It's no secret that Othello is one of the better abstract games out there, but from a playability point of view, it has two major flaws. The first is that ugly green board. Yuck! The second is that it gets rather repetitive... "I flip over this piece!" --"Well, now I flip it back!" --"Now I flip it back again, flip-flippy no flipbacks!" It's like two elementary school students squabbling over the remote control during duelling Dora the Explorer/Spongebob Squarepants marathons while stuffing oreos in their faces. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip.
I've come up with an interesting improvement on Othello, which I'm calling Schmothello (copyright reasons!), that overcomes both of these two drawbacks. The basic idea is to play the game on a wooden board (instead of the ugly green one), and instead of flipping over the enemy's pieces, to "imprison them", that is, take them off the board entirely. By "imprisoning" the pieces, it becomes impossible for the enemy to flip them back over again, avoiding most of the flipping tedium that mars the otherwise noble Othello (the boardgame, I mean, not the play).
Now, this slight tweak to the mechanics of the game requires some other rule changes to make it work, but as you'll see I have it all figured out.
Schmothello - A really excellent improvement on the game of Othello
Piece - One of the little half-black, half-white thingies that the players put down on their turn.
Pieces - More than one of those little half-black, half-white guys, but all of one color and all connected to across those little lines that divide the spaces. (Catty-corners doesn't count!)
Space - A square formed by the lines on the wooden board (remember, this is Schmothello, not Othello), coming together at right angles.
Imprisonment - The act of taking a piece that was on the board, off the board.
The players of Schmothello are Black and White. They take turns playing pieces with their own color face-up on the empty spaces of the board.
Unlike Othello, a play in Schmothello is not obligated to flip an enemy piece. There is no flipping in Schmothello. There is imprisoning instead. However, you are not obligated to imprison an enemy piece on every turn, either; if you did, the game would end very quickly. Because there is no obligation to flip or to imprison, a game of Schmothello starts with an empty board.
Since the pioneering work of Beccaria, we know that imprisonment is a harsh step that should not be taken lightly: "Every punishment that is not necessary is tyrannical." Since imprisonment in Schmothello is a more final step than flipping in Othello, it must be slightly more difficult to accomplish. Thus while in Othello one can flip an enemy piece when two empty spaces on either side of it are occupied, and a line of enemy pieces when the two empty spaces on either side of the line are occupied, in Schmothello you must occupy all four of the empty spaces surrounding a single enemy piece, or all of the empty spaces bordering a continuous mass of enemy pieces. Once the last empty space next to a piece or a group of pieces is played on, you can imprison it!
Now, this adds a little twist that may not be obvious: in Schmothello, you aren't limited to imprisoning pieces that are all in a straight line. They can be in any sort of shape.
The winner is the player who imprisons all of his opponent's pieces.
I have finally fixed the two major flaws in Othello. The rules may be a little rough right now, but I hope you guys can help me iron out anything I've overlooked.