Goro Hasegawa, inventor of board game Othello, dies at 83

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Goro Hasegawa, who invented the popular board game Othello, died Monday at his house in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, and a funeral was held Thursday. He was 83.

As chairman of the Japan Othello Association, Hasegawa took part in the World Othello Championship 2006 held in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, the birthplace of the game, and was expected to attend the 2016 tournament in November.

Hasegawa came up with the concept of Othello when he was a student attending a school in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. Growing up in the postwar era, he used the black and white stones of go, a traditional board game, for his creation. It quickly became a popular pastime during recess among students at his school.

Hasegawa later worked for a medical company, but never forgot his invention.

Eventually he pitched the idea to toy maker Tsukuda, and it was officially released in 1973 under the name Othello, which was inspired by the Shakespeare play of the same name.

Like the play, which tells the racially charged story of a black general and his white wife, the game Othello has disks that are light on one side and dark on the other.

The board itself is green, a color chosen to resemble a battlefield.

Othello gained nationwide popularity soon after its release and gradually became known internationally. According to The Ibaraki Shimbun newspaper, the total number of sets shipped within Japan to date is about 25 million.

Othello is also recognized as a communication tool, with medical institutions using it as part of rehabilitation for patients with encephalopathia, a disease that affects brain function.

Information from Kyodo added