Marching Through March
Eau Claire, Wis., knows a thing or two about the lawn game kubb. Okay, it knows a lot about kubb. In fact, Eau Claire is the official “Kubb Capital of North America.” The city hosts the annual U.S. National Kubb Championships, set for July 2019, drawing upwards of 125 teams from all over the country. In case you wanted to know, the World Championship is held on an island of Sweden.
Not familiar with this sport of Viking roots? We can help.
Kubb is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them. The game has been described as a combination of bowling, horseshoes, and chess. Bit of trivia: It is also known as “Viking chess.”
So you won’t be shy about bringing up the game in sports conversations around the water cooler, here’s the correct pronunciation: koob. Rhymes with tube and rube.
In 2007, Eau Claire hosted the first promoted and official tournament in the U.S. Much of the thanks for that goes to our local tournament director, Eric Anderson. Eric and his wife visited Sweden in 2002 and that’s when he discovered the game of kubb. Once he got back to the U.S., he didn’t play. Anderson returned to Sweden a few years later to attend graduate school and was re-introduced to the Nordic lawn game. This time back in the U.S., Eric did a little research and learned there were no kubb tournaments in America. So, in 2007, Eric launched the Midwestern Kubb Championships and has never looked back.
You might say kubb is a culture unto itself in Eau Claire. Move over cornhole, here comes kubb. Interesting side note: In 2017, there were more than 30 tournaments in the U.S., with roughly one-third of those in Eau Claire.
Introduction to kubb starts young, with the game played as part of the phys-ed curriculum in grade schools and during the summer months through the parks & rec department. You can try your hand at it when you dine at The Lakely restaurant – they have a kubb court right outside. It’s not unusual to see pick-up games at the city’s music festivals such as Blue Ox and Eaux Claires. Along with the U.S. National Championships, there are kubb tournaments and events all year-long, including a winter series played on sand at The Complexx at Wagner’s Lanes.
Kubb is easy to play. Play with as many as six people and as little as one person per team. It might just be a perfect date night yard game. Check out the official rules here.
Depending on skill level, a match can last from 15 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer. There is no set time limit for a match.
The great thing about Kubb is that anyone can play. Literally anyone. All ages and skill sets.
It is not uncommon for teams competing in the U.S. National Kubb Championship to choose a fun, kubb-incorporated name. Some examples from the past include “Boyz in tha Kubb,” “California Rekubblic,” “IceKubbs,” “Strawberry Khubarb Pie,” “Rubik’s Kubbs,” “Tasteful Side Kubb” and “Ya, sure, kubbetcha!”
Kubb sets are available for purchase at The Local Store.
Kubb is played on a small rectangular field known as a pitch. Kubb should be played on a flat surface. You'll find a playing pitch at places like Brewing Projekt, Complexx and The Lakely. But remember, Kubb can be played on any flat surface! Read about additional top playing spots here.