Behind the Othello Board Game: History and Gameplay

Othello Board Game

The fast-moving Othello board game is a very easy game to learn for all ages. It's simple enough for kids and loaded with strategy for adults.


Othello was first introduced in England in 1880 under the name "Reversi." Reversi has two slightly different rules about how the discs are played. Reversi games can be purchased, and there are several Reversi games available on the Internet. However, they usually follow the Othello rules.

In 1971 Goro Hasegawa introduced Othello with his book How to Win at Othello. The game was in wide-scale production by 1975 with the first Othello World Championship held in 1977. It has become an internationally-acclaimed game of strategy with an annual world championship event.

Othello gained popularity in Asia after a Hong Kong advertising campaign for Apple Jeans used Othello board games which had been retitled "Ping Guo Qi" (Apple Chess). Ping Guo Qi, Apple Chess, Hei Bai Qi and Black and White Chess have since become alternative names for the Othello game.

Othello is currently published in the United States by Mattel.

Playing Othello

The Othello board game includes:

  • A game board with a grid of 64 squares
  • 64 discs which are white on one side and black on the reverse

Two players start the game by selecting whether they want to play the black or white side of the discs. Each player starts with two discs. They take turns adding an additional disc to the game board.

Capturing Discs

As discs start to accumulate on the game board, players can attempt to surround each other's discs, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Once surrounded, a disc can be captured and flipped to show the color on the other side - white discs flip to black, and black discs flip to white. After a capture the turn passes to the other player who, in turn, tries to surround and capture the discs of the other player.

Discs are usually captured and flipped dozens of times during the game. Players can also trap discs and decide not to capture them. That's where the strategy comes in. Play continues until either player has lost all of his or her discs or until the entire game board is filled with discs and no other moves can be made by either player. A game usually takes about 30 minutes to play.

Winning the Game

The player who owns the most discs at the end of the game is the winner.

Fun For Everyone

The Othello board game is a great game for family play because it is equally enjoyed by kids and adults. Kids, aged eight and up, enjoy the fast-paced nature of capturing their opponent's discs. Adults get added enjoyment from the game by adding their own strategies in capturing the discs of their opponent.

Players don't need to be able to speak or read English, so this is a fun game for a wide variety of players. The game is equally enjoyed by non-English speaking players, non-reading players and physically-challenged kids and adults.

It makes a great gift for families because it is equally enjoyed by kids and adults, either playing together or separately. It is as easy to play as Checkers and can be played with much of the strategy of Chess.

Where to Buy the Othello Board Game

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Behind the Othello Board Game: History and Gameplay