Othello was originally invented with the name Reversi in England around 1880 by Lewis Waterman, who may have copied most of the ideas of the game from James Mollett. Mollett published a very similar game called "The Game of Annexation" in 1870, which had nearly identical rules but used a cross shaped board instead of a standard square. Reversi was marketed in 1888 by Jaques and Sons of London and a book titled "Reversi and Go Bang" was published in 1890. The rules for this game had two major differences from the modern game and are described in the Variants section. German games publisher Ravensburger began producing Reversi games in 1898. The game was reintroduced as Othello in the early to mid 1970's by Goro Hasegawa, who wrote the book "How to Win at Othello." The original trademark was held by Tsukuda Original but is now registered to Anjar Co., who licenses the name to distributors all over the world. The name Othello originates from the Shakespeare play of the same name, most likely due to the conflict between the dark-skinned Moor and the lighter-skinned European present in the play being an analogy to dark versus light pieces in the game. Othello is most popular in Japan but has a great following worldwide. The Othello World Championship has been held every year since 1977.

The Board

The standard othello board is an 8x8 grid of squares, the same as a chessboard. However, the squares are usually all green and not in a checkered pattern. Starting position: In the 2x2 square in the center, two white pieces are placed in opposite corners and two black pieces are in the other corners. A white piece is usually in the top left corner, although symmetry makes this a mere formality.

The Pieces

The pieces are usually black and white circular chips. Most physical productions of the game use chips that are black on one side and white on the other, as this makes sense for the rules of the game. Mathematically, any two types of pieces can be used as long as a player only uses one of them.


To move: Place a chip with your color facing up on any empty square on the board such that there exists a straight (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal) line connecting that square to another square that is occupied by your piece with all the squares in that line occupied by the opponent's pieces. There must be at least one opponent's piece in between the piece you just placed and the one it forms a straight line with. All of the opponent's pieces in that line are flipped over to your color. If a player has no legal moves, the turn passes to the opposing player. If neither player can make a legal move, then check for the win condition.

To win: A game ends when neither player can make a legal move (e.g. when the board is full). At this point, count the number of pieces each player has on the board. Whoever has a higher score wins.

Place two pieces of each color in the 4 center squares of the board as described so that pieces of the same color are in opposite corners and the white piece is in the top left corner. Whoever plays black goes first. The players alternate making legal moves. Whenever a player cannot make a legal move, he or she passes the turn to the other player. If neither player can make a legal move, the game ends and scores are counted up. Whoever has more pieces on the board wins.



Alternate Names

othello board othello board othello board