In Solitaire Confinement With Donald Rumsfeld

Kevin Sullivan/The Orange County Register/ZUMA


At the ripe old age of 83, Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense under Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, just announced he’s the architect of a whole new venture: a solitaire iOS game or, as he describes it in a fresh Medium post, an “incredibly devilish version” of the classic card game known as “Churchill Solitaire.” He writes:

One of the best ways to stay young is to keep learning.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve spent the better part of the past two years trying my hand at developing a mobile app. To be more precise, I’ve been working with a team of developers to bring into the digital age a card game that dates back to at least the Second World War, and perhaps earlier. Starting this week, I’m pleased that it is now going to have a new life thanks to modern technology.

According to Rumsfeld, the new game is a take on the version of solitaire Churchill taught his protégé André de Staercke during World War II.

Up until a few years ago, there were probably a dozen or so people in the entire world who knew how to play this game. These were mostly people I taught the game to?—?my wife, Joyce (the second best living Churchill Solitaire player I know), our children, and some assorted colleagues and friends. That was it. Winston Churchill was gone. André de Staercke, as well. And I knew I wouldn’t be around forever. There was every chance the game Churchill so enjoyed could be lost to the ages.

Then I was approached about turning this game into an “app.”

Rumsfeld himself did not contribute to any of the actual coding. Instead, he adopted his familiar role of mastermind, communicating his vision to a team of developers using “snowflake” memos—the infamous flurry of notes Rumsfeld was known for sending to his staff.  This was the same approach he employed when communicating with the Pentagon and the White House on such matters as the need to “keep elevating the threat” and “link Iraq to Iran.”

Intrigued? Watch the video explainer he just released below: