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Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tries His Hand At App Development

A new app based on Winston Churchill's tweak on Solitaire was designed with the help of Donald Rumsfeld.
WSC Solitaire
A new app based on Winston Churchill's tweak on Solitaire was designed with the help of Donald Rumsfeld.

Now available on a mobile device near you: an app designed by Winston Churchill and Donald Rumsfeld.

Well, sort of.

The game "Churchill Solitaire," released for phones and tablets this weekend, is — according to the company releasing it — based on a version of the classic card game that was invented by the Prime Minister who led Britain through World War II.

And it traveled from Churchill's desk to modern iPhones by way of the Secretary of Defense who oversaw the U.S. war in Iraq.

Churchill's version has two decks of cards and six extra "trapped" cards. Churchill taught the rules of his game to a Belgian diplomat, who taught it to Donald Rumsfeld, the game's designers say.

Decades later Rumsfeld, now 83, worked with a team of developers to turn the game into an app.

He was actively involved in the process, reports the Wall Street Journal — even though he can't code and rarely uses a computer. The newspaper writes:

"As a result, 'Churchill Solitaire' is likely the only videogame developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone to record memos for the programmers."

At the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld was known for not mincing words with his memos. Age hasn't mellowed him.

" 'We need to do a better job on these later versions. They just get new glitches,' reads one note from Mr. Rumsfeld."

As for playing the final result?

"I've enjoyed beating the young folks who have tried to keep up with my score," he said in the press release announcing the game's arrival.

The game is free, but has in-app purchases. Some portion of the proceeds will support military veterans and help "advance the legacy" of Winston Churchill, the developers say.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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