I gave my husband a surprise birthday party this past Saturday and 25 people showed up. Many cancelled due to the weather report predicting rain, but it only rained mid morning, clearing up by late morning and it was a lovely day.
Ron is in the red colored shirt with designs on, standing in the middle in the first picture on the left.
There is something that perks one’s insides up when connecting with old friends in casual, but meaningful conversations. This group was interesting in that people were from varying backgrounds and at different stages in their lives.
It warmed both Ron, my husband and my souls to have these important and vital connections as we both are relational persons. It is so refreshing when you can speak to others in a relaxed mode, as their has been a basic foundation of trusted respect developed over the years with each individual who came to celebrate Ron’s 65th birthday.
I know I felt a ripple of joy in my spirit, an enthusiastic welcoming, and an endeared heart as I spoke to each one who came.
Ron’s brother set up Kubb, a game we all have come to join in playing, as it is played in teams and set up in measured distance of a court like appearance, with the teams lined up at each end of this court.
Kubb is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them. Kubb (the vowel is pronounced similar to the “oo” in “boob”) means “wooden block” in Gutnish, a Swedish dialect. Kubb can be quickly described as a combination of bowling, horseshoes, and chess.
You would really have to play in order to understand how much fun this game can be. We have regular tournaments twice a year (May & Oct) in my brother-in-law’s town, Syracuse, NY, part of the Upstate Region.
We gather together, friends and family, each bringing a dish to share, lawn chairs, and appropriate weather clothing. We sit, we talk, we laugh, we have fun! And then we eat, all through the day as this gathering is finished when the last people leave, which is usually my husband and myself at around 9 pm as it is an hour drive back to our home, also in Upstate NY, but the southern region.
The winner is then crowned with an original Viking Horned hat and we make it rather a festive crowning, videoing it and splattering it all over social media. The winner then has to keep the victory crown for one whole year. The official game begins in May when the winner is crowned and they have to return the following May to surrender this Viking Crown to the new winner! Rather lots of fun this it too!
We each have our own individual sets of this game as it can all be made from some simple wood working tools. You can make plain ones to fancy ones. I have copied the Kubb court and how it is to be marked out and instructions on how to play this unique game.
Equipment, Preparation and Terminology
The equipment consists of 10 small skittles (kubbs), one larger skittles (the king) and 6 throwing sticks. Sometimes 4 small corner stakes are also included to mark out the court. The best playing surfaces are grass or gravel.
To begin, the playing court should be marked out. There is no standard size but here are 3 sizes that are often used:
- 10 x 8m (33 x 26 feet)
- 10 x 5 m (33 x 26 feet
- 8 x 5 m (26 x 16 feet)
The most common size and the size used in the Kubb World Championships is 8 x 5m but this may make the game too difficult for beginners and children. Masters Traditional Games recommends using the following size to begin with – if you find it too easy, then increase the size. Younger children should perhaps start at 5 x 2 m.
6 x 3 m (20 x 10 feet)
The lines at either end of the court are called the “Baselines”. The imaginary line parallel with the baselines through the middle of the court will be referred to as the “Middle Line”.
Place the king in the centre of the playing field, with 5 kubbs placed at regular intervals along each baseline – one at either end, one in the middle and the remaining two equi-distant between the first three.
Kubb is played by one team against another. A good number in each team is 1 or 2 players. However, for informal games, it really doesn’t matter – up to 6 players can be in a team and it’s even OK to have more people in one team than the other!
Kubbs standing in their starting position on the baseline are called “Baseline Kubbs”. As part of the game, Kubbs are thrown into the middle of the playing field and are erected where they end up. These Kubbs are then called “Field Kubbs”.
Sticks must always be thrown vertically and underarm. “Helicopter” throws are not allowed!
To decide which team starts, one person from each team throws a stick as close to the king as possible, but without hitting it. The team with the stick closest to the king starts.
For the first turn only, 4 sticks (not 6) are thrown from behind the baseline at the opponent’s baseline Kubbs.
Second and Subsequent Turns
Each turn (except the first) consists of potentially 4 phases.
When throwing at Kubbs, sticks must be thrown from behind the “throwing line” which just means from behind the Field Kubb closest to the opponent’s side.
Put more technically, the Throwing Line is a line parallel with the baseline that passes through the nearest Kubb to the Middle Line on the player’s side. Obviously, if there are no field Kubbs (because the opponents managed to topple every field Kubb during their turn), then the nearest Kubb to the King is on the baseline and so the throwing line IS the baseline.
Phase 1 – Throwing the Kubbs
Players collect any Kubbs that were knocked over during the opponent’s turn. These Kubbs are then thrown from the baseline into the opponents half of the court.
If a Kubb comes to rest outside the opponent’s half of the court, players have one more chance to get it right – it must be retrieved and thrown again. If a Kubb fails to land in the required area for a second time, then the opponents can place the miscreant Kubb anywhere they like on their side of the court, although it must be at least one stick length away from the King.
In doing this, players are usually aiming to make the Kubbs land just beyond the middle line because the nearer the Kubbs are, the easier they are to topple in the next phase of the turn.
Phase 2 – Field Kubbs
The next phase is to throw sticks at the opponents field Kubbs – i.e. the Kubbs that are not on the baseline. Players must throw from behind the Throwing Line (see above).
If a baseline Kubb is toppled before all the field Kubbs have been toppled, then the baseline Kubb is immediately returned to an upright position.
It is imperative that all Field Kubbs are toppled because otherwise, the opponents will be able to throw from a much closer point (behind the nearest Field Kubb instead of the Baseline) during their next turn. For that reason, a good strategy is to aim at the nearest Kubbs first – so that if any Field Kubbs are not toppled, at least the opponents will be as far away as possible.
Phase 3 – Baseline Kubbs
If there are any sticks left over once all the field Kubbs in the opponents half have been toppled, the players then aim at the Kubbs on the baseline. Players must continue to throw from behind the Throwing Line (see above).
Phase 4 – The King
If there are any sticks left over once all the Kubbs (field and baseline) on the opponents side have been toppled, then players may aim at the King. When throwing at the King, players must throw from behind the baseline.
When the team has thrown its 6 sticks, the turn passes back to the first team, and the entire procedure is repeated.
If the King is knocked over by a thrown Kubb or by a stick before all the Kubbs on the opponent’s side have been toppled, then the team that knocked it over loses and their opponents have won.
Otherwise, the game is won by the team that first topples all the sticks on the opponents half of the court and then topples the King from behind the baseline.
If the king is knocked over before all the kubbs have been knocked over, the opposing (non-throwing) team wins.
There are variants to this game that come into play during certain events when playing and you can google them if you are interested.
We all look forward to these events and this adds a special joy in our hearts to once again gather together, celebrating life, one another and enter into meaningful and engaging conversations.
We all encourage everyone to bring new people and we are a group in flux adding some, losing others, but continuing on in this journey in life, stopping to rest a bit in the midst to enjoy the fellowship of friends.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of information about Kubb.