What happens when you cross a former defense secretary, a cigar-smoking former British prime minister and a much-loved card game?
The answer is “Churchill Solitaire” -- an outrageously difficult card video game designed in part by ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with help from developer Javelin. The game is based on the specific version of solitaire played by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill as a way for him to relax in between fighting the Nazis.
Rumsfeld was given the rules to the game by Andre de Staercke – a Churchill confidant and diplomat – when Rumsfeld served as ambassador to NATO during the Nixon administration.
“Winston Churchill played this game during World War II when the Nazis took over Belgium. The government went into exile in London and a young diplomat took over and was assisting the Belgian government and Churchill taught him the game, and then he taught me,” Rumsfeld told "Fox & Friends" Monday.
The game’s trickiness comes from the use of two decks of cards instead of one, and a “devil’s six” set of cards in the corner of the board that need to be liberated without moving them to the main playing surface. The result is an infuriatingly difficult game that will challenge the wits of even the most experienced Solitaire player.
Victory only comes from remembering Churchill’s maxim – “never surrender!”
The game, available now on iPad and iPhone (development for Google Play and Android is still ongoing), uses the Churchill theme to full effect, opening with a collage of wartime newsreels and quotes from the man himself.
Gameplay takes place on a 1940’s era desk and the player, upon completing more levels, is given a higher rank that represents Churchill’s biographical path from Sandhurst Academy to 10 Downing Street.
According to the game’s website, Rumsfeld was heavily involved in the game’s development in its 18 months of development, offering frequent feedback and guidance to the developers.
A portion of the game’s proceeds goes to charities that support wounded military veterans, and that advance Churchill’s legacy. All profits earned by Rumsfeld will go to those military charities, according to the game’s developers.
The game is downloadable for free, though requires in-app purchases for alternative deals or more hints.