Friday, July 15, 2011

Othello Memories

Both of these recollections referring to the game so don’t expect any Shakespeare. For those of you who don’t know the game, it involves a board full of squares and playing pieces that are black on one side and white on the other. One player is black, the other white, and the object is to turn as many pieces of your opponent’s your colour as possible.

Both of these happened in the same time period, late 1992. For a while I was really into the game and was playing people in dorms. One player had lost to me a few times but this time was winning, very close to winning in fact. I was running out of moves. Finally I tried a tactic that normally would be a bad idea (it’s been so long ago that I can’t describe the tactic, unfortunately). Bizarrely from then on in the game I was able to make it so my opponent either couldn’t make any moves or only have one move, which would be beneficial to me of course. So I won a game that I really should have lost. He played better than me; I got lucky.

Feeling like hot stuff from beating people all the time I was beginning to feel like hot stuff. But then I went home for Christmas and played Othello on my Atari 2600 game system. If you don’t know, the Atari 2600 was one of the old home video game systems, with primitive graphics. In fact Atari’s game pieces where squares instead of the circles they should have been (actually in this instance they probably had the tech to make circles if they really wanted to; other games’ graphics, while limited, could create , say, a passable Popeye for that game). Even in 1992 the Atari 2600 was considered very obsolete. So the number of moves that an Othello game cartridge could be programmed with was probably limited. Despite this, when I played the Atari Othello on the intermediate level, the game system proceeded to soundly defeat me. This Atari game cartridge had shown me my true place in the universe as an Othello player.

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