A Newcomers Guide to Kubb…AKA “Viking Chess”

Since we announced The Yard a couple of weeks ago, we’ve gotten a lot of questions.  Although some of you have asked about the axe throwing, a lot of you have inquired about the other, lesser-known games that The Yard will have to offer.  So this blog post will be the first in a series as we fill you in on what to anticipate when we open a few short months…

Kubb (pronounced koob), Also Known as “Viking Chess”

According to some sources, Kubb originated in Sweden in the 1930s before exploding in popularity there in the 1990s and then crossing the Atlantic and gaining a foothold in the States in the early 2000s.  But, we here at the The Yard prefer the alternative (and unverifiable) retelling.

As the legend goes, vikings invented Kubb in the 8th or 9th centuries, playing the game with the skulls and femurs of their enemies. At the Yard, though, we use the wooden version…

As that tale goes, Kubb originated with the Vikings sometime during the 8th or 9th  centuries and, as legend would have it, the game was first played using the skulls and femurs of conquered Viking enemies. 

Fear not.  At The Yard, the game will be played with 10 Kubbs (derived from the Swedish term “vedkubbar,” which means “wooden blocks.”), 6 batons and a single King; all made of wood (we promise!). 

The Kubb King

The game is relatively simple and needs no athletic prowess. Two teams of 2 to 6 players per side compete to first knock down all their opponents’ five Kubbs, and then the King. Basically, the idea is to knock down big pieces of wood by tossing smaller pieces of wood; in practice, however, Kubb is a team-building game of skill, strategy and a little luck. 

At The Yard, the game will be played across the expanse of our lawn area, with each team stationed at their respective end and the King in its position in the middle.  The team tossing a baton nearest the King without touching goes first, and the objective is then to knock down the five Kubbs at the baseline near your opponents’ feet using the six batons.  The baseline Kubbs knocked down by Team A are then tossed back onto Team A’s side by Team B, where they will be stood back up as “field Kubbs.” Team B then proceeds by first knocking down (and thus removing from the game) the field Kubbs placed on its own side and then by knocking down some baseline Kubbs on Team A’s end line, which will then be tossed back to Team B’s side and stood up as a new set of field Kubbs.  The game continues in this way until one Team has eliminated all of its opponent’s Kubbs and then knocks down the King to win the game.

The game has a few other nuances that we’ll teach you when you come to The Yard, but these are the basics.  If you want to study up in advance, we recommend this website or you can watch the video below.  We’re really looking forward to hosting Kubb play at The Yard and hope to have a night dedicated to league play over the coming Viking winter!

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