Othello

I have had a long-standing interest in the game of Othello. It's a strategy board game, akin to Go. Othello was born in Japan in 1971. However, it is almost the same as an older game, called Reversi, invented in England in 1883.

USOA and tournaments. In the United States, interest in Othello peaked in the late 1970s and 80s. The United States Othello Association (USOA) was started in the 1970s, sponsoring tournaments throughout the year, including a national championship. The national champion went on to play in the world championship. As of 2009, tournaments continue to be held, including a U.S. national and world championship.

I played in tournaments from 1981-1986. In 1984, I was U.S. National Champion and finished third in the World Championship (held in Melbourne, Australia that year).

USOA and OQ. From 1979 until (as far as I can tell) 2005, the USOA produced a journal called Othello Quarterly (OQ).

I wrote numerous articles for Othello Quarterly — and was editor of OQ from 1984 to 1986.

Othello: Brief & Basic. In 1985, I self-published a strategy guide to Othello, called Othello: Brief & Basic. It wound up getting a brief review in Games magazine at the time. Here's a quote: "The book can, literally overnight, turn a beginner into a formidable opponent. Excellent."

Othello

I continued to update and revise the book until 1990.

Due to "technical difficulties" (e.g., the program I used to create the book no longer worked in Mac OS X), I never managed to convert book to a digital version. Until now. As of April 2009, a free PDF version of Othello: Brief & Basic is available. Click here to download it.

[Note: I did not update the text for this PDF version. Thus, some information (such as regarding tournament history, books and computer Othello) is not current. Also, in a few places, minor formatting problems occurred during the PDF conversion (notably on the front and back covers, and in the Selected Game Transcripts Appendix). I have not fixed these glitches. However, I hope to have a revised version, remedying the problems, available someday.]

Alternatively, I highly recommend another free book on Othello, written by former World Champion Brian Rose, published in 2005.

Computer Othello/Reversi. Computer programs that play Othello/Reversi have become amazingly strong in recent years - to the point that it is almost impossible for a human to win against them. In fact, unless you have a potential winning position by the midgame, it is impossible to win against the best programs, as they play perfectly for the latter half of the game.

Unfortunately, most of the Otherllo/Reversi games available for the Mac are not of this caliber. But there are a few good ones.

The best Mac Othello program that I have found is Cassio. Not only does it have every feature you could possibly want in an Othello program, it is by far the strongest computer opponent that I have yet to play against.

The quality of Othello/Reversi games for iOS devices is even worse than for the Mac, as I describe in this 2009 article for The Mac Observer. [Update: June 2015: The quality of the better iOS Othello/Reversi games has improved considerably since I wrote that article.]

© Ted Landau 2015