Kubb is fun. It is also a Swedish lawn game. It was invented by Vikings on the island of Gotland in Sweden. I discovered the game at a garden party in Hälsingland, Sweden in the year 2002. Håkan Karlsson was nice enough to give me a set. I brought the set back to the USA and started a club at my high school. I set up a website for the club on myspace. The club played kubb nearly every day during the lunch hour and every Friday after school. We played on grass, dirt, mud, sand, snow, ice, wooden floor, concrete, picnic table, and one time, by accident, a tree.
How to Say
Since kubb is a Swedish lawn game its name doesn’t obey English pronunciation. The name would be phonetically spelled “koob.” In other words kubb rhymes with the word “tube.”
Who Can Play?
Kubb does not require incredibly toned muscles, perfectly sculpted features, hard-won athleticism, or legs. It does
require one hand, a modicum of hand-eye coordination and patience. Kubb can be played by a 7 year old just as well as it can be played by a 77 year old.
How to Play
The official English rules are available here. Members of Twin Cities Kubb and the UW Madison Kubb Scouts like to play with their own house rules that are similar to the international rules with the following exceptions:
- After one of your baseline kubbs has been knocked down by an opposing team youmust “bowl” the recently-toppled kubb before your team can begin throwing dowels. You have 3 tries to bowl the kubb onto the opponent’s half of the field. If the bowled kubb lands in the opposing team’s half of the field then the bowled kubb is stood up where it lies. If you do not land your bowled kubb in your opponent’s half of the field within 3 tries then your opponent may place the kubb wherever they please, provided that they leave 1 dowel’s length between the kubb and the king (or the kubb and the corner stakes). You may stack kubbs by knocking over field or baseline kubbs on your opponent’s half of the pitch when you bowl. The stack of kubbs is raised where the targeted kubb lay before it was hit. A stack of kubbs can consist of any number of kubbs. Kubb stacks must be arranged so that they look like the capital letter “T” (or several “T”s stacked on top of one another). Only one kubb stack may be raised on the baseline. There is no limit to how many field kubb stacks you may have.
- After field kubbs are knocked over they are considered “dead” kubbs and are thrown off of the playing field.
- After a team knocks down the last kubb on an opponent’s side – be it a field kubb or a baseline kubb – they must end their turn and “fork” over any remaining dowels to the opposing team.
When tossing at the king, players must bend over and throw backwards between their legs.
- Hitting down a baseline kubb while there are still field kubbs on the opponent’s side of the field penalizes you by forcing you to end your turn and fork any remaining dowels over to the opposing team.
Where to play? / Current Status of Kubbdom
Currently my kubb efforts have graduated on to Twin Cities Kubb and the UW Madison Kubb Scouts. The organizations are based in Minneapolis, MN and Madison, WI, respectively. Both groups help coordinate fun kubb events between players. If you are looking to play kubb in either Minneapolis or Madison, you should join the appropriate Facebook group:
I currently administer the Twin Cities group when I am in town, but I am looking for someone else to act as an administrator year-round, or at least during the academic year.
Contact me on Facebook if you want to help out.
There are several regular kubb tournaments (Kubbaments) in this wide world. The World Championship takes place in Gotland annually. Eau Claire, WI hosts the Midwestern Regional Championship and the US Championship.