Othello is an abstract board game very popular in Japan, where it’s considered the younger brother of Go, the more famous game played on a similar board. As it usually happens with abstract, logic games, Japanese people are far better than the rest of the world. A matter of genetics, probably. Since 1977, every year a world championship is disputed and over a total of forty editions, thirty of them were won by a Japanese player. Including latest one, that took place in Prague in October. The difference, this time, is that the Japanese winner is a boy. His name is Keisuke Fukuchi and he’s only 11.
This was the first participation of Keisuke in the Othello world championship. He qualified just this summer, becoming Japan champion in August. At the world championship, he won 2 matches over 3 against Piyanat Aunchulee, champion of Thailand and experienced player who participated in all last 10 editions of the world championship, winning it in 2016. Keisuke Fukuchi is a fifth-grader from Kanagawa Prefecture and with his victory, he broke the record for youngest Othello world champion of all time.
A funny curiosity: when he flew back home with the whole Othello Japanese team, his flight was with All Nippon Airways Co. The airline knew about the presence of the national team of Othello in that flight, and decided to assign it to the pilot Kunihiko Tanida, who was the former holder of the record for youngest world champion of Othello: it was 1982 and he was 15, when he conquered the top of the world standings. Before taking off, Tanida announced at the microphone the presence of the new, young Othello world champion in that flight, and he was proud to highlight that he broke the record he’s been holding for more than 35 years.
Othello is known as the game for which you need “one minute to learn and one life to master”. Rules are very simple, and just 5 minutes after the explanation you can normally play a game without too many difficulties. But the strategy is very deep, the techniques are many and belongs to different degrees of mastery. In order to become a master, for sure you need a natural talent, but you also need to study positions, traps, patterns, heuristic. And then you need a lot of practice. For that reason, an 11-year-old world champion is something that shocked the whole Othello community, all over the world.