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How to Play Othello

Othello gameplay demonstration

Setup

Players

  • 2 players
  • Ages 7 and up

Materials

  • Othello game with all the accessories;
  • The board with 4 board feet to set up
  • 64 double-sided discs (black and white); 32 each
  • Pen and paper to count and mark final scores.

Additional Setup Notes

  • Place the board on the table or the center of the space you are playing in.
  • Place the feet under each corner of the board.
  • Gather around and distribute 32 pieces to each of the players.
  • Set up four pieces in the center of four squares: Black/White/Black/White so that looking for any side, there aren’t two of the same color next to each other.
  • You can refer to the full Othello PDF rulebook here.

Objective

The objective of Othello is to have as many discs of your own color on the board at the end of the game.

Gameplay

Each player will choose a color they will play with, either black or white, and distribute 32 to each. Next, the players will set up their starting formation that is always the same:

  • Place Black and White discs in the center four squares, alternating colors so that no side has two of the same color.
  • Black always moves first.

A move in Othello consists of outflanking a disc of your opponent. Once done, you can flip it around to make that disc your own color. Outflanking occurs when you’re able to border your opponent’s disc(s) from either side in one row. You can then flip their disc(s) to your own color. Outflanking can be done any way; vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.

If you cannot outflank and flip at least one disc, you’ll have to forfeit the turn. You can only flip discs if they are outflanked in that turn.

When neither player is able to make any moves, the game of Othello comes to an end. The person with more discs of their color wins the game.

Endgame

A game of Othello comes to an end when either all 64 board squares have discs occupying them or neither player can make a valid move, meaning that either a player has no discs left or the opponent’s discs are blocking both players’ moves.  

Example 

Let’s walk through a typical Othello game play with two players.

  • Black places their first disc on the e4 square.
  • White places their first disc on the d5 square.
  • Black outflanks one white disc and flips it to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • Black outflanks two white discs and flips them to black.
  • White outflanks four black discs and flips them to white.
  • The game ends as there are no more legal moves to make; White has 32 discs, and Black has none, so White wins.

Othello Tips

  1. Control the board center early on.
  2. Corners are very important to Othello; if you’re able to get your discs in a corner those can’t be outflanked.
  3. Just like chess, you have to think several moves forward to play strategically.
  4. When needed, sacrifice pieces to make better moves later on.

Othello Variations

There are special multiplayer Othello boards that are meant to play with four people. Alternatively, there are also online versions for multiplayer gameplay.

About the Author: Alexa Withrow

Alexa is a board game fanatic, happily entering her 30s era, trading in late nights out for game nights in. Always happy to host, she enjoys bringing her people together for some friendly competition and joy that ends promptly at 9 p.m.

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