The game of Kubb (pronounced koob) is an increasingly popular lawn game said to have originated over 1,000 years ago in Scandinavia. Though the game is as simple as tossing wood dowels to knock over wood blocks, kubb—also known as Viking Chess—is the type of game that can change even the most mild-mannered person into an uber-competitive, raving smack-talker.
Kubb is everything every good lawn game should have: a little strategy, precision, and the ability to play with your favorite beverage in hand. These days Kubb has expanded beyond its “lawn game” status with the creation of an international circuit including the U.S. Championships in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the Australian Championship in Bremlea, Victoria, and the World Championship on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
Even if you’re not ready to go professional, one thing is certain: Kubb is a fun, inexpensive, and easy-to-make game, best played with friends and a beer in hand.
How to Play
Kubb is played with two teams of one, two, three, or six people. The goal of the game is be the first to knock down the opposing team’s kubbs (Swedish for “wood block”), which are set up along the baselines of the 5 meter wide by 8 meter long playing field, and the King kubb in the dead-center of the playing field.
Each team takes turns throwing six batons underhand, end over end to knock over their opponents baseline kubbs. At the end of the throwing phase of a team’s turn, any baseline kubbs knocked over by the throwing team (Team A) are tossed by the opposing team (Team B) onto Team A’s half of the playing field. These “field kubbs” are stood upright where they land and must be knocked over first by Team B during their throwing turn before they can begin targeting Team A’s baseline kubbs and then the King kubb.
Similar to serving in tennis, if the baseline kubb thrown by Team B lands outside of the playing field or doesn’t make it past the center line, fault is called and Team B has one more chance to throw the kubb into Team’s A half of the field. If the Team B commits a double fault, Team A can place the kubb anywhere in their half of the field that is at least one baton length from the King kubb or a corner marker.
Much like in 8 Ball pool where the 8 ball is the last ball to be pocketed, the King kubb can only be knocked over by a throwing team once all field kubbs are cleared and all of their opponent’s baseline kubbs are knocked over. The first team to knock over the King kubb claims victory and can send the losing team to the cooler to get more beer. To victors go the spoils, indeed!
For the full set of rules, visit USA Kubb’s website. Continue to page 2 to learn how to make your own kubb set.
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