St. Petersburg Go Club
The gist: In this ancient Asian board game, two players claim territory by alternately placing black or white stones on a grid. The player with the most territory, or points, wins. A handicapping system allows unevenly matched players to compete. "It's really simple and it's extremely difficult at the same time," says Michael Novilla. "It's kind of like martial arts, where you can practice your whole life and never master it."
Come out and play: Mondays from 4 to 10 p.m. at Nova 535 art lounge, 535 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Winner gets bragging rights. Call Novilla at (727) 415-1332 or visit stpetersburggoclub.com.
Online games may come in handy when you're at work, but there's no substitute for laying the smack down in person. Here in Tampa Bay, there are dozens of game groups that meet in restaurants, parks and private homes. Whether you're into Boggle or bunco, Monopoly or mah-jongg, go to Meetup.com to connect with other enthusiasts. To get you started, here are three clubs that welcome the public, regardless of if you're a serious playa or just looking for a new hobby. — Dalia Colón [email protected]
Tampa Bay Backgammon Club
The gist: Two players each have 15 checkers, which they arrange on a board of 24 narrow triangles, or points. Players roll a pair of dice to determine how many points they may move their checkers. The object is to move all your checkers onto your side of the board and then bear them off. "The reason why the game is so popular is because it's a combination of both skill and a little bit of luck. It's not like chess where it's all skill, but it's not all luck, either, like crapshoot," says club organizer Dimitur Alipiev. "A wise man once said that backgammon is a game that takes minutes to learn and years to master."
Come out and play: Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Macedonia Society of Florida, 1895 Virginia Ave., Clearwater. Free. Winner gets bragging rights. B.Y.O. board or use one of theirs. This Saturday, there's a tournament starting at 1 p.m.. The entry fee is $10; the number of participants will determine the cash prizes for first, second and third place. For info, call Alipiev at (727) 743-0500 or visit tampabaybackgammon.com.
Tampa Bay Area Scrabble Club
The gist: Each player has seven letter tiles at any given time. Each letter has a point value, and players score points by connecting new words to the letters already on the board to make a giant crossword. You may also add a prefix or suffix to an existing word. The object is to make high-value words and be left with no tiles at end of the game. The club uses The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and more risque Official Tournament and Club Word List. "The F-word would be in here. You can put an -ed on it, an -ing," says club co-director Joan Knobelsdorf. "If the F-word was on there, you could put mother in front of it."
Come out and play: Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Greater Palm Harbor YMCA, 1600 16th St., Palm Harbor. They play six games, starting at the top of the hour. Drop in for a little while or stay all day. First time is free, then $3 per session. Winner gets a small prize such as a dollar coin or lottery ticket. Call Knobelsdorf at (727) 785-1823 or go to mysite.verizon.net/res1gd4g/tampabayareascrabbleclub.