Donald Rumsfeld launches gaming app

Technically Incorrect: The former defense secretary is invading the tech world with Churchill Solitaire, an app he claims aids strategic thinking.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld, app developer.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Corbis

When you launch a new app, there are, to use the words of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, known knowns. There are also unknown unknowns, unknown knowns and known unknowns.

If you're Rumsfeld, one of the more legendary military strategists of this century, you try to maximize the knowns and minimize the unknowns. It's a known fact.

Please welcome Rumsfeld, then, into the arena of gaming apps. For he's just launched Churchill Solitaire.

This entered Apple's app store on Thursday and has already garnered a four-and-a-half-star rating. The game promises that it's "the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised."

Those of deeply critical bent might not be surprised that Rumsfeld would associate himself with something diabolical. For me, however, the glory lies in his taking a known and turning it into an unknown that offers a reward.


The app has it that the card game on which it's based isn't new. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill apparently played it during World War II, and Rumsfeld says he learned it in Brussels in the 1970s when he was the US ambassador to NATO.

It's a version of solitaire that involves two decks of cards and a timer. It apparently requires you to think far more deeply than an ordinary game of solitaire, which you might tap along to on the sofa while your lover is watching sports.

Rumsfeld talks like a real developer, even if he didn't code this game himself, relying instead on a company called Javelin.

He told The Wall Street Journal, "We need to do a better job on these later versions. They just get new glitches."

The game is free, but there are in-app purchases to be had. A portion of the profits from those will go to charities that support veterans and their families.

Gaming and life have parallels. The man who helped George W. Bush make many important decisions is aware of this.

He told the Journal: "You can make a mistake very early on that can prevent you from winning a hand that would have been winnable. And that is also true in life."

This game is clearly a must for all those who fancy themselves strategists. As with so many strategic games, there's no guarantee you'll win. The lovely thing about solitaire, however, is that you can tell everyone you did.

In that, it's not entirely unlike politics.

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