About Ben Seeley

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So far Ben Seeley has created 6 blog entries.

January 2017

Are You New To The Othello Scene? These Free Resources Will Help You.

By |January 12th, 2017|

The best resource for learning comprehensive strategy is Brian Rose’s free Othello ebook-

The US Othello Association’s official website is (surprise! you’re here already!), it has some resources as well, including a blog (self-referentialism for the win!). Tournaments are usually listed on this domain.

There is also a Facebook group page for the USA Othello association located here:, we announce upcoming tournaments on that page as well. The Facebook page also has Othello puzzle posts which you may enjoy. Sometimes there are Othello lessons being organized there, too.

There is also a mailing list It is also a good way to potentially make new American or international Othello friends/connections.

Currently, the tournaments for 2017 have not been announced yet. However, there are usually three qualifying tournaments for the world championship — one in the west coast, one in the east coast, and one in the midwest. This year these tournaments will probably be in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.

If you Google “Reversi Wars” that is the most active game server for Othello. It doesn’t have any chat, but it does have guaranteed games against someone near your level of skill. It works best on Android or iOS devices, but also works on PC.

And if you want chat, the website > Reversi is the most active as far as good players are concerned.

Ben Seeley plays on both sites as “foompykatt”, he is a former American world champion. There are other strong American players active online as well.

If you want a strong program to play against and study games- Google for “wzebra” for Windows or “droidzebra” for Android. If you have a Mac, Google for Stephane Nicolet’s Cassio program.

If you want to study tournament games, the international databases are located here- (just use Google Translate to translate the page from French).

The ratings list of top active tournament players is located here:

The wikipedia page is located here:

Pisuke is a nice endgame trainer app on Google Play. Pisuke costs like $3, everything else I have mentioned is free.

The website has games from the history of the World Othello Championships.

The Japanese website has a daily Othello endgame puzzle, too, that is quite popular. If you use Google Translate it is easy to find the puzzle on the front page.

That should get you started, please ask if you have any further questions :).

December 2016

Should we try to rename the “Kung” and “No Kung” openings to “Kling” and “No Kling”?

By |December 20th, 2016|

The story I heard was that the “Kung” opening (F5 D6 C3 D3 C4 F4 F6 B4) was originally named “Kling”, after Arnold Kling, an Othello player in America. But a Russian guy who made the list of opening names which ended up getting popularized, misread “Kling” as “Kung”, and the openings became known as Kung and No Kung (F5 D6 C3 D3 C4 F4 F6 G5), even though there is no player named “Kung”.

Ideally this would have been fixed early on, but it hasn’t been. Should we make an effort now? We could change how we refer to the openings, etc., and try to contact those who use and run those lists, to fix the error. Or is it too cemented at this point?

I think an association with Arnold Kling is a very positive one. He used to run one of the most popular economics blogs in the world, for example.

And what do the Japanese players call these openings?

November 2016

Belated results of the Kanagawa Open

By |November 1st, 2016|

I placed 2nd out of 56 players. I think this was a good result, it was better than I was expecting. Yusuke Takanashi (surprise!) won the tournament with no losses at all. And I had a lot more discs than anyone else on 5 wins, but Takanashi had WAY more discs than I had, so his performance must have been quite dominating.

I really enjoyed meeting a lot of Japanese players again (Kyoko, Tiger Lady, Jo Nakano, Takashi Yamakawa, etc.), as well as plenty of the players visiting for WOC, like Ilya and Leonid Shifman, the Germans (including Matthias Berg’s Dad, who I hadn’t seen in 14 years!), Imre Leader, the Swedes, Brian and Yoko Rose, Takuji Kashiwabara, etc. I wonder if it’s the most non-Japanese players to ever play in a Japanese tournament?

I particularly enjoyed meeting Takeshi Murakami again. He has always been an inspirational figure to me, but now it’s just ridiculous. Who starts out amazing, gets a brain tumor and loses most of his voice (and all the other crap he had to put up with), and comes out even more amazing?!?!

I could say it’s not fair he got a brain tumor, but maybe what is really unfair is that hardly anyone has his spirit and character, and that is the real tragedy in this world.

-It was a whole entertainment value all in itself to play a tournament with 60+ people crammed in a tiny room. I am pretty sure in America the fire codes would not have allowed it! But I enjoyed the effect.

– My brain truly felt off during the tournament, which was part of why I was surprised to get the result I got. In one game at the end I spaced out on the order of discs I needed to flip, which was embarrassing even though it didn’t cost me the win. And in another game, after it was over I kept insisting that my opponent had gotten 28 discs rather than 27 discs. Finally I prevailed on him that he had gotten 28 discs, and filled out the form and turned it in. Then I checked LiveOthello and saw that my opponent had gotten 27 discs… and the position on the board matched, so apparently I also couldn’t count properly that day, either.

-Even more surprising: my average error rate during the games was actually the lowest it has ever been in a tournament. It was probably just luck, since it was only 6 games it’s hard to say, but I’m hoping it was more than just luck. And my midgames were bad, but it seemed to force me to play really good moves after that (partly by narrowing my choices), so my endgames were good enough to make up for the bad midgames.

-In the game I lost, to Masaya Kasai (ruru), he literally played a perfect game, until the end of the game when he gave two discs to me, who was but a humble Othello beggar at that point. It’s kind of hard to beat perfect play, so… And I am quite sure that has literally never happened to me before in a tournament, so my hat’s off to him.

And after the game there was some nice analysis from Takashi Yamakawa, Takanashi, and Kasai. And Kasai did some moves which were the only winning moves, which none of the rest of us thought were right, so he was quite brilliant in that game.

Oh, I heard something funny Imre said when I was taking this photo, I simply must share it:


“When I was your age we didn’t have written language, and even worse we didn’t have Othello. Be grateful to your elders for what they created for you, young punk.” (That Fukuchi kid is amazing in Othello, and we all know how amazing Imre is in every aspect!)

September 2016

A discussion of a midgame position, with Edmund Yiu

By |September 19th, 2016|

Edmund Yiu and I had a discussion a while back in Google Docs about a position that interested him. I’m lazy but occasionally creative, so I finally realized I could just post a link to the Google Doc, and then you guys can read the discussion-article in Google Docs.

By the way, Google Docs can be an awesome resource for co-writing things, or turning live discussions into articles straightaway, and that kind of thing, and it’s easy to insert pictures.





When your subconscious is being mean to you…

By |September 18th, 2016|


So, last night I dreamt that I lost to Yusuke Takanashi 4 times during the WOC. And I wasn’t very happy about it, too.

And when I woke up I was like “that’s crazy, it isn’t even possible to lose to Takanashi 4 times in the WOC, I can only lose 3 times maximum”.

But then I remembered that I signed up for the 10×10 WOC as well, which Takanashi is also playing in. So I actually can lose to Takanashi 4 times.

So, wow, my subconscious is A) smarter than me, and B) being mean to me :).

As for why I chose the 10×10 WOC instead of Octagon (assuming they won’t let me play in both tournaments), well first of all, the responses I got when asking which tournament I should play in were remarkably 50/50, so overall you guys were no help at all :). But it was fun to hear people’s reasoning and all the discussion and stuff!

But then I saw that the info on who was playing in the tournaments got updated, and I saw there was a Murderer’s Row of Japanese players in the 10×10 tournament, and so as a tiebreaker of course I had to choose that one :).

I mean, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to go up against:
Makoto Suekuni
Yusuke Takanashi
Hiroshi Goto
Tetsuya Nakajima (who I think is especially strong in 10×10 and other Othello variants)
… and all the other strong non-Japanese players in that tournament? 🙂

Clearly my subconscious is on to something- I am a sucker for punishment!!

My Self-Assessment for the 2016 World Othello Championship

By |September 9th, 2016|

In some past years I had projections for other players but this year I think it’s the least I’ve ever known about other players so I’m going in partially blind.

But I know myself pretty well at this point so I figured maybe that’s an interesting topic for some people who want the latest gossip. And since I’ve got some of the best gossip on me- here is some personal gossip!

To start with I think this is the least seriously I am taking any world championship I have played in yet. This is mostly because after last year and a couple of other previous World Championships I realized how much it does ruin a lot of the fun of the world championship to take it super-seriously (duh). It ruined the fun even to the point where, even if I had won the WOC last year, I think I would have regretted having taken the tournament so seriously.

And don’t get me wrong, I still had a lot of fun in last year’s WOC, even with getting sick layered into my experience! But I realized I never wanted to have that experience again.

And last year was definitely the worst kind of year in which to take the WOC seriously and make a big cognitive investment in anything.

I had a concussion in August last year, and from what I learned from talking with a family member who is a sports medicine doctor, I really shouldn’t have been using my brain hard at all after the concussion. I should have mainly rested, and not done much to “push” my brain, which is apparently a real problem in recovery. Weirdly, it was only after I got fully sick right after the WOC, and was forced to do massive resting, that once I was through with that I suddenly felt the sharpness I had been missing for a long time before the WOC. I just hadn’t been able to put my finger on what was missing in my brain, until some of it came back to me.

Back on the topic of fun: I think the best WOC I had performance-wise since 2004 was in 2014 and before that tournament I didn’t take it very seriously at all- because I was in Thailand and having a lot of fun going to the beach, getting sunburned messing around in the hotel pool, going to a water park, etc.

LOL, I just noticed those were all ways to have fun with water. Maybe that is the secret to WOC success for me ~.~. But I did have other kinds of fun in Thailand, like going to ride an elephant with Marcus Fronmark, who was an awesome person to adventure with.

And I didn’t even get very much sleep before the 2014 WOC either, nor much sleep during the tournament, nor had I done much preparation, but I had a wonderful time during the tournament and I also played surprisingly well. I feel like being in the groove of having fun gave me more energy for the tournament.

So really, I would rather try to replicate that experience so that even if I bomb I will be pleased with my trip.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t do anything, or won’t make any effort at all for this WOC! It’s just that the only kind of preparation I will do this year is anything which I actually enjoy doing. And it remains to be seen how much effort that will turn out to be, but at least I have some new ideas to try. (This is one of my better features, I always have new ideas about things.)

But the good news is that I’ve recovered from the concussion and I’m getting the best sleep I’ve gotten in 20 years, so I think my baseline capacity to play well is better than last year, which could be worth a lot in and of itself.

And I think I’ve lost a fair amount of weight this year. And I went along with losing weight, partly because I noticed that it seems like almost all of the world champions are surprisingly skinny.

And to a certain extent I don’t even think I fully understand why that would be. Maybe it’s just that skinny people are usually younger people and younger brains are usually faster brains, which have more motivation and stamina.

And from what I understand body fat actually has a lot of health benefits, especially when it comes to the nervous system. Like- people who are overweight are less likely to get Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurological disorders. And overweight people are less likely to die of cancer and some other forms of stress. Fat can be a great resource, actually, especially for the nervous system! We should always have at least a little bit of body fat.

However, since losing weight I would swear that my brain seems a lot faster, and it seems easier to concentrate. And maybe it’s just as simple as the nervous system having less stuff to process when the body has less stuff in it, so it can focus more on Othello.

But anyway, my goal this year is to get third place or better. (Although if I get 4th place I think it will complete my collection of having at least once gotten all the places between 1st place and I think 7th place).

Of course I most want to win, but I think I should try being realistic and see what happens if I am more realistic.I don’t think I’ve been realistic for the World Championships since 2004, and I think the lack of realism mostly hurt my chances to do well.

And actually I think the biggest challenge I have is that I don’t have the advantages which the top Japanese players have.

-They can play in a lot of tournaments

-They have a tremendous amount of high quality Othello material to read

-And they are in a culture which motivates them to do their best in Othello, and the Japanese culture presents larger rewards for doing well, than any other country on Earth

And this ties into one of my theories about intelligence: I think that past a certain point of baseline intelligence, any appearance of increased intelligence is really just seeing the signs of stronger motivation.

I got this idea partly from personal experience, but also from this article I read about intelligence and about how difficult it is to increase intelligence. It’s a lot harder to increase intelligence than it is to increase any kind of athletic performance, and that is really interesting, isn’t it? (You can read the article here, which is interesting in all kinds of ways (I also recommend pretty much anything gwern writes on his website or elsewhere, he’s a very thorough researcher and a writer who definitely tries to be fair to the truth):

I have never observed anything that made a significant long-term difference to my own intelligence, unless it affected a massive portion of my overall organism. Only things like significantly improved sleep, or a major chance in body composition, or significantly inceased physical exercise, etc., seem to make a noticeable long-term difference in my mental sharpness.

Anyways: so I think that the Japanese players have a large advantage over the rest of us, because of all the better resources and better sources of motivation which I think they have. I have to do a lot of things on my own (finding motivation, teaching myself, etc.), which they can get from their cultural environment.

And of course the top Japanese players would be amazing no matter what, but I’m frankly quite satisfied with my performance relative to theirs, given the fact that we can’t:

  1. Easily get a lot of tournament experience
  2. Nor do we have very much great raw Othello material to read (at least we have Brian Rose’s book!)
  3. Nor are there a huge number of top players that we can talk about Othello with in English, or our other non-Japanese language.
  4. Nor are there major cultural or financial rewards for us to play our best, to the level seen in Japan.

I even used to consider moving to Japan just so I could play in a lot of tournaments. And maybe I should have learned Japanese just so I could read a lot of the Othello resource materials which the Japanese have.

And I think it’s 100% to the credit of the Japanese Othello community that they have built up such a phenomenal Othello culture. They should be extremely proud of that.

I honestly think that basically every time a Japanese player has won the World Othello Championship in recent years, first and foremost they probably should have thanked all of the people who contributed to the strong Othello culture in Japan. Because all those people- who usually never win any major titles themselves- those other people made it easier for the people at the top to succeed.

Back to the topic of intelligence and motivation: I think my real talent is probably not so much some form of intelligence which is independent of motivation- I think it’s actually the talent of finding most aspects of competitive Othello to be interesting and naturally motivating.

And then once that baseline interest level and drive is there, it’s very easy for the rest of my brain to get aligned with doing a great job with Othello.

And if there’s enough baseline pleasure experienced, then it becomes very very easy to do a lot of things which *appear* to be a form of hard work, but they don’t feel hard at all because of how pleasurable they are.

So like, even when I say I’m “only going to do the training and preparation for the WOC which is fun for me”, I will almost certainly still end up doing a lot more “work” than most of the players who really are straining hard to improve their level of play. Because so much of it has always been fun for me!

And I think this principle is generally true in life as well. When someone has a knack for experiencing pleasure and motivation with something, they will very quickly appear to be talented and hard-working at it, even though in many cases it’s closer to a compulsion than an effort of will.

And actually the biggest thing that I would wish for, if I wanted to be a lot better at Othello, is that I would wish to be 15 years younger, because young men in particular are known for being much more motivated and obsessive about things. I certainly was, as a younger man!

I don’t think my fundamental cognitive capacity is any less than it was when I was younger, but my natural obsessive drive is definitely less than it was back then.