The Othello Game Rules And Instructions

Othello, also known as Reversi, is an intriguing board game that requires strategy, foresight, and an understanding of the opponent’s moves. Regardless of your age or experience with board games, the rules of Othello are simple enough to learn, but the game itself can take a lifetime to master.

Othello rules
Complete rules of Othello board game
Infographic explaining the basics of Othello game - othello game rules infographic roadmap-5-steps
The Othello Game Rules And Instructions 6

The Othello Board and Pieces

The game is played on an 8×8 grid board and utilizes 64 double-sided discs. These discs are black on one side and white on the other, representing the two players. The board is set up in such a way that it is easy to keep track of moves and possible strategies. If you don’t have the official Othello board, a chess or checkerboard can also work well.

Othello Board and Pieces
The Othello Game Rules And Instructions 7

Each player starts with 30 discs, which are flipped to show the color they have chosen – black or white. As the game progresses, the discs will be flipped over to the opponent’s color, depending on the moves made. This flipping of discs is a crucial aspect of the game, as it is how players gain control of the board.

How to Play Othello Board Game

The objective of the game is straightforward – have the most discs of your color on the board when the game ends. This is achieved by strategically placing your discs to ‘outflank’ your opponent’s discs, causing them to be flipped to your color. The game requires a delicate balance of offensive and defensive play, making every move critical.

How to Play Othello Board Game
The Othello Game Rules And Instructions 8

Starting the Game

To start the game, place the board between the two players and decide who will play as black and who will be white. The player using the black discs goes first. This is a slight advantage since the first player can control the early game, so consider letting the less experienced player use the black pieces.

If you want to keep track of moves and positions, you can label the board with columns a–h and rows 1–8. Initially, place the black pieces on spaces d4 and e5, and the white pieces on e4 and d5.

Othello Game Rules

In this section, we’ll delve into the specific Othello game rules that will guide your gameplay. From understanding outflanking and the importance of the first move to what happens when a player can’t make a move, we’ve got it all covered.

rules for Othello gameplay
rules for playing Othello

The Rule of Outflanking

One of the key elements in Othello is the rule of outflanking. A move in Othello consists of placing a disc on the board in a way that “outflanks” one or more of your opponent’s discs, then flipping the outflanked disc(s) to your color. Outflanking means your opponent’s row (or rows) of disc(s) is bordered at each end by a disc of your color.

A “row” can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal and may consist of one or more discs. The outflanked discs are flipped to your color in the same move.

The Importance of the First Move

In Othello, the first move always goes to the player with the black discs. This is a standard rule in Othello that sets the tone for the entire game. The first move can set a strategy in motion and gives the black player a slight advantage, which is balanced by the fact that the player with the last move (white) also has a significant strategic advantage.

What Happens When a Player Cannot Make a Move

Sometimes, a player might find themselves in a position where they can’t outflank and flip at least one opposing disc. In such cases, the player forfeits their turn and their opponent moves again. However, if a move is available to you, you may not forfeit your turn. It means, even if the available move isn’t to your advantage, you’re required to make it.

The Rule of Immobility

A crucial rule in Othello is the rule of immobility. Once a disc is placed on a square, it cannot be moved to another square later in the game. This rule emphasizes the importance of strategic placement of discs, considering all potential outflanking opportunities before making a move.

Winning the Game

The game ends when it’s no longer possible for either player to move. This typically happens when all 64 squares of the board are filled, but can also occur before that if no player can outflank an opposing disc. At the end of the game, the discs are counted and the player with the majority of their color showing is the winner.

As you continue your journey in board games, it’s not unusual to wonder how Othello compares to other strategic games. In this section, we’ll go through the similarities and differences between Othello and other popular strategy games like Go, Checkers, Chess, and Risk.

Othello vs. Go Games

Both Othello and Go are strategy board games that require players to capture their opponent’s pieces. However, their gameplay and rules are quite different.

In Go, players place their pieces on the intersections of the lines on the board, aiming to surround and capture their opponent’s stones. The game ends when both players pass their turns, and the player who controls the most territory wins.

On the other hand, Othello, also known as Reversi, is played within the squares of an 8×8 board. The objective is to flip your opponent’s discs by trapping them between your own. The game ends when neither player can make a move, and the player with the most discs of their color showing wins.

Unlike Go, where the board starts empty, Othello begins with four pieces already placed in the center of the board. Furthermore, a move in Othello can flip many pieces at once, while capturing in Go happens one stone at a time.

Othello vs. Checkers, Chess, and Risk

Comparing Othello with other strategy games like Checkers, Chess, and Risk highlights the unique aspects of each game and the different skills they can help develop.

Checkers and Othello both involve capturing opponent’s pieces, but Othello has a dynamic game state that can change quickly with each move, while in Checkers, once a piece is captured, it’s permanently removed from the board.

Chess, like Othello, is a two-player strategy game played on an 8×8 grid. However, Chess has different types of pieces, each with unique movements, while all discs in Othello move the same way. The strategy in Chess comes from the combination of the unique pieces, while in Othello, it’s about position and flip potential.

Risk is a world domination game that involves strategy, but it also includes elements of luck, as dice rolls determine the outcomes of battles. In contrast, Othello is purely strategic, with no element of luck involved.


In conclusion, Othello offers more than just a fun way to pass the time. It’s a tool for learning and growth. We at Learning Board Games are passionate about promoting the educational value of board games and providing comprehensive guides to help you choose the right ones for your family. Check out our wide range of board game guides to find your next family favorite.

At Learning Board Games, we believe in the power of board games as educational tools. Whether you’re looking for a game to challenge your strategic thinking like Othello, or a fun family game like Uno, we’ve got you covered. Explore our wide range of board game guides to find your next family favorite.

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