Kubb (pronounced koob) is a game played outdoors, on a lawn or at the beach – or in the snow! It’s like horseshoes, bocce ball and chess all wrapped into one game. The name apparently comes from Kubbspel, a Swedish word that means “throwing wood”. I’d never heard of it before until yesterday – when I was searching the Internet for ideas on games to play at our upcoming Nordic Lodge Sommerfest/annual picnic – but the game is apparently well over 1000 years old, and its popularity is growing both in the U.S. and Europe. In fact, a World Competition is held yearly on the island of Gotland in Sweden which draws over 200 6-person teams, attesting to its universal appeal.
The actual origin of Kubb is a little unclear, but most sources seem to agree that the game was originally played by the Vikings (the game is also sometimes referred to as Viking Chess or Viking Kubb). The game can be seen as a symbolized battlefield: two armies with five (or more) soldiers fight against each other for the glory of their king. Game pieces are one Kung (King), ten kubb (blocks of wood), six Kastpinnar (casting pins, throwing sticks), and four (4) Hornpinnar (corner pins/markers). It is played on an level field or open area 5-15 wide and 15-30 feet long, as defined by four corner pins, and can be played by 2-12 players of virtually any age over 5. The aim of the game is for one team to knock over the King after having knocked over all the Kubbs on the opposing side of the field. Should a team knock over the King before knocking over all the opposing Kubbs, they lose. Good sets of rules can be found easily on many different websites by Googling “kubb” and “rules”. The wooden pieces needed to play the game are sold commercially (just google ‘kubb’ again), or one can make their own set in just a few hours! I found instructions for doing the latter on an internet site, and it sure does look pretty easy to do.
Bottom line… it looks like lots of fun!
Note: Images are from from a Wikipedia article about Kubb