Thursday 12 December 2019

Japanese creator of Othello board game dies aged 83

The man who created the board game Othello has died (AP)
The man who created the board game Othello has died (AP)

Goro Hasegawa, the Japanese man who created the board game Othello, has died at the age of 83.

Mr Hasegawa died at his home in Kashiwa, a suburb of Tokyo, on Monday following a long illness, said Marie Kimura, of the Japan Othello Association.

Mr Hasegawa came up with the idea for the game as a child, when he played with milk-bottle caps. He proposed it to a manufacturer as an adult in 1972.

His father, an English literature expert, was behind the name, inspired by Shakespeare's play because the game uses round pieces which are black on one side and white on the other.

Since the game was launched in 1973, 24.75 million Othello sets have been shipped in Japan, not counting online or overseas sales, according to Tokyo-based MegaHouse Corp, which makes Othello.


Hasegawa served as head of the Japan Othello Association, which promoted the game and hosted tournaments that drew players from around the world. Hasegawa had been looking forward to the 40th annual tournament, set for November.

Othello, which is similar to Reversi, is played by two players, one placing pieces with the black side up, the other with the white side up.

Each player places one piece at a time. If any pieces of one colour get hemmed in by the other colour, then all the pieces in between are turned over to become the colour of the pieces at the ends. The goal is to get as many pieces of your colour as possible.

"The beautiful contrast of the white and the black on a green board, the click-clicking sound of people placing the pieces, and the situation changing so suddenly like the magical world of Aladdin's lamp," was the way Hasegawa described the fun of playing Othello on his blog featured by the association.

One appeal of Othello is its simplicity, as many, including children, find it easier to play than chess.

Hasegawa is survived by his wife Hideko, two sons and a daughter, and grandchildren. A funeral service was held on Thursday.


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