If your favorite board game involves "Mr. Mustard in the kitchen with the wrench," the game of Go might appear utterly simple to you. Round black and white stones on a grid. Capture the opposing stone by surrounding it with your own. Anyone can do that, right? But this 4,000-year-old game is seriously complex. With an enormous worldwide following, Go is played in gambling parlors and can even be seen in an anime cartoon (Hikaru No Go). This week, professionals and raw novices will partake in this ancient phenomenon at the 19th U.S. Go Congress, the largest American gathering of Go players. The congress offers lessons, seminars, variations on the game (including Crazy Go!) and world-class tournaments like the U.S. Go Open.
Curious? Here's a kicker. Unlike chess, which has seen grand masters beaten by Deep Blue, playing Go on a computer is "at best a mid-level amateur challenge," says Chris Sutter of the Go Congress. All events will be held Saturday, August 2, to August 10 at the University of Houston's University Center, 4800 Calhoun Road. For information and a schedule, call 281-744-8616 or "go" to www.houstongoclub.org. $40 per day; $220 for the week; free for folks 17 and under. -- Eric Norvell
In 2002, Mayor Brown named Lee Labrada Houston's Fitness Czar as part of his effort to help this queso-and-barbecue-eatin' town get healthy. Now Labrada, a bodybuilding legend and former Mr. Universe, presents exemplars of physical perfection with the Labrada Physique Tournament. The event highlights massively and perfectly built men and women, but is "more a variety show," says Christina Trippodo of Lee's company Labrada Nutrition. Labrada himself will appear along with guest posers Gunter Schlierkam and Toney Freeman. Hosts are bodybuilder Keith Klein and news anchor Dominique Sachsa. And Planet Funk will perform "hip-hop and funk aerobics" to keep the crowd pumped! Pre-judging: 9 a.m. ($8 admission). Main judging: 7 p.m. to midnight ($15 to $30). Saturday, August 2. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Convention Center Boulevard. For information, call 1-800-832-9948 or visit www.labrada.com. -- Eric Norvell