MITO, IBARAKI PREF. – The World Othello Championship began in Mito on Wednesday, bringing the premier competition of the board game back to its birthplace for only the second time.
A total of 84 people, aged 9 to 69 and hailing from 29 countries and regions are taking part in the championship in Mito, where Goro Hasegawa, the inventor of the game, was born. He died in June at age 83.
“I look forward to playing against people from many different countries so I can learn new tactics and become stronger,” said 11-year-old Masaki Wada of Sendai.
Among the contestants is reigning champion Yusuke Takanashi. The 24-year-old from Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, has claimed the championship four times since 2009.
Othello was put on sale in 1973 based on a trial product designed by Hasegawa. About 2 million units were sold in the first three years, according to the World Othello Federation website.
Othello is a game for two players, who place pieces that have both a black and white side on a board. Each player is assigned a color and the winner is the player who has the most pieces displaying their color when the board is filled.
Hasegawa devised a prototype of Othello shortly after the end of World War II, using reversible light and dark pieces inspired by the stones used in the traditional game of Go.
Hasegawa’s father, Shiro, named the game after the Shakespeare tragedy Othello, according to the federation.
After the preliminary round on Wednesday and Thursday, the championship will end on Friday when semifinal and final matches will be held. The final is scheduled to be live streamed on the internet.
The first World Othello Championship was held in Tokyo in October 1977 and has been held every year since. Hasegawa sought to have the championship held in his birthplace Mito, and his wish was realized in 2006.