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With Darkest Hour up for six awards at the Oscar’s this weekend, the name of the man who inspired the movie is back on everyone’s lips. Winston Churchill is a name synonymous with greatness. The man who brought victory to England in World War II was a passionate patriot, and remains an inspiring icon to this day. His robust personality and love for cigars and whisky is well known worldwide, but it was through mental exercises that he maintained one of the greatest minds of his time. After meeting him, even Eleanor Roosevelt remarked: “It was so astonishing to me that anyone could smoke and drink so much and keep perfectly well”!
Our Cigar and Whisky Bottle Puzzle was created in honour of Churchill, whose mind was surely sharp enough to devise a method to remove the bolt from the bottle. He was known to hone his wits with certain games and this puzzle would have been just the sort of mental exercise he might have explored during times of great distress.
During World War II, German forces challenged the newly appointed Prime Minister by launching a barrage of air strikes across Great Britain. With a cigar pursed between his lips, and a glass of whisky at hand, Churchill rallied the Royal Air Force to combat these vicious attacks. Thanks to superior technology, the RAF was able to push German forces away.
During these most difficult times, Churchill was known to keep his mind sharp with a game of cards, though not just any game of solitaire would do! He was a man of wits, who desired a greater challenge. So, he grabbed a second set of cards and developed a new way to exercise his brain.
Here is how to play Churchill’s (much more challenging) version of solitaire:
Shuffle 2 standard decks of playing cards, and deal 6 face up to the top left of your playing area. These are called the “Devil’s Six”.
Deal out 10 columns of cards, with the following number of cards in each row. The top card of each column is placed face up.
1 card 2 cards 3 cards 4 cards 5 cards 5 cards 4 cards 3 cards 2 cards 1 card
Place the remainder of the deck next to the Devil’s Six. This is your draw pile.
Make 8 piles of cards in the winning row to the top right of the playing area. All stacks must be in ascending order starting with an Ace, ending with a King.
How to play:
Rearrange the cards on the 10 playing columns into descending order, alternating the colour.
You can move parts of the columns, as long as they are in the correct order. The Devil’s Six can only be moved into the winning row, and not onto the main playing area. Only Kings can be moved into open columns.
If you get stuck at any point, deal cards from the draw deck onto the top of each column that does not contain a King.
Once you have placed all 104 cards into 8 separate piles in ascending order by suit, you win!