|The Othello Museum|
Brief history of Othello
In 1971 Goro Hasegawa began the tale that we're trying to tell. But before that date, Reversi was already existing.
Reversi was invented at the end of XIX century. Englishmen Lewis Waterman and John W. Mollett both claimed to be the inventors. It was patented in 1888 and Reversi was then published in 1898 by the Ravensburger Company as one of its first titles. The very first versions of Reversi have been produced in 1882, by Mollett and Waterman themselves. In 1971 Goro Hasegawa reinvented the game with the name of Othello and Tsukuda registered the mark; nowadays Anjar Co. owns the rights for it.
Reversi was actually based upon a 1870 English game known as The game of Annexation, or Annex, invented by Mollett himself in 1870, before Reversi, to be played on a board with the shape of a cross. The game was being published since 1876.
With a 1880 publication on the magazine The Queen, Waterman proposed a game with the same rules, to be played on the standard chess board with the name of Reversi, and presented himself as the inventor. Waterman registered this name in 1887.
Mollett, in 1886, published this game with the newer name Annex, and then in 1888 as "Annex, a game of reverses", abandoning the cross-shaped board. After a well documented dispute, Mollett first had to leave the word "reverses", then appealed, won the cause and the word "reversi" was freed.
The Waterman game was sold in London by Jacques and co., and brought in the USA by McLoughlin Brothers in 1888.
As you can see in the boards museum, the Waterman version of Reversi didn't provide any board and had to be played on a "chess board", as stated on the box, while the Mollett version was sold with a cheap paper 8x8 board and had the Annex or Annexation names.
There have been a number of disputes on the name Reversi, about which there's some documentation, thanks to Jorge from reversi Spanish blog.
Please read the FULL TRANSLATION with documentation of the interesting article by Jorge.
I also found on a 1891 book a differentiation about Normal and Royal Reversi, about which I don't know anything.
It's not clear to me if the Othello rules are exactly the same of traditional Reversi or Annexation, besides the differences I just said, but I'm sure that currently the games are identical. Somebody anyway claims that there were some differences in the early versions, before 1971. These are those differences, as far as I remember, I believe that only the first one is possibly true.
Whatever the original rules were, Goro Hasegawa chose the best set of them and fixed them for the rest of time. In the last decades there has been a continuous struggle between the commercial trademark Othello and the free name of the game Reversi. Without the first one, anyway, there would never have been such a continuous and strong organization of the World Championships like today and a strong community all over the world.
It's rather important to say that, at my knowledge, there are no strong players known before 1971, one entire century after the invention of Annexation. I believe that a few books of tactics were published, but the Goro Hasegawa book himself is one of the most erroneous tactic advisor that one could ever find: this, I think, makes me think that there was not a real development of the strategic and tactic sides of the game before that date.
The World Championship represents the history of agonistic Othello and indeed it's not secundary that it has been held every single year since 1977, every time in a different country. While the level of the very first editions was not very high, it quicky reached the highest peaks and since then the top players' level is astonishing. It really looks like that the WOC competition has been the driving force of the growth of Othello.
Since the first editions a continuous challenge between Japanese players and the rest of the world has been the plot. While Japan has dominated the WOC for the most of the time, only France, USA and Nederland (but with the USA player Shaman) were able to interrupt for short periods the Japan domination. After 1999 the challenge seemed won by USA and Europe, but the return of the greatest player ever, Hideshi Tamenori, has brought the title again in Japan. Check the Hall of fame from the WOC site.
Currently, in 2008, players and countries are quickly increasing, thanks also to the diffusion of internet online gaming and of low-cost air companies. This phenomenon is inducing organizers to start a debate about possible rules changes, to face the uncertainity of the swiss system of pairings when players are too many comparing to the 13 turns of a tournament.
Or try this other translation:
The flipping clock.
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