This week in second grade math, we continued focusing on strategic thinking while learning to play Othello (also sometimes known as Reversi).
Othello is a game played with colored chips. One player uses the white chips and one player uses the black chips. To make a move, you need to flank at least one of your opponent’s chips with two of your own. The chip(s) you have flanked then turn to your color.
We were focusing on a strategy we called “lose to win.” At the beginning of the game, players are often tempted to flip as many pieces of possible. They see that their color is dominating the board and feel assured that they will win. In reality, the best strategy is to focus on making sure you have multiple moves available to you. To do so, it usually makes the most sense to make small moves (where you flip only one or two pieces) rather than bigger moves (where you flip multiple pieces). I could hear the kids muttering “small moves, small moves” as they played.
When playing Othello, the corners are crucial because they are stable (they cannot be flipped to another color). We were also trying to pay attention to the corners and making sure not to make moves that allowed our opponents to capture the corners.
You can play Othello online here. The kids loved playing against the computer on the Smart Board. A group of kids came to my room to play Othello and Izzi at recess and they were so excited. They were jumping up and down and cheering when they beat the computer. It was a lovely way to spend a chilly afternoon.
There’s also an Othello app. You can find it here.