Othello Game Rules

by Peter Flom
Part of an Othello board with a game in progress

Part of an Othello board with a game in progress

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Othello is a strategy game invented in 1971 by Goro Hasegawa in Japan. Othello is closely based on Reversi, which was invented in England by Lewis Waterman and John W. Mollett, independently. The difference between the two games is the starting position.

Board and Setup

Othello is played on a green board with eight rows and eight columns. The pieces are circular disks, with one black side and one white side. The starting position is four pieces on the middle four squares with alternating black and white pieces.

Starting the Game

Each player picks one color. Black always goes first. Determination of who goes first may be by any agreeable method.

Legal Moves

At your turn, you may place a disk with your color up on any square that outflanks your opponent's disks. Outflanking means you have a disk on both ends of a straight line of the opponent's disks. There can be no gaps in the line, and no disks of your color in the line.

Skipping Turns

If you have a legal move, you must make one. If you have no legal move, your opponent goes again. This repeats until you have a legal move.

Ending the Game

The game ends when either a) the board is entirely filled or b) neither player has a legal move. Whoever has the most disks with his or her color facing up wins.

About the Author

Peter Flom is a statistician and a learning-disabled adult. He has been writing for many years and has been published in many academic journals in fields such as psychology, drug addiction, epidemiology and others. He holds a Ph.D. in psychometrics from Fordham University.

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