TOKYO — Goro Hasegawa, the Japanese man credited with creating the Othello board game, has died. He was 83.
Hasegawa died after a long illness Monday at his home in Kashiwa, a Tokyo suburb, Marie Kimura of the Japan Othello Association said Thursday. She declined to specify the illness.
Hasegawa came up with the idea for the game as a child and played it with milk-bottle caps when Japan was still poor and devastated by World War II. He proposed it to a manufacturer as an adult in 1972.
His father, an English literature expert, was behind the name of the game, which was taken from Shakespeare’s play.
Since 1973, 24.75 million Othello sets have been shipped in Japan, not counting online and overseas sales, according to Tokyo-based MegaHouse Corp., which makes the game.
Hasegawa served as head of the Japan Othello Association, which promoted the game and hosted tournaments that drew players from around the world. Hasegawa had been looking forward to the 40th annual tournament, set for November.
Othello, which is similar to Go, is played by two players, one placing pieces with the black side up, the other with the white side up.
Each player places one piece at a time. If any pieces of one color get hemmed in by the other color, then all the pieces in between are turned over to become the color of the pieces at the ends. The goal is to get as many pieces of your color as possible.
“The beautiful contrast of the white and the black on a green board, the click-clicking sound of people placing the pieces, and the situation changing so suddenly like the magical world of Aladdin’s lamp,” was the way Hasegawa described the fun of playing Othello on his blog featured by the association.
One appeal of Othello is its simplicity, as many, including children, find it easier to play than chess or Go.
Hasegawa is survived by his wife Hideko, two sons and a daughter, and grandchildren. A funeral service was held Thursday.