decks of cards and a timer, and requires the player to think ahead more than standard Solitaire.

While Rumsfeld wasn’t knee-deep in code or anything like that, it does sound like he was actively involved in the game’s development, testing it throughout and making suggestions as to the direction of the game. Rumsfeld communicated with his team, according to the piece, through a series of memos called “snowflakes,” making Churchill Solitaire “likely the only video game developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone.”

The game is free to play, but undoing moves and using hints costs money, and Rumsfeld’s profits will go to charity. The ex-defense secretary encourages players to use hints, likening them to contacting an elder statesman for political advice, but discourages using the undo button, saying that there “are damn few undos in life.”

As someone who has always enjoyed Solitaire and has probably a minor addiction to Freecell, I’m curious to check out the game.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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