How To Play Othello

Marketed by Pressman under the name Othello, this strategy game has existed for over a hundred years as the game called Reversi. It was popular at the end of the nineteenth century in England, and appeared in a modernized version in Japan in the 1970's, where Othello became the registered trademark. The name is a reference to the Shakespearean play of the same name.

Othello is played on a green board with 64 squares. It is a two-player game.  Similar to the abstract thinking that goes into chess, it is important to think ahead before placing your pieces rather than just concentrating on your current turn. In the middle four squares of the board are placed four pieces. Each piece has two sides on them: one black and one white. One white piece is placed next to one black piece and then on the next row, one black and one white.

The object of Othello is to have the most squares on the board in your color by the end of the game. The game ends when either all squares are filled or either you or your opponent can't move. Players decide who will be which color. Black goes first by placing one of his black pieces on the other side of a white piece. This will then turn the white piece in between to a black piece.

White then has to place a white piece on the other end of a black piece and will then turn each black piece between his white pieces into white pieces. Play then continues until all squares are filled or nobody can move.

It sounds easy, but to play Othello is highly complex as one move can turn several pieces to your opponent's color in an instant.

When a player places a piece on the Othello board, every piece of the opponent's color that is in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line between the piece of the first player's color and the new piece are flipped to show that player's color. This can sometimes result in anywhere from one piece to entire rows of pieces being turned all at once.  This is why it is not always the best strategy to have the most colored pieces on the board at any one time, but to have the best strategically placed pieces ready to turn your opponent's pieces.

The most important squares on an Othello board are the corners. Corner pieces can never be turned and if you have a corner piece and your opponent has the next six squares, obtaining the next corner means you have a solid eight-square row that cannot be turned for the rest of the game.

When all the squares are full or either player cannot move, count up the pieces on the board.  Whoever has the most colors on the board wins the game.  If you decide to play Othello again, the winner gets to select his color.  Just remember: black always goes first.


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