by Jim Lynch

Diabolical fun with the Churchill Solitaire game for iOS

Jan 26, 2016
Gaming PlatformsiOSMobile

Donald Rumsfeld has become an iOS developer. The former U.S. Defense Secretary has brought a version of Solitaire originally played by Sir Winston Churchill in World War 2 to a whole new generation.

I’ve long been an admirer of Sir Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s prime minister during World War 2. Churchill was arguably the greatest man of the twentieth century and had many accomplishments over the course of his very long and extraordinary life.

But one thing I never knew about Churchill was that he had his own unique game of Solitaire. Churchill’s version of Solitaire might have been lost forever after his death, had he not taught it to a Belgian diplomat who then taught it to Donald Rumsfeld, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense.

And it is Rumsfeld who has preserved Churchill Solitaire for the ages by releasing it as an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. You can get the free Churchill Solitaire game from the iOS app store. The Churchill family has given its nod of approval to the game, and they and Rumsfeld will be donating their share of the app’s profits to charity.

Rumsfeld explained the story of Churchill Solitaire in a very long and quite interesting post on Medium:

Over the ensuing four decades, I played this game with two miniature decks of cards across a wide table, in much the way I envision Churchill playing it (except without the cigars and the Red Label.) On long flights across the world, or when I found a quiet moment at the end of a busy day, I would clear my mind and refocus by playing a few hands of the game. I’ve found it helps improve concentration and sharpens instincts. To succeed in Churchill Solitaire, you have to envision a variety of scenarios and think a good many moves ahead.

Up until a few years ago, there were probably a dozen or so people in the entire world who knew how to play this game. These were mostly people I taught the game to — my wife, Joyce (the second best living Churchill Solitaire player I know), our children, and some assorted colleagues and friends. That was it. Winston Churchill was gone. André de Staercke, as well. And I knew I wouldn’t be around forever. There was every chance the game Churchill so enjoyed could be lost to the ages.

Then I was approached about turning this game into an “app.” I can’t say I had much of an idea of what an app even was. I had played the regular version of solitaire on my iPad, but turning Churchill Solitaire into an app of its own wasn’t something I’d ever envisioned. It wasn’t something I was sure the Churchill family would even want us to contemplate.

…the Churchill family was enthusiastic about the idea — Randolph called it “a marvelous way to bring this back to life”— and they agreed to lend their name to it as well. This is not a profit-making endeavor on either of our parts. The Churchill family’s profits from the game, like mine, will go to charity.

More at Medium

And here’s the official video trailer for Churchill Solitaire for iOS:

Why I love Churchill Solitaire for iOS

Of course after reading Rumsfeld’s post on Medium, I had to install Churchill Solitaire on my iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2. Now before I share my thoughts, you need to know that I am not a very good Solitaire player. At best I can be described as a middling sort of player, so I wasn’t sure if I’d even like the game.

When I first launched the Churchill Solitaire game, I was greeted with a video of World War 2 footage and audio commentary by Churchill himself. The developers of the Churchill Solitaire game have done a magnificent job in giving the game a true Churchillian flavor. Everything from the interface, to World War 2 images and video, to the music and to actual clips of Churchill’s speeches lend the game a true sense of authenticity.

I can see why the Churchill family has been so supportive of Rumsfeld’s efforts in creating the game. Not only has it preserved Churchill Solitaire for future generations, it does it in a way that I think the great man himself would enjoy if he were here with us today. Yes, it’s that good and Churchill admirers will absolutely love this game even if they’ve never played any version of Solitaire before.

When I first started playing Churchill Solitaire, I was clueless on what the rules were and how it was different from regular Solitaire. Fortunately, you can easily view the rules and there is a video tutorial included that will get you started as well. I highly recommend tapping through the rules and then watching the tutorial. It will take just a few minutes and you’ll be much better off for it.

Having said all of that, I must admit that Churchill Solitaire is a tough game for a player of my…er…modest skill level. But I found myself quickly becoming addicted to it and it has already become one of my “must-have” apps on all of my iOS devices. It’s fantastic when you need to kill a few minutes and it definitely focuses your attention as you concentrate on what you need to do to win.

Churchill Solitaire is a free app but offers a $4.99 in-app purchase to upgrade to a premium version that offers an unlimited randomized deal mode, and access to all 200 campaign deals. I bought the $4.99 in-app purchase after playing a trial deal for just a few minutes. It was a no-brainer for me given how much I liked the game even after playing for just a little while. The price is cheap and the premium version adds quite a lot to the game.

So if you’ve ever had an interest in Churchill, or if you are a fan of Solitaire be sure to check out Churchill Solitaire in the iOS app store. It’s quite diabolical, and will keep you playing for hours and hours. For more information about Churchill himself, be sure to visit The Churchill Centre.

I’ll leave you with some screenshots of Churchill Solitaire that will give you an idea of what the game looks like:

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