The World Othello Championships come to the UK on November 13, More than two dozen teams will be taking part, with the USA, the UK, France and Japan the leading contenders for the team title.
Othello is a curious game, since it shot to fame in the mid-1970s (about the time that the eastern games of Shogi and Go were also gaining popularity) as an “ancient Japanese game”.
Unfortunately it wasn’t true. Othello was marketed for the first time in Japan in the mid 1970s, with “games enthusiast Goro Hasegawa” credited as its inventor.
The real history is even curiouser than that, because “Othello” was little more than an unsubtle reworking of a Victorian British game called Reversi. Indeed Jaques & Sons of London marketed it in 1888 and its rules are described in the book “Reversi and Go Bang”, published in 1890. Since no licensing matters attach to the name “Reversi”, the games offered on the Internet usually use the older term to describe the game.
Othello is also unusual in that it is one of the games that has been almost completely (but not quite) solved by modern computing. Programs exist which play perfectly. So, even if you are world champion, if someone offers to play you for money via the Internet, turn him down. It’s a bot.