There's a hot, new, historically-relevant mobile game on the market: Churchill Solitaire. Based on the version of solitaire Winston Churchill was known to play, Churchill taught the game to André de Staercke. Staercke came to know Churchill after Nazi Germany invaded Belgium in 1940 and Staercke was forced into exile. Staercke eventually came into contact with Donald Rumsfeld after Rumsfeld was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to NATO by President Nixon in 1973. Rumsfeld saw Staercke, who was a Belgian diplomat to NATO at the time, playing the card game during a plane ride and asked him to teach him. And now Rumsfeld has developed his very own app so that we can all play the game on our phones.
Most people have played some version of Solitaire in their lives. The Churchill version, like the man himself, is far more demanding and complex. Instead of using a single deck of 52 cards, Churchill Solitaire uses two decks. Instead of the traditional 7 rows of cards, there are 10. Instead of simply moving cards so that they fit back into single-suited piles from Ace to King, Churchill Solitaire includes an extra row of six cards — the Devil’s Six — that a player has to liberate as well.
As my friend Andre de Staercke once put it to me, “What one needs in life are the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.” Play a couple hands of Churchill Solitaire, and you’ll know precisely what he meant.
To read the rest of Rumsfeld's explanation, head over to Medium, and watch the trailer below to get a closer look at how the game works.