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Kubb, a Swedish yard game, goes all the way back to the Vikings. With growing popularity, this game, also known as “Viking Chess” is slowly but surely conquering the United States, just like the actually Vikings did in northern Europe centuries ago. For those who are wondering just what the hype is, we’re here to tell you all about kubb, how to get a kubb set up, and how to find a local kubb tournament near you.
Kubb has been around for more than a thousand years, and due to very scant records from this time, there is some dispute as to how the game was originally thought up. Some claim fantastical origins of this game, with the most pervasive story claiming that originally kubb was a lawn game made with the skull and bones of Viking-pillaged villages. While this story is violent and exciting, it’s probably not true. The other, more credible, version details Scandinavian woodcutters or children gathering wood using extra wood chips to make a game to pass the time. But whichever origin story appeals to you more, what matters is that the game of Kubb persisted in Sweden through the centuries, particularly on the island of Gotland.
Gotland is an island situated off the southeastern coast of Sweden, and is the current location of the annual Kubb World Championships. However, you don’t have to go to Sweden to check out this lawn game. Throughout the United States, there are multiple kubb groups and tournaments to check out, and you can even learn how to play the game, order your own set, and start up your own group in your local area!
Kubb in the USA
While Kubb has been around in Europe for about a millennium, Kubb has just started to catch on in the United states in the past couple decades. While it is relatively young in the Western Hemisphere, it is catching on quickly. The first US Kubb National Championship was in 2007, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with just 15 teams. Just eight years later, in 2015, they boasted 108 teams (for 2016’s tournament, 116 are signed up). This kubb tournament--and other kubb tournaments--are so family friendly, they even have a Kid Kubb tournament so that the whole family can get involved.
The best part about kubb is that you can play it on just about any somewhat level surface. Whether it is a lawn, gravel driveway, sandy beach, or cemented blacktop near your house, you just need the right wood pieces to make up your kubb set. While some might want to make your own kubb set, the ease of online ordering is also available. No matter how you get your set, the things you need are:
- 1 King
- 10 Kubbs/”Skulls” (about half the height of the king block)
- 6 Border Stakes
- 6 Batons/”Femurs”
First, find a relatively flat, rectangular area to play on. Then use four of the border stakes to define the four corners of the pitch. On the long ends of the rectangle, put the last two border stakes in the the middle. Between the middle two border stakes, place the King. Then on the short ends on each side of the rectangular pitch, place 5 kubbs equally apart between the two border stakes. Now that you have your kubb pitch set up, you are ready to play!
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How to Play
There are two teams, and each team can have from 1 to 6 players (which makes this game great for parties of all sizes!) The basic objective is to win by knocking down all of your opponent’s Kubbs, and then finally knocking down the King that is placed in the middle. Each team attempts to do this by taking their turn by throwing the batons underhanded at the other team’s Kubbs. To learn all the specific rules of the game, we’d need to just take you to a Kubb pitch and demonstrate the game. Luckily, however, we found a wonderful video that not only explains the rules in detail, but also shows a demonstration game as an example of how to play.
So what are you waiting for?! With summer in full swing, the weather is perfect for your new favorite yard game--kubb. Just grab a kubb set, learn the rules, and start playing. You’ll be able to teach your friends and family, and have a great yard game to play all year long!