Kubb: A Game For Everyone

Memorial Day Weekend is often called the start of summer. (Although I believe with the recent heat wave our summer was already started. Did you see spring? I think we missed spring!)

I know in Minnesota and the surrounding states residents try to spend as much time as possible outdoors because in the cold dark winters (sorry to mention it) we spend so much time indoors. If you are looking for a new outdoor activity that is easy to do and is inclusive of everyone from young to old and fit to well not-so-fit we suggest Kubb.

Kubb (rhymes with lube) is a lawn game where the objective is to knock over wooden blocks (kubbs) by throwing wooden batons (kastpinnar) at them. Kubb is often described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. You can watch the “pros” play the 2017 U.S. National Kubb Championship Finals:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SvZcIWsRUA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The claimed Viking origin of the game has led some players and Kubb fans to nickname the game “Viking chess.”

An illustrator’s impression of the island of Gotland

With the game dating back to the Viking Age it’s been claimed that it has survived since then on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island.

The earliest mention of a kubb-like game comes from the second edition of the Swedish Encyclopedia “Nordisk familjebok” (the Nordic family book) in 1911. In this book it is called “Kägelkrig” (Skittles war) and is described as a variation of Skittles (the game not the candy) and played with a ball.

The game in its modern conception became popular in the late 1980s when commercial Kubb sets were first manufactured.

Play takes place on a small rectangular playing field, known as a “pitch.” “Kubbs” are placed at both ends of the pitch, and the “king,” a larger wooden block, is placed in the middle of the pitch. Some rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate objective of the game is to knock over the “kubbs” on the opposing side of the pitch, and then to knock over the “king,” before the opponent does. Games can last from five minutes to well over an hour. The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as grass, sand, concrete, snow, or even ice.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfWt0-_MNsY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Kubb is now an international game and an annual World Championship has been held since 1995 on Gotland. Kubb tournaments now occur throughout Europe and the United States of America.

On December 13, 2011, Eau Claire, Wisconsin declared itself to be the Kubb Capital of North America. An annual U.S. National Kubb Championship has been held there since 2007. You can find out more about the championship and Kubb United here.

During Open Streets in July, Ingebretsen’s often features Kubb with the thanks of the Minnesota Kubb Club. You can connect with them on Facebook or their website.

Ready to get your Kubb on? Get your Kubb set at Ingebretsen’s. It is made in Minnesota and includes the rules.