Othello World Championship Takes Place in Game’s Birthplace

January 1, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. tournament / ˈtʊər nə mənt / (n.) – a series of contests wherein individuals or teams compete until a winner is declared
Example: They practice every day for the upcoming chess tournament.

2. upon (someone’s) request / əˈpɒn rɪˈkwɛst / (idiom) – as fulfillment of someone’s request
Example: She bought ice cream upon his request.

3. concept / ˈkɒn sɛpt / (n.) – an idea or plan for something
Example: Her restaurant’s concept is very unique.

4. reversible / rɪˈvɜr sə bəl / (adj.) – can be turned or changed to its opposite
Example: His reversible jacket is blue one side and red on the other.

5. to date / təˈdeɪt / (idiom) – until the present time
Example: He has won nine gold medals to date.


Read the text below.
The World Othello Championship (WOC) had a homecoming this year when it was held in its birthplace, months after the game’s inventor passed away.

Last November, the 40th WOC was held in Mito, Japan, where the board game was invented by a Japanese man named Goro Hasegawa. A total of 84 contestants from 29 countries participated in the tournament. Among those who competed was last year’s champion, Yusuke Takanashi, who has won four championship titles since 2009. This year, a Thai player emerged as the champion.

Since the WOC began in 1977, it has taken place in Othello’s birthplace only twice. The tournament was first held in Mito 10 years ago upon the inventor’s request. However, Hasegawa did not get the chance to attend this year’s tournament since he passed away months before this year’s tournament began. He was 83.

Hasegawa invented the game in Mito right after the Second World War. He came up with the concept of Othello when he was just a junior high school student. He originally used bottle caps for his first version of the game. The current version is played with reversible black and white disks, which are inspired by the stones from the traditional board game Go. Hagesawa's father, an English teacher, allegedly came up with the name Othello after Shakespeare's play.

Othello is played by two people who are assigned either the color black or white. The players take turns in trying to change the color of their opponent’s disks to their own color. The color that dominates the board at the end of the game wins.

The game immediately gained popularity after it was officially released in 1973. According to the World Othello Federation, around 2 million units were sold in the first three years after its release. To date, about 25 million units have already been sold within Japan, according to Ibaraki Shimbun.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is the significance of holding board game tournaments like the World Othello Championship?
·         If you were to represent your country in a tournament, what sport or game would you like to participate in? Why would you choose this sport or game?

Discussion B

·         What sport or game from your country became popular abroad and how is it played?
·         Do you prefer physical games/sports to less physical games/sports (i.e., card games, board games)? Why? 

January 1, 2017