Donald Rumsfeld Develops 'Diabolical' Solitaire App

He's behind a new iPhone, iPad app inspired by Winston Churchill
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2016 12:19 PM CST
Donald Rumsfeld's New Gig: Game Developer
Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks to politicians and academics during a luncheon on security in rising Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Meet Donald Rumsfeld, app developer. Yes, the 83-year-old former defense secretary is behind Churchill Solitaire, available on iPhones and iPads as of last week, the Wall Street Journal reports. Rumsfeld says that while he was US ambassador to NATO in Brussels in 1973, he learned the version of solitaire Winston Churchill played during World War II to keep on top of strategic thinking. It's a supposedly more difficult version of traditional solitaire, and Rumsfeld says it requires players "to be strategic, to look around corners, to think ahead, and to never give in." The app's website describes it as "the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised." But Rumsfeld doesn't actually know how to code, so he issued memos called "snowflakes" to his programmers using a Dictaphone. Sample: "[W]e ought to find some way we can achieve steady improvement instead of simply making new glitches."

In a post at Medium, Rumsfeld explains that he decided to develop the app because few people know the game, and he was concerned it could end up lost forever. It involves two decks of cards, a timer, and complications like a "devil's row" of six cards that must be eliminated in quite a challenging fashion, the Washington Post reports. Reviewers on the App Store seem to like it, with one saying players will "feel sucked in." But another complains that Rumsfeld's involvement "sours the app for me—I still enjoy the challenge of the game but knowing Rumsfeld will be making money from it is a negative." (The Journal reports that all of Rumsfeld's profits are going to charity.) Over at Gizmodo, Kate Knibbs declares the app "Donald Rumsfeld’s best contribution to society," and at the Verge, Rich McCormick calls it "the most intense game of solitaire I've ever played." (More Donald Rumsfeld stories.)

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