Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld launches mobile game app

The former statesman has released a version of solitaire inspired by British WWII leader Winston Churchill

Donald Rumsfeld, Game, Solitaire, Winston Churchill

Donald Rumsfeld and his wife Joyce, left, arrives at the National Cathedral in Washington in 2014 [AP Photo/Susan Walsh]

As a veteran of three Republican White House administrations, the former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has made a surprise career choice at the age of 83, taking on the lucrative world of mobile device gaming.

Rumsfeld, with Churchill Heritage Ltd and digital developers Javelin, has just debuted a new version of the classic card game solitaire, but promises Churchill Solitaire is “the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised.”

The former statesman seemingly learned to play the version of the game beloved by the British wartime prime minister while living in Belgium in the 1970s. The game, which involves two decks of cards, a ‘Devil’s Six’ row of cards, and timed scoring, was taught to Rumsfeld when he was the US Ambassador to NATO in Brussels, where he a Belgian politician, a protégé of Churchill’s who had learned it himself from the British leader.

“When I learned the game from my colleague at NATO, Andre de Staercke, I found it to be one of the most entertaining and strategic card games I’d ever played,” Rumsfeld said in a lengthy blog post about his decision to enter the tech industry as an octogenarian.

Rumsfeld’s role was not on the backend of the game’s development, not writing any of the code. But despite his lack of technical skills, he still took a deep interest in its production, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Mr. Rumsfeld can’t code. He doesn’t much even use a computer. But he guided his young digitally minded associates who assembled the video game with the same method he used to rule the Pentagon—a flurry of memos called snowflakes.

As a result, “Churchill Solitaire” is likely the only video game developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone to record memos for the programmers.

[...]

“We need to do a better job on these later versions. They just get new glitches,” reads one note from Mr. Rumsfeld. “[W]e ought to find some way we can achieve steady improvement instead of simply making new glitches.”

Rumsfeld’s other notes to the developers mostly involved stripping back the game’s design for fear it might look too artsy, afraid that a too-glossy final product would fail to conjure up the gritty world of London in the Blitz.

The game is currently available only on iOS, but an Android version is scheduled for release in the near future.

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