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WANNA PLAY? JOIN THE CLUB

Who says games are just for kids? Gaming clubs across the Tampa Bay area offer cheap, fun entertainment for adults. And they require human interaction, a healthy distraction from thumb-numbing video games. Whether you like war games, mind games or just want to have some fun, here are a few places and clubs for getting your game on.

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Tampa Go Club

The board game Go has been around for more than 2,000 years and enjoys widespread popularity in East Asia. But around here, there's just one game in town. John Russell, a 28-year-old librarian, formed the Tampa Go Club nearly two years ago. The weekly meeting attract upwards of 15 people who play on three board sizes, the largest being the most difficult. Often compared to Chess and Backgammon, Go has simple rules but a high degree of strategy. Two players alternate turns by placing black or white stones on the board to amass the larger territory. The club has a core group of regulars but often gets drop-ins from USF who may have seen the game played in A Beautiful Mind, Pi and other movies. Tampa Go Club meets from 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays at the International Boba House and Internet Cafe, 2764 University Square Drive, Tampa. Go to tampabay-online.org/go/ or email goclubtampa@gmail.com.

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Anthem Games and Armada Games

We're lumping these two together because they pretty much specialize in the same thing: Warhammer, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons and other strategy/fantasy games. Anthem serves the east side of Tampa by the University of South Florida and Temple Terrace. Armada serves Citrus Park and places to the west in Pasco County. Supporters will debate the subtle merits of each all day long, but the bottom line is that both have cultlike followings, nightly gaming events and a large selection of board games anyone can play for free, from Settlers of Catan to Carcassone. Anthem has Magic tournaments on Friday nights, Warhammer 40K League night on Mondays and Yu-Gi-Oh games on Sunday afternoons. Armada has Warhammer 40K and Warmachine/Hordes games almost nightly. Both shops have a retail section and tables for playing board, card and tabletop miniature games. The play is quite competitive but beginners are welcome. For hours and a calendar of events, go to anthem-games.com or armadagames.com. Anthem is at 5305 Ehrlich Road, Tampa; Armada is at 10911 N 56th St., Temple Terrace.

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Grand Gamers of St. Petersburg

Craig Corlis divides his gaming club into two camps: Those who play party games such as Scattergories and Cranium and those who play German-style Eurogames such as Power Grid and 7 Wonders. About two dozen gamers attend the twice monthly meetups at the Globe Coffee Lounge in St. Pete. Members bring their favorite specialty games; the lounge supplies the basics, like Risk, chess and checkers. The selection reaches 100 games on any given night. Corlis, 31, of Largo, describes it as an inexpensive alternative to going to a movie or bar. Sessions often go well into the morning. A few people drink beer and wine but mostly they run on coffee and adrenaline. Grand Games meets every other Saturday from 5 p.m. to whenever they get tired at the Globe Coffee Lounge, 532 First Ave N, St. Pete. The next meetup is this Saturday. Go to grandgamers.org or email Craig Corlis at grandgamers@gmail.com.

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Tampa Bay Cubers

This club takes the Rubix Cube seriously. As in, to become a member, you've got to be able to solve the Cube. Your time doesn't matter, but here's a little perspective from organizer Hampton Black: His average is 1 minute, 10 seconds. The group meets occasionally at local restaurants to study different methods and practice finger techniques for turning the Cube as quickly as possible. In March, a few went to a tournament in Orlando, where the world's best solved the Cube blindfolded or with their feet. Mastering it involves eight steps, starting with a white cross, said Black, a 40-year-old aerospace design engineer from Tampa. "It's definitely a geeky type of toy but it sharpens your brain and it's fun.'' For information on meetups, contact Hampton Black at (561) 891-1803, email hampton@tbcubers.com or go to tbcubers.com. He also offers lessons.

- sthurston@tampabay.com

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